Taking a bike on a plane

Luton Airport on an Easy Jet Flight
Taking a bike on a plane is a lot easier and cheaper than I had thought it would be and I encourage anyone wanting to go on a bike tour not to be put off by taking a flight to somewhere really cool to go do your bike trip.

I have taken a bike on a plane with Easy Jet and with Delta Airlines and both have been reasonably priced and easy to deal with. With Easy Jet flights from Luton, UK to  Nice, France and  Zurich, Switzerland and Luton, UK the bike fee was only £20 extra which is amazing! With Delta airlines from London Heathrow, UK to Minneapolis St.Paul International the fee was $150 which is also very reasonable for a transatlantic flight.

The general list of what you need to do is as follows

  • Deflate Tires
  • Remove Pedals (left and right handed threads - get the right size wrench not an adjustable)
  • Turn handlebars to be in line with frame 90 degrees from normal orientation
  • Put in plastic bag or cardboard box
  • Make sure bike is below maximum weight limit of airline
Nice, France Airport on an Easy Jet Flight
I like to leave things like handlebars and anything else that has to be adjusted left lose as any jolt or shock in-flight will not be subject to a high reaction force.

Check the airlines specific policies and prices on transporting bikes as they may vary. Also, some individual airports have different rules, for example in Zurich Airport we were not allowed to ship the bikes the same was as we had flown them in, even though we used the same airline. Some airports have the facilities to pack your bikes for you at a small cost where as others don't. Sometimes you may have to hunt around for a suitable bike and be creative about how you pack it.

Zurich, Switzerland Airport on an Easy Jet Flight
Also note that some airline staff may not be familiar with their own rules and policies as it is not common place for people to take bikes on plane even though there are specific categories for bikes as luggage. Also, queuing up to check in with a bike is awkward and difficult as is moving a bike round an airport, just be patient and careful. Another thing I have discovered while going on bike trips and tours is that people stare at you like they have never seen a bike before - this still surprises me - just be aware that people stare at you!

I have not had a bad experience taking a bike on a plane, as long as you are prepared for it and observe the airline and airport rules you should be fine. You can cycle almost anywhere in the world with relative easy by taking a flight somewhere cool and I encourage people to do it as it will give you such a sense of freedom!