IATA Bike Experiences

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

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

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

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