Have Bike, Will Travel

I’m planning a few race-specific trips this summer. For one of them, I’ve made the smart decision to use TriBikeTransport – because I can imagine that the last thing I’m going to want to do after a Full 140.6 is disassemble and pack back up my bike. As for two of the others (so far…) I already know that I will be flying with my bike. As if having to take apart, pack, put back-together and then repeat the whole process in reverse isn’t unpleasant enough, the whole finding a good airfare, while still accounting for the inevitable bike fees issue is yet another nuisance.

When it comes to actually purchasing the initial tickets, I like to recommend Kayak and Hipmunk for airfare searches, basically both different versions of the same concept. Hipmunk is a little more unique and visually displays a matrix of start time, flight length, layout length and price. You can rank based on any of the criteria but I personally think the “Agony” is the best (best price, shortest length, fewest layovers):


You can see here that I’m planning my trip to Williamsburg for the upcoming Rev3 race. I’ve actually already booked the tickets, but here I might opt for American because it’s the least agonizing combo of the available flights. Ah, don’t you love it – getting to choose a service based on which provider is the least agonizing compared to all of the other terrible options?

BUT—something I didn’t realize until after the flight is that I forgot to account for my bike and any charges that might involve. Whoops! With some airlines charging your bike bag both to and from the race, sometimes you end forking over as much money as if you had purchased an extra seat. While shopping around for my second race flight of the year, I was a little smarter the second time around and compiled a list of the most recent airline fees, pulled directly from the carrier’s website.

This was mostly for my own personal reference but I’d bet there are others out there who would find it helpful too. From best to worst, I present airline bike fees, current as of May 2013:

Bike Lovers:


  • AirTran: $75
  • Southwest: $75

Bike Haters:

  • United: $100
  • American Airlines: $150
  • Delta: $150

Their CEO is most likely to hit-and-run a bike and then tweet about it:

  • US Airways: $200 (both ways)

As if Virgin wasn’t bike-amazing enough, they also provide this nice little infographic along with their pricing explanation to make sure you are taking the right precautions when traveling with your bike. Now if only they would open more hubs in more locations!


Anyone else have any tips for travelling with a bike? What’s your go-to excuse for the question “what’s in that bag?” I have my go-to that has helped me escape many a bike fee but unfortunately it’s not always reliant (or they look inside the bag).