FLYING WITH YOUR BICYCLE | THE BEST US AIRLINES TO FLY WITH A BIKE IN 2021
HOW TO FLY WITH YOUR BIKE
For more details on how to prep and fly with your bike check out our guide to flying with your bike to Japan. Alternatively, read about the pros and cons of alternatives such as shipping, renting, or even buying on your next cycling trip to Japan and beyond in our guide to traveling with a bike to Japan.
BICYCLE POLICIES FOR EACH AIRLINE BROKEN DOWN
US BASED AIRLINES 2021 POLICIES
ALASKA AIRLINES | STANDARD BAGGAGE FEES
In short Alaska Airlines has a no excess fee policy for bringing your bike, awesome! See the link below for all the details.
ALLEGIANT AIR | UNDER 40 LBS & 80 IN STANDARD BAGGAGE FEES
Allegiant has recently changed their bicycle policy to make it a bit friendlier with a now 80 combine inches dimension limit many bike bags will fit within their policy. Watch out for their 40lb maximum weight limit though!
AMERICAN AIRLINES | UNDER 50 LBS & 126 IN STANDARD BAGGAGE FEES
American Airlines also recently moved to a more bike friendly baggage fee system with a whopping maximum 126 inches combined dimensions and industry standard 50 lbs limit before additional fees. Not bad coming from those who used to charge $150 per way!
DELTA AIR LINES | GOOD LUCK NOT GETTING CHARGED EXTRA FEES
Delta is one of the less flexible airlines coming into 2021 for the traveling cyclist. With rules requiring you to fit their standard baggage allowances of 62 inches and 50 lbs. Most non-folding or coupling bike cases will be charged additional fees.
FRONTIER AIRLINES | UNDER 100 LBS & 109 IN $75 FLAT FEE EACH WAY
Frontier Airlines took a flat fee approach to bikes, at $75 per direction. It’s a middle ground approach for the current flying climate for cyclists in 2021.
HAWAIIAN AIRLINES | UNDER 50 LBS & 115 IN $35, $100, $150 EACH WAY
Hawaiian at one point was one of the hardest airlines to fly with a bicycle. In 2021 that reputation will continue with their high fees for any flight not inter-island ($35) as domestic ($100) and international ($150) are still at industry high prices. They have however relaxed their previous “no soft case” policy to now allow hard and soft cases as well as cardboard boxes. Our recommendation from previous experience is to stay away if you can until things look better.
JETBLUE | GOOD LUCK NOT GETTING CHARGED EXTRA FEES
Jet Blue is one of the less flexible airlines coming into 2021 for the traveling cyclist. With rules requiring you to fit their standard baggage allowances of 62 inches and 50 lbs and a maximum of 80 inches. Most non-folding or coupling bike cases will be charged additional fees of $100 each way! Stay away if you can.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES | $75 FLAT FEE EACH WAY
Though Southwest Airlines is known for their free two bags policy with each ticket they are less kind to the traveling cyclist holding still industry standard baggage allowances of 62 inches and 50 lbs. Anything beyond that will cost you an additional $75 each way.
UNITED AIRLINES | GOOD LUCK NOT GETTING CHARGED EXTRA FEES
United is notorious for high fees for cyclists and in 2021 they seem to be holding true to their song with fees at $150-$200 each way still being the norm for any case over the dimensions of 62 inches and 50lbs. Best to stay away if you can!
Which Airline is Best? | American & Alaskan
Though your departure and arrival airports will largely dictate this, we prefer to fly with the Japanese Airlines such as JAL and ANA. This is largely because they have consistently not charged us for traveling with bikes and have very nice customer service.
I even once had a worker at the counter put 10+ fragile stickers and had a cart summoned over to take my bike away by hand instead of throwing it on the conveyor-belt behind them!
That said American Air's new policy makes it a strong choice for future flights and Alaska is always a pleasure to fly with a bike but has limited services to Japan mostly from the Northwest States.
What if I have a connecting flight with a different airline?
If you have a multi-leg flight with multiple airlines, especially if your first flight is not with the airline you booked with, be aware you are at the discretion of the first point of contact. So, if say your flight is booked through American, but your first leg is a codeshare flight with Delta you are at the discretion of a Delta Employee to enforce an American Air policy.
This often proves to be a real toss up on the results, though more often than not they will look the other way if you insist on your booking being made through the main booking company.