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Airline Fees For Bike Boxes?

Old 02-09-24, 03:57 PM
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Airline Fees For Bike Boxes?

Hello,

I did a search for this on the forum but didn't find anything recent. I am doing a couple of tours in the EU this summer and will be bringing my bike with me.

Right now I am looking at flight reservations. Most start out with a domestic carrier and then transfer to an international one upon leaving the U.S. I don't know which airlines policy determines the fee for the bike box. How would I find this out?

I know that airlines jack their fees around constantly. Do any of you know of any resources that would have this all in one place and be mostly up to date?

If some of these fees are pretty high (Jet Blue possibly?) it might make sense to pick a more expensive flight to more than make up for the bike box fee.

I have the older Trico Sport Iron Case if that matters.

It has been a while (pre-Covid) since I traveled with a bike box and that was domestic. Thanks for any insight that you can provide.

Thanks,
Steve

Last edited by Steve_sr; 02-09-24 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 02-09-24, 04:23 PM
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I have never seen a compendium of fees for multiple airlines that was accurate.

I believe American, Delta, and United still have no oversize fee for bikes, but there is an upper limit on bike box size. But check the airline website for exact detail on that.

If you can do your flight all on one of these three airlines, that should solve your concerns, but you might find that a "partner" airline is on the ticket, so inspect the ticket before you buy it to see if one of the planes is operated by a different airline.

I have not flown to Europe since 2016, at that time Delta had first checked bag for free, second checked bag each way was an extra $100 each way. If one of those checked bags was oversize like a bike box, that was an extra $150 each way on top of the second bag fee. That was before Delta dropped their oversize fee for bikes. But I am clueless on current pricing.

I encourage you to try to get all your flights on the same ticket. That way, a flight delay that causes you to miss a flight is much easier to deal with if both flights are on the same ticket.
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Old 02-09-24, 06:07 PM
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I don't know more about fees in general than what I find in a web search - https://www.orucase.com/blogs/news/t...e-airline-fees

As far as multi-segment flights go, I've found that the first carrier where you check in determines the fee for the distance the bike is tagged. What this has meant on some international flights I've done in the past meant:
-- flights departing the US on say United, I would be charged at checkin. The person charged me their "international-fee" even though my first hop was domestic and then continuing on an international flight.
-- flights can have code shares, e.g. same flight is sold as a United flight and a Lufthansa flight. I was charged outbound by United and on return by Lufthansa
-- if your bike isn't tagged all the way through the destination for some reason - then you can get an additional fee for the second check in; this didn't apply in cases where I just picked up the bike - brought it through customs and put it on the transfer desk - since it was checked all the way through
-- in addition to charges (or not) for bikes, be on the lookout for oversized fees (e.g. box too big) and over-weight fees.
-- bikes on flights are not that common, particularly international. Don't expect the airline check-in agents to know the rules/costs either; go to the web site in advance, look things up and bring a printed copy (e.g. Delta once told me they weren't sure whether the bike would fit through the cargo door - I was using a standard Alaska Airlines box since Delta didn't have any - and Alaska airlines flew the same model airplane as my international Delta flight - they wanted me to wait until they could send someone out to measure the door). I've had personnel take kindly when some fees seemed excessive - so stay calm and polite in the conversation.
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Old 02-09-24, 11:42 PM
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Excellent info above.

I'll just add that we do our best to fly direct, even if it means one-way minivan rentals or public transit (ex: train). Fees-per-segment is annoying, but flight delays and missed connections for a bike is much worse.
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Old 02-10-24, 01:00 PM
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My go-to airlines in Europe are British Airways and SAS. A bike in a box under 23kg is counted as your free checked-in baggage. No oversize charge.

The super budget airlines like Ryan, Wizz etc will charge a lot for sports equipment.

And yes, beware of code-sharing.
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Old 02-11-24, 12:35 PM
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Thanks everyone for the tips! I was hoping that there might be some shortcuts or consolidated resources. Now all I have to do is figure out the dimensions of a Trico Sport Iron Case and see if/how it fits within an airlines specific dimension requirements.
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Old 02-11-24, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve_sr
Thanks everyone for the tips! I was hoping that there might be some shortcuts or consolidated resources. Now all I have to do is figure out the dimensions of a Trico Sport Iron Case and see if/how it fits within an airlines specific dimension requirements.
I was curious what that case was, found one on Ebay with a google search listed at 47" length x 31" wide x 11", which would add up to 89 inches. So, clearly over 62 but less than 115 inches. Probably big enough that at ticketing they would assume it is oversize.

Have a great trip to Europe.
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Old 02-11-24, 10:02 PM
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We flew American to Spain summer 2023. We each had two free bags, and our bicycles went as bags as they fit within American's generous bicycle allowance. The size was generous, the weight limit was 50 pounds, which we just barely squeaked under. This was our first time flying internationally with bicycles and it was pain free. I spent too much time worrying about the 'what if's'. It all went smoothly. We did allow extra time during our one transfer (Dallas), just to make sure the bicycles would have time to change planes. No problems!

Have fun in Europe. We had a great time and plan to return.
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Old 02-12-24, 11:24 AM
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One final note, a good luggage scale can cost less than one overweight bag costs.
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Old 02-14-24, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
One final note, a good luggage scale can cost less than one overweight bag costs.
There seems to be a common 50lbs / 23Kg limit for weight. Unfortunately the Trico case is apparently (I didn't pull it out of storage to measure) 31 lbs by itself and the bike with rear rack and accessories is likely to be in the range of 25 lbs so will cause an overweight fee.

The trip will have 2 different flights and not round trip which adds more complications.
Outbound - RDU -> PRG
Return - SZG -> RDU

The biggest issue with flights is trying to avoid Lufthansa which charges $370! for a bike box one-way. Not many choices leaving Salzburg. I am wondering if Bike Flights might be cheaper.
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Old 02-14-24, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve_sr
...
Not many choices leaving Salzburg. I am wondering if Bike Flights might be cheaper.
If you are not traveling with your bike, your bike may be subject to customs duty as EU officials may think it is being imported into the country. And an expensive case may have value too.

And possibly same on the return to USA.

I have no expertise or experience in this matter. But I did buy a bike frame from the UK in 2013. And the mail carrier that brought the box to my door needed payment for customs duty, as I was importing a bike frame and some parts into the USA from the UK.
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Old 02-14-24, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
If you are not traveling with your bike, your bike may be subject to customs duty as EU officials may think it is being imported into the country. And an expensive case may have value too.

And possibly same on the return to USA.

I have no expertise or experience in this matter. But I did buy a bike frame from the UK in 2013. And the mail carrier that brought the box to my door needed payment for customs duty, as I was importing a bike frame and some parts into the USA from the UK.
Bike Flights takes care of filling out the needed paperwork so that this doesn't happen. The used bike and case is not an import or export... just luggage. Bike Flights does this all the time so I would expect would know how to do this.

What you did was actually import bike parts into the U.S from the U.K. so customs duties were due.
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Old 02-14-24, 08:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve_sr
Bike Flights takes care of filling out the needed paperwork so that this doesn't happen. The used bike and case is not an import or export... just luggage. Bike Flights does this all the time so I would expect would know how to do this.
....
This is the first time I have heard of Bike Flights (or anyone) shipping a bike across a border without customs fees being incurred. You have experience with this? Is this new? I am not saying that it won't happen, but it is quite a surprise.
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Old 02-14-24, 10:20 PM
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I flew from Texas to Paris with my bicycle the last three years now, always with Delta, always with a connection in either Atlanta or Detroit. Delta partners with Air France and Air France honors Delta's bicycle policy, which is 1st checked bag free (my bike), extra bag(s) $100ea. I used cardboard bicycle boxes every time and weight was all they checked, at 50lbs max. Delta also allows me to accompany the box through TSA inspection so I can be sure they don't jack my packaging up. I use Apple Airtags and that makes all the difference to me, eliminating the stress of whether my precious bike made the connection. I don't know of an overall bicycle baggage rule list; I prefer to book directly through the airlines. Delta works for me. They fly Airbus as well, if that matters to you.
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Old 02-15-24, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by zweitesmal2
... Delta also allows me to accompany the box through TSA inspection so I can be sure they don't jack my packaging up. ....
Every airport is different, you are fortunate that you frequently travel through an airport that does this. I have only been near where I could see TSA (or their foreign equivalent) at two airports.

I have not been allowed to do this at the four airports near my home that I have traveled through, MSN, MKE, MSP and ORD.
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Old 02-15-24, 08:06 AM
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For what it is worth, I was unimpressed by Delta on several counts on international flight from Denver to Cartagena, Colombia via Atlanta...

- On the outbound, I went to get a bike box in the Denver airport. Delta didn't have any, so I ended up going to United instead to get the box.
- I had an 11 hour layover in Atlanta between my evening arrival and next morning departure. I decided to try one of the in-concourse hotels to keep things easy and not have to pass in/out security as much. Unfortunately, Delta Denver told me they couldn't check my bike through to my destination because the layover was more than 5 hours. This meant I needed to receive my luggage including bike box. That defeated my purpose of my in-concourse hotel because it meant I would need to go through security twice and either be able to take my bike box through or find a place to store it outside security. I decided to sleep in the international terminal instead. I created a nook in the terminal and spread out the sleeping bag.
- The next morning Delta personnel decided my bike box (70"x40"x10") might be too big to fit inside the 737-800 cargo doors (48"x36"). They held me up for 30 minutes while they suggest it wouldn't fit and I would need to resend it to Colombia via cargo. I pointed out that this was a standard size bike box and that I had flown with a similar box on a 737 to Prudhoe Bay so they told me to wait while they found someone to go out and measure the cargo doors. Eventually when nobody arrived for 30 minutes they relented and told me they would page me if they couldn't fit the bike.

At least the Delta airline personnel I dealt with seemed unaware of basics for taking a bicycle on board their flights so that may color my perception of the airline.
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Old 02-15-24, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
For what it is worth, I was unimpressed by Delta on several counts on international flight from Denver to Cartagena, Colombia via Atlanta...

- On the outbound, I went to get a bike box in the Denver airport. Delta didn't have any, so I ended up going to United instead to get the box.
- I had an 11 hour layover in Atlanta between my evening arrival and next morning departure. I decided to try one of the in-concourse hotels to keep things easy and not have to pass in/out security as much. Unfortunately, Delta Denver told me they couldn't check my bike through to my destination because the layover was more than 5 hours. This meant I needed to receive my luggage including bike box. That defeated my purpose of my in-concourse hotel because it meant I would need to go through security twice and either be able to take my bike box through or find a place to store it outside security. I decided to sleep in the international terminal instead. I created a nook in the terminal and spread out the sleeping bag.
- The next morning Delta personnel decided my bike box (70"x40"x10") might be too big to fit inside the 737-800 cargo doors (48"x36"). They held me up for 30 minutes while they suggest it wouldn't fit and I would need to resend it to Colombia via cargo. I pointed out that this was a standard size bike box and that I had flown with a similar box on a 737 to Prudhoe Bay so they told me to wait while they found someone to go out and measure the cargo doors. Eventually when nobody arrived for 30 minutes they relented and told me they would page me if they couldn't fit the bike.

At least the Delta airline personnel I dealt with seemed unaware of basics for taking a bicycle on board their flights so that may color my perception of the airline.
...
I usually fly Delta, but your experience is worse than my worst one.

I will skip the long rant, suffice it to say that at 2am or 3am, this hallway in Minneapolis airport in the photo was essentially empty. But at normal hours you see several hundreds of people in that hallway, the food court to the left is usually pretty full too but at this time of day all the food places were closed.



So, my lodging in Iceland that night was charged to my credit card but I got to sleep in a chair in the airport instead.

Fortunately, I did not have to get my baggage and re-check it again later. But I would have had 22 hours to do so. And my bike was my S&S coupled one, so that would be easier to lug around the airport if I had to do that.

For future reference, this website can come in handy, more than once I have used that to find some of the better places to sleep:
https://www.sleepinginairports.net/
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Old 02-15-24, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I will skip the long rant, suffice it to say that at 2am or 3am, this hallway in Minneapolis airport in the photo was essentially empty. But at normal hours you see several hundreds of people in that hallway, the food court to the left is usually pretty full too but at this time of day all the food places were closed.
Frustrating. The Delta flight I mentioned was outbound from the US to Colombia. Two weeks earlier I had flown inbound from Panama to the US, also on Delta and via Atlanta. I got caught in the following event - https://www.ajc.com/business/thunder...mdJlmnWFfGPMJ/ which cancelled my connecting flight and rebooked me for the following day. After delays (they don't cancel these things immediately), I shared an Uber with other passengers to a hotel we both booked. I arrived ~24 hours later than scheduled. Delta ended up giving vouchers for the inconvenience. So I chalked the inbound mess to a "sometimes meltdowns happen - this time was Delta - another time it was Southwest..." and appreciated their attempt to help the situation.

I wasn't as forgiving on the outbound flight since it seemed more localized to personnel not being familiar with bicycles on their airline.
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Old 02-16-24, 01:13 PM
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I think that I have mostly figured this out...

1. The first key is to get the bike bag/container weight under the 50 lb limit to avoid overweight fees. Most domestic carriers have dropped their oversize fees for bikes and will treat a bike as just another checked bag as long as it is under 50 lbs.

2. Someone please confirm this... After speaking with United it appears that the bike shipment policy is based on the first carrier's policy on the outbound flight of a single itinerary (outbound and return flight) booked at the same time. Note that the first leg DOES NOT apply to partner airlines! So even if you book on United and the first leg is on Lufthansa (a United partner airline) you will get stuck with Lufthansa's bike policy and (Currently $370) fee each way! The way to avoid this is to make sure that your first leg is actually on a United flight before hitting another air carrier for international.
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Old 02-16-24, 02:45 PM
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Yes, that is my understanding too. It’s the baggage policy of the airline you check in with that counts, if the bike is labelled all the way to your destination.

If the airline you have booked with has code-shared the first leg to a different airline, then it will be that airline’s policy you must adhere too.

I stay clear of Lufthansa because of their sporting baggage fees.
BA, SAS, and Swiss are good here in Europe if you don’t buy the ”Light” ticket (hand baggage only), but the ”Standard” (8kg hand baggage and 23kg checked baggage)

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Old 02-16-24, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
This is the first time I have heard of Bike Flights (or anyone) shipping a bike across a border without customs fees being incurred. You have experience with this? Is this new? I am not saying that it won't happen, but it is quite a surprise.
I just talked to Bike Flights this morning. Yes, there are fees. The rep didn't elaborate They cover all fees for a flat $99. However, shipping is on top of that. for my trip to Prague the shipping alone was $500-800! depending on weight and box size. It looks like I won't be shipping a bike internationally any time soon.
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Old 02-16-24, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve_sr
I just talked to Bike Flights this morning. Yes, there are fees. The rep didn't elaborate They cover all fees for a flat $99. However, shipping is on top of that. for my trip to Prague the shipping alone was $500-800! depending on weight and box size. It looks like I won't be shipping a bike internationally any time soon.
Interesting, I was not aware that they ship internationally, but I can see why nobody would use them for that.

Is there a reason that you are locked into using that heavy case? Is it that fragile?

If you go to a bike shop and ask for a box, ask for the other hardware used for shipping, like the plastic piece that keeps your fork blades from puncturing a hole in the bottom of the box, etc.

I previously posted photos of how my road bike was packed by the manufacturer when I took it out of the box, at:
Help!! Need to pack my bike to 62" linear inches to avoid high oversize fee

There are lots of other on-line descriptions of how to pack a bike.

Several years ago a bike shop called me when they had a box that they said would fit my bike. Picked it up. Then later when I went to pack the bike, box was about an inch too short. Then it was too late to wait for another bike shop to get an empty box for me that would fit, I ended up using my folding bike in my S&S case on that trip. Lesson learned, get the box early enough that you can make sure your bike will fit. In my case, the box was for my size bike but my touring bike has longer chain stays so it would not fit in the road bike box that they gave me.

Good luck.
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Old 02-16-24, 05:57 PM
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At the end of a trip, I always allow an extra day for finding a bike box. Sometimes it’s been harder, sometimes easier.
For example I’d get to my destination on, say, a monday evening, have all of tuesday to find a box, and fly on wednesday. Weekends and holidays can mess with that, so take it into consideration when booking the home flight.
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Old 02-16-24, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Is there a reason that you are locked into using that heavy case? Is it that fragile?
No, I am not locked into using that case but it would have been convenient!

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
If you go to a bike shop and ask for a box, ask for the other hardware used for shipping, like the plastic piece that keeps your fork blades from puncturing a hole in the bottom of the box, etc.
I think that I also have a couple of cardboard bike boxes in storage. These should also get me under the weight limit. Looks like I need to start looking for some more.

Another participant on this tour is using one of these:
https://sciconsports.com/us_en/aeroc...ue-tp053102023

It weighs about 23 lbs by itself but allows 27 lbs for the bike and any accessories.
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Old 02-16-24, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve_sr
No, I am not locked into using that case but it would have been convenient!



I think that I also have a couple of cardboard bike boxes in storage. These should also get me under the weight limit. Looks like I need to start looking for some more.

Another participant on this tour is using one of these:
https://sciconsports.com/us_en/aeroc...ue-tp053102023

It weighs about 23 lbs by itself but allows 27 lbs for the bike and any accessories.
My heavy touring bike is roughly 40 pounds. That and my S&S Backpack case add up to over 50. I carry the pedals and a few other things in my other checked bag to get it down to 49 pounds. (I am camping when I tour on that bike, need two checked bags.) And my rear rack will not fit in the S&S case either, so that goes in the other checked bag.

My last tour that I flew on had the luggage below. One pannier (front) was my personal item, the other (rear) was my carry on that I carried onto the plane. I wear my helmet onto the plane, put it in the overhead, I do not want any airline personnel to break it. The orange backpack was also checked. The black case is the S&S Backpack case with 90 percent of my bike in it.

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