Godfather of Soul
Bikes on American Airlines to Europe/International from the US
I recently booked a miles/award ticket on AA to London (and then paid for a British Airways ticket to Amsterdam) for my trip in July/August. Their website says it's supposed to be a $150 charge for the bike each way, and while I was prepared to eat this, I still held out hope for a better deal.
When I booked the trip, I asked the AA agent on the phone if that was true for international flights (their website seemed a bit vague about this in one place), and she said yes. I asked her if she could double check, and sure enough, she learned that a bike on an international flight can count as the first piece of luggage and fly for free (up to 60lbs). She told me it was some mysterious rule #116, which seems like it must be from an internal rule book not available online to googlers. Of course, I plan to double check this before my trip and hopefully get some more information about precisely where this rule #116 is located in case I have any problems at the airport.
Anyway, since flying with bikes is such a headache and expensive to boot, I figured I would pass along some info that might be useful for others. Not sure if other airlines have this same type of deal, but it doesn't hurt to ask the agent to check because they usually have no more idea about this than the customer.
As an aside, it was a bit funny as well because she kept offering me a deal on a rental car. I was like, "hello, I'm taking my bike - do you get it?" She was real nice, however, and got pretty excited about my trip once she realized what I was doing.
The other day I looked at flights to Spain on British Airways. Between the U.S. and England, they also count a bicycle as one piece of the two free checked pieces you are allowed.
I did, however, notice something that is significant. The the trip I was pricing was to Malaga via London. The leg from London to Malaga only allows one piece of free checked baggage unless you are in a higher class like first class. Accordingly, if you were to fly with two pieces (e.g., the bike and a separate bag with gear), you would get changred an extra fee on the connecting flight leg.
Yet another pitfall you need to be on the lookout for.
When we went to Europe ilast September, Icelandair was allowing two pieces of luggage for free (which seems pretty rare now), $50 each way for the bike.
We flew to Reykjavik, had a stopover and then on to Paris. There was no fee for additional piece of luggage on the European leg of the trip. And since we took our Bike Fridays in suitcases, our luggage was free.