Can You Check a Bike on a Plane? Yes, Here’s How

Can You Check a Bike on a Plane? Yes, Here's How

If you’re an avid biker like me, you know that the idea of going on a trip without your trusty two-wheeled steed by your side can be downright depressing.

But fear not, with some preparation and know-how, you can absolutely bring your bike with you on an airplane to your next destination!

In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned from my experiences flying with my bikes over the years.

We’ll cover the policies of different airlines, fees, packing tips, and more so you can feel confident rolling up to the airport with your bike in tow.

Let’s dive in!

Can You Check a Bike on a Plane?

The short answer is yes, you can check your bicycle as luggage on most major domestic and international commercial flights these days.

Airlines like United, American, Delta, and Southwest in the US all allow transporting bikes with certain restrictions.

It’s not quite as simple as rolling up and tossing your bike on the conveyor though.

Airlines have specific requirements when it comes to packing and fees, so be sure to check with your specific airline to know the details before your trip.

The main things to keep in mind are you’ll need to have your bike in a box or case, you’ll likely pay extra fees, and there may be limitations based on the type of plane you’re traveling on.

As long as you come prepared, checking your bike is a pretty straightforward process.

Can I Fly With My Mountain Bike?

One of the most common bike-related questions I get is whether you can transport full-suspension mountain bikes on flights.

The answer is yes, absolutely!

I’ve flown many times over the years with my trail and downhill MTBs.

Full-suspension bikes are treated the same as any other bike by the airlines.

You just need to be extra careful when packing them up to protect that more complex suspension system.

Removing and packing pedals, turning handlebars, and deflating tires are key steps for any bike.

With a full-squish bike, you’ll also want to use plenty of padding around the shocks and pivot points.

If you don’t have a hard case, look into a large padded bike bag or cardboard bike box.

As long as you take the time to properly protect it, your dual suspension MTB will make it through the journey A-okay!

The airport personnel might need to use a larger oversize box or send it as cargo, but it’s very doable.

How Do You Fly a Bike on a Plane?

Preparing your bike for air travel takes a bit of work, but following these steps will get your two-wheeled buddy onto the plane safely:

Get the Right Box/Case: Airlines require bikes to be packed in a hard case or sturdy cardboard bike box.

If you don’t have one, many bike shops sell boxes or you can often find free used boxes.

Hard cases provide more protection.

Remove Loose Parts: Take off the pedals, turn the handlebars sideways, and remove any loose attachments to make the bike fit securely in the case.

Deflate the tires fully.

Pad Vulnerable Areas: Use foam sleeves on the frame and bubble wrap on more delicate parts of the bike.

Stuff padding in open spaces too.

Secure the Bike: Use zip-ties and velcro straps to hold the bike firmly in place inside the box so it doesn’t shift during handling.

Label Clearly: Mark the box as “Bicycle” and “Fragile.”

Include your name, address, and phone number too.

Check It In: Bring the boxed bike to the oversized luggage desk at the airport for check-in.

Pay any specialty bike fees.

Rebuild at Destination: Once you arrive, reassemble your bike and get it rolling again!

Adjust brakes, gears, etc.

Proper packing takes time and care, but it’s worth it to keep your bike safe on its journey.

How Do I Transport My Bike to the Airport?

Getting your bike to the airport in the first place can be a challenge too!

Here are some tips:

For short distances, consider riding your bike to the airport or taking public transport.

Remove loose parts ahead of time if assembling at the airport.

For longer distances, use a bike rack, hitch mount, or interior rack in your car to transport the bike in its box.

You can also look into shuttle services, Uber/Lyft vehicles with cargo space, or renting a van/truck for the day.

If flying from your home city, see if any bike shops offer shuttle services to the airport for customers.

Time your arrival so you have plenty of leeway to pack your bike and bring it to oversized luggage.

If flying internationally, check with your airline about any country-specific bike regulations.

Some require certain crank/wheel/frame disassembly.

With a little logistical planning, you’ll be able to get your bike to the departure airport smoothly.

Having a plan eases the stress!

How Much Does it Cost to Bring a Bike on A Plane?

Checking your bike on a plane does usually incur an extra fee on top of your normal checked bag allowance.

Costs vary, but expect to pay:

  • Domestic U.S. Flights: $75-$200 each way
  • International/Long Haul: $200-$400+ each way

Oversized or heavy luggage fees often apply too since bikes exceed standard size and weight limits.

Cruising bikes and e-bikes can fall into this category.

Some ways to save on bike fees:

  • Use an airline credit card that includes free checked bags or golf club/sporting equipment benefits.
    Call to clarify bikes are covered.
  • Achieve premium elite status on an airline, which sometimes waives bike fees.
  • Book with an airline that doesn’t charge extra for bikes, like Southwest.
  • Consider renting a bike at your destination instead of bringing your own.

While fees can add up, I still think it’s worth it to have my own bike for adventures at my destination.

But there are ways to lower the costs if needed.

What Airlines Allow Bikes?

Most major domestic and international commercial airlines do accommodate checked bikes, but some are more bike-friendly than others.

Here are a few I’ve flown with:

AirlineBike FeeMax WeightMax DimensionsNotes
Alaska Airlines$7550 lbs62 in total dimensionsBikes should be packed in boxes under 62 linear inches.
American AirlinesNo fee50 lbs126 in total dimensionsIf overweight/oversized, the fee is $100. Must be under 157 cm in dimensions.
DeltaNo fee50 lbs115 in total dimensionsBike must be in a hard-sided container. If overweight/oversized, fee is $150.
Frontier Airlines$7550 lbs62 in total dimensionsBikes accepted as checked baggage when properly packed in containers designed specifically for bike transport.
Hawaiian Airlines$100 island hopper
$150 international
50 lbs115 in total dimensionsBike must be enclosed in cardboard container or hard case. Non-motorized bikes only.
JetBlueNo fee50 lbs62 in total dimensionsBikes are accepted as checked bags as long as they’re properly packed.
Southwest AirlinesNo fee50 lbs80 in lengthNon-motorized bikes are accepted. Must fit handlebars-first in box.
Spirit Airlines$10050 lbs62 in lengthNon-motorized bikes accepted. Must fit handlebars-first in box.
United Airlines$15050 lbs62 in total dimensionsBikes must be packed in cardboard containers under 62 linear inches.

I suggest comparing airline bike policies as you book international flights.

Some foreign carriers like Air Canada and Lufthansa are quite bike-friendly too.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, with some strategic planning, packing, and a bit of extra cash, you can absolutely bring your bicycle along on your next airline adventure.

I know I breathe a big sigh of relief whenever I finally roll my bike out of the airport at my destination.

Nothing quite beats having my own wheels to explore a new place on two wheels!

Hopefully, this guide gave you the confidence and info you need to check your bike on an upcoming trip.

Let the airline agents help guide you, pad your bike like it’s a precious gem, and double-check those baggage policies.

Most importantly, get ready to have an amazing ride on the bike trails, roads, and paths in your new destination.

There’s nothing better than traveling under your own power.

Have any other questions about flying with bikes?

Just let me know! I’m always happy to share more tips.

Now it’s time for me to daydream about where I want my bike to take me on my next adventure.

Happy travels!

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Joey B. Ramsey
Passionate cyclist, father, and blogger.
I've been riding bikes since childhood and enjoy sharing my knowledge with fellow cycling enthusiasts.
My diverse bike collection allows me to write reviews and advice based on personal experience with various bikes and accessories.
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