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Old 04-17-09, 03:52 PM   #1
cny-bikeman
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Awful airline fees for bikes

I am planning a long awaited trip to Italy for September 2009. I'm excited but it's been tempered by my frustration with airline policies. It seems most airlines have upped their fees for bicycles each year, with Delta currently topping the list at a whopping $300 per bike - that's $600 round trip - for international flights. Because the fee is not paid til check-in I can either roll the dice with the fee or roll the dice with a late reservation. On top of it most say they are not liable for pretty much anything having to do with delay or damage and do not allow additional coverage for bikes.

I'm feeling pretty powerless but I did dash off a letter to Delta indicating that they will henceforth be the carrier of last resort for my family and anyone I know who asks. I would have booked a flight with them for my trip (total cost before the bike fee of $669) but for their bicycle fee - now they have lost any business I might have considered with them.

Any thought on what kind of action could change this horrible environment?

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Old 04-17-09, 04:32 PM   #2
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Where are you flying from? Is UsAirways an option? They still have "reasonable" rates the last I checked.


I have a feeling that airlines just don't want to haul bicycles.
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Old 04-17-09, 04:44 PM   #3
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I think Delta has made a decision that they don't want to hassle with bulky items like bicycles so they have priced such items accordingly. Obviously that is their choice and there remains plenty of passengers for whom that policy will be irrelevant.

For those of us potentially affected, I think the letter you sent is the second best thing you can do to alert Delta to your thoughts regarding the matter. The best thing you can do is cancel your flight with them (even if there is a modest cancellation fee), and simultaneously write another letter informing them of your action and why you took that action.

You quote a price of $669; is that departing from NY, NY? Air Canada has round trip fare at $600 (see Expedia.com) and they charge $50 (one-way) for a bicycle. Air Canada looks promising assuming their handling of bicycles is adequate (I'm about to post here on the touring forum a question addressing that issue).
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Old 04-17-09, 05:07 PM   #4
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I'm leaving from Syracuse, NY. As I have limited time for my trip I have to travel from here. I did not book the flight, as I checked the bike policy first. I actually had pinpointed US Airways initially, but had started to look at other options when the price on several sites took a nosedive.

Right now my least expensive option with bike is looking at about the $1100 range. It seems I either pay higher flight fees or higher bike fees. I have no assurance right now that US Air won't raise their rates before I leave, after I've already purchased a ticket. As my budget is limited as well I'm feeling stuck at the moment. The discount fares available issue a credit, not a refund of any type.

I'm going to try to be creative about getting around this problem and will post if I find a good solution.
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Old 04-17-09, 05:08 PM   #5
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I just sent them an email. Don't think it will make much difference but.............. you never know.
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Old 04-17-09, 05:19 PM   #6
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Do you think you can get over to NYC (JFK) to take a plane? Aer Lingus has flights from NYC to milan for $713, and they do not charge for bikes.

They also fly to naples from NYC so that is an option too. For some reason on their site they only show syracuse to dublin......
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Old 04-17-09, 05:24 PM   #7
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I see that you could take amtrak, but it adds an extra 5 hours to your total travel time. If you have a friend in NYC to stay with for a night then it might make that option more attractive. If you do decide to go with aer lingus be sure to call in order to buy your ticket as it is required to reserve your bicycle's space on the plane.
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Old 04-17-09, 06:07 PM   #8
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Do you think you can get over to NYC (JFK) to take a plane? Aer Lingus has flights from NYC to milan for $713, and they do not charge for bikes.

They also fly to naples from NYC so that is an option too. For some reason on their site they only show syracuse to dublin......

Yeah same from Pittsburgh right now. Sounds very tempting.
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Old 04-17-09, 06:18 PM   #9
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Airlines are getting increasingly nasty with their ticketing policies.. Don't expect any consideration for family emergencies , should you need to change your reservations.. My Mom just feel and I had to change my flights to attend to her problems.. I had to either pay 2400 dollars for a one way fare or delay my return 10 days and buy another set of tickets. So I had to purchase four tickets for two flights. That cost me only an extra cool 1100 dollars. You can purchase tickets that allow changes , but that will cost you an extra 300 dollars plus a 200 dollar reservation fee should you change. So they more or less got you by the short hairs..
About bikes. I find most EU airlines are more reasonalble with their bike policies. Some still consider bikes the same as regular luggage. I've been so burned by Delta a couple times, I do not even consider them last resort.
This is what elimination of competition gives us folks.
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Old 04-17-09, 06:29 PM   #10
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Happy to have Air Transat, which only charges "CA$30 per flight segment" for bikes.

This is not however as as good as it was. My bike travelled free to UK in '07 on Transat. One of their other carriers -- Sky Service -- still carries bikes gratis, while another, Thomas Cook, charges CA$95

If they want to boycott bicycles, boycott anti-bicycle airlines.
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Old 04-17-09, 06:44 PM   #11
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If you have a friend in Europe, check into having your bike sent to his/her house. It may be a cheap way to get it there or try hooking up with someone who is in the military going to Europe for some time. Perhaps that person can take the bike for you?
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Old 04-17-09, 07:00 PM   #12
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I opened discussion about the issue more than my circumstances. I have looked at other options and only leaving from the Syracuse airport will allow me to have even the minimal time I want to be in Italy (I will only have 8 days actually there). I can afford the lowest price I have found a a bit more if fees are raised slightly, so I will be able to go in any case. I just resent the policies, esp as excess baggage that is a bulky in volume and a lot heavier travels cheaper than a bike.

Ultimately the airlines do it because they can. A small group like persons taking bikes overseas has limited options - the airlines will all tend to raise rates because you have to take one of them to get where you are going.
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Old 04-17-09, 09:55 PM   #13
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Try not to fly with a US airline if possible.

I'd post a link to a site that gives all sorts of airline charges for bicycles but I'm not on my own computer right now ... do a search for airline in this forum and you'll probably find a post by me with that site.


Here you are ...

Read the following article over regarding regulations for bicycles on airlines ... it's stuff you may need to know:
http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm
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Old 04-17-09, 11:26 PM   #14
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Try not to fly with a US airline if possible.
I don't think the data you provided supports that recommendation; some of the US airlines were high, but some of the non-US airlines were, too.

I think you meant to say, pick the airline with the most reasonable charges for the trip you want. US airlines aren't always the worst option.

By the way, to the OP - Delta's price appears to me to be a unrealistic price.

I would assume that they aren't charging $300 because they think cyclists can afford it - they are charging $300 so we go away. They'd rather sell a more expensive flight to a business traveler than sell a discount seat to a cyclist and deal with the expense and hassle of dealing with a bicycle. By canceling your flight with them you did the right thing. I hope you find a better solution for your trip.

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Old 04-17-09, 11:45 PM   #15
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British airways doesn't charge for bikes, as they are classified as "sporting equipment" and are also separate from your usual baggage allowance.
I just booked a ticket last week from philly to lisbon, and asked the representative specifically about shipping bikes, they said it was free.
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Old 04-18-09, 02:19 AM   #16
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Air NZ are still decent about bikes. They can be included in your luggage allowance as one piece. Going between NZ and the US you get 2 pieces, with a total allowance of 46kg.
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Old 04-18-09, 02:38 AM   #17
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Try not to fly with a US airline if possible.


http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm
not that I have a prejudice against US airlines. But, I do their cost and service.. In particular their service. They as of yet have not surpassed Ryan Air in considering charges for use of their toilets. But, they come close.. 3 dollar bottles of water as an example..
.. Cyclists do have some recourse. Maybe. Have we contacted the likes of the League of American Bicyclists and see what collective pressure we can put on Delta. ?.. Might not hurt.. There are a couple million of us. There is strength in numbers..?..
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Old 04-18-09, 07:29 AM   #18
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I don't think the data you provided supports that recommendation; some of the US airlines were high, but some of the non-US airlines were, too.

I think you meant to say, pick the airline with the most reasonable charges for the trip you want. US airlines aren't always the worst option.
Agreed. I am tired of people trashing U.S. carriers and their charges when there are plenty of foreign carriers with the same or even higher charges. In Pittsburgh, for most destinations, there are few carriers (BA may be the only one) that do not charge to transport your bike.


And the website Machka refers is here. I have found it to be woefully out of date and I would not trust what you read there.

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Old 04-18-09, 07:39 AM   #19
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If you have a friend in Europe, check into having your bike sent to his/her house. It may be a cheap way to get it there or try hooking up with someone who is in the military going to Europe for some time. Perhaps that person can take the bike for you?
Incorrect. It will cost around $300 each way to ship your bike FedEx. You could possibly find a container ship to haul your bike that might not cost much, if you don't mind a huge hassle with arranging shipping and put up with the bike being tied up forever.

And both methods involve a lot of hassles with customs.


The military might be an option if you are lucky enough to know someone.
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Old 04-18-09, 01:48 PM   #20
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It is true that avoidin US airlines is not the simple answer. Air Italia charges $150 Euro - almost $200 US. I'm also familiar with the site listed above. It's a good starting point but the charges for bikes are a moving target, and even the published charges may be less or more that what one is actually charged at the gate.
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Old 04-18-09, 03:11 PM   #21
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British airways doesn't charge for bikes, as they are classified as "sporting equipment" and are also separate from your usual baggage allowance.
I just booked a ticket last week from philly to lisbon, and asked the representative specifically about shipping bikes, they said it was free.
It's true that British Airways doesn't charge for bikes or a lot of other sporting equipment, but flying to Italy from the US on BA frequently means changing planes AND airports in London. I took BA from Denver to Sicily last year and ended up cycling from Heathrow to Gatwick and spending a night in the UK. The good news was that I got to spend a night in one of my favorite youth hostels (Tanner's Hatch), and cycling out of Heathrow was a fun way to deal with jet lag, but changing airports like that would eat up a big chunk of the OP's vacation time.

Cny-bikeman, is driving to NYC or Boston and leaving your car there not an option? You might get a wider range of flight options that way.
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Old 04-18-09, 03:23 PM   #22
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^.. Markf.. It's not B/A's fault about the need to change planes in London.. That's the operating rules as of now.. Unless the airline is based in that country , in order to use the same airline to go elsewhere; you must first land at it's home base.. I sort of hate changing planes in route to some where else, because that complicates having the bike placed correctly onto your on-going flight. And few airlines will pay you what your sports equiptment should they loose it.
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Old 04-18-09, 03:49 PM   #23
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Cny-bikeman, is driving to NYC or Boston and leaving your car there not an option? You might get a wider range of flight options that way.
Not really - 5+ hour drive, gas, tolls and more expensive parking. Funny thing is the prices and options aren't significantly better out of NYC. Again, I've made my decision to leave from Syracuse, just wanted to discuss the issue. Still waiting to see if I get any response from my feedback to Delta.

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Old 04-19-09, 03:15 AM   #24
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^.. Markf.. It's not B/A's fault about the need to change planes in London.. That's the operating rules as of now.. Unless the airline is based in that country , in order to use the same airline to go elsewhere; you must first land at it's home base.. I sort of hate changing planes in route to some where else, because that complicates having the bike placed correctly onto your on-going flight. And few airlines will pay you what your sports equiptment should they loose it.
I'm not finding fault with BA, simply pointing out a fact of life about doing business with them. Changing planes is manageable, changing airports creates enormous potential for delays and missed flights.
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Old 04-19-09, 04:15 AM   #25
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Markf. Why did you bike between the two airports. Could not the shuttle bus accommodate your bike. Or you commuted just because you wanted to..
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