On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with American Airlines (you can share your experiences here).
American Airlines - DEN-CDG 2008
I flew American Airlines from Denver to CDG Paris in Feb 2008, returning in May 2008.
AA charged me $110 each way for my CrateWorks box (containing my Bianchi Axis, helmet, shoes, extra tires, etc.)
Nobody opened the box at any point. Box came through a bit scuffed, but ready for a few more trips.
I flew from Austin to Cancun in January 2008 and was charged $50 for a bicycle packed in a re-used cardboard box that I picked up for free at a local bike shop. From my research, I was expecting to pay $80; but like the check-in agent said, "The computer shows $50". My good!
On the return trip from Cancun to Austin in March 2008 I was charged $80 for the same box with the same bike. The agent agreed with me that the difference in the charges was inexplicable; but we both agreed that it was a waste of time to argue with what the computer said. Oh well...
The box was pretty beat up by the time it got back to Austin, but the contents did fine.
American Airlines Not Free and Easy
On return from New Zealand in April 2006, my boxed bike was checked through to Portland, Oregon. Upon landing at Los Angeles and clearing US Customs, I was told that the box was too big for the scanners just outside the Customs doors, and that I should take the bike to the American (Eagle) counter two terminals over. After wheeling it over there, the desk personnel there, despite my repeated objections, insisted on charging another $80 in excess bag charges, accused me of intentionally misinterpreting their rules, and threatened to ban me and the bike from the flight. I paid grudgingly, with their assurance I could appeal the excess charge later. When I did appeal, I was told that only the gate agents had the discretion regarding excess baggage charges. A complete runaround, in other words. I later wrote the President of the airline, and got no respoonse whatsoever. What a way to run an airline. American and its subsidiaries are off my fly list permanently.K Maddox, January 21, 2007
Bikes on trains in France
I just came back from riding the Chemin de San Jacques in France (the french component of the Santiago de Compostella). I flew into Paris, took a TGV to St. Etienne, and then a conventional SNCF train to Le Puy en Velay. On the return I took an overnight sleeper from Bayonne to Paris. Here's what I found out:
American Airlines charged me $90 for transport to Paris, but on the return I wasn't charged anything, even though the guy at the desk said he should charge me. They're just easier about bikes in France. They also opened my case in Boston, but only X-Rayed it on the return in Paris.
The TGV has a small space. I put my bike in a sleeping bag sack and it worked great. I later slept in the same sack later in gite etapes. You need to take the wheels off, but if you get a larger luggage area (and you need to go and get one because they fill up), then you don't need to take the handlebars off or remove the seat post. I took a road bike with dropped bars and no rack on the back.
On the conventional trains it's easier. You just stand the bike up in the rear end of the rear car and then go find a seat. No big deal, and it's free.
In the sleeper cars, they charge you $10 for the bike. In a sleeper there are four bunks. The bike gets the bottom bunk and you get the top. You may end up sharing one with someone else who has a bike, also.
In Paris, you can take a bike on the RER, but not the Metro. This isn't that big of a hassle, but does involve a bit more planning when looking at the maps in the train station.
I had a blast. Write to me and I'll send you pictures of what some of this looked like. It is a bit of a hassle to get the bike over there, but, boy, was it fun.
American Airlines/Vancouver Cycling/WestJet/Trico Hard Case/Canadian Rockies
Time for my annual posting after yet another great Backroads Bike Trip.
American Airlines: We flew from Fort Lauderdale Florida, through Dallas to Vancouver. AA tried to charge me for the 2 TRICO bike case. I argued that when I made the reservations, AAâs policy was that bikes flew free on international flights and that since our destination was outside of the United States, I should not be charged. The check in person was very nice and only charged me $50US for "oversized luggage" which was fair. Bikes made it to Vancouver in good shape. On the return trip from Calgary, it was a bit more of an argument, but with the crush of customers at the check-in counter, the woman ended up relenting and not charging me for the bikes. My guess is this is the last time I will be able to fly the bikes for free, based on what is going on in the airline industry.
Vancouver Cycling: Not knowing the area at all, I was able to find a very nice guy who runs a touring company who took us out for a few really fun rides around Vancouver for a very reasonable price. Check out Robbin at www.great-explorations.com. Vancouver is a very bike friendly place and there are some great bike shops in town as well.
West Jet: We flew West Jet from Vancouver to Calgary. West Jet Charged $50 CA for each bike case. Cased where handled well and everything arrived in good shape. West Jet has the FASTEST baggage handling I have ever seen. Our suitcases and the bike cases were already in the baggage claim area when we walked down from the gate.
Canadian Rockies: Some of the best cycling we have ever done. We did a bunch of rides around Banff on our own to get in shape for our 6 day trip and then rode from Banff to Jasper, including the Icefields Parkway and up Sunwapta Pass, which was brutal. Props to my wife for being so tough and killing that climb.
TRICO Bike Case: In my post last year, I noted that I was less than impressed with the TRICO case where one of the straps pulled through its slot. Again this year one of the same straps (relaced with a new one from TRICO) pulled out and the case with my precious Serotta was partially opened. While there was no damage to the bike, I am not happy with the reliabilty of this case. I will probably sell them on E-Bay and shell out the big bucks for the Sci-Con hard cases for next yearâs trip.
Buying/Traveling with Dutch Bikes
My wife and I purchased two Gazelle bikes in Amsterdam and traveled via Aer Lingus and American Airlines to San Francisco. The route was a flight from Amsterdam to Dublin for overnight, then Dublin to Chicago, to San Francisco on an AA flight.
Starting off, the train from Centraal Station Amsterdam required additional tickets for the bikes, 6 Euro each ticket. When we arrived at the airport we needed then to purchase bicycle boxes for each bike, 20 Euro each, they were available from the KLM Excess Baggage check-in located in Departures section 3, you pay for them first at the window besides the excess baggage section. The bikes need to have pedals removed and handlebars turned to fit inside the boxes.
When checking in, Aer Lingus charges 25 Euro per bike departing Amsterdam, then drop off the bikes again at the KLM Excess Baggage window. Upon arrival at Dublin, both bikes arrived before we did to the baggage claim area, slightly disconcerting. Also, one of the bikes was without the box, apparently it had been removed somewhere in Amsterdam, presumably because it did not fit exactly within the box, so mind the size of bike you get, if it doesnât fit in the box, donât expect to arrive with the box.
Overnight the bikes were checked into the left luggage at the airport, found across the street in the parking garage, 10 euro each. Departing Dublin, the bikes were again checked, no additional cost, and no box requirement, we did however have to wait at least 45 minutes for baggage handlers to arrive to walk the bikes to the plane.
In Chicago, again the bikes were at the baggage claim before us, we passed through customs with no problem, and immediately were at another baggage check for American Airlines, there the still boxed bike was checked for the following flight, but the unchecked bike posed a problem. American Airlines policy is that bikes must be boxed or be charged extra. We were told to go to the main check-in area, to deal with the bike. The person behind the counter went in search of a box, none could be found, and she told us they could check it at our own risk.
We proceeded to the TSA, which ended up having the bike walked away by a TSA screener to an excess baggage area elsewhere in the airport. Once we arrived at the San Francisco airport, we had about a 30 minute wait for the bikes to arrive at the Excess Baggage area. The un-boxed bike suffered a punctured seat, and broken chain guard. The boxed bike made it with some scratches, all of which was assumed would happen.
In short, allow for plenty of time to disassemble and reassemble your bike, and it was worth the trouble getting the bikes back, although I wouldnât want to do it again too soon.
International travel with tandem on American Airlines.
A real hassle explaining to the ticket agent for American at Santa Ana, Ca. that a tandem flies free if under 70 lbs to Switzerland if one of two pieces of checked-in luggage. After an hour agent finally found this on the computer and wrote it down for me to show another AA agent if there ever was a problem again--Country Code-N*CH Bag Star record regarding baggage.
Anyway, keep in mind that a Bike PRo Case is about 40 lbs and a tandem without pedals is about 30 lbs so that is about the limit. By the way, the scale at Santa Ana indicated 83 lbs for the bike and case (outrageous) and the scale in Zurich said 29 kilos (64 lbs).
Concerning the Bike Pro USA padded case--though it is expensive, I believe TSA and baggage handlers treat it very well. I zipped tied the zippers and it was never cut open and handlers seemed to always keep it upright on its wheels even at John Wayne when it would have been easier to put the case on its side and slide it down the oversize ramp.
Uneventful flight across US, 2005
I flew from Tucson, Az to Nashville, TN with a Performance Cargo Case box, summer 2005, on American Airlines. It took 30 minutes to pack the bike (full size, no couplings), 30 minutes to re-build it, ready to ride.
I failed to wrap the tubes (duh!) so my helmet scratched the paint on the downtube. That's my problem packing it. It was taken behind the baggage counter for inspection (or x-ray?). I made a point of NOT carrying CO2 cartridges, but packed a floor pump in the bottom of the box.
American Airlines charged $80 for excess luggage (as their website said they would). Agent at the counter told me that it's free on trans-Atlantic flights.
I shipped the bike home UPS (since I'd be here to receive it). They charged me an extra $5 because it wasn't a cardboard box.
Boxes Prohibited on American Airlines for Xmas
I just heard the following from American Airlines ... wondering if the
other airlines will follow suit? They say that boxes aren't allowed on select flights, yet bikes are OK. Since many domestic airlines seem to require bikes be put in boxes on flights originating from the US, I wonder what effect this policy will have on those flying with bicycles?
American Airlines to Limit Baggage and Boxes During The Holiday Season To Select Latin American and Caribbean Destinations
In anticipation of increased holiday travel to and from certain cities in Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean, American Airlines and American Eagle, remind passengers that they will implement a policy limiting the size and number of checked bags and prohibiting checked boxes.
"American and American Eagle's intent is to provide the best customer
service possible and to consider the needs of all passengers," said Peter Dolara, senior vice president- Miami, the Caribbean and Latin America. "There are limits on the amount of baggage that can be carried, both in the cabin and cargo areas, based on the size of the aircraft. This year the list of the impacted cities has been narrowed and the embargo period significantly shortened."
The limits will be in effect between Dec. 10, 2003, and Jan. 9, 2004.
During this period, American will not accept boxes, and baggage will be limited to two checked items and one carry-on. The baggage and box
embargo applies to: Cali, Colombia; Caracas and Maracaibo, Venezuela; La Paz and Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Lima, Peru; and Quito, Ecuador, in South America; Managua, Nicaragua; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Panama City, Panama; San Salvador, El Salvador; San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in Central America; Kingston, Jamaica; Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Port of Spain, Trinidad in the Caribbean. All American Eagle flights to and from San Juan, Puerto Rico, are also included.
For passengers traveling to Leon and Guadalajara, Mexico, the bag and box limits are in effect Nov. 15, 2003, through Jan. 9, 2004. Additionally, boxes will not be accepted to Mexico City during this period.
Effective Nov. 22, 2003, through Jan. 9, 2004, American Eagle passengers flying from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando or Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, will also be limited to two checked bags and one carry-on.
There is a year-round box embargo for passengers traveling from or through New York's Kennedy Airport to all Caribbean and Latin American
Excess, oversize, and overweight baggage will not be accepted for flights to the destinations covered by the bag embargo. Passengers will be limited to a maximum of two checked bags, with each not exceeding 62 linear inches (computed by adding the length, width and height of the bag) and 70 pounds. One carry-on bag will be allowed with a maximum size of 45 linear inches and a maximum weight of 40 pounds. Sports equipment, such as golf bags, bikes and surfboards, can be accepted as part of the total checked-bag allowance, although additional charges may apply. Brian DeSousa, November 24, 2003
Into Venice out of Florence
In September 2003, my wife and I flew American Airlines from Chicago O'Hare to Paris DeGaulle on to Venice via Air France. We had boxed the bikes and they were treated as 1 piece of checked luggage for each of us. No fees. No problems.
We returned same airlines from Florence, we accepted a bump in Florence for compensation. Upon return to Chicago, the bikes had not made the correct plane because of our decision to take the bump they got delayed. The next day they were delivered to our home in Milwaukee. Congrats due to American Airlines and Air France. No fees charged and no hassle.
Transporting folding bike in jumbo suitcase
I successfully folded by Dahon Speed Pro so that it fit in the jumbo bike suitcase (you can find it at Gaerlan Custom Cycles) and checked it in as regular luggage with American Airlines from Seattle to Frankfurt.
I then rolled it over to the train and loaded it on also as luggage to Amsterdam. It worked perfectly, no one questioned the "oversize" of the suitcase - certainly I did not expect the airline personnel to get out their tape measures and I was right.
My friends who boxed their non-folders were charged $80 each way. The suitcase was a lifesafer in terms of easily transportable and a good disguise for the bike.
Bike Damaged by Poor TSA Repack
On July 15, 2003 I departed for two weeks in France. My flight was on American Airlines. I left from Chicago.
I spoke with Customer Service at AA four times before I left regarding whether my bike would fly free as a piece of checked baggage, and if not how much it would cost. I received four different answers, ranging from "Bikes always fly free!" to "Bikes never fly free, they count as one of two checked bags and cost $110 extra". I assumed the worst and was prepared to pay the $110.
The bike was packed in a Trico Sports Iron Case. It weighed about 60 pounds.
I arrived at the check-in counter at O'Hare Airport three hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. I presented my bike to the woman behind the counter when she asked if I would like to check any luggage. She asked what was in the case. I told her it was a bicycle. She printed out one of the sticky tags that airlines put on checked baggage, stuck it on the case, and directed me to take the case over to the TSA area to be screened.
I was not charged any extra fee for the bike!
One of the TSA screener flunkies directed me to leave the case with a line of other luggage waiting to be run through the screening device. I could tell that the case would not fit through the machine. I asked if I could wait until the bike was screened so I could be present if the case needed to be opened. He indicated that I could wait. I waited about 15 minutes. At that time, a TSA employee picked up the case and set it on a table. He wiped the three plastic buckles with a chemical-detecting cloth. Apparently satisfied, he placed the case on the conveyer. I proceeded to my gate without incident.
The case arrived at Paris Charles DeGaulle airport without incident. I put the bike together and had a good two weeks of riding and watching the Tour. (Go Lance!)
At the end of the trip, I packed the bike and prepared for the flight home. I was again on American Airlines. I was not charged a fee to fly with the bike. France does not have a TSA, so as far as I know the case was not opened.
I had a stop-over at Boston Logan Airport. The flight was delayed getting out of Paris, so I was a bit pressed for time to make my connecting flight back to Chicago. After clearing Immigration, I rushed to the baggage claim area to get my bike. I was placed at the "Large Parcel" section of the luggage claim area. I made it through Customs in record time--they hardly looked at my declaration. I needed to take a shuttle bus from the international arrivals terminal to the terminal where my flight to Chicago was departing. I was instructed to leave my bags in a large pile of other luggage (including several other bike cases) and board the shuttle bus immediately if I wanted to catch the connecting flight.
I missed the flight, but was able to catch another flight to Chicago an hour later. I was a bit concerned that the bike would not keep up with me. When I arrived in Chicago, the bike was not there. I was told that it would arrive the following day.
When the bike was delivered to my house the following day, it had a blue TSA sticker on the outside. Upon opening the case, I noticed that the wheels had been packed improperly. (The rear wheel was packed over the front.) Underneath the first layer of foam, I found the note from TSA indicating that the case had been opened and the contents searched.
As I began to assemble the bike, I discovered that the derailleur hanger had been bent. Also, the handlebar had been positioned in such a way that it rubbed against the fork.
I will be taking the bike to my local shop to have the hanger replaced, as well as to determine if the frame and/or fork have been damaged. I will be filling out the TSA claim form to recover any costs.
American Airlines/TGV Trains in France
I took my bike box to paris on American Airlines then got on the TGV train from Paris to Bordeaux. In the Paris train station the SNCF man told me that the conductor would not allow my bike box on the TGV. However the TGV conductor actually helped me put my bike box on the train. No problems in anyway. Same returning from Grenoble to paris. No problems.Lowell Bethel, July 26, 2003
I flew on American Airlines Oakland-Dallas-Frankfurt with my bike. There was no charge except on the return when I had to buy one of their boxes for $20. I had two panniers which were put together in a large plastic bag. That counted as one piece of checked luggage and the bike as the second; and, therefore, free of charge.Frances, July 14, 2003
My wife and I flew to Zurich from Rochester NY via Chicago in 1999.
We got a million different stories from the airline about whether or not the bikes would even fit in the hold and, if they did fit, whether or not we would be charged. We finally got a high-level supervisor at the national office to write us a letter stating that the bikes would fit and that there would be no charge.
The letter worked liked a charm when we presented it at check in.
This was American Airlines, if memory serves. The Swiss didn't even raise the question on our return.
Hope this helps,
I flew American Airlines from NYC-JFK to Paris in September 2002 and was pleasantly surprised to find no additional charge for transporting my bike (it was one of two pieces of checked luggage).
I originally tried to avoid taking American because I though I would be charged $80 each way, but wound up on them after Air France suspended most of their flight due to a work slowdown.
Arriving at JFK by bike (See JFK post for info on this), I had no problem getting a full-sized bike box that fit my touring bike easily after turning the handlebars and removing the pedals. The only negative was being charged $20 for the box. An AA crewmember also helped tape up the box (who I tipped as well).
I'm not sure if not charging is policy or was an oversight (AA website is not clear), but I was happy and left it alone.
My return from Paris was on Air France, which I knew did not charge for bike transport, except for the 6 Euros for the box. Note that did take about 45 minutes for them to find and bring me a box, and that no one offered tape or helped me put together the box.
Found on: eurobike@eGroups.com
A couple of months ago, I brought up the question of shipping bicycles as luggage on international flights. I now have just gone through the experience and was amazed on how wonderfully it worked on American Airlines.
In late June my wife and I brought our panniers and 2 bikes to Logan Airport already boxed, the boxes supplied by the airline for NOTHING! We had no hassle with employees, and the bikes showed up next morning at Charles DeGaulle with nary a scratch.
Auto Europe had a Renault Scenic waiting for us at the airport, and thus we emptied the boxes and put the bikes right into the hatchback. (At first the Auto Europe clerk tried to stick us with a smaller car, but we insisted on the larger model we had arranged for months before.)
We then had a marvelous trip through parts of the Auverne and Provence. Saw the Tour de France in the Vaucluse and ate marvelously.
The Return trip: We drove up to the Paris airport a month later in plenty of time to box our machines. No problem. An already made-up box was sitting just in front of the AA counters, someone's discard that morning; it received double use. I asked for another box from the AA clerk, who came up with a box (from the defunct TWA plastered on the sides), within 10 minutes, also no charge.
The supervisor was very helpful in handing out receipts for the boxes for customs, and even helped us put them through the luggage coveyor belt. Upon arrival in Boston, the boxes were a little beat up, but they had protected the bikes and within an hour we were home with the luggage, very relieved.
Arthur J. Weitzman
Had a major disagreement with AA recently, who until now have been stars shipping my bike about for free.
I was charged 75 US dollars to ship the bike. We had a major discussion about it as I am an Executive Platinum member of AA's freq. flyer program and was travelling first class. After a while we got a supervisor, and the supervisors manager. No luck. The policy is this:
For domestic travel the charge is 75 US dollars per journey, irrespective of number of flights. (So Tampa to Newburg NY via Chicago is one journey, two flights; Chicago to LA and return is two Journeys).
The fee can be waived by the supervisor, but on very busy flights, especialliy at w/e this is unlikely.
For international travel you can check two pieces of luggage (mostly). One of these can be your bike in a box. Check your ticket to confirm. Some tickets limit by weight, others by number of pieces. If you are a freq. flyer you usually have some level of additional baggage allowance.
I received misinformation from American Airlines and ended up having to pay $72 each way. $144 extra bucks! I would not have brought my bike if I had known this.
I called American Airlines before the trip to inquire about bringing a bike. The agent said that the bike could travel free if I was only checking 2 pieces of luggage total including the bike. So I brought the bike and one suitcase.
When I called to ask for a refund, I was suddenly given the following new information:
1) luggage L+W+H must be less than 62 inches to be free and also that
2) the airport staff can make any decision they want about when to charge
I talked to a "Ms. Pain" at Consumer Service, but she said that the airline made a valid decision and that she would not refund the extra $144 that I spent. Nevermind that my own 'valid decision' was made based on incorrect information from an American Airlines agent.
If an agent tells you something over the phone, ask them to document it in your record so that you can prove it -- otherwise AA won't believe you.
Here's the number if you have your own complaints:
Greg Clark (Ms. Pain's Sr. Mgr)
American Airline, Inc
P.O. Box 619612 MD2400
DFW, Texas 75261-9612
I'm flying from San Francisco to Colorado Springs. American Airlines charges $75 each way. So the total is $150 which is the same as the cost of the ticket. Robbery I say.heather, July 12, 2001
American Airlines Admirals Club Showers
I don't know if this information would be of enough interest to include on your site. I will rely on your editorial judgment.
The following American Airlines Admirals Club locations offer showers, basis a directory printed 6/1999 and current as of 3/2000. Most Admirals Clubs do not have showers. Please note that you need to be able to get into the Admirals Club for these to be of use.
- Chicago O'Hare
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
- Frankfurt, Germany, Rhein Main Inernational Airport
- London Gatwick and London Heathrow
- Los Angeles International
- Miami International
- New York JFK
- Paris Orly
- Tokyo Narita
On a recent trip to France we made a special request to our travel agent to have our bikes travel with us at no additional charge. He was able to book a rate of approx $750. We retrieved boxes from the local bike store and packed them fairly tight adding some additional cardboard and packing our sleeping bags and pads around the bike. We arrived about 3 hours early to check through. There were no problems or questions about the weight and size at BWI.
When we arrived in Paris we were directed to a special door where large packages are delivered and our boxes were there. One was in good condition with a few small tears and the other looked as though it had been through a small war - several large tears and the top shoved down. Fortunately nothing was damaged which may be due in part to the additional padding.
On the way home 6 weeks later we followed the same routing of checking into Orly about 3 hours early and had no problems. This time we were using bike boxes purchased from the airlines at $20 each. The boxes were larger and so we dumped more gear in with the bikes. When we received the boxes at BWI they were pretty banged up - torn, bent, tape missing and large openings. Nothing was missing or damaged but we were fortunate. Part of the problem may have been due to the additional weight. Overall, once the bikes were at the airport, that part of the trip for the bikes was OK with American.Pat and Lloyd Wheeler, November 05, 1997
I recently traveled with AA and had a difficult time getting consistent and accurate info on shipping requirments and costs. I was on a 10 day tour and while I was biking the price on shipping and boxes went up. I paid $55 for shipping one way and $20 for a box. I also had my box shredded both ways . On the return flight I watched a Chicago baggage handler throw my bike flat on the ground and toss suitcases on top of it.
I have a bent derailleur and have yet to hear from the airlines about my complaints.
On a trip to Calgary from Boston we watched the baggage handlers "dribble" our bike boxes off the cart and then toss them on the baggage ramp of the plane. On arrival they (the boxes) were a mess, and we had some small breakage. When I spoke with the baggage people in Calgary as the boxes were brought out to us, they thought nothing unusual of the treatment.Michael Beech, February 15, 1997
We flew on American Airlines into San Jose on a self-organized bicycle tour.
It's a short, though dangerous ride, from the airport to the Hampton Inn, about 2 km from the airport. Just follow signs towards San Jose; the hotel is at a big intersection at the northeastern corner of the airport property.
The Hampton Inn allowed us to store our bicycle boxes in their baggage room, free of charge, until our return (we stayed there both at the beginning and end of our tour). We also used their courtesy van to pick up our boxes from the arrival area and to transport us and our boxed bikes back to the airport on departure.
It also would have been possible to ride from the airport into the town of Alajuela, about 6 km from the airport. The route is signposted but again the roads are designed for high-speed traffic, and there are shoulders for only part of the stretch.
American Airlines transported our bikes (four) to San Jose without damage, but one piece of accompanying baggage did not arrive until 24 hours later. It appeared that this kind of thing happened regularly (i.e., not all baggage was loaded at the departure city, Miami).
If you have additional questions, you can send me email.