Guide to Traveling with a Bike: Which airline is best?

This is a guide (updated April 2022) to flying with your bike as checked luggage on USA-based airlines. While some airlines include a bike as a normal checked bag, others charge “oversize fees”. For many triathletes, you have three options for getting your bike to the your race. 1.) Fly with it in a bike case 2.) ship it or 3.) drive to your race. I spend hours of researching specifics bike bags, airline fees and shipping costs. Hopefully this guide will help you save time researching specific airline fees for your next race or training camp.

For simplicity, the guide is assuming the bike case/bag dimensions are less than 115″ (length+wide+height). For reference, The Scicon Aerocomfort 3.0 bag is ~107 linear inches (50.7L x 17.7W x 38.5H) and weighs appx. 20 lbs. That leaves you with about 30 lbs. for your bike and gear on most airlines before incurring overweight fees.

American, Delta and United are the most bike friendly airlines


{bike friendly} There is no additional charge on American Airlines. Standard baggage fees apply up to 50 pounds and under 126 linear inches. Fees range from $30 for the first bag to $40 for a second bag.

*1st checked bag is fee if you are a AAdvantage® Aviator® and Citi® / AAdvantage® cardholder / AAdvantage® Gold member / oneworld® Ruby member.


{bike friendly} Like American Airlines, Delta treats bikes as a standard bag if under 115 linear inches and under 50 lbs. Note: They will not accept the bag if over 115″ or over 110 lbs. Fees range from $30 for the first checked bag and $40 for the second.

*1st check bag is free for Skymiles Medallion members, Delta American Express cardmembers, and Active Military members. I hold the Delta American Express Gold Card for a $95 annual fee that saves me checked bag fees, a $60 value on each round trip ticket.


{not bike friendly} JetBlue adds a $100 each way bike fee on top of the standard checked bag fee for bikes. To add fuel to the fire, they only accept cases of a maximum of 80 linear inches. They do state that if the case is under 62 linear inches and under 50 pounds, they won’t access the bike fee. I have yet to find a bike case under 62″…even the ORUCASE Airport Ninja bag is 67″.


{bike friendly} United treats bikes as a standard checked bag, if under 50 pounds. They do not have an “oversized bag fee” with bikes, which means you are good to pack up your two wheeled friend in any case. United’s checked baggage fees are $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second (add $5 if you don’t prepay). United Premier Silver (and up) members can check the first bag for free on domestic flights.


{not bike friendly} Bags fly free, right? Not so fast, similar to JetBlue, Southwest has a 62 linear inches + under 50 pound restriction for bike cases to count as a normal checked bag. Cases between 62-80 linear inches and up to 100 pounds incur a $75 each way bike fee. With these dimensions, the triathlon specific bike bags would not be able to be checked with Southwest Airlines.

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