ATA Airlines Bike Experiences

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

Seatac (SEA) not getting easier to access

would lead one to believe that it might not get easier to get to or from Seatac Airport (Seattle, Washington, USA)

Joel Niemi, October 03, 2007

Seattle, Washington (SeaTac)

See the Bike-on-Bus page for SeaTac at
Mary Shaw, July 07, 2007


I packed my bike for a trip to Melborne and at the airport (SeaTac) the airlines and TSA would NOT allow me to be present during pre-flight inspection.

Not only did the bike arrive damaged, (they used ONE piece of tape to close the box), but HALF of the equipment had been removed. Handlebars, Seat, pedals, lights, bike computer, tools and derailer had been removed and clearly cables had been cut to get them off the bike.

The airlines refused to take a claim - saying I was responsible for safe packing. TSA said they weren't responsible for the theft because I had no proof the items were on the bike to begin with. I was really upset.

On return (I had to buy all new equipment) I INSISTED on being present for inspection, and packed all the little stuff in my luggage. I photographed the contents in the presence of the inspector and had a preprinted receipt which the airlines inspector signed acknowledging the contents of the package.

Plus I took a photo of the inspector. (He was NOT happy.)

Nothing was missing when I got home and the bike was in pristine condition and taped from one end to the other.

Sara R. Avrams, March 09, 2007

ATA Airlines -- Honolulu, HI

I took my road bike from Phoenix, AZ to Honolulu, HI on ATA airlines this past September (2006) and had no problems. I chose to have my bike card-board boxed at my local bike shop, and brought along the tools I needed to reassemble (and re-box) the bike in Honolulu for my return trip (which amounted to a couple of hex wrenches and a pedal wrench).

Upon arriving at the Phoenix airport, they applied a $50 charge to my card that I had used to purchase the ticket, and took the bike off my hands. Pickup at Honolulu was so easy it was disconcerting. There was no verification that I was who I said I was, I just told the baggage clerk that the box was mine and he handed it over (it was brought in from the tarmac through a backdoor to the baggage claim area).

The return trip was equally easy, though I did have to run the bike through the fruit inspection x-ray machine. Pickup at Phoenix was also a cinch. I asked an ATA / Southwest baggage clerk about my bike, and she went out and grabbed it from the back somewhere (again, no claim ticket or ID check) and I was on my way.

The cardboard box served me well both ways, though it probably would not have held up to a third trip. For the $35 my bike shop charged me to box it up (and re-using the packing material and box for the return trip) it was cheap too. The hardest part of the whole trip was ferrying my bike to and from the airports (and cleaning the volcanic island mud from the gearing).

adam, October 26, 2006


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Trip 2 Volcano, June 30, 2006

Trans-Siberian (Ulaan Baatar to Moscow)

We were told there was a luggage carriage on our train, but there was none. We travelled first class which gave enough space for 6 bags and the tandem (split with SandS couplings) in the compartment.

There is an overhead storage which is about 165x30x100cm (wxhxd) which took our whole tandem, wheels and all. 2 solo frames would probably fit with the wheels going somewhere else. There is loads of space under the seats for bags. If you are 2nd class you might have to fight to get the overhead space for the bikes and as first class was only 140US$ it was definitely worth it.

We did not fill in a Mongolian customs form declaring the bike on entry (came in overland from China) and this was not a problem on exit.

We made sure that the bike was declared on the Russian declaratsia although customs were not impressed with this and no one questioned us as we flew out from Moscow.

Alistair Morris, September 18, 2004

Hydrofoil between Budapest and Vienna

Found on: [email protected]

jfoneg wrote: ... there is a high speed airfoil boat that runs about daily between Vienna/Budapest in about 6-7 hours. It will drop you off at Brataslava as well for a smaller fee - I think the one way Budapest to Vienna cost me 70e with my bike.

It should be noted that there is limited room for a limited number of bikes on the hydrofoil. When I was there in 2000, the BudaPest-Vienna leg required reservations 24-48 hr in advance. Needless to say with only three days to get back to Vienna, we elected to bike, since we could get no assurances on a Saturday that we would be able to get reservations on the following Monday

Cletus Lee

Bacchetta Giro Lightning Voyager

Bellaire, TX USA

Cletus Lee, October 15, 2003

IATA Passenger Air Tariff regulations

Today I received a free temporary login and password which allows me to access the IATA Passenger Air Tariff regulations. I am finding conflicting rules about bicycles.

In the rules section Baggage, General Baggage Rules, Special Baggage, Special items other than animals, Recreational/Sporting Equipment:

"Bicycles: may be accepted as checked baggage. Check with carrier concerned for charges and regulations to be applied. "

In the rules section Baggage, Baggage Piece Concept, Free Baggage Allowance:

"3. Baggage 3.3 Baggage piece concept 3.3.2 Free baggage allowance Checked baggage (a) Free allowance for adults

The free baggage allowance for checked and unchecked baggage is determined by the class paid (and not by the class actually travelled) and is as follows:

First/Intermediate Class

Two checked pieces of baggage of which the sum of the greatest outside linear dimensions of each bag does not exceed 62 inches (158 cms.), and provided the weight of each bag does not exceed 70 lbs. (32 kgs.).

Economy Class

Two checked pieces of baggage (measured together) of which the sum of the greatest outside linear dimensions does not exceed 107 inches (273 cms.) provided that the outside linear dimensions of each bag does not exceed 62 inches (158 cms.), and provided the weight of each bag does not exceed 70 lbs. (32 kgs.).

The articles listed below, regardless of their actual dimensions may be considered as a piece of baggage at 62 inches (158 cms).

one sleeping bag or bedroll;

one rucksack/knapsack/back pack;

one pair of snow skis with one pair of ski poles and one pair of ski boots or one snowboard and boots;

one golf bag containing golf clubs and one pair of golf shoes;

one duffel-type bag.

one suitably packed bicycle (single seat touring or racing bicycle, non motorised) provided that the handlebars are fixed sideways and the pedals are removed.

One pair of standard water skis or one slalom water ski.

Suitably packed fishing equipment: consisting of not more than 2 rods, one reel, one landing net, one pair of fishing boots and one fishing tackle box.

sporting firearms consisting of not more than

1 rifle case containing not more than 2 rifles, 5 kg (10 lb.) of ammunition, 1 shooting mat, noise suppressor and small rifle tools, or,

2 shotguns and 2 shotgun cases, or

1 pistol case containing not more than 5 pistols, 5 kg (10 lb.) of ammunition, noise suppressors, 1 pistol telescope and small pistol tools.

Acceptability of such firearms shall be subject to the carrier's conditions.

One portable musical instrument not exceeding 39 inches (100 cms.) in length.

Bicycles AND GOLF BAGS are to be considered a standard 62-inch piece of luggage. If a check-in agent asks you to pay for a bicycle on an international flight, tell them that IATA Passenger Air Tariff regulation requires them to accept a bicycle as equivalent to a 62-inch piece of checked luggage.

Note that economy class passengers may only check 2 pieces with combined dimensions of 107 inches. So subtracting the 62 inch bicycle, that means that any other item you check may only be 45 inches combined height + length + width. I'm certain that my panniers lashed together exceed that dimension by a few inches. Hopefully they won't notice.

Wayne Estes Mundelein, IL, USA

Wayne Estes, April 27, 2003


My girlfriend and I recently flew with our bikes via ATA and I thought I would share our experience.

ATA's bike policy is probably the simplest out there. It costs $50 each way. The requirements do not require that you box your bike. You are simply required to remove the pedals and turn the handlebars. We both rode touring bikes and were not required to turn the handlebars. You may box your bike if you wish.

Before boarding the plane we chose to remove the chain and rear derailleurs (we figured this was the most vunlerable spot on the bike). On our trip back we did not remove any components.

I was amazed at how well our bikes were treated. I have flown with my bike before and I believe not having to box it is the way to go. Boxing is too much of a hassle and encourages the handlers to throw your bike around. Whereas if they see it is a bike they are more inclined to treat it better, I hope. The only damage our bikes received was a missing bar end cap and a small scratch on my rear rim. I can't be sure that the scratch was from the airline, but I don't remember seeing it earlier.

I hope this was helpfull. Good luck with your adventures.

Grant Davis, January 16, 2003

Seattle, Washington (SeaTac)

Found on: rec.bicycles.rides

If you are planing to bring your bicycle through the Seattle airport make sure to have it very well packed and protected. We just returned from a two week ride in Italy to see our bikes unloaded from the plane and thrown into and on top of the baggage cart. As the cart was towed into the baggage area we watched as my wife's bicycle fell off the top and land on the tarmac. Out of the 5 bikes we shipped 4 received significant damage in the hands of the SeaTac baggage handlers. If you are planning to visit the Northwest you might consider flying into either Portland or Vancouver BC and avoid SeaTac entirely.

I have been shipping bikes personally and as tour leader for over 20 years and this is the most damage I have ever seen.

The airline is being very good about reimbursing us for the damage done but, it would have been nice to have just had the same care taken that we experienced at the other airports on our trip.

We were flying British Air. They don't use their own baggage handlers in Seattle as they only have one flight a day in and out. I have been flying bikes in and out of Seattle for over 20 years and this is the first time I've had trouble but, the tossing of the bikes was very blatant. As an update one of the frames was found to be dented beyond repair the damage total is now over $1,300 for the first three bikes.

Michael Collins, May 08, 2001

Merida, Mexico & Yucatan

Trip in February, 2000. Biking to/from Merida airport was OK. When we arrived late one evening, no taxi was willing to take us and our bikes to our hotel. So we pedaled.
Biking in the Yucatan was easy & pleasant. Many local cyclists in Mayan villages. The people were great. The Yucatan felt very safe. Many interesting sights to see. The landscape, however, was often scrubby and a bit boring. We took one bus trip, and our bikes were transported without any hassles.

Neal Teplitz, November 28, 2000

Airline Policy

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 Vancouver

Adam Lubell, June 08, 1999

Seattle, Washington (SeaTac)

The riding around Sea-Tac is pretty ugly - lots of cars moving too damn fast in too little space. My best suggestion for getting from Sea-Tac to Vancouver Island would be catching the bus at the airport (all of Metro's buses have bike racks on the front) to downtown Seattle and taking a ferry from there.

You can catch a ferry directly to the island or take one across the Sound to the Kitsap penninsula and ride to Port Angeles then catch a ferry to Victoria.

Another option would be to transfer buses in downtown to a northbound, get away from the city a bit and ride up to Anacortes to catch the ferry to Sydney. has links to the major sea routes available to you. has information about Metro's bus system out of SeaTac.


Kenneth Stagg, June 03, 1999

Bike Rental -- India & Nepal

Nepal: Kathmandu, Patan, Bhagdaon, Pokhara.

Special cases:
Bombay (now renamed Mumbai): despite an extensive search no renting business was found at all. Any suggestion is appreciated.

Calcutta: it seems that there is only one place, and it has a very limited stock available (5-6 pieces) but if the demand increases ...
Ask of Mr. A. Kadir, 1, Marquis street (Chowringhee area, just south of Sudder str.). Additional help can be obtained from Blue Sky Restaurant, at the corner of Sudder str. with Chowringhee Lane.

Ugo De Riu, March 30, 1997

Istanbul, Turkey

My flight into Istanbul was late, so I ended up using a taxi (easy to do, and your bike rides in the trunk for no extra charge). The recommended route--and here I'm quoting a Turkish friend of mine in extenso--is to use the road along the water. I'd be happy to supply some semi-informed advice to anyone contemplating flying into Istanbul or Izmir.

Joe Chapman , March 31, 1996

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