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Non-motorized Bicycles, including Bike Friday and Co-Pilot, will be accepted in substitution of a free piece of checked baggage at no additional charge provided the bicycle is properly packaged and the box containing the bicycle fits within the 62-inch sizing limit and weighs 50 lbs or less . (Maximum weight is 50 pounds and maximum size is 62 inches (length + width + height) per checked piece of luggage). The handlebars, kickstand, and pedals must be removed and placed inside the box. A $50.00 each-way charge applies to bicycles that don’t meet the above criteria. Bicycles packaged in a cardboard box or soft-sided case will be transported as a conditionally accepted item.
g. Special Items
The items listed below shall be acceptable for Carriage as Checked Baggage upon the Passenger's compliance with the special packing requirements and payment of the applicable One-way charge.
Bicycle (defined as nonmotorized and having a single seat) properly packed in a bicycle box or hardsided case larger than 62 inches in total dimensions will be accepted as Checked Baggage. Pedals and handlebars must be removed and packaged in protective materials so as not to be damaged by or cause damage to other Baggage. Bicycles packaged in cardboard or softsided cases will be transported as conditionally accepted items as outlined in Section 7h.
Southwest Airlines limits carryon bag dimensions to 10x16x24 inches.IMO this is the best argument for the extra box/suitcase method, but it has never been an issue for us. As a back up you likely could gate check your panniers, but on some airlines their will be an additional charge. We have never had to do this.