On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with Continental Airlines (you can share your experiences here).
Continental Airlines, TSA; TRICO Iron Case, Trains in Italy and Venice Water Taxis
We flew Continental from Miami to Newark and then Newark to Milan (the only way to use the frequent flier miles). Arriving in Miami with two bikes in TRICO cases, the lady behind the Continental counter got ready to charge us full freight according to the Continental Website rates (U.S. $95 per bike). I "suggested" that the bikes weighed less than 50 lbs each and my wife and I smiled and made polite small talk with the check-in agent. Before you knew it, she had printed the luggage tags and waived us through without charging us for the bike cases. Arriving in Milan, the bikes came out from oversized luggage within a reasonable period of time. I opened each case to check to make sure there was no damage. The TRICO cases performed admirably and everything was as it should be. I did find TSA notices in each case, so obviously TSA opened the bike cases in Miami for inspection. I was pleased that TSA shut the cases properly and tightened down the straps.
The train from Milan to Florence and then a local train to Sienna with the bike cases were non-events, except for schlepping the bike cases on and off the trains. The train conductors hardly glanced at the bike cases which I stacked in the luggage area at the end of the train car.
We did a great 8 day bike trip with Backroads all through Tuscany, including the Maremma district. The Maremma is much more rural than Chianti and the typical hill towns, with some serious climbing a great scenery. It is a great place to ride.
From Tuscany we dragged the bike cases on another train and headed for Venice. We made quite a spectacle getting the bike cases onto a water taxi â I saw people video taping me and the water taxi driver loading the cases onto the boat.
We had another uneventful train ride back to Milan, where the fun began. We checked the bikes in with Continental who did not even mention charging us for them. As I walked away from the oversized luggage check in, by wife said I had a funny look on my face. I was having a premonition of doom I guess. When we got to Newark, we had to claim our luggage, go through customs and then re-check our luggage for the flight back to Miami. Our 2 suitcases came right out. After an hour long wait at the oversized luggage elevator with a very nice woman from Continental, our bike cases had still not show up and she told us to head for customs so we could make our connection â the bikes should show up in Miami she said. Needless to say, I was a little freaked out that my Serotta Ottrot was missing in transit. It gets worse â when we got to Miami, not only were the bikes not there, but only 1 of the 2 suitcases (both of which we had in Newark) made it to Miami. An hour later, after talking with the baggage claim people in Miami, it was apparent from Continental's tracking system that the bikes had never left Milan and would be on the next day's flight.
Allâs well that ends well â the next day the bike cases and the missing bag were delivered to our house. Both bikes were fine, so not a bad ending.
The TRICO case worked well. I still am not thrilled with it as with a 59' frame, my bike just barely fits into it. From a protection standpoint, the cases obviously take a beating and do protect the bike well.
Continental gets mixed reviews â positive for being nice and not charging for the bikes, but pretty negative for baggage handling.
Continental Airlines Bike Baggage Policy
Continental has raised its shipping prices to $95 one way. And the box for the bicycle must have a dimensional weight (length+width+height) of 115 inches or less.Mark Jay, February 15, 2007
My wife and I were coming to Ireland to visit our daughter and I wanted to bring her a bike to use (she's in school in Limerick). I called Continental Airlines, who had the first leg of our trip, Newark to Dublin, and they swore that there was no way to escape the $80 charge for a bicycle. I grumbled, but they seemed quite certain and clear.
The outcome: I went to the checkin counter at Newark Airport, checked the bike, and the subject of money never even came up. The very pleasant person behind the counter took it as a matter of course that I would have a bike in a big box. There was a document to sign -- it seemed to be some sort of affirmation that it really was a bike in there. So, off we went, the bike arrived safely in Dublin, where we had to claim it and re-check it with Aer Lingus for the flight to Shannon. No question of charging extra for a bike there either.
So, as several of the Wise Ones on the list said -- it seems to depend most of all on who is behind the counter, how they view the world, and perhaps on whether they had a pleasant night's sleep before coming on duty.
Ithaca, NY, but in Limerick Ireland at the moment.
Trips to Ireland
I've been on three bicycle tours of Ireland & have had no problems with Continental Air with bikes in boxes.
Bikes used to travel free international but since 1 Oct 02, they charge USD80.00 each way. Also, their bike boxes just went up from USD10.00 to USD20.00. Bike arrived on time & without damage all 3 trips.
Both Shannon & Dublin airports had storage for boxes, about 3 punts per day. All in all, good traveling experience with a bicycle. This year, I'm going to Malaga, Spain ... hope my luck holds up.
Continental - Bicycle Policy
I just contacted Continenal Airlines to ask about their bicycle policy. Bicycles cost $80 USD each way on most trips to Europe and within the US. To most South America locations, they apparently charge $100USD each way.
All bikes must be boxed, which Continental will provide for $10 USD, but they cannot guarantee that they will have boxes at the baggage area of the airport. In addition, handlebars must be removed/turned and pedals must also be removed.
Continental Airlines/Fiumicino Airport
Before leaving the US I was told by Continental agents that I could buy a bike box for the return trip at the Continental desk at Fiumicino Airport.
Not so . . . the Continental people at Fiumicino said they didn't have, and have never had, boxes. After I had asked at all the other airline counters and hadn't found a box (Delta had two, but only for their customers) a Continental employee located one that I purchased from US Airways. The lack of tape was the next hurdle but again Continental solved the problem by providing a roll of adhesive-backed baggage label strips that worked quite well.
Next time I travel I'll definitely double-check not just the airline's general policy, but also the specific operations at the airports I'm using.
Over the years I've taken my bikes on 22 international flights, but never paid a penny, until last summer. Normally, when leaving the States, carriers have always allowed the "two pieces of checked baggage" rule to include a boxed bicycle. Once overseas, no airlines, not even Aeroflot, enforced the 20 kilo limit that is employed outside the U.S. (my gear usually weighed in at just under 35 kilos, not including carry-on). I figured that unless they are close to their weight restrictions they aren't terribly concerned about beating up on a cyclist.
After booking and reconfirming a flight with Continental to Chile last spring, I arrived at the airport to discover that Continental intended to charge me $100 for each leg of the trip. Naturally I was outraged. Because I hadn't been forewarned of this huge fee, despite specifically asking about bicycles when buying and reconfirming my ticket, the fee was waived, but only on the southbound portion of the trip. I was in no position to change air carriers and plans at that time, so I grudgingly agreed that I would pay the $100 handling fee upon return after my 2-month tour ended.
After returning, I discovered that Continental did not charge for bicycles going to other continents, nor did other carriers I contacted charge for taking bicycles to South or Central America. Continental also allows "normal" passengers up to *82* kilos of baggage, total, while I was charged despite having less than 40 kilos, total. Continental never managed to give me a justification for their policy, but I am sure that I will never fly with them again.
Despite my having paid the $100 (plus $18 tax) for a so-called "special service" fee, my bike apparently received no "special service". It arrived a day late. Double check any time you fly with a bike, and hold the carrier to what they tell you.
Trip 3: 1996 - Gatwick (UK) - Denver (Colorado) - Tucson (Arizona) - Gatwick (UK)
Once again the bike was packed up, no problems getting it there. Although why is it that bikes are always the last luggage off the plane? On the return journey, I purchased a huge box from Delta airlines for 10 US dollars as Continental didn't have any and required one. They then proceeded to try and charge me 50 US dollars to take the bike home. Only after much protest and consultation with higher beings did they admit they only charged for domestic and not trans-atlantic flights. Back in the UK, it appeared that the box had been repeatedly stabbed with a knife to check the contents, resulting in a few sratches.
Speaking of bikes. On the trip over, Continental wanted our bikes boxed. So, off with the handle bars, pedals, front wheel and front fender. On our return trip to the U.S., via Air Inter (BOD-ORL), their box(although cardboard), more resembled the type of armor thrown over the horse in the medieval jousting contest. The handle bars(unturned) and the seat stuck out from the top. All that came off were the pedals. In fact, the Air Inter personnel just wheeled the bikes out the door(with reduced air pressure). Continental had no problem accepting this arrangement when it was their turn. When is a box not a box, but accepted as one?
In St. Emillion, we bumped into two bikers from Quebec, who flew over on Air France. They said all they did was take the pedals off, and the ground crew just wheeled theirs on, hanging them up on a rack.
Hopes this adds to your data base. If anyone has any inquiries regarding our self tour in Bordeaux, let them know that I will offer any knowledge that I acquired.Alan Zelt, October 16, 1996