Bikes on a plane

When I went to New Zealand last year, I decided to take my bike with me. I’d have a van the whole time, so moving it around with me would be easy. And Air New Zealand allowed me two free bags, one of which could be a bicycle.

If you’re interested in travelling with your bicycles, here’s what it will cost you:

Packing the bicycle

Before you can take your bike on a plane, you need to pack it in a bike box. Almost any bike shop will give you one of these for free. There are many YouTube videos teaching you how to box up your bicycle.

Aside: If you have an expensive bike or are planning to travel with your bike a lot, it’s worth investing in a hard case.

If you don’t want to pack the bike yourself, you can pay a bike shop to do this for you.

Bike shops in San Francisco

I called many of the bike shops in San Francisco. Here’s what they charge to box up a bike, sorted by price:

Shop Price
Warm Planet BIkes $35-40
Sports Basement $45 ($30-60)
Valencia Cyclery $45
The Freewheel $50
Lombardi Sports $50
Pacific Bicycle $50
REI $60
Box Dog Bikes $70
American Cyclery $70–85
Performance Bike $100
Mike’s Bikes $100
Mission Bicycle Company
Pedal Revolution
Roaring Mouse

I’m not sure what Mike’s and Performance do for $100. Maybe they use gold tape on the box.

Bike shops in Auckland

Here’s what the bike shops in Auckland charge:

Shop Price (NZD) USD equivalent
Bike Barn $35–40 $25–28
Hedgehog Bikes $40–50 $28-36

Airlines

Once your bike is all packed up, the airline may charge you another fee to accept the bicycle as a checked bag. This table’s sorted by airline name:

Airline Fee Notes
Canada Air Canada $50
New Zealand Air New Zealand free
USA AirTran $79
USA Alaska/Horizon free
USA American Airlines $100 2
USA Continental $100 2
USA Delta $200
USA Frontier $50 2
USA Hawaiian $100 3
USA JetBlue $50 2
USA Midwest $50
Australia Qantas free
USA Spirit $75
USA US Air $100 2
USA United $100
Australia V Australia free
USA Virgin America $50
UK Virgin Atlantic free
New Zealand Australia Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue $20 1
Canada WestJet free

Notes

[1] Included in your standard (paid) baggage allowance (cost is $20)
[2] Small bikes (measuring under 62 “dimensional” or “linear” inches) are free (included in your baggage allowance)
[3] $35 for flights within Hawaii

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