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United Airlines doesn't charge extra for bikes

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United Airlines doesn't charge extra for bikes

Old 05-04-12, 08:37 AM
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telebianchi
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United Airlines doesn't charge extra for bikes

I'm doing some research on a summer or fall vacation and noticed that United is not charging an extra fee for bikes as long as below 50lbs and stated dimensions. It is included as standard luggage (so you may have to pay the $25-$35 baggage fee depending on your ticket, frequent flyer status, etc.).

Originally Posted by United Airlines
Bicycles
United accepts non-motorized bicycles with single or double seats (including tandem) or up to two non-motorized bicycles packed in one case as checked baggage. If the bicycle(s) are packed in a container that is over 50 pounds (23kg) and/or 62 (157 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), a $100 service charge applies each way for travel between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a $200 service charge applies each way for all other travel. The service charge is in addition to any excess baggage charges that may apply, but first and second baggage service fees do not apply. Bicycle equipment weighing more than 70 pounds (32 kg) will not be accepted as checked baggage.

If the bicycle(s) are packed in a container that is less than 50 pounds (23kg) and 62 (157 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), there is no bicycle service charge, but, if applicable, the first or second bag fee applies.

The following are bicycle restrictions:

Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed, or
All loose items must be enclosed in plastic foam or similar protective material, or
Bicycle should be transported in a sealed box. If a box is needed, see the Courtesy Bags section of this site.
If your itinerary includes a United Express flight, please contact United for information regarding aircraft cargo hold limits
United is not liable for damage to bicycles that do not have the handlebars fixed sideways and pedals removed, handlebars and pedals encased in plastic foam or similar material, or bicycles not contained in a cardboard containers or hard-sided cases.
Note: Bicycles will not be accepted during an excess baggage embargo when no excess baggage is allowed.

Source: http://www.united.com/web/en-US/cont...ge/sports.aspx
You can buy a bike box from United for $25. However, it has a total linear length of 69 inches meaning you would be assessed a fee.

I'm not sure what happens if you book a United ticket that puts you on a partner's plane (i.e. Lufthansa, etc)
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Old 05-04-12, 08:40 AM
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There aren't too many bike cases that are less than 62 total linear inches, so you will likely have pay the $100 fee each way.
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Old 05-04-12, 08:54 AM
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Many airlines have those weight and size restrictions ..... but I highly doubt you'll be able to get your bicycle into a box under 62" (linear).


According to this site: http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm ... you'll likely be charged between $100 and $200 at United. But it is a good idea to do what you've done and check the United site directly as well as browsing through the chart at the bottom of the page of the linked site.
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Old 05-04-12, 08:56 AM
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I use a hockey bag and pay 25 dollars every time. Bike is fine every time also.
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Old 05-04-12, 09:02 AM
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Only folders, or bikes with S&S couplers are going to fit that description. I have a bike with S&S couplers, and the S&S case, it just fits as standard luggage.

The good thing about United's Policy is that it clarifies that S&S cases do fly as ordinary checked luggage, eliminating the possible confusion about whether bike charges apply, even though its within standard weight and standard size.
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Old 05-04-12, 09:11 AM
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Have you thought of http://www.rentabikenow.com/. I almost went through them when I went to S. Cal a few months ago. I took my running shoes instead.
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Old 05-04-12, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Only folders, or bikes with S&S couplers are going to fit that description. I have a bike with S&S couplers, and the S&S case, it just fits as standard luggage.

The good thing about United's Policy is that it clarifies that S&S cases do fly as ordinary checked luggage, eliminating the possible confusion about whether bike charges apply, even though its within standard weight and standard size.
I took my S&S bike on it's maiden air flight last month (US Airways). I was prepared to say "bike parts" if I was asked about the case's contents, but no one asked. At check in the person remarked that I had a very nice suitcase.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeB14 View Post
I took my S&S bike on it's maiden air flight last month (US Airways). I was prepared to say "bike parts" if I was asked about the case's contents, but no one asked. At check in the person remarked that I had a very nice suitcase.
They don't seem to ask that anymore ... in fact, I don't think I've ever been asked what's in my boxes or bags in all the flying I've done over the past 10 years or so.

I have, however, been asked, "What kind of bicycle is that?" or "Is that a mountain bike or a road bike?" when I've turned up with a bicycle box.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:13 AM
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Of course, Southwest charges nothing for most bags and only $50 for a bike. At least, the last time I brought a bike that's what they charged.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by fa63 View Post
There aren't too many bike cases that are less than 62 total linear inches, so you will likely have pay the $100 fee each way.
This.

The only way to get under 62 linear inches is with a bike that packs into a standard-sized piece of luggage. That is, a folding bike or a bike with S&S couplers.

Either the bike is a "standard piece of luggage" OR it is oversized/overweight luggage OR it is a bicycle.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by jbholcom View Post
Have you thought of http://www.rentabikenow.com/. I almost went through them when I went to S. Cal a few months ago. I took my running shoes instead.
What kind of bike did you end-up renting? How long? How much? At what city?

Renting bikes appears to be a crap-shoot. It might work well in some places (San Diego or Bolder) and not well in others (Colorado Springs or Denver).

And the cost of renting for a week is competitive with United's fees.

Renting for a day or two, even if you get a not-so-great bike probably makes more sense than taking your own bike.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:28 AM
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I travel quite a bit for business, and rent bikes quite often. In most major cities, I haven't had a problem finding a decent bike to rent for around $40/day (decent being a Shimano 105 equipped aluminum frame bike). Most shops usually give a pretty decent discount for renting for a whole week as well (I once got a Scott CR1 in Denver for $175/week). The cost will be pretty close to flying with your own bike, but then you don't have to worry about assembly/reassembly and risking damage to your bike. What I have also found to help a lot is studying the geometry of whatever you will be renting beforehand to see how you can make it best replicate your fit, and bringing your own saddle, pedals and shoes.

Last edited by fa63; 05-04-12 at 10:38 AM.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:32 AM
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I think frontier let's you take your bike as baggage as well no extra fees
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Old 05-04-12, 11:48 AM
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I had no idea how that 62 inch limit would match to a typical bike box. I have a box at home but have never measured it. As someone mentioned above, it is nice to have the details spelled out and fees based on size not just because it's a bike.

Some vacation ideas I am mulling over would be all road biking so I would rent there. Others would include a mix of terrain so then bringing my CX bike and two sets of tires might make more sense (would still rent a FS mountain bike for a day or two).
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Old 05-04-12, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by telebianchi View Post
I had no idea how that 62 inch limit would match to a typical bike box. I have a box at home but have never measured it. As someone mentioned above, it is nice to have the details spelled out and fees based on size not just because it's a bike.
The 62 inch limit is width+height+length. Bike boxes are much larger.
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Old 05-04-12, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by fa63 View Post
(I once got a Scott CR1 in Denver for $175/week).
Where in Denver??
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Old 05-04-12, 11:57 AM
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I can't recall the name; it was a tiny shop near downtown somewhere.
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Old 05-04-12, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by telebianchi View Post
I had no idea how that 62 inch limit would match to a typical bike box. I have a box at home but have never measured it.
Go and measure it ... you might find that your box runs something in the neighbourhood of 90 inches.


Regarding your comment about fees based on size rather than it being a bicycle ...

What you'll notice with some airlines is that they have a bicycle fee, an overweight fee, and an oversized fee. Your bicycle will fit into either the bicycle fee category or the oversized fee category (and possibly the overweight fee category too if you don't pay attention to weight).

Quite often the bicycle fee is less than the oversized fee ... so you want the check-in person to know that this oversized box you're bringing to the counter is a bicycle so that they will charge you the bicycle fee rather than the oversized fee.

But note that they are well within their rights to charge you both fees, depending entirely upon how you treat them. If you're nice and kind and friendly and helpful ... and if you've arrived really early so that you're one of the first ones through the line ... and if you've got everything in order and the whole process goes smoothly ... you'll likely get away with the bicycle fee.

But if you arrive late, your ducks aren't in order, and especially if you give the check-in person a hard time, chances are you'll be hit with both fees.

Last edited by Machka; 05-04-12 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 05-04-12, 07:45 PM
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Here is a 62" bike case that meets airlines requirements. http://www.sandsmachine.com/ac_hard.htm

Of course, you need a S&S coupled bike to fit it. http://www.sandsmachine.com/pack_t1.htm

A couple years ago, I bought a used Bianchi steel frame (pretty cheap) and had S&S couplers installed. It probably cost me about $1500 or so to get a nice travel bike (bike, couplers and case). You don't have to rent bikes for too many weeks on vacations to make this pay off. Not to mention, you always have your own bike that fits perfect.
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Old 05-05-12, 06:42 AM
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In addition to Southwest, Virgin America only charges $50 each way for bikes. Only problem is where they fly.
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Old 05-05-12, 08:00 AM
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Most, if not al airlines, will end up charging you for either a bike fee or a oversize luggage fee. Both end up being the same in most cases. Like it was said above, you will have an incredibly hard time fitting a bike in the dimensions given unless it is a folding or S&S coupling bike.
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Old 05-05-12, 08:22 AM
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I was thinking what if I designed a two piesce luggage system. Hardside one for the wheels w/ a built in skewer to put them on..maybe even a carry on and the other just for the frame. I wonder if I could keep it under standard size. i fly a lot on Delta and my first two checked are free. I'm an engineer and keep thinking to design this and have it fabricated.

Just brainstoming
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Old 05-05-12, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by tmass View Post
I was thinking what if I designed a two piesce luggage system. Hardside one for the wheels w/ a built in skewer to put them on..maybe even a carry on and the other just for the frame. I wonder if I could keep it under standard size. i fly a lot on Delta and my first two checked are free. I'm an engineer and keep thinking to design this and have it fabricated.

Just brainstoming
Give it a go!

We had frames delivered from Thorn recently. I measured those boxes (for just the frame and unattached fork), and they're over the limit ... but they're close.

It would be great to have a two-piece luggage system, within the size limit, that would hold a bicycle plus a bit of camping gear (which might be able to be used as padding).
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Old 05-05-12, 12:29 PM
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Yeah OP, add up the charges for a regular sized bike/box/weight and see what UAL charges. I used to fly them exclusively and their bike policy nonsense is one of the reasons I cashed in my miles and jumped to other carriers...
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Old 05-05-12, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tmass View Post
I was thinking what if I designed a two piesce luggage system. Hardside one for the wheels w/ a built in skewer to put them on..maybe even a carry on and the other just for the frame. I wonder if I could keep it under standard size. i fly a lot on Delta and my first two checked are free. I'm an engineer and keep thinking to design this and have it fabricated.

Just brainstoming
Don't waste your time. Most bike bags/cases are more than adequate to handle and protect the frame. What will always be the weak link is the wheels,especially if they are carbon wheels. The other weak link in cases/bags is what to do with them afterwards. Most, if not almost all, are incredibly difficult or impossible to fold or stow away. They occupy a ton of room, which is fine in the US with large hotel rome and a never ending supply of gargantous SUV, but not so much in the rest of the world. The ideal case is a Bike Helium that has a bladder and removable hard panels on the outside sandwiching the wheels. You could take the panels out and deflate everything leaving you tiny foot print that is easily stowed away. It does not exist!!
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