Packing your bike for an overseas sportive may seem like a bit of a hassle, but it will make all the difference on race day, and providing you have a good bike box or bag, and the knowledge to rebuild your bike when you arrive at your final destination, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take your bike with you on every cycling holiday.
Rental bikes are not all bad, in fact, some of them are very good indeed, but if you are heading to a huge event such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour in South Africa, where demand (and prices) are high, you could end up paying a huge sum of money for a sub-standard rental bike, more than you would pay to transport your own.
All airlines allow you to transport your bike, either as part of your checked luggage allowance or for a special premium, so there’s really no need to leave it behind. If you don’t want to splash out on a Scicon bike bag or hardcase bike box, you can get a cardboard one free of charge from almost any bike shop, and providing you use plenty of bubble wrap, your bike should arrive in the exact same condition in which you packed it.
While all airlines have different policies when it comes to transporting your bike, here is an overview of the most popular international airlines:
- With British Airways, your bike can travel as your checked baggage allowance.
- The standard baggage allowance in Economy is 23kg, but not all BA tickets include baggage, so you should check this when booking your flight.
- You can only check-in one piece of baggage. So even if your bike box weighs less than 23kg, you CANNOT check in another bag to make up the difference, unless you pay for it.
- If you want to check in both a bike box and a suitcase, you need to purchase an extra piece of checked baggage, which currently costs £60 per bag per way – so £120 roundtrip for your bike.
- Providing your bike box does not exceed the maximum dimensions listed on the BA website, you do not need to advise the airline that you are transporting a bike prior to travel. You can simply turn up at the airport and check-in as normal.
- Emirates also allow you to transport your bike as part of your checked baggage allowance.
- This airline uses both weight concept and piece concept baggage regulations, and so you really need to find out what your allowance is before booking your flight ticket.
- If it is on weight concept, you will most likely have a checked baggage allowance of 30kg. In this instance, you can check in both a bike box and a suitcase providing they do not weigh more than 30kg combined, or exceed the maximum dimensions listed in the Emirates website.
- If you flight ticket includes piece concept baggage regulations, then you can only check in the number of bags indicated. So, if your ticket includes 1 piece, you can only check in a bike box OR a suitcase.
- You need to contact Emirates at least 24-hours prior to your flight if you intend to transport your bike as checked baggage. We recommend doing it the moment you book your flight.
- Do not, under any circumstances, have excess baggage with Emirates. They charge $160 USD for just 5 kilos extra, and upwards of $250 USD to check in an extra bag.
- Until recently, Virgin Atlantic allowed you to transport your bike free of charge, but this is no longer the case. You can now transport it as part of your checked baggage allowance, which is 23kg in Economy.
- You can only check-in one piece of baggage and cannot pool the weight across your bike bag and suitcase.
- If you want to check in both your bike box and a suitcase, you’ll need to purchase an extra piece of checked baggage at £65 per piece per way, so £130 roundtrip for your bike.
- Providing your bike meets Virgin Atlantic’s size and weight guidelines, you do not need to inform the airline that you are transporting a bike prior to travel. Simply proceed to the airport and check in as normal.
KLM / AIR FRANCE
- KLM and Air France do not allow you to transport your bike as part of any baggage allowance, you must always pay a fee for the privilege.
- Their current long-haul rate is 100 Euros per bike per way, so 200 Euros roundtrip for your bike.
- You have to let them know when booking your flight ticket that you want to transport your bike. If you book your flight ticket directly on their website, you should be able to do this during the booking process. If you are booking through a travel agent, let them know that you intend to take your bike with you so that they can add it to your booking.
- Turkish Airlines allow you to transport your bicycle as your checked baggage allowance, which is generally 23kg in Economy.
- You can only check-in one piece of luggage and cannot share the weight across your bike box and suitcase.
- If you want to take a bike box and a suitcase, you will need to pay extra for your bike.
- Turkish Airlines charge a per sector fee, rather than a per way fee for bikes. Therefore, if you are travelling from London to Cape Town via Istanbul, you will pay €30 per sector from London to Istanbul, and €60 per sector from Istanbul to Cape Town, totalling €90 per way, and €180 roundtrip. Complex? Yes!
- You must advise Turkish Airlines prior to departure if you intend to transport your bike.
Please note, the above is just for reference and can change at any time. Please contact the airline for up-to-date rules and pricing.