On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with Air Canada (you can share your experiences here).
Baggage rules changed Jan 2015 Air Canada
We have travelled Air Canada the last 6 years, with bikes packed with plastic bags the air line issues. We have never had a problem and signed the waiver as required, now there is a policy mentioning hard shell cases, and emails saying they are not insisting on them but recommended. And a policy of refusing not properly packed bicycles on check in ( its up to the way the staff that day feel that they want to treat you ) we love to fly into one airport and out of another since its so easy to travel around Germany's rail system.Terry Walsh, July 30, 2015
Folding Bicycle by Air Canada
I flew to Sierra Leone recently from Toronto with a Dahon in the "airporter" suitcase. It was 7 pounds over the 50 pound limit so they charged me a flat rate of $100 -- even though it was my only checked bag.
Meanwhile, someone else in our group flew Air Canada from Vancouver with a regular bicycle in a cardboard box and paid a $50 bicycle fee (and had all her other luggaged checked as well).
AIR CANADA MURDERS BIKERS
We left Brussels Belgium after a 3 week tandem holiday.
Day of departure Aug 15. We paid 35 Euros for our tandem case. It is a special case made to withstand heavy duty airline travel which weighs about 70 pounds.Our santana tandem decouples nicely into this case.
We had three connections: Montreal, Toronto, and Seattle.
Our shock is that the case did not appear at any of these points.
We immediately filed a claim. AIR CANADA customer support is located in INDIA. They will not give out any information. We are obligated to wait until AIR CANADA feels like contacting us.
It is now October 1 and still they have not given us any information. If they refuse to admit that the bike was stolen, I will be unable to file police reports in Europe and to register an insurance claim.
This bike has been in our family for 10 years and we were are completely devastated.
This is the first time we ever had problems flying with the tandem. It was the first time a we have ever flown AIR CANADA and it is certainly the last.
I am amazed that as we pay more ancillary airline fees, the airlines still hold the power over us, the average customer.
Isn't anyone upset over airline control of this nature?
Qantas from Canada to Australia and return..
In July 2006 I flew Winnepeg (YWG) to Brisbane via LAX and used Air Canada to LAX and Qantas to Brisbane. Somehow the bike (overweight at 70 lbs) was forgotten at Calgary by AC, but it DID arrive in Brisbane a couple of days later. Then I repacked the bike into 2 boxes and flew along with my IBEX (3rd box) to Cairns.
Then, for the next 6 weeks I bicycled across the Savannah Way to Darwin. At Darwin airport Qantas gave me 3 bike boxes at no charge and packing tape) and watched me pack the parts for the next couple of hours and I flew to Melbourne at no extra cost for checking in the 3 boxes.
I traveled from Melbourne by train to Sydney visiting friends but had to ship the boxes separately (at a cost of over $100 AUD) as there was no way to take the boxes on the train (no baggage facilities). In Sydney I had to pay someone to take the boxes from the freight facility in a suburb.
At the airport I paid Qantas just over $100 AUD extra because I was hugely overweight, and flew to LAX with Qantas. Then I flew with NorthWest to YWG via MSP. The boxes arrived when I did with no damage (in either direction). The fees I paid AC and Qantas were worth every penny since I was hugely overweight and the staff was really interested in the fact that I had bicycled across the outback and THEIR airline was carrying my gear 🙂
Air Canada Bike Charges
On My recent (May-June '06) flight Ottawa-London Heathrow return, Air Canada did not charge me for the bike. Perhaps the check-in staff were unfamiliar with the new policy.Bob Spicer, June 18, 2006
Air Canada - No more free bikes?
Not exactly earth-shattering news, but...
Air Canada has reduced its one-way charge for bikes to CAD$50/USD$50 (the charge used to be CAD$65/USD$50).
So, for Canadians at least, the charge has gone down by CAD$15.
Maybe I'll use that $15 to buy myself some in-flight food (that used to be free).
Air Canada now charges!
Yup, that's right. Check out their website:
CA$65 or US$50 each way.
How the mighty crumble...
Air Canada - No more free bikes?
Air Canada appears to be charging fees for bikes (effective October 12, 2005), whereas bikes used to be free on international services.
The info is on Air Canada's website:
Air Canada used to allow 2 pieces of baggage for international flights, one of which could be a bike.
This seems to be changing. Now, Air Canada will only allow 23kg of baggage, with no item larger than L+W+H=158cm. And this seems to apply on all of Air Canada's routes, both domestic and international.
And bikes will be accepted, but at a charge of CAD65/USD50 each way. Bikes have to be prepared in the usual way (pedals and handlebars). Then the bike should either be boxed, or Air Canada will provide a large plastic bag at check-in.
Feedback from other cyclists would be useful, to confirm whether Air Canada really is charging for bikes.
Bikes on Air Canada & Air New Zealand, Vancouver to Auckland
We flew with 2 bikes in March 2005 on Air Canada and Air New Zealand, from Vancouver to Auckland via LAX, and return from Auckland to Vancouver via SFO. There was no charge for the bikes; they each counted as one piece of checked baggage, and two panniers inside a plastic bag counted as the second piece of free baggage.
I prepared each bike by: removing the pedals, removing the handlebar mirror, turning the handlebars by 90degrees, covering the chain and derailleurs with plastic bags secured by cable-ties, by lowering and reversing the saddle, and by partially deflating the tires.
At the check-in at Vancouver, Air Canada suppied us with plastic bike-bags and a roll of tape, and we bagged the bikes at the counter. We didn't see the bikes at LAX.
On arrival at Auckland, the NZ Customs asked if the bikes were clean (I had washed them before leaving home, including the insides of the mudguards), and wanted to see our bike shoes (which we were wearing), and we were waved through. We then found the 'Bicycle Assembly Area' (what a great idea) near to the 'taxi' exit doors, and prepared the bikes for riding. Following other advice on this forum, we rode from the airport into Auckland: George Bolt Memorial Drive, Kirkbride Road, Wallace Road, Church Road, old disused Mangere Bridge (now for pedestrians and cyclists only), Onehunga Harbour Road, Onehunga Mall and north into the city. A 'piece of cake', and really nice to get some exercise after the long flights. For an online map go to http://www.wises.co.nz/map/ and select 'Auckland'.
On our return from Auckland, Air New Zealand did not require us to bag the bikes, and they went on board as I had prepared them (see above). At SFO, we had to clear the bikes through US Customs (why?), and then recheck them in with Air Canada (at a different terminal); Air Canada again provided us with plastic bike-bags and a roll of tape, and we bagged the bikes at the counter.
On all flights, the bikes arrived promptly, and almost undamaged (just one bike with a bent derailleur and a bent brake-handle - easily fixed).
Air Canada YVR-LHR with bikes
We flew Air Canada, Vancouver to London and return in April/May 2004 with 2 bikes.
We rode to the terminal at Vancouver, and rode away from Heathrow on arrival (and vice-versa).
At each end we wheeled the bikes up to the check-in counter (with pedals removed, handlebar turned 90deg., saddle lowered and tires partially deflated). Each bike counted as one piece of checked-baggage. Two panniers inserted into a large garbage-bag counted as a second piece of baggage (Air Canada also have heavy-duty plastic bags available at check-in). And my handlebar bag, with an additional shoulder-strap counted as carry-on to take into the plane. All went as expected, with no damage. No charge for the bikes.
At London Heathrow, it is relatively easy to cycle out of the airport. There are clearly marked bike-lanes from the central terminal going through the left-side service tunnel under the runway (also used by taxis, but there isn't room to pass, just stay in the centre of the lane, and make the taxis wait behind, until you get out of the tunnel). The traffic in the central terminal area and on the perimeter roads is very busy; just wear a hi-viz vest, and be safely assertive with the traffic!
Air Canada - Halifax to Copenhagen and back
I took my bike to Copenhagen July 24, 2004. Left from Halifax Airport with Air Canada; travelled via London Heathrow where I changed to SAS.
Showed up in Halifax with the bike all boxed up and ready to go. At the counter they were not sure if I had to pay a fee for the bike, so they asked me if I knew. I answered that according to Air Canada's website bikes fly for free as part of the 2-piece baggage allowance on international flights (excluding USA). They said OK, checked it through to Copenhagen and put it on the belt together with my 2nd piece of luggage.
Both the bike and my 2nd piece of luggage arrived in Copenhagen in perfect condition. No problems at all. On the way back everything went just as smooth.
Air Canada SFO-YUL-SFO
AC says you should have your bike in a box or otherwise they will provide a plastic bag (for the same cost of $50 US / 65$ CDN). I usually arrive at the airport with the bike and take off pedals / move the handlebar sideways; then I let them tell me what else they want. From SFO (last summer) the agent couldn't find a bag or box, but the bagage handler said he'd just take the bike as is. Of course, they make you sign a waiver, but this is a Trek 520 and I don't worry. In Montreal a bagage handler walked the bike to me.
From YUL it may sound more difficult because you have to pass US Customs there, so there's more walking involved (I hang the panniers to it and it becomes a luggage cart). I used the fast check-in (E-Ticket) and proceeded to the agent for the luggage. He was very nice, looked for a bike bag, again didn't find it, suggested I tape the pump to the bike because the security people could take it away from me, labeled the pannier and the bike. He forgot to charge me and make me sign a waiver, I think. Then US Customs was a breeze, and the baggage handler took the bike. The pannier had to go through X-Ray (notice: last year they panicked when the oblong mirror looked like a grenade in the X-Ray). Later I saw my bike arrive at the airplane on top of all the suitcases, and the man carried it to the baggage hold. In SF, the bike was delivered through the Continental special baggage door.
The pump is really useful because they always want the air out of the tires (notice you don't need to take it all out) and you need it if you ride home.
- this was on the non-stop AC 671/672 which ceases to operate in "low" season (whatever that is). If I had to change planes I would get a box (boxes can be bought from United at SFO).
- this bike is sturdy, but I move or remove the plastic things so they're not likely to break. It will be hit by random things.
- the air out of the tires thing: contrary to the agents' belief, the tires won't expand to big balloons and explode. They'll expand a little, but they're not likely to blow up even if you forgot to take the air out, so relax. I do it because it could be embarrassing to be the originator of a bang in the hold while in flight...
- I keep expecting the employees of the bankrupt airline to be grumpy, but so far they've all been very nice.
Air Canada to Montreal from San Jose, CA
I flew from San Jose, CA to Montreal on Air Canada. My bike was in a hard shell case and according to the Air Canada web site, I was to be charged $50 (USD) each way (USA to Canada does not qualify for "free" international transport). The initial segment was an Air Canada flight number, but operated by United Air Lines. UAL charged me their fee ($80) even though I had the printout from the Air Canada web site.
On the return trip, Air Canada charged me $50 as expected. I did complain to their customer service department about the $80 charge on the flight out. They said that the initial carrier's policy determines the charge, but gave me a $50 flight coupon I can use on a future flight in the interest of customer relations.
Air Canada to Spain
I brought my bicycle on a flight from San Francisco to Madrid (returned from Paris), via Toronto for no extra charge.
I wasn't required to box it - only to loosen the handlebars and remove the pedals. I went to various information booths at the airport in Madrid, asking in my gringo Spanish, "Busco mi bicicleta," only to finally find it on the normal luggage carousel...
Air Canada, Tango
My road bike has taken 2 flights on Air Canada ($65 each way) and my mountain bike has flown Tango 3 times ($25 each way). Take pedals off, turn the handlebars sideways and stash the bike in a plastic bag supplied at the ticket counter. The agent in Edmonton even showed me how to wrap the tape that they supply so that the bag remains securely on the bike. No damage, not even a scratch. The only incident was in Toronto (where else?) where the important looking guy with the walkie talkie and permanent frown kept pinching my tires until he deemed that I let enough air out of them. What a hoot!
Tip: don't keep your Park multi-tool or hex keys in your carry on luggage. You'll lose them going through security.
United, Air Canada and BikeFriday
Took our BikeFridays for a tour of PEI and Nova Scotia in June 2002. Routing was United from DC to Boston, Air Canada from Boston to Halifax. Some problems:
Going north, either United or Air Canada failed to load our four bags, including the two BFs, so the tour started 3 days late.
On the way back, at the change in Boston United asked me to open the BFs, which had already flown from Halifax and gone through US Customs in Boston. Apparently this minor change in routine confused them so much that they left one of the BFs behind.
The good news is that there was no damage and no fees.
Took my bicycle from Laguardia NY to Calgary on Air Canada. June 2001
LGA to Calgary: had the bike boxed. The attendent asked what was in the box I said a bicycle. She said OK and got it onto the conveyer. Off I went to board, without being charged. On my transfer in Toronto I got the box before my luggage came out. The only pain was that I had to lug the bike box, and luggage through customs to board my flight to Calgary. No big problem.
On arrival at Calgary I didn't see my bike at the large luggage door for a while. I went to the help desk and asked the attendent where large items like bikes could come out. He took a second and said follow me. My bike was waiting for me at a second door I hadn't noticed.
Edmonton to LGA: I had my bike compressed (seat down, pedals off, etc.) I asked the check in attendant for a bag for the bike and panniers. She quoted me a charge of CAN$50 which I paid. She was very helpful getting my bike and panniers packed in the bag. I just had to carry it to the large item check in. On the transfer in Toronto a minor snag when I was running a bit late. My bike didn't show up at customs and I panicked a bit but an attendant told me the bike passed through on a cart because I was running late. Arrival in Laguardia my bike was offloaded first!
Was impressed, and satisfied with the service.
I spent approx 1 hour at the Vancouver International Airport today confirming the "bike as baggage" policy with various airline representatives. Due to my screwed up routing on my upcoming trip, this involved airlines in the American/Canadian/Qantas/etc alliance (OneWorld) and airlines in the United/AirCanada/etc alliance (Star).
Here's the scoop:
"Official" IATA policy (not specific airline policy) is that on "International" flights, bike can travel in lieu of 1 of 2 total pieces of baggage. Turn handlebars, remove pedals, part deflate tires. Airline can require box, bag, nothing. Airline will not necessarily supply required box at the airport. On "domestic" flights, a surcharge can and usually does apply.
Both OneWorld alliance and Star alliance airlines will follow these IATA rules.
What is important to check is whether your flight is classified as "international". This is left to the individual airlines. For example, Canadian airlines considers flights between Canada and USA as "domestic" and will charge for a bike unless there is a direct connection with no stopover to an onward international destination. Qantas will consider a domestic flight in Australia for a stopover as "international", with no bike fee, if it is part of a larger international ticket. On my ticket, Qantas considers a flight from Australia to NZ as international for this reason, whereas they may consider this as domestic for other tickets. Apparently flights between European countries part of the EU are often considered domestic and subject to a fee.
Each of the airline reps said it is best to get all of your flight plans issued as one big ticket, including the international leg. If the international leg is on the same ticket, you will sometimes not pay for a domestic leg.
The other exception to this international/domestic rule will come about if you purchase certain cheap package, charter, or consolidator type fares even if on one of the airlines above. For certain of these fares, the airline limits baggage allowances for everyone (below the typical 2 piece, 70 lbs each). If this is the case, and it should be printed on the ticket (but always ask), you'll likely have to pay extra for the bike.
In terms of web links that provide this info, you might be able to find the baggage policies for international and domestic luggage. However, the only way to clear up the issue of whether you are on an "international" flight is to ask the airline directly with your ticket/itinerary in hand.
I had the airline reps. check out all of my flight segments to make sure I will pay no fee. This is still the best method. A travel agent can usually provide you with the same info, but I prefer to get it straight from the source.
My only problem now is that my flight segment from Nadi, Fiji is on Air Pacific which requires a box. Air Pacific will not provide a box. Do other airlines sell boxes there? Any friendly LBS's to try? Good hostel with storage too? Any other suggestions?
Adam in VancouverAdam Lubell, June 08, 1999