Is it possible to Fly with a Bike anymore?

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I flew out to the West coast a couple days ago for a meeting.  I couldn’t believe it when the guy at United told me it was going to be $175 for a bicycle.  I had some old bike vouchers.  A couple were expired.  I had a couple that had no expiration dates.  He told me they were “expired” too.  I said I didn’t think so.  He say that “they” should of stamped an expiration date on the voucher.  I said who he was referring to when he was saying they.  I told him that they was United, who was the voucher issuer.  I showed him the expired vouchers.  They had stamped expiration dates.  And the other one didn’t.  If it was an error, then it was their error.  Long story, I paid the “grandfathered”  rate of $100 and he gave me a $100 voucher good on United.  Fine.

But, that doesn’t negate the fact that I’ll never, ever fly on United again with a bicycle.  It is like they were so much behind the sport and they go 180 degrees in the opposite direction.  I don’t know who makes these decisions for the company, but that amount of money, $350 roundtrip, is enough that anyone that is familiar with their charge not ever going to use their airline. The charge needs to be an amount that will not “scare” off their customers.  That isn’t the case.

I’m a big Southwest Airline fan right now.  It is kind of weird how over the years you have favorite airlines.  Originally I had a ton of Continental miles.  Then with Specialized I started flying American.  Then United.  Through all those years, I frowned down upon Southwest.  I felt badly for the people that “had” to fly it.  Now, I am so depressed when the city I am flying to isn’t served by Southwest.  The two main reasons to fly Southwest.  1) You can miss the flight and you have full credit still for any other Southwest flight in the next calender year.  You don’t even have to cancel your flight.  Whenever I think I might fly somewhere, I just go ahead and buy a ticket on Southwest.  I know if  I don’t go, I will use the $ later.  2) That the bike charge is $50.  That still is a lot.  But, cheaper than all other airlines.  And half the time they don’t charge anyway.

OK.  This all just reconfirms my driving lifestyle.  It used to be anything under 600 miles.  Now it is creeping up to nearly a 1000.  The longer times, costs and humiliating hoops you have to go through to fly to races is making it a no brainer to drive.

6 thoughts on “Is it possible to Fly with a Bike anymore?

  1. Pingback: Is it possible to Fly with a Bike anymore | calcioxtutti

  2. notthedroids

    The guy at my LBS says he’ll never take a bike on a plane again. He recommends shipping via FedEx or what, to some reliable place at your destination (i.e. another LBS?). The shipping companies have much much better tracking than the airlines, that is for sure.

    Flying is so damned unpleasant these days.

  3. Fire

    Check out Jet Blue. They offer no charge for transporting bikes. Some conditions apply, keep it under 50# and your good to go.

  4. busterk29

    Steve, I’ve flown with my bike about 4 times this past year and on every single leg the charge has been different. Keep in mind all of these flights were with United or US Airways. From DC to NOLA it was free but from Denver to LAX it was $80. The kicker was from LAX to Dulles it was $225 on United.

    It appears, at least at Dulles or other major airports, that the airport authority has started having their own employees work the check-in counters. They are different from the airline employees. They typically wear a similar uniform of a blueish color. They also don’t have a clue as to baggage fees. So when I saw one at Sea-Tac I went right for him. The bike was free when I flew from there.

  5. lmlloyd

    My wife and I took our bikes to Japan last year, and American Airlines told me it would be $80 each way per bike. When we got to the airport they at first said it would be $200 each way ($150 for oversize luggage, and $50 for overweight luggage). We had to point out to the woman at the counter that they had a special policy for bicycles according to their website and their reservations people. She called a manager, who then said it would be $120 each way. After an hour of yelling at them (luckily we went to the airport very early, expecting problems) we got them to charge us the $80 fee they quoted us when we bought the tickets, but they said that it was an old fee, and it would be $120 from now on.

    For our next trip, we are giving up and getting Bike Friday folding bikes that will fit in normal luggage. The folding bikes aren’t cheap, but at the rates they are charging they will pay for themselves pretty quickly, and we won’t have to spend a couple extra hours at the airport every time we want to go somewhere.


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