How To Fly With A Bike & The Best Airlines To Choose

View out of airplane window with red-tipped airplane wing. Blue ocean and city below

There’s a good chance that affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. If you click on one I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you and I’ll definitely be using it to buy bike gear.

Flying with a bicycle can be a pain, no doubt about it. But if you’re reading this, chances are you don’t really have a choice. I’ve flown with my bikes numerous times and even though traveling with a bike can be a bit of a hassle, having your own set of two wheels on the other end is usually better than riding a rental.

In this post, I share a few tips and tricks for those of you hopping on a plane with a bike in tow including which airlines are best to travel with, how to save money on bike bag fees, tips for packing a bike bag, and more.

Learn the best tips for flying with a bicycle including an airline bike fee guide, how to pack a bike bag, and more


Can you bring a bike on a plane?

Yes! All major airlines and most smaller airlines allow passengers to check sports equipment as luggage, including bikes. Some airlines charge an additional bike bag fee while others tack on overweight or oversized fees. Some airlines also require you to call ahead of time to make a reservation for your bike to ensure the plane has space for it. I failed to do this on my way back from England and British Airways stuck me with a very hefty fine.

In order to check your bike as luggage, it needs to be packed in a bike box or bike bag, which I’ll talk about more below.

What about e-bikes?

Most passenger airlines will not accept a lithium battery over 100Wh as checked luggage or carry-on. Most e-bike batteries are at least 3x that or more. So, unfortunately, most airlines will not allow you to travel with your e-bike.

Pre- and post-flight transportation

One of the biggest hassles when flying with a bicycle is getting to and from the airport. Bike bags are heavy and bulky and they don’t typically fit in a normal car. Before you head off on your adventure, be sure to arrange transportation to and from the airport to make your travel as smooth as possible.

Call your hotel to see if their shuttle can carry a bike or check the Uber or Lyft apps to see if there are XL vehicle options where you’re going. If you’re renting a car, be sure that you can fit your bike bag(s) in the back.

Airports do usually have van taxis available with back seats that fold down, but that’s not a given.


How to pack a bicycle for air travel

Bike bag or bike box?

If you plan on flying with your bike often, I highly recommend investing in a good bike bag. Bike bags are better for travel than cardboard boxes because they provide more protection and their wheels make them much easier to lug around. Unless you’re doing a one-way bike trip (in which case you’ll need to discard a bike box upon landing and secure a new one before take-off), a bike bag is definitely the way to go.

I have the Dakine Bike Roller Bag and I have had no issues when flying with my bikes.

Dakine roller bike bag for flying with a bike

Disassembling your bike

In order to fit your bike in your bike bag or box, you’ll need to partially disassemble it. How much you disassemble your bike depends on how big your container is and how secure you want your bike to be. In general, the more you take your bike apart, the better protected it will be. But also remember you’ll need to put it back together on the other end!

Standard disassembly for flying with a bicycle:

  • Remove both pedals
  • Remove stem faceplate and handlebars
  • Deflate tires
  • Remove both wheels

Additional disassembly for flying with a bicycle:

  • Remove derailleur
  • Remove front and rear rotors (which can get bent during transit)
  • Remove seat post
  • Deflate front and rear shocks
  • Remove front fork

If it’s your first time packing up a bike, spend some time watching YouTube videos, and don’t leave this packing job until the last minute! I typically reserve 2-3 hours to pack up my bike.

If you don’t want to pack up your bike yourself, bike shops will do it for you for a small fee. Just give them a few days’ heads up.

Mountain bike partially disassembled and packed into a bike bag in preparation for flying with a bike

Padding & protecting your bike

Use extra bubble wrap and light packing materials when packing your bike for air travel. You can use masking tape to wrap packing material around the frame and components like the derailleur, handlebars, and cranks. The more padding you have, the less likely you’re bike will get damaged during transit.

If you’re not worried about staying under a weight limit to avoid overweight fees (see below), you can pack your clothes in packing cubes and then stuff them around your bike frame for extra protection. It works great and it lightens your carry-on!

Avoiding overweight & oversize fees

Oversize and overweight fees when traveling with a bike can be brutal. While there’s only so much you can do to avoid them, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t use a hard-sided bike case. These are very heavy and will almost always result in overweight fees.
  • Remove as many bike components as you can and check them in a separate bag. For example, you can remove the pedals, seat post and saddle, bash guard, cranks, tools, and other bike gear. This will lighten your bike bag and hopefully get you under the weight limit. You will need to check two bags in this case, though.
  • Pack your wheels in their own wheel bag and check them separately.

The best airlines for flying with a bicycle

There are a few airlines that stand out when it comes to flying with a bike. These airlines don’t charge extra fees for a bike bag and they have great customer service!

1. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines doesn’t charge an extra fee when flying with a bicycle, which is awesome. They consider bike bags normal checked luggage, so standard baggage fees apply. Overweight and oversize fees are also waived for bike bags.

From personal experience, I’ve also found that Alaska Airlines has amazing customer service and their flight attendants are super friendly. Gold medal for sure!

2. American Airlines

Like Alaska, there are no additional bike bag fees for flying with a bike on American Airlines. Standard baggage fees apply for 1-3+ bags and fees vary depending on destination. American Airlines also doesn’t charge for oversized bike bags, but they do charge a $150 overweight fee if the bike bag is over 50lbs.

3. Delta Airlines

Again, like Alaska and American, Delta Airlines don’t charge extra for bike bags. They are considered normal checked luggage, so standard baggage fees apply. However, unlike Alaska, baggage fees vary depending on where you are traveling to and from (fees can range from $30 for a first checked bag to $100 for a second).

Delta Airlines does still have a weight and size limit for bike bags and if you go over these limits you have to pay an additional fee which can be upwards of $200 (so make sure your bike bag is under 50lbs!).


Airline master guide to flying with a bicycle

*How to calculate linear inches: Most airlines calculate bike bag size in linear inches. To figure out linear inches for your bike bag, add together your bike bag’s length, width, and depth.

For example, an empty Dakine bike bag is 55 x 13 x 34”, therefore the linear inch measurement is 102”. 

**This guide pertains to non-motorized bicycles. Most airlines do not allow you to fly with motorized bikes including e-bikes.

***Bike bag fees are for one-way flights

Aeromexico

  • Aeromexico bike fee: $75 within Mexico and $150 for international travel
  • Max Weight: 70 lb/32 kg
  • Max Dimensions: 80 linear inches for smaller planes and 115 linear inches for larger planes
  • Additional Info:
    • Rates may vary in the high season ($83 for domestic flights and $165 for international flights)
    • Bike bags may be exchanged for one piece of check-in baggage free of charge without incurring excess baggage fees, provided maximum weight and length are not exceeded. This is not applicable for flights in and out of Canada
    • A small extra fee may be incurred for one-way flights
  • Read more: Aeromexico Bike Fee Page

Air Canada

  • Air Canada bike fee: $50 one-way handling charge
  • Max Weight: 70lbs/32kg
  • Max Dimensions: 115 linear in/292 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • Must be pre-registered 24 hours (or more) in advance
    • Extra fees will apply if bag is over the size and weight limits
    • Handling fees waived for first or business class
  • Read more: Air Canada Bike Fee Page

Air France

  • Air France bike ree: $75-150 one-way (varies depending on destination. See zones)
  • Max Weight: 50lbs/23kg
  • Max Dimensions: Not specified
  • Additional Info:
    • If you’re flying with a bicycle you MUST make a reservation at least 48 hours in advance
    • Extra fees will apply if bag is over size and weight limits
    • Bike boxes are available for purchase at most Air France check-in counters
  • Read more: Air France Bike Fee Page

Alaska Airlines

  • Alaska Air bike fee: 1st bag: $30; 2nd bag: $40; 3+ bags: $100 each
  • Max Weight: NA
  • Max Dimensions: NA
  • Additional Info:
    • Alaska does not have a bike bag fee. Only standard checked bag fees apply
    • Overweight and oversize fees are waved for bikes. Hoorah!
    • Alaska does have smaller planes in their fleet, so it’s not a bad idea to call ahead so they know you’re flying with a bike.
  • Read more: Alaska Air Bike Fee Page

Allegiant Airlines

  • Allegiant Airlines bike fee: Standard baggage fees apply ($30-$50 per bag)
  • Max Weight: 40lbs
  • Max Dimensions: 80 linear in/203 cm
  • Additional Info:
    • The Allegiant Air website doesn’t specially say bicycles are allowed, but I would be very surprised if bikes are not considered sporting equipment. If you want more clarification about flying with a bike, give them a call
    • Bags over 100lbs will not be accepted
    • Oversize and overweight fees apply
    • Pay for baggage when you buy your ticket to save on fees
  • Read more: Allegiant Air Bike Fee Page

American Airlines

  • American Airlines bike fee: 1st bag: $30; 2nd bag: $40; 3+ bags: $150+ each (bag fees may vary depending on destination)
  • Max Weight: 50lbs/23kg
  • Max Dimensions: 126 linear in/320 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • American Airlines doesn’t have a bike bag fee. Only standard checked bag fees apply
    • There is $150 overweight fee if the bike bag is over 50lbs
  • Read more: American Airlines Bike Fee Page

British Airways

  • British Airways bike fee: Considered part of checked bag allowance. If you use up your free checked bag allowance you will need to pay extra. Allowance and extra baggage fees depend on flight information.
  • Max Weight: 50lbs/23kg
  • Max Dimensions: 138 linear in/350 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • If you’re flying with a bike you MUST make reservations at least 72 hours (four days) in advance. I did not do this and they charged me $400.
    • Bike bags that are over the weight limit may incur additional charges
    • No bags over 70lbs/32kg will be accepted
  • Read more: British Airways Bike Fee Page

Delta Airlines

  • Delta Airlines bike ree: Standard baggage fees apply – 1st bag: $30; 2nd bag: $40 (fees may vary depending on destination)
  • Max Weight: 50lbs/23kg
  • Max Dimensions: 115 linear in/292 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • Extra fees will apply if over 50lb weight limit
    • Bags exceeding 115 linear in and/or 100lbs will not be accepted
  • Read more: Delta Airlines Bike Fee Page

Frontier Airlines

  • Frontier Airlines bike fee: $75
  • Max Weight: 100lbs/45kg
  • Max Dimensions: 109 linear in/276 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • Bikes over 100lbs or 109 linear in will not be accepted
  • Read more: Frontier Airlines Bike Fee Page

Hawaiian Airlines

  • Hawaiian Airlines Bike Fee:
    • Hawaiian Islands: $35
    • North America: $100
    • International: $150
  • Max Weight: 50lbs/23kg
  • Max Dimensions: 115 linear in/292 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • Extra fees will apply if bike bag is over the size and weight limits
    • Must fill out a Bicycle Liability Release prior to getting to the airport
  • Read more: Hawaiian Airlines Bike Fee Page

Jet Blue

  • Jet Blue bike fee: Standard bag fee + $100 one-way fee
  • Max Weight: 99lbs/45kg
  • Max Dimensions: Website says 80 linear inches, but I’m not sure if that is true. Standard bike bags are around 115 linear inches
  • Additional Info:
    • If bike is under 62 linear inches and under 50lbs extra bike bag fee will not be charged
    • No overweight fees, but bikes over 99lbs will not be accepted
    • Flying with a bicycle is not allowed to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru and Port of Spain and have extra restrictions to Cuba
    • Read more: Jet Blue Airways Bike Fee Page

Lufthansa Airlines

  • Lufthansa bike fee: Varies depending on destination and whether your exceed your free baggage allowance. Use the Baggage Calculator for rates.
  • Max Weight: 70lbs/32kg
  • Max Dimensions: 110 linear in/280 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • A bike reservation of 24 hours or more is strongly recommended
  • Read more: Lufthansa Bike Fee Page

Qantas

  • Qantas bike fee: Considered part of normal checked bag allowance
  • Max Weight: 70lbs/23kg
  • Max Dimensions: 99 linear in/250 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • No bags over 70lbs will be accepted
    • Bike boxes can be purchased from most Australian Qantas terminals
  • Read more: Qantas Bike Fee Page

Southwest

  • Southwest bike fee: $75
  • Max Weight: 100lbs/45kg
  • Max Dimensions: 80 linear inches
  • Additional Info:
    • If bike is under 62 linear in and 50lbs, standard checked bag fees apply
    • Bikes over 100 lbs and 81 linear inches will not be accepted
  • Read more: Southwest Bike Fee Page

Spirit Airlines

  • Spirit Airlines bike fee: $75
  • Max Weight: NA
  • Max Dimensions: NA
  • Additional Info:
    • Must reserve bike after booking a ticket by visiting your reservation online
    • Overweight and oversized baggage are waived for bikes
  • Read more: Spirit Airlines Bike Fee Page

United Airlines

  • United Airlines bike fee: Considered part of standard checked luggage
  • Max Weight: 50lbs/23kg for economy; 70lbs/32kg for MileagePlus Status
  • Max Dimensions: 115 linear in/292 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • Bags over 50 or 70lbs will be subject to overweight fees
    • Bags over 100 lbs will not be accepted
  • Read more: United Airlines Bike Fee Page

Virgin Atlantic

  • Virgin Atlantic bike fee: Can be checked as standard bag allowance. Economy ticket allows for one checked bag
  • Max Weight: 50lbs/23kg
  • Max Dimensions: 81 linear inches for standard bag allowance; 130 linear inches maximum dimensions
  • Additional Info:
    • Overweight fees apply if bike is over 50lbs
    • Oversized fee of $300 apply if over 81 linear inches (FYI: most bike bags are over 81 linear inches)
    • Bikes over 70lbs are not accepted
  • Read More: Virgin Atlantic Bike Bag Fee Page

WestJet

  • West Jet Bike Fee: Standard bag fee + $50 handling fee
  • Max Weight: 100lbs/45kg
  • Max Dimensions: 115 linear in/292 linear cm
  • Additional Info:
    • Only one bike per passenger
    • Bikes over 100 lbs will not be accepted
    • Bikes over 118 linear inches will not be accepted
  • Read More: WestJet Bike Fee Page

Do you have experience flying with a bicycle? Which airlines have you flown on and what was your experience? What other tips do you have for how to travel with a bike? Leave a comment below!

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Learn helpful tips for flying with a bicycle including the best airlines to choose, tips for packing a bike bag, baggage fees, and more.

13 Comments

  1. I am confused by the Virginatlantic requirements for bike on their website. Do we know for sure that they will take oversize bike bags/boxes?

    1. Hi Graeme – the way I understand it is that Virgin Atlantic will take bike bags/boxes, but in order for the bag to be considered ‘normal’ luggage it needs to be under 50lbs and under 81 linear inches. If it’s over 81 linear inches, there is an oversize fee.

      Most bike bags are at least 100 linear inches. You could pack your bike in a box, which might help you stay under the oversize limits.

  2. Hi Becky!
    Nicole here at Haku, I have alot of experience flying with LATAM which is the common carrier in South America. National flights in Peru are 35 usd, flights to other South American destinations are 50 USD. Not sure about to Europe (although I am about to find out in June!!!!) They often let the bag weigh more than 50 lb as well so you can fill it with clothes and stuff.

    Pre-pandemic they were great but I have to say they lost two bikes in the last two months and were terrible about trying to get it quickly. (Get travel insurance people!!) They lost Brett Tippies bike in Ecuador and we got it about 4-5 days later and they lost my clients bike coming to peru and he got it 6 days later. Luckliy we have rental bikes in Peru so he was able to ride…in Ecuador Brett wasnt so lucky! This brings up the topic to consider any additional travel days one might add onto their bike vacation to be on the front end!

    My only comment about the blog is that when you pack your stuff outside the bike bag (to make the bag lighter) is that if they lose the suitcase (of clothes with bike parts) then you can’t put your bike together. So maybe if its possible put it in the hand luggage!

    I really love your blogs they are well done and fully researched! I will link in my Haku Blogs to you!

    Nicole

  3. Hi – I’m using WordPress with hosting through SiteGround. I really like it, but it’s definitely taken some backend work to get things working fast and smooth. I was on Squarespace, which is great for small blogs and websites, but not larger ones. Hope that helps!

  4. I’m curious about your comment "***This guide pertains to non-motorized bicycles. Most airlines do not allow you to fly with motorized bikes". How would the airline know that it’s a motorized bike? Obviously you can’t place the battery in checked luggage. Thanks for the article.

      1. Hi Becky,
        There is a company in Vancouver, BC called Grin Technologies that makes air allowable batteries for ebikes. They are called Ligo. They are just under 100 wh and can be combined together to produce 300 or more wh.
        We have travelled with them, by air, across Canada and also to Costa Rica with no problems and plan to try Euope this spring.

  5. For AeroMexico, the $150 international charge, is it for a one-way fee only> I have a round trip first class ticket but it didn’t mention in their website if the charge covers both flight or not. Thanks!

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