Alitalia Bike Experiences

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

Alitalia bike charges for full size bike boxes

Like another poster - Alitalia charged 150 Euros per bike each way from Toronto, Canada. Plus ground connection fees travel brought the total to $1300.00 CAD for our bikes.

Robert Pinder, February 17, 2012

Alitalia bike charges

Apr 2008 - Toronto to Rome(€150.00)to Sardegna(€20) for a standard bike travel case. Same home again

Robert Pinder, December 23, 2009

Alitalia Fees

I just completed a tour of Sicily flying from Boston and was charged going and returning 150 Euros with no ability to negotiate a reduction. I had misread the charge on their website otherwise I would likely have booked with another airline. They also required a 7 euro fee for plastic wrapping my cardboard box in which my tent and front panniers were shipped ,reason given "to protect from the box leaking contents" despite there being nothing there to leak.

Rob, April 16, 2009

Bike boxes at London airport; Lost bike - Alitalia.

In 2004 I flew from the states to London-Gatwick via U.S. Airways, spent a couple days, then flew London-Heathrow to Sofia Bulgaria via Alitalia (Italian Airline).

The U.S. Airways counterperson initially wanted to charge me for the bike, but I told him that bikes fly free international. He poked at the computer then asked to see my "Membership Card"(?) I assume he meant my LAB card, which I did not have on me. I told him it wasn't necessary on international flights. He checked with a supervisor, apologized and then allowed me to check my bike for free as one of my two checked items.

I abandoned my cardboard bike BOX (USD $10 - Amtrak) on arrival at Gatwick and purchased a new one at Heathrow. The airlines at Heathrow don't sell BOXes - they contract that to "Excess BAGgage Company" who operate few facilities and charge outrageous prices for BOXes. Allow plenty of time, because you'll be dragging your BOXed bike across terminals. Bring plenty of $$$, because they want a lot for their cardboard.

The BOX they supply is NOT the size I'm accustomed to - it's shorter in height and width but much wider. I had to remove the seat and wheels, but did NOT have to remove the pedals or turn the handlebars.

In retrospect I probably should have removed the pedals anyway because on the way back the pedals appear to have torn huge holes in the sides of the BOX.

Also, on the return trip, the bike did not show up in London. Alitalia filled out the "lost luggage" paperwork and assigned me a CASE number. I never could get an answer on the phone number they provided, but the website DID allow me to check on the status of my lost bike. After a couple of days it was delivered to my home in the USA, saving me the trouble of getting it home from the airport. I'm sure glad it was lost on the return trip instead of on the way out.

By the way, I believe "Excess BAGgage Co" charges 5 or 5-1/2 quid per item per day for storage.

(Oh yeah, the London Underground WILL give you a hassle if you bring your bike to Heathrow on the Tube. They're strict about which subways can carry bikes and which can't - some, such as the Picadilly line, which serves Heathrow, allow bikes only on certain segments. See the other articles here for instruction on biking to or from Heathrow.)

Adrian Hands, December 08, 2008

Unhappy experience: Boston--Milan--Marseille

In late June 2006, four of us flew on Alitalia from Boston to Marseille via Milan.

After standing on the check-in line at Logan, the check-in representative sent us to another line to pay the bicycle fee of 65 Euros ($80). Once we got to the front of that line, that agent graciously waived the fee, and we checked in the bikes (packed in hard-sided bike travel cases). Good start.

Three out of four of the bikes arrived in Marseille, the fourth bike simply disappeared. A digital camera was pilfered (stolen) from the luggage of one of us as well, though arguably packing a camera in checked luggage was not an inspired idea. Another of us had his hard suitcase crushed (we do expect Alitalia to pay for a replacement). Alitalia personnel were not helpful in locating the bicycle and simply shrugged regarding the stolen camera and the destroyed suitcase.

On the fourth day of the vacation, the bicycle arrived in Marseille up and was promptly delivered to our hotel in Provence. Our friend was able to ride with us during the three days the bicycle was missing because he was able to rent a low-quality bicycle at a local bicycle shop in a small town called Uzes.

Departing for Boston from Marseille, we again needed to go first to the check-in line and then to a second long line to pay the bicycle fee before returning to the check-in line. This time the fee was not waived and we indeed paid 65 Euros per bike. But the amazing part of the story was the process. We arrived at 4:45 AM for a 6:10 AM flight. The woman at the counter at which we were to pay the bicycle fee simply had no idea how to proceed. She suggested we wait for her boss who arrived after a half-hour. The boss gave instructions, and a flurry of paper in triplicate the like of which I haven’t seen since the 1980’s ensued. The paperwork for the bikes took about 20 minutes, and after much signing and paying we were at last ready to continue the check-in process. All four bikes did arrive in satisfactory condition in Boston.

We’ve traveled with our bikes to Europe many times over the past 20 years. Our Alitalia experience of lost bike, stolen camera, smashed suitcase, incredible paper blizzard and indifferent cabin service makes this airline number one on our “don’t fly” list.

Stanley Lapidus, July 07, 2006

More problems with Alitalia

Leaving out of Boston our outbound flight was delayed for just over an hour due to the plane arriving from Italy one hour later than scheduled. Missed our connecting flight in Rome to Pisa, had to be flown into Florence and then bussed to Pisa.

Casualties of this redirect were both bikes lost for 2 days and my luggage lost for 4 days. Bikes arrived at our hotel fine but the bags were wet inside (soft cases). The luggage upon arrival was completly soaked thru with a musty odor. Some clothes ruined by dye from belt/shoes. Gratefully there was no charge to fly with bikes out of Boston but upon leaving Pisa we had to pay 65 Euros for each bike. Not sure of the double standard there.

Next time I will make sure I reserve a spot on the plane for the bikes as I was told to do so by another passenger.

Elmer G. Demers, October 09, 2005

Alitalia - bike lost for 3 days in Italy

Just back from 10 day tour in Southern Italy.

Alitalia canceled my Washington/Dulles to Milan flight several hours before flight time with no explanation. They refused to re-book me until same flight next day, so I missed first day of tour and had to pay $130 for extra ground transport.

My bike was in a BikePro RaceCase, which is softsided, padded and wheeled. Alitalia did not put the bike on connecting flight from Milan to Bari and then "lost" it for three days. Constant phone calls to Alitalia yielded much run-around, but virtually no information. Bike was finally delivered to hotel several towns away on day 4 of bike tour.

On return flight, Alitalia delayed returning bike to me at Newark long enough to prevent me from making connecting flight, which added 3 hours travel time and forced me to fly into the wrong airport (Washington National), where I got to pay for another expensive ground transfer back to Washington Dulles near midnight.

I won't make the mistake of flying Alitalia again.

J Fisher, September 28, 2005

Bikes at Milan Malpensa airport

Just returned from a couple weeks in Italy.

Flew Alitalia from DC Dulles to Malpensa. Alitalia doesn't accept bikes in cardboard boxes, so I put them in nylon body bags obtained from a local surplus store. Bikes went both ways with no damage.

Alitalia says they don't accept paper boxes as they fall apart if they get wet. Some of our friends on another flight took their bikes in cardboard boxes, but wrapped them in shrinkwrap plastic and they were accepted. As always, it depends on the ticket agent you check in with. There is a "left luggage" (Deposito Bagiglio) room at Malpensa where we stored the bags. Oversize bags or bikes are 3 Euro a day. We put all three bags into one, so only charged for one bag.

We rode out of the airport due west to the Vizzola Ticino exit and from there we picked up the bike path along the Ticino and the canal heading south. Then got on a few smaller roads into Pavia. Train from there to Pisa.

Biked to Lucca, where we rented a villa for a week, then train to Cinque Terre. Stayed in Levanto, which is relatively tourist free compared to the five towns in Cinque Terre, but it's easy to get to any of the Cinque Terre towns by train or boat or even walking.

Then train back to Milan. Took the express bus from Milan Centrale station to Malpensa. The bus will take your bike in the cargo hold. One hour ride and it's 4.5 Euros. There is a great hotel only a mile from the airport, the Villa Malpensa Hotel. Four stars, but very convenient and they have great food.

Biking out of the airport is not very difficult and you only have to go about a half mile before you take the exit onto a quiet road. Biking along the traffic free path south is a nice start to a bike trip in a foreign country. There are towns along the way to stop at and eat. There is also an east-west canal path that takes you into central Milan if you wish.

The biking around Lucca insn't great due to congestion. From Florence to Lucca to Pisa it's pretty urban and heavily traveled. Riding up in the hills surrounding Lucca is nice, but you have to fight traffic to get there. Southern Tuscany and Umbria are much nicer in my opinion. Less traffic and small towns scattered about in a more rural setting.

Bikes on trains in Italy is always exciting. The train stops for one to two minutes. The bicycle car is either at the front or rear, but nobody knows 'till the train reaches the platform. So you park in the middle of the platform and wait for your train to determine which end you dash for. After you get to the bike car, you lift your bike up and into the train so it's a good idea to remove your panniers first.

About half the time, the train that's supposed to have a bike car doesn't or the doors don't work, so you have to fight your bike into a regular car which doesn't really have room for bikes. Then you get to wheel your bike thru several cars to get to the bike car with inoperative doors or have passengers stumble over your bike for the duration of your trip. Be patient, flexible and keep smiling and you'll get there. Even if it has to be the next train because the conductor wouldn't let you put your bike on his train. One final comment. Be sure to have your ticket validated in the little yellow machine before you board the train.

Dan Kluckhuhn, October 12, 2004

Alitalia requires bike travel bag

In preparation for a trip to Italy from Wash, DC, I checked with Alitalia for their latest requirements. They still allow the bike to be counted as one of your two checked bags, but no longer accept bike boxes due to security reasons. The agent told me the bike has to be in one of the zippered soft bags with front wheel , handlebars and pedals removed. These bags run around $100. or more.

Dan Kluckhuhn, July 04, 2004

Rome, Italy

We had the complementary problem of thinking about cycling IN to Fiumecino from Tuscany in order to catch a morning flight back to the US. We dreaded going through Rome to connect with the airport. Where would we find stay overnight? How would there possibly be room on the Metro during rush hour the next morning?

Somehow, we dug out a tattered printout from some web page containing a number for Maurizio B & B. And that was the end of our anxieties. Maurizio, certified mensch and a bike tourist¹s guardian angel!

The B & B is an apartment in a working class neighborhood near the Tiburtina station where our bus came in. We were an hour late but Maurizio waited for us patiently. The three bedrooms, two baths, and kitchen were newly-renovated, spotlessly clean, and luxurious--great beds, pillows, thick towels, etc.

Maurizio had waiting in our room:

  1. two strong bike boxes,
  2. a couple good hunks of bubblewrap,
  3. a magic marker, and
  4. packing tape.

This meant that we had our bikes packed up within an hour and were able to use the rest of the day sightseeing in Rome instead of madly blithering around bikeshops in search of boxes. That evening, Maurizio cooked us risotto, mushrooms, and roasted potatoes with rosemary for supper and showed us slides of his New Zealand bike trip.

Then, the next morning, the kindest act of all: For a ridiculously small extra charge, Maurizio strapped our bikes to the top of his car and drove us and our gear out to the airport through heavy traffic. He even hung around in case we had any trouble getting Alitalia to honor its commitment to take the bikes as a regular piece of luggage. (We didn¹t).

Contact Maurizio by email at: [email protected]

Check out the B & B at Randy Koch, May 15, 2000

Genoa, Italy

I recently flew out of Genoa, Italy. The bus from the train station to the airport amazingly takes unboxed bikes in the passenger area, but that was at a very uncrowded hour. it was great. Alitalia required boxes for the bikes, but did not charge extra. You could also ride to the airport through some gritty and congested areas. No boxes are available at the airport. There is no left luggage at the airport (discontinued recently due to security concerns).

Avrin Slatkin, May 23, 1999

Custom bikes with custom boxes

Thanks for your informative web site.
We have just returned from two months cycling in Europe with relatively few hassles. Our bikes were custom made with the frame coming apart. We had boxes made with wheels so the bike, helmet and bike shoes etc all fitted in and the box could be wheeled along footpath without the need for trolleys. The box measured approx 800cm x 800cm x 400cm and when fully loaded weighed 32 kg. Qantas carried the bikes for free, but there is a maximum load of 32kg. If a single item is heavier than this, the baggage handlers will not take it.

We took the bikes in the boxes on Intercity trains including the TGV within France and Italy without cost, although some manpower was needed to lift them on and off the train and up and down stairs on station platforms. Looking for signs on the train for disabled access proved helpful, as there was often more luggage or seat room and in two months of travelling I can't recall seeing anyone in wheelchair on a train. Most conductors were generally helpful and while other travellers commented on the size of the boxes, they were generally ignored. The boxes also slid easily into the luggage compartment of a bus.

We also transported the boxes on the Metro (bicycles are not allowed ) in Paris and on the RER line without incident, except on departure from Charles de Gaulle airport. To exit from the station at Terminal 2, it was necessary to insert your ticket and pass through a turnstile which would not accommodate the boxes. There were no station staff available so we ended up lifting the boxes over the barrier. We were flying with Alitalia from Paris to Rome, where we had a connecting Qantas flight to Melbourne. We had inquired when booking tickets and again on flight confirmation whether or not there was a charge for the bicycles and were told there was not. For them to be accepted by Alitalia we had to pay excess baggage and retrieve the bikes from the luggage hall at Rome and recheck them into Qantas, where there were no hassles. An expensive and hassly end to a great cycling holiday.

Kath Raulings, November 21, 1998

Leave a Comment