On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with Aer Lingus (you can share your experiences here).
Aer Lingus and boxed bikes
I haven't traveled to Ireland this year, but last summer Aer Lingus accepted my bike without boxes each way. They complained a bit about it, but they accepted it. Their website "Baggage" section still says this, as of Oct. 1:
"Golf bags, surf boards, wind surfing equipment, skis, snow boards, bicycles*, sports guns and ammunition (see restrictions for guns and ammunition) and fishing equipment are accepted as baggage under the following conditions:
North America flights: Normal baggage allowance rules/restrictions apply.
All other flights: Flat charge of â¬30 / Â£20 / AED125 one-way**.
*Bicycles departing Amsterdam airport must be boxed or bagged. These can be purchased at the airport.
This hasn't changed since I started going from Chicago to Dublin with my bike about 6 years ago.
While it's entirely possible that Aer Lingus now won't accept unboxed bikes, I'd confirm this by phone and by quoting their website before going to unnecessary effort.
(It would also help if we all knew the departure and arrival airports; maybe there are local conditions that create different requirements in different airports.)
Aer Lingus requires box
I had found a lot of old internet posts claiming Aer Lingus simply "bagged" your bike and did not require a box. Times and procedures have changed. If you're flying Aer Lingus, box your bike.Paul, September 29, 2006
Bike on Aer Lingus O'Hare to Shannon and return
I have been bike touring in Ireland every spring for decades. I bring my bike to O'Hare boxed in a new-bike box supplied by my local bike shop. Up to 2004 I would arrive early at Shannon for my return to O'Hare, tip a lad from Airport services 2 euro to help me find a box stored in their basement, and re-box my bike for the return trip. In 2004 the check-in people offered me a plastic bag, which I accepted and my bike went on the plane with a minimum of fuss. In 2005, the check-in clerk told me that Aer Lingus does not provide bags and never did. After a confab, they agreed to take my bike un-bagged and unboxed.
The AerLingus agent in Chicago just informed me (March 8, 06) that Aer Lingus no longer provides bags. So I will try to find something to bring along and store in the Jamaica Inn Hostel for my return trip.
CAUTION!!! to avoid damage to your frame or rear drop-out, ALWAYS unscrew your rear derailler and tie it to the frame before boxing or bagging it. It's worth the extra trouble. (If the bike is unboxed, you may have the chain badly snarled by handlers backing the bike up.)
Crushed boxed frame flying Dublin - Budapest with Aer Lingus, refused compensation
I moved from Dublin to Budapest last summer, and brought my bike with me, boxed per Aer Lingus's regulations, accepted by them for the regular fee, and no waiver of liability signed.
On arriving in Budapest and checking the bike at the airport, I found that the rear-triangle of the frame had been bent in sideways (likely due to huge weight being placed on the box when laid flat). I reported this following all the usual channels, and only after 4 months of continuous phone calls and letters did Aer Lingus reply to me to state "we will not pay for (sic) fragile or valuable items carried by us, whether we have knowledge of the package or not". Still being pursued via solicitor in Ireland. Very disappointing.
Aer Lingus, Dec 2005, Boston to Dublin
Man, that couldn't have been easier.
I checked Aer Lingus' web site to see what it said: 1 bike + 1 bag = 2 pieces of checked luggage. No box necessary unless flying out of Amsterdam. Sweet!
I called the Aer Lingus 800 number just be on the safe side and was told that I'd have to box the bike. Well, I had better things to do than get a box. Besides, a box is clearly over the max 62 linear inches and while a bike is also oversized, it's less obviously so. Instead I printed out the part of the web site that says bikes only need to be boxed from Amsterdam and folded it in with my ticket confirmation.
I dropped my saddle, spun the stem off to the side, rolled the handlebars under the top tube, and took off the pedals. When I got to Logan, the counter agent had to call her super over and I was told how to prepare the bike to travel. (Everything I'd done plus remove the front wheel and affix to the frame.) I hooked the wheel over the bars and fastened it with a toe strap in about 30 seconds (20 of which was rooting around in my bag for a wrench--track wheels, dontcha know), much to the agent's surprise.
By the time I got through customs in Dublin, there was my bike already unloaded and waiting for me. Apparently the baggage handlers didn't like the wheel attached to the non-drive side of the frame, so they moved it over, even refastening the strap. Good men!
With the aid of a wrench and a multitool, it was ready to roll in just a couple of minutes.
I'm moving here indefinitely, so I can't report on the return trip.
Airline Bike Policy
We travelled from Adelaide - Australia with Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, KLM to Amsterdam, and Aerlingus to Dublin in August 2005.
We were told By KLM (who issued the tickets) bikes would cost 80 Euros and MUST be boxed.
When my partner left 2 weeks before me she was charged A$140.00 as the Quantas staff acting on behalf of Malaysian Airlines who ran the flight on behalf of KLM ... insisted the bikes was excess bagage..!! 2 weeks later when I left there was no charge....!!
On the way home the 80 Euros charge was confirmed by KLM. But when booking in with Aerlingus who ran the first leg to Amsterdam on behalf of KLM the fee we paid was 25 Euros per bike.
Bikes were boxed and suffered considerable damage to the boxes each time - only minor damage was done to the bikes - scratches , broken tail & headlights. lunch papers and other rubbish had been pushed in through some of the many holes in the boxes on the way over.
Bikes on Aer Lingus and cycling in England
I just got back from my 6th trip to Ireland. Each time I've used Aer Lingus to fly direct Chicago to Dublin with my Trek 520. The Aer Lingus website says bikes coming from Amsterdam must be boxed, but it ONLY mentions boxes in that one place. So I've taken my bike unboxed to the Aer Lingus check-in a total of 12 times now (6 round-trips) and I've been able to have the bike rolled away each time. The only damage was a rear light being broken, and a couple of times one brake hood was twisted a bit. This time, Aer Lingus check-in staff in Chicago did check with a supervisor when I rolled my bike up, but they returned to help me without question. On the way back, the check-in person said I needed a box, but before I was finished saying that their website didn't seem to say that, the check-in person next to mine said that I didn't need a box. They asked if I could turn or remove the pedals, but my wrench for that in my other checked bag (a large sports duffle bag with 3 of my panniers) had already gone down the chute, so I didn't even do that. I think these days boxing a bike may not be safer; it's pretty easy for the baggage checkers to examine an unboxed bike, but poking around into a box with a bike seems to cause more problems. I had a friend fly Lufthansa from Chicago to Frankfurt (May 2005); he boxed his bike with a box provided at the airport, but the front axle dissapeared somewhere in flight.
From the Dublin airport, it's a 45 minute pedal into town; there is an attempt at provided a marked bike lane, although it's a bit hard to follow.
I took my bike on the ferry from Dublin to Liverpool (and returned the same way a week later), without problem; they didn't charge extra for the bike. I went on with the motorized traffic, and a crewmember helped me secure the bike to a wall with a lenght of rope; he seemed to do this all the time.
In England, I originally wanted to explore the "Trans-Pennine Trail," but had great difficulty finding maps despite website promises that they were widely available. Without map, the trail was very hard to follow; several times I just lost it at busy intersections, and I gave up and went on local roads through Manchester, not a relaxing way to ride. In Manchester, in the British Printing Office store, I bought a detailed guide to British canals, showing the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and its towpath. This was given a CTC Bike Touring Route Number, so I figured it would be fun to return that way. But after a pleasent first day, the second day the towpath turned into a narrow, rocky foot path, nothing I would call suitable for loaded touring even with knobby tires. Add rain to make the 6" rocks slippery, put the 6" wide path that was often grass-covered only two feet away from the edge of the canal, and you have another unpleasant ride. I went back to surface roads and even a train to return to Liverpool. The trains in West Yorkshire around Leeds all took bikes; there are train cars with a bicycle symbol marking the entrance to an area where there are two "Y" fittings on the wall that keep a bike upright with the aid of a bungee. No extra charge for bikes.
Aer Lingus: New Procedures
I just spent a month with my bike (TREK 520) in Ireland. I flew Aer Lingus for fourth time. This time, the Chicago O'Hare counter was quite friendly and open. They asked that I take the pedals off, so I did, but I didn't turn the handlebars or remove anything else, or bag it or box it. I just wheeled my bike up, said that last three times they wheeled it down to the plane, and about 20 minutes later somebody came and got it after it had been swabbed down and checked by the baggage security station. It arrived in Dublin with no problems.
BUT: Returning from Dublin, after I had checked my bag with all my tools, the counter person said that I would have to box the bike. I said I didn't need to box it on the way TO Dublin. She then said that I would have to bag it, and that I would have to remove the handlebars, front wheel, and pedals. I told her I didn't have the tools to do this, and pointed out that last year even with the front wheel off, the bike would not go through their large baggage X-ray station in the Dublin airport. She said that there wasn't anything she could do. I pointed out that I was able to check it the last three years without difficulty, and I pointed out again that I had not been required to do this to get the bike there. I stood there looking helpless. She said that they couldn't take the bike down to the baggage area as they had in the past. The person next to her suggested she call someone. She did, and a minute later she said that someone would be up from the baggage handling area to wheel my bike down. They came and wheeled the bike down to the plane; it arrived without damage.
By the way: Last summer I deflated the tires ALL the way, and when I got it back at the end of the trip, I had two flat tires. Pinched tubes, probably from somebody 'bouncing' it a bit hard on the tires loading/unloading. This time, I left them partly pumped up and had no flats.
Aer Lingus says: BOX YOUR BIKE
I just called Aer Lingus, delighted to have read that bikes need not be boxed to travel in the plane to Shannon. BUT the young man at Aer Lingus informed me that the new rule is that the bike must be in a box. However, if it is only one of the two pieces allowed there would not, he said, be an additional charge. Otherwise there would be a $50 charge if it was a third piece.David Levine, June 23, 2004
Amsterdam - Dublin with Aer Lingus
I flew Aer Lingus from Amsterdam to Dublin (and back) in september 2002. Had to pay 25 Euro twice, a special 'bike tariff'; still cheaper than paying for the overweight.
A bought a large carton box for 14 Euro at Schiphol (= Amsterdam Airport). At Dublin Aiport I had my bike wrapped in saran for 5 Euro. No damages either way.
I flew Aer Lingus from Chicago to Dublin in June 2001 and in June 2002 and in neither case did I pay extra for the bike. It had air removed from the tires, but other than that was rolled off into the baggage area both times just fine.
I will be touring in France this June, but I have goten so fond of Ireland that I'm flying Aer Lingus into Dublin for a couple of days before going to Cork for the ferry to Brittany. I don't know for sure what the policy will be, but I bet that with fewer travelers in general these days, they won't have a problem with the bike going free.
Someone asked later Did you not box your bike on the international flight?
No. I didn't expect that I would have to, based on Aer Lingus information on their website, and I didn't have to. That was one reason for using Aer Lingus in the first place. (I have always wondered why baggage handlers would be BETTER able to handle a huge flimsy cardboard box full of bike better than a bike on wheels that one could ROLL anywhere, and apparently Aer Lingus wonders the same thing.)
The first time I flew to Ireland, the check-in clerk had a big bag materialize from nowhere and asked if I wanted to put the bike in it (no cost). The bag was a large transparent polyethylene bag, about big enough for half or 2/3rds of the bike to fit.
I tried to put the bike in it and somebody else came up with another bag to put the back end in, and I used tape they supplied to tape (loosely" the two bags over the bike. This was "to prevent scratches" they said as I was doing the taping. I asked if it was necessary and they said no, but they had the bags in case I wanted to use them.
The second time I flew to Ireland, I skipped the bags entirely and nobody said anything. The bike didn't have any major damage either time; I didn't closely inspect it for new scratches, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary either time so I doubt there was much damage. The bike (a Trek 520) had front and rear racks, but I packed the panniers in a cheap thin nylon athletic gear bag as my second (free) piece of checked luggage.
The first trip, I actually forgot to deflate the tires, and remembered half-way through the flight that I probably should have. But somebody had done so for me; both tires had been deflated by someone (the presta valves were open). The second time I deflated the tires almost all the way before I took it to the counter.
John Wager, April 22, 2003
We took two bicycles, one boxed and one bubble wrapped, from Seattle to Boston to Shannon, Ireland via Horizon and Aer Lingus in mid-August '01.
I had called ahead to confirm fee amounts and was told by Horizon it was to be fifty US dollars per direction per bike. This was confirmed at the airport and policy seemed consistent no matter who we asked/tried to get out of it by talking to. I reached Aer Lingus by phone and talked to the most pleasant people, who chuckled at my question of fees for a bicycle and said, "Of course not!"
Having one bubble wrapped and one boxed bike turned out to be an interesting experiment and both bikes arrived damage free in Ireland, both had damaged derailers on arrival home in Seattle. We located a B&B on the day we arrived in Ireland, made a reservation, and mailed our packing materials (a light box full of old inner tubes, bubble wrap, etc.) to the woman who owned it, who was glad to keep it for six weeks for us and presented it to us in our room when we arrived at the end of the vacation. It worked out really nicely.
Also-had no difficulties returning through the airports after 9-11-01...just the occasional odd/suspicious look as everyone was jumpy.
Flying with bikes since 9-11
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I flew to Ireland with 4 others Oct. 1 and we went right through in both directions. The 5 bike boxes didn't slow anything down.We flew on Aer Lingus.
Aer Lingus, Dublin to Boston
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As long as you mention Ireland, here's a problem that I had recently on Aer Lingus --
I borrowed a plastic bike box from my local LBS, and disassembled the bike into it. It got to Ireland without a problem, as checked luggage and with no extra charges, and it came through fine. At Dublin, we rented a car and drove it to my wife's mother's house in Kildare, where I put it back together. The bike was my transportation in the country area they live in, so that my wife could use the car to drive her ma around.
Since I was coming home to Boston a week before my wife, I suggested that she keep the bike in Ireland, so that when she arrived, I could pick her up with our car and drive her, her luggage, and my bike home. She balked at that idea, fearing that she'd pay an excess luggage charge since she'd have two suitcases and a bike box. Whereas, if I brought the bike by myself, I'd have a backpack, a small daypack (that I used as a carry-on), and the bike box, all of which could go with me at no charge.
My plan in Boston was to take the Commuter Rail to my home, saving a $45 cab fare. But since Boston has no direct connection between the rail and Logan Airport, but instead, connects the two via a shuttle bus and subway that required a transfer and a couple of stair-climbs, getting the bike home alone was a problem. I couldn't do this with a bike.
So my wife called Aer Lingus, in Dublin. The telephone person said that they could hold the bike in Boston for a nominal fee ($1 a day, very cheap). Storing it at the airport would let me return with a car at my convenience and bring it home.
After the first leg of the flight, from Dublin to Shannon, there was a layover. Moseying around the terminal at Shannon, I saw an Aer Lingus Information booth. I figured I'd find out more about what to do when I got to Boston. So I asked him about storage arrangements.
I don't know about that, this guy said, but don't worry, we'll get you sorted.
Less than assured, I got back on the plane, and asked a stewardess if she was familiar with the procedure for storing luggage at Boston.
I've never heard of that, she said, ah, but don't worry! You'll be all right.
You can predict what happened in Boston. None of people in the Customs Hall who were standing by to assist deplaning passengers had a clue about storage facilities. I finally got bumped up to a guy named Jarlath Keaveney, who was some kind of supervisor.
Essentially, he called me a liar -- or more accurately, he called my wife a liar. He said that this was ridiculous information, that I'd never be told such a thing. When I suggested we call Dublin and find out, he said, It's after 8pm there -- no one is available.
I called my wife to double-check. She insisted that she'd been told I could store my bike with Aer Lingus, and she gave me the number in Dublin that she called where she got this information. I did. But unfortunately, Jarhead's statement was correct -- there was nobody in the offices at 8pm (Dublin time) on a Saturday evening.
I then went back to Jarmouth, and begged him just to stick it in an office for a day, so that I could come back on Sunday and pick it up. His answer? You've changed your story! You said you were going to leave it for a few days, now you want it in a day!. Then he turned on his heel and strutted away.
Of course, I was trying to be helpful ... but Jarbreath used the opportunity to call me a liar once again.
I then noticed that I was the last passenger leaving the Customs Hall, and that there were bags not picked up. I asked one of the other helpers what they did with them. They're going into storage, and if they're not picked up, we send them back.
Into storage! Into storage!
So could I put my bike into storage? Couldn't they just pretend I didn't pick it up?
No, no, no! If we did that for you -- we'd have to do it for everyone!, was the nonsense answer.
In the end, I took a cab from Logan to South Station in Boston. I had to jawbone with the cab driver about putting the bike in his trunk. It actually did fit, but he insisted that it was too big, that I'd have to wait for a van, yada, yada, yada (I suspect that the fare wasn't big enough for him).
Because I'd spent so much time arguing with Jarnose, I missed the train I'd intended to take, and I had to wait about an hour and a half for the next one (they don't run very frequently on Saturdays). I lugged it on board, my backpack on my back with my carry-on strapped to it. It took me two trips down the stairs at my destination to get everything off. I dragged it up the hill to my house, and got in at about 6pm, which was 11pm Irish time.
I'd arrived at Dublin airport at 9am, so it took 14 hours to get home. Three of those hours -- that's half the length of time it took to fly from Shannon to Boston -- were spent trying to travel the 15 miles from Logan Airport to my house.
And next time, I will have to arrange for some kind of car to meet me at Logan, or just leave the bike in Ireland an extra week. My lesson's learned.
Tom Revay, February 15, 2000
Tom Revay Dedham, MA
Bike Transport in Latin AmericaUnited Airlines to Brazil
My wife and I flew United Airlines Seattle - Chicago - Sao Paulo, connecting to a Varig flight to Curitiba on Dec 25-26 1998. When we purchased tickets in July, we verified with United that there was no bicycle charge on international flights. When we got to the gate, we were hit with $60 per bike (including the Varig segment). The agent was helpful, but talking with her supervisor and a Varig representative did not remove the charge. She claimed that the policy on charging for bikes on international flights had gone into effect in April, that all airlines were doing it, and that it applies to all destinations except Japan. United provided boxes at no additional charge. I got the impression that there might be more flexibility in the charge if we didn't have the segment on Varig. It is not true that all airlines charge, since our flight to Ireland on British Air / Air Lingus in August 1998 had no bike charge. When we arrived in Sao Paulo, we had to reclaim our bikes to go through customs and baggage inspection. Then we needed to take the bikes to Varig to check in. The 2.5 hours between flights was about the right length of time.
Our return flight was from Florianopolis to Sao Paulo on TAM, then United to Seattle. The people at TAM were great. One of the check-in workers was a former Brazilian cycling champion who spoke good English. They were all impressed that we had cycled in Brazil and we were invited to use the VIP lounge and introduced to the pilot when we boarded . We checked in the bikes unboxed with no charge. We were not charged the usual $8 domestic Brazilian airport tax. However, they could only check the bikes to Sao Paulo, not through to Seattle.
We had an hour and 45 minutes between flights, but we arrived in Sao Paulo half an hour late. We had to reclaim our bikes and find the United counter. By the time we got there it was about 30 minutes before departure. There was a huge check-in line, but we got express treatment. The agent initially told us that bicycles could not go as baggage. We said that we had flown them down on United. They accepted the bikes without boxes or payment, but said they might arrive the next day. We ran for the gate, but hit a huge line for passport control and missed the flight. We did get onto another flight that stopped in Miami. Our bikes made it home a day after we did, delivered by United. They had been put into boxes in Miami. One checked bike pannier also arrived the next day. I had packed my helmet in the top of it and it had gotten smashed. When I called United's toll free baggage number, they said that they were not responsible for damage to contents. I went to the Seattle airport and talked with an agent who gave me $25 for the helmet.Tyler Folsom, January 15, 1999