Alaska Airlines Bike Experiences

On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with Alaska Airlines (you can share your experiences here).



Auckland-LA-Vancouver-Stockholm with British Airways

I brought my bike with me when I shifted from Auckland, NZ, to Stockholm, Sweden in August 2005.
I bought my ticket with BA but flew Qantas from Auckland to LA, Alaska Airlines from LA to Vancouver (where I had a two week stop-over) and then BA Vancouver to Stockholm via Heathrow.

I was worried I would end up paying overweight. I had the piece-system (2 x 32 kg, max height + width + depth of each piece 158 cm) and as anyone can figure out a bike does not fit those dimensions.
When questioned BA gave lots of different answers including ‘they don’t usually measure’ but when cornered they said that the correct procedure at check-in would be to count a too big box as two pieces. (www.britishairways.com/travel/bagsport/public/en_se)
On the other hand it is the airline that you check in with that decides, in my case in Auckland that was Qantas. Qantas provides bike-boxes (cardboard) which are 140*30*80 cm (way over the size-limit) and they say one bike counts as one piece. (www.qantas.com.au/info/flying/beforeYouTravel/sportingEquipment)

I decided it was worth a try and packed my bike in a card-board box (free/cheap from bike shop). Front wheel, handlebar, pedals and derailer came off. I wrapped sensitive parts in bubble wrap and filled the empty space with clothes that I wanted to bring. I put tape on all corners and sides and secured the box with more tape and two straps around it. My bike is 13 kg, the box when packed was 30 kg.

Apart from a randomised hand-search of my entire luggage, check-in in Auckland (Qantas) was hassle-free. At LAX I had to pick up my luggage, take it through customs and trolley it myself to my connecting flight in another terminal.
After my stopover in Vancouver I checked in with BA and they didn’t even bother weighing the box.
In LA and Vancouver the bike came on a special oversize luggage band.

On some of the other postings it seems to me people have been trying to hide the fact that they are bringing a bike. I don’t see why. My bike-box obviously contained a bike (it said KONA all over it) and I was more a tension-braker in cues than a problem in any way. It even made it possible for me to bring more stuff, since the volume in the bike-box is about twice that of a maximum suitcase.

The bike-box has done its service and is now retired. The bike survived well, no scratches or dents, and apart from the lousy information from BA prior to my flight I am very happy.

Good luck with your travels!

Anna Rossander, September 06, 2005

Does anyone have experience with traveling Alaska Airlines?

Has anyone flown Alaska Airlines with a bike? I fully expect to pay the extra fee at this point (I also have a hard-shell wheel case), but any tips or experience you can offer would be great.

craig, June 21, 2003

Flying since 1/1/2003 (Screening)

Just wanted to post what I learned while flying home to Anchorage from Phoenix under the new every-bag-will-be-screened policy. The morning of Jan. 3, I checked my Performance Cargo Case with Alaska Airlines at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. The ticket clerk charged me the $50 fee (which I've always dodged in the past) but said nothing about my padlocks, which two airline employees OK'd before I left Alaska in December.

Just as I was about to walk through the metal detectors and enter the concourse, I was paged to return to the counter. They then handed me off to a TSA baggage screener who took me into a screening room and allowed me to open the case for inspection and re-lock it, although she reminded me several times that she could have cut the locks (they're hardened Master locks, so that wouldn't have been easy). She suggested leaving it unlocked in the future, or arranging at the check-in counter to be present for its inspection (if the ticket agent is kind enough to arrange such a thing).

I was prepared to remove the locks and leave them off if required, and in preparation for that event I taped packing instructions inside the case lid and placed two warnings on the outside emphasizing that the contents must be properly packed and secured; I know this wouldn't necessarily ensure careful handling, but it might strengthen my argument for reimbursement if something arrives damaged.

In the future, I plan to leave nothing in the case except the frame and wheels, which I hope will increase the likelihood of an easy inspection and a gentle re-packing if the TSA screener recognizes and appreciates my effort to make his/her job a little easier.

Stuffing my seatpost, skewers, pedals and tools inside another checked bag will be easier than worrying about their safe passage through the inspection process.

Tim Woody, January 10, 2003

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines charges $50 (!) to ship a bicycle and requires that it be in a box, no exceptions. They will provide a box if they have one. They recommend that you call a few days before the flight to have them have a box sent to your departure airport and they will put your name on it.

I found that the outer chainring was bent when I got the bike back meaning they had dropped the box. Obvious conclusion is that one should take the whole crankarm-chainrings assembly off before putting the bike in the box. Put a crankarm removing tool (Pedro's is the smallest and cheapest.) and an 8 mm allen wrench in your toolkit.

One ultra-specific note: If you are bicycling the Haul Road in Alaska going north to Prudhoe Bay (and you certainly should - it is one of the world's great rides) there are plenty of bike boxes already up there because most riders fly in, depart headed south, and leave the bike box behind. BUT check carefully in advance anyway because Prudhoe Bay is literally the end of the world and there is no bike shop. You could spend days there waiting to have a bike box sent to you.

jack kessler, October 27, 2000

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