Flying with a bicycle
Want to take your bike abroad but don't know where to start with airline regulations? In addition to the various airline luggage fees, you need to consider the matter of packing and unpacking your bike for safe air travel. There are some airline restrictions to be aware of and you'll want to source the right packing material to protect your bike in transit.
Bags and boxes
Most airlines insist the bike is enclosed in a bag or box. Proprietary bike bags are heavy and often too bulky to carry on your bike and store at the other end. Polythene bags are lighter and although they may appear less protective, actually mean your bike will be treated more carefully by airline staff that can see it is a bike they are handling. Do check with your airline as carriers have differing regulations on whether or not they'll accept a plastic bike bag. If you order one before your trip, you can carry it in your panniers and reuse it. Most carriers will accept a bike packed in a plastic bag and require only the handlebar be turned parallel, pedals removed and tires partially deflated. The CTC Plastic Bike Bags are specifically designed for this purpose. You can add further protection by adding padding to the front derailleur, removing the rear derailleur from the frame, lowering the saddle and securing the front wheel from flopping about.
Another popular option is to transport your bike in a cardboard box, usually a bike box from a bike shop. Remove the pedals, bars and front wheel, pad your frame, secure the wheel and bars to the bike before you drop it into the box.
Inflated bicycle tyres are not dangerous on aircraft like tractor tyres which contain a large amount of energy that would cause damage if they blew off. Some airlines have exempted pedal bike tyres from the usual restrictions on the carriage of pressurised gases, however, it is common to be asked if you have deflated your tyres. It doesn't do any harm to let out a little air, around 10psi is enough.
Airline baggage fees
|Airline||Cost||Size/weight restrictions||Further information|
|Air France||A cost of between £45 and £80 will apply - see note||23kg||Find more information on costs on the Air France special baggage page|
|British Airways||Free||Up to 190cm (75in) long
No more than 23kg – any heavier may incur a charge
|Easyjet||£35 when prepaid online
£45 when paid at airport
|Up to 32kg||One item of sports equipment can be carried in addition to your hold baggage allowance. Both will incur a cost.|
|Emirates||Free||30kg for economy
40 kg for Business Class
50kg for First Class
|Bicycles will be treated as part of your baggage and will incur excess baggage charges if necessary. Find the exact details of your baggage allowance for any flight by visiting the baggage allowance calculator|
|Flybe||Free when booked through Flybe.com
£30 when booked through contact centre or airport
|N/A||Items carried on a space available basis|
|KLM||See note||See note||Specific to each trip depending on your flight zone – check your flight using the KLM baggage calculator|
|Monarch||£20 when prepaid online
£25 when paid at airport
|Up to 20kg||Cost is per item, each way. Cost will rise to £30/£35 for bikes weighing 21kg - 32kg|
|Quantas Group||Free as part of checked baggage allowance||140cm (55in) length x 30cm (12in) width x 80 cm (32in) height
Checked baggage total must not exceed 23kg or 30kg, depending on destination
|Find out more about specific destination details on the Qantas baggage allowance page|
|Ryanair||£60 when prepaid online during initial booking
£70 when paid at airport or call centre
|30kg||Must be prebooked at least 2 months before travel on 0203 451 2695|
|Virgin Atlantic||Free||Up to 23kg|
Date published 06/05/2014
All prices in the table are based on information provided by the airlines on the 6th May 2015.
If there are any airlines or information not included here that you would like to know more about, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include the most popular.