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Flying with a Bike on United Airlines

Flying with a Bike on United Airlines

First a few notes on air travel with a bicycle: 

It’s important to come to the airport prepared with a knowledge of airline policies and procedures. Screenshots or printouts of relevant information can come in handy to help clarify these policies for less well-versed airline employees. It’s also prudent to take baggage policies into account when planning a trip and buying tickets. Why take the budget airline if they are sticklers at the baggage counter and will likely charge you double or triple to fly with your bike? 

Lastly, a true Airport Ninja knows that airline employees don’t always play by the book, and this can both help us and hurt us as customers. Many gate agents will never look twice as your bags, while others are vigilantes who play fast and loose with the tape measure. Checking in early, approaching a well-rested-looking ticketing agent and being very polite, or using curbside check-in and offering a small tip are all strategies that can all help turn the odds in your favor. For more advice on how to be an Airport Ninja, see our blog Ninja Tutelage Lesson 1 - What's in the Bag?

United Airlines Baggage and Bicycle Policies at a Glance:

Please note that this information is subject to change and may not reflect the most recent information available on United's website. (Updated 11/13/17) 

Specifications

 

 

 

Dimensions

62 Linear Inches (158cm)

Oversize Fee

$200

Weight Limit

50lbs (23kg)

Overweight Fee

$100

General Baggage Fees

Domestic

Translatlantic

Transpacific

1st Checked Bag

$25

Varies

Varies

2nd Checked Bag

$35

Varies

Varies

Carry-on

Not Included in United Economy

 

 

Bicycle Baggage Fee

$150 (US and Territories)*

$200 (International)*

 

 

 

 *counted toward standard baggage allowance if under 62 linear inches / 50lbs. 

 

The Bottom Line:

Our team of highly specialized bicycle travel scientists gives United Airlines a Bicycle Flight Grade (BFG) of B. Standard baggage allowance and checked bag fees are in line with the other three major airlines. A carry-on bag is only included with Main Cabin or higher service classes, which is annoying. I wonder how long it will be before there is a surcharge for breathing the air. Bikes are counted toward the standard baggage allowance if they meet the size and weight requirements. However, the oversize and overweight fees of $200 and $100, respectively, are quite exorbitant. The bike fee of $150/$200 is not much better.

Your best chance to avoid paying fees is to pack your bike in the smallest possible bike case, especially one with no obvious markings that indicate that it is a bike. This is where the Orucase Airport Ninja comes to the rescue. Designed and tested by professional cyclists to minimize or even eliminate excess baggage fees. Become an Airport Ninja Today. 

"I bought mine about 2 years ago and since then I've more than made my money back on fees avoided. To date I have not been charged a bike fee by any airport and I'd estimate I've used it on close to 20 round trip flights. It's definitely made my work/life balance a lot more balanced being able to bring a bike with me when I travel."  -- Rob K., Airport Ninja (56cm Specialized Tarmac)
"I'm 2-3 for #worstretirementever so far, but 5-0 on not paying oversize charges on planes. Thanks, @paynobikefees!" -- Phil Gaimon, former World Tour cyclist, Airport Ninja (58cm Cannondale Supersix)

The Orucase Airport Ninja Bike Case for Air Travel