How to make holidays ‘Wheelie’ fun: APH compares airline policies for travelling with bikes
For holidaymakers feeling inspired by the exhilarating 3,540km race that was the 104th Tour de France, Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) has put together a guide comparing airline policies for travelling with bicycles.
The research compares policies of 19 airlines and whether bikes can be included as part of a passenger’s standard baggage allowance, the maximum bike weight and measurements, any additional charges incurred, and airline booking stipulations and specifications on how the bike should be packaged for travel.
All airlines researched do permit non-motorised pedal-bikes to be carried in the hold of an aircraft, with half, including Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic, including a bike as part of a passenger’s standard baggage allowance. The maximum weight for bicycles carried in the hold varies from 23kg with nine airlines, such as British Airways, to 50kg when travelling on selected routes in First Class with Etihad. Ten airlines also limit the dimensions of bikes carried on aircrafts and this varies from 158cm combined length, height and width with Etihad to 320cm with American Airlines.
Nine of the airlines do not include bikes as part of the provided baggage allowance and so travellers are charged an extra fee that ranges from £25 for selected routes with Monarch Airlines, to £271 for bikes that exceed Emirates’ standard baggage allowance. Cyclists should keep in mind that although Air Canada does permit bikes to be carried as part of the allocated baggage allowance, the airline charges a £29 handling fee, and similarly Thomas Cook Airlines levies a 50% surcharge on tandem bikes. Conversely, Business Class passengers with Aer Lingus are entitled to travel with their bike for free, even if the bike surpasses the provided baggage allowance.
In terms of the booking process for flying with bikes, travellers are encouraged by most airlines to declare their bike as soon as possible after or during booking, with Thomson Airways requesting that bikes are booked for travel at least two months prior to departure. The aircraft size and type may also limit the physical space available for bikes in the hold and easyJet limits the carriage of sports equipment, including bikes, to one piece per passenger and a maximum of six per online group booking. To prevent damage to the bicycle in the aircraft hold, many of the airlines researched provide specific instructions on how the vehicle must be packed, such as packing in a bike box or bag, lowering and fixing the handlebars sideways, removing or inverting the pedals and deflating the tyres.