Destination racing just became more affordable, thanks to a move from American Airlines. Ahead of the summer travel season, the carrier has eliminated oversize bag fees for large sports equipment – including bike boxes. This is part of a trend that is seeing reduced airline bike fees.
Prior to this move, American Airlines charged $150 each way for large sports equipment, making the airline bike fee as costly (or, in some cases, more costly) than the passenger ticket. Now, passengers are charged the standard $30 fee for the first checked bag ($40 for a second).
It’s likely a competitive move behind Southwest Airlines’ policy of allowing a bike box within its “two free checked bags” count and Alaska Airlines’ 2017 announcement eliminating oversized baggage fees, making those airlines the preferred carriers of cyclists and triathletes.
For Southwest and American, there’s a catch – all bike boxes must weigh less than 50 pounds and cannot exceed 62 inches. If a bike box exceeds those parameters, an oversize/overweight fee may be applied ($75 for Southwest, $150 for American, $0 for Alaska). There may also be additional airline bike fees applied for international travel or smaller connecting flights; it’s best to consult with the airline before booking.
If frequent-flier miles are your aim (or if another airline simply offers a better deal), here’s what it will cost to check your bike on other airlines (prices are for bike boxes under size and weight restrictions, each way).
Editor’s Update 7/19/19: Delta has also joined the trend of eliminating airline bike fees. The regulations are similar to that of American. Passengers are charged the standard $30 fee for the first checked bag ($40 for a second). Size regulations also apply. Bookmark this page as we plan to keep it updated with current airline bike fees.
Airline Bike Fees
Alaska: $30 (first bag), $40 (second bag)
Southwest: Free (first two bags)*
American: $30 (first bag), $40 (second bag)*
Delta: $30 (first bag), $40 (second bag)*
*Size limits apply