Author Topic: United Airline Policy on Bikes  (Read 8868 times)

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Offline hermstephen

United Airline Policy on Bikes
« on: May 26, 2015, 12:58:18 pm »
Recently a United Airlines rep told be that if my bike crate was oversize and over 50 pounds I would have to pay both an oversize fee and overweight fee - $200 + $200 - to take my bike to Europe.  Can anyone tell me if they have ever been so charged by United?  Thanks

Offline John Nelson

Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2015, 04:22:32 pm »
What fees actually get charged are somewhat up to the whims of the agent checking you in, especially because the baggage policies on the web are not always written in an unambiguous manner. From my reading of the United policy (in italics below), it seems like you won't be charged both a oversize and overweight fee. But my reading, or the interpretation of the "rep" you talked to, is completely immaterial. It only matters what the agent who checks you in thinks. And that may depend on how much sleep he got the night before, what he had for breakfast, and how nice the passenger in front of you was to him.

United accepts non-motorized bicycles with single or double seats (including tandem) or up to two non-motorized bicycles packed in one case as checked baggage. If the bicycle(s) are packed in a container that is over 50 pounds (23 kg) and/or 62 (158 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), a $150 USD/CAD service charge applies each way for travel between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a $200 USD/CAD service charge applies each way for all other travel. If the bicycle(s) are packed in a container that is less than 50 pounds (23 kg) and 62 (158 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), there is no bicycle service charge, but the first or second checked bag service charges may apply.

Having said all that, there's no way I'd fly United with a bicycle, not as long as there are still bicycle-friendly airlines such as Frontier and Southwest around. Note that it should be fairly easy to meet the 50-pound restriction, and fairly impossible to meet the 62-inch restriction.

Offline AlbertoC

Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2015, 12:34:08 am »
I´d avoid United if I could. Not only do they have a crap bike policy, amongst the worst I know of, but also they try to trick you with the permitted box sizes. We´ve recently taken Copa, which has a similar policy to United (yet at half the price) and noticed that it is indeed very difficult (possibly impossible) to meet the size criteria - in our case we packed the wheels in cardboard (26 inches) and by themselves they already exceeded the size. The airport agent did not notice though, but it was well off by 10 cm.

British Airways are fairly good, if you can use them.

Offline rickpaulos

Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2015, 11:16:45 pm »
Last time I few United with a bicycle, I felt very fortunate to get it back in 1 piece. That was quite a while ago, when "Bikes Fly Free" at United if you are a member of various cycling organizations. That's gone now.

1: the standard bike box is too big to fit in many of the the bomb scanners so the TSA ripped it open to do a swab inside the box.  The TSA just put 1 piece of tape over the top.
2: on the return, the TSA ripped open the bottom of the box where the staples are and did their swab.  No tape or anything else added to keep the box shut.  Once the staples are gone, the standard cardboard bike box loses all it's strength.  Big items go in first, meaning a few tons of suitcases are dumped on your bike for the duration.  FYI, you are not allowed to assist!
3: when i got off the plane, I was waiting for the bike at the baggage carousel.  I caught a glimpse of a service door opening and my bike box came flying into the room and the door slammed shut.  Fortunately I had put all the loose parts in a plastic grocery bag, knotted that shut, put that bag inside another plastic grocery bag and tied that to the frame.  Otherwise all the parts would have been lost too.  I'm glad I didn't take an expensive bike that trip.

I would never fly again with a good bike in a card board box.  Or my Trico Iron case as that is difficult to close up, far beyond the ability of the TSA.

Flying to Europe? There are plenty of European air lines that don't charge for bikes, don't require they be boxed or crated and treat flyers like customers instead of criminals.

It can be well worth driving hours to get to an international airport and just bypassing USA regional airlines.  I'm a four hour drive from O'Hare. The gas & parking are much less than the extra puddle hopper flight to get there. The drive time isn't much different when you include layover time and check ins. And I can use a foreign airline directly.

For all domestic trips involving air travel, we now ship our bikes fedex ground or ups in advance in Trico Iron cases.

There are other sports specific shipping companies that can work well.

Sometimes you will be way ahead to just buy or rent a bike at your destination.

Gotta have a good bike of your own? Consider getting a Bike Friday, a Ritchie Breakaway or a bike with S&S couplings. All those can fit in large suitcases that the TSA and airlines handle just like all the other baggage.  Just don't wear your cycling gear to check in to give yourself away.


indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2015, 10:16:36 am »
For all domestic trips involving air travel, we now ship our bikes fedex ground or ups in advance in Trico Iron cases.

Have you looked into Bikeflights.com? I will be using them again for the second time next week. They are essentially a FedEx discount service. You buy on line and they email you the prepaid shipping labels. Their web site even has a drop down menu with the dimensions of popular bike cases.

Shipping 65 lbs. estimated weight of box, bike and rack round trip between Philly and Rapid City, SD. Total with $1,500 of insurance and $5 surcharge for pick up at a LBS in Rapid City is $115 round trip for 4-day shipping. I will be flying Delta, which charges $150 each way.

Offline neil

Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2015, 07:27:57 am »

Flying to Europe? There are plenty of European air lines that don't charge for bikes, don't require they be boxed or crated and treat flyers like customers instead of criminals.


Which airlines?
The only one that has a 'free' policy is Virgin Atlantic where they are carried as sports equipement
British Airways do too, but you must get under a certain size and weight (23kg) not impossible
Icelandic air are opening up a few routes, but do charge

I flew United 2 years ago as led a tour round Yellowstone and they were the only connecting to Jackson from the UK. $150 dollars each way

   Neil

lloydclara

  • Guest
Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2017, 05:45:26 am »
Very useful information for travelers. I also suggest to visit Here for all united airlines information and reservations..
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 05:47:32 am by lloydclara »

Offline DaveB

Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2017, 09:21:39 am »
As mentioned above, the 50 pound weight limit is not too difficult to meet.  However, the only way to meet the 62" combined L+W+H length limit with a "standard" bike is one with S&S or similar couplers  that allow disassembly and fits into a case meeting that limit.   S&S Machine sells a case that just gets under the 62" requirement.

An alternative is a Bike Friday or similar small wheel folding bike which can easily fit in a box under that limit.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 09:27:00 am by DaveB »

Offline janetanorth

Re: United Airline Policy on Bikes
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2017, 06:06:20 pm »
I second the recommendation for Bikeflights.com
I haven't used them for overseas travel, but they certainly know what they're doing from my experience within the US, including Alaska. I enjoy the delivery right to my destination address, avoiding the cumbersome airport transfers. However, I travel with a Brompton folding bike in a B&W suitcase of which they recognize the size and approximate weight. Their website has a lot of useful info, and they also provide boxes.
You also are entitled to a discount with your ACA membership.