On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with KLM (you can share your experiences here).
Not happy with KLM Flight operated by Delta
My wife and I recently booked a Flight to Amsterdam on KLM only to discover later that this flight was "operated by Delta airlines" in the fine print/ We felt betrayed. Previous flights to Europe via Delta Airlines were very unsatisfactory due to cramped space and poor service. We are not looking forward to another "sardine can flight" with Delta airlines and feel betrayed. Are we alone in this opinion of delta?James, April 04, 2012
Delta Airlines operating KLM flights
I just got back from a trip to the UK and returned with my touring bike (which I had left at my sister's house in the UK over the winter). I carefully chose an airline (KLM) that does not charge extra for bicycles.
"Sports equipment (of max. 23 kg/50.5 lbs) regardless of size is considered as a standard piece of baggage."
The day before my flight, I called KLM to confirm that I would be bringing a bicycle and they told me that as it would be a second piece of baggage, there would be a charge of 55 euros ($88). Not cheap but at least no different from a second suitcase.
When I got to Heathrow airport, the Delta personnel told me that this flight was operated by Delta and that their rules applied. (The small print on my ticket did say KLM partnered with Delta). I complained and spoke to 3 different people who did not budge an inch and charged me 176 pounds (i.e. $281 dollars).
New fees (KLM)
We just got hit with the new fees while bringing a boxed bike home to Minneapolis from Vienna via Amsterdam on KLM and Northwest.
It would have cost nothing if we had put it into two boxes (each within the weight and size limits and with nothing written about bikes on them). They were ready to write it up as 50 Euros for the size and weight of the box we had it in.
Then they noticed the bike labeling and charged us 150 Euros because it was a bike (darn!). We felt lucky not to have put it into two smaller boxes with bike labels, because then it would probably have cost 300 Euros.
We wished that we had read more about the new rules.
Airline Bike Policy
We travelled from Adelaide - Australia with Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, KLM to Amsterdam, and Aerlingus to Dublin in August 2005.
We were told By KLM (who issued the tickets) bikes would cost 80 Euros and MUST be boxed.
When my partner left 2 weeks before me she was charged A$140.00 as the Quantas staff acting on behalf of Malaysian Airlines who ran the flight on behalf of KLM ... insisted the bikes was excess bagage..!! 2 weeks later when I left there was no charge....!!
On the way home the 80 Euros charge was confirmed by KLM. But when booking in with Aerlingus who ran the first leg to Amsterdam on behalf of KLM the fee we paid was 25 Euros per bike.
Bikes were boxed and suffered considerable damage to the boxes each time - only minor damage was done to the bikes - scratches , broken tail & headlights. lunch papers and other rubbish had been pushed in through some of the many holes in the boxes on the way over.
British Airways: Bikes fly free!
I just returned from a trip (May 31, 2004) on British Airways, from Orlando to London and London to Rome and back to Orlando. My bike was in a cardboard box and was checked as regular baggage with no excess baggage charge. All the British Airways people were very nice about it also. I have flown accross the Atlantic previously with Northwest Airlines, KLM and Delta, and British Airways stands out as being a far more comfortable flight than the others. I know who I will fly next time to Europe, even it costs a bit more!
Austria, France Slovenia, NorwaySouth-west France
Toured in 2002. Easy-going - only problem on ICE trains is that bikes go in a special carriage; nobody at stations knows beforehand where that carriage is which makes it all hectic as French trains don't hang about at stations. And on Fridays, French trains are very crowded.
Toured in 2003. Bike-aware country, no problems taking bikes on trains. You pay (not a lot) but you get service for your money.
Toured in 2003, from Italian border to Postojna via Bled, Lubljana. Not a lot of cycle-track outside Lubljana, but roads aren't too busy and Slovenes are considerate drivers Bikes on trains OK, but if the timetable says 'yes' to bikes, confirm at the local station because in reality some trains do, some don't.
Live here (Stavanger). Trains OK (you pay). Drivers OK: the heirarchy here is pedestrians>cyclists>powered vehicles - driver hits pedestrian, he has big-time problems. Plenty of cycle-tracks in towns, both asphalt and compacted gravel "off-road" suitable for city-bikes and kids. Out in the countryside, tracks and their length relate to the amount of cash the the local 'kommune' can afford.
We use SAS and KLM, from our local (small) airport. Never any problem with bikes - SAS likes a warning that you're bringing one, but generally both airlines regard a bike as 'checked-luggage' (turn the bars and pedals and de-pressurise the tyres, of course)
Only problem we've had was checking them in at Toulouse; KLM in London said no box needed, but young girl 'handling' for KLM mis-read the rules, wouldn't listen to anybody not even her superiors (could here her phone converstion), just being bloody-minded.
Interesting bit of naughtiness. If you're using LHR, you can check -in for some airlines at Paddington; the checkers-in don't question you, don't weigh what you're checking in ... I've transported some incredible items this way, sorts of things it needs two big strong lads to drag across London. gordon large, May 29, 2004
Folding, S&S coupling, mailing and carry on stuff
I see no problem with a rack as carry-on. I'm not sure a BF would make the carry-on cut though. In general, carry-on luggage requirements are stricter. I was reading US Air's baggage restrictions for carry-on and noticed that these are limited in size and now weight (40 lbs combined).
Last month when I flew KLM from Copenhagen, my carry-on received a tag at the counter that said 'approved for carry-on' I'm not sure what was meant by that but I'm keeping the tag 😉
I have S&S couplings on my bike and will never travel again with a bike that does not fit into a 'airline standard' case. Even with that, I still get hassled by the counter agents.
Luggage weight limits are now reduced to in many cases 50 lbs or 70 lb for international flights. My packed bike weighs 54lb. The 54 lb included a ESGE Twin Kickstand, tools, my seatback bag and contents, bell etc. Though I might make that 50 lb cut off if I stored the loose pieces in my other luggage. It may be possible to carry my rack in the S&S travel case. I think there is room. I've always packed my rack in my second travel bag along with my helmet, shoes and packed panniers.
If arrangements are made on the receiving end, I see no reason why a piece of luggage containing everything not to be carried on the bike could not be mailed to your final destination. Since my international tours have always originated and ended in the same place (Airfare is usually cheaper). I have found it most convenient to arrange free storage at the first/last place I plan to stay.
Bellaire, TX USA
KLM airlines, fees, policy, boxes
I travel between Europe and the US/Canada with my bike often. I always put my bike in a box, to protect the bike, not help the airline out. KLM in Europe will provide you with a bike box if you contact them a few days before your flight and go to their office to collect it. I don't know about KLM in North America. I find in North America any local bike store will give me a box.
I have never been asked to pay excess for the bike on a European airline departing from a European airport. I have been asked to pay excess on the North America to Europe flights but as I am always returning to Europe I always ask why I am being asked to pay on the return flight when I didn't on the way out - which has always worked so far. For flights within Europe, the baggage limit is 20 kg (in coach class). However, for flights between Europe and North America, the limit is usually 2 pieces of luggage.
Check very carefully as the 2 pieces limit is great for cyclists is you can somehow cram all your panniers and gear into one piece of luggage and have your bike as the other.
Cabin Baggage is usually limited to 8 kg for your and your fellow passengers safety (please observe it - do you want it to be your 9 kg bag that falls on Mrs Brown from Wisconsin and ...).
You will have to only take your credit card to get your bike and gear to weigh under 20 kgs. Have a great time in Europe.
We came from Hamburg to Amsterdam to Boston, USA this summer with two bikes, and complete camping gear on KLM. There was no charge for the bikes, and we did not have to cover them or put them in a box (actually, there were no boxes in Hamburg airport, and the KLM folks said we had to put SOMETHING around the chain and derailer, but the oversized luggage people said we didn't, so we didn't.
I never expected to see the bikes again, but they come out in Logan in pretty ok shape. We had a lot of gear -- I had picked up a lot of flint to give to friends (who reenact the 18th century) and when I weighed my bags I could have sworn that the scale read 50 Kgs.
Maybe that was both my bag and my wife's, I don't know. But, we didn't pay a cent in overcharge!
KLM: Chicago to Amsterdam and back
Found on: firstname.lastname@example.org
On my trip to Europe in May I rode my bike down to O'Hare Airport in Chicago (64 miles). Went to the desk at KLM and asked for a bike box ($15.00). Removed the panniers, pedals and turned the handlebars. Inserted the bike in the box, complete with racks and fenders. I then put the four panniers in a lightweight Kelty dufflebag (which easily fit in the left rear pannier together with sleeping bag and other gear) and I had my two pieces of allowable luggage with the handlebar bag being my carry-on.
Don't forget to bring packing box tape to tape the box shut. Had no problems at all flying from Chicago to Amsterdam and then Copenhagen-Amsterdam-Chicago.
Hans C. Christiansen Racine, WI USA email@example.com
You can always tell a DANE but you can't tell him much.
----- Original Message ----- Subject: Boxing a bike - racks & fenders?
> I've read a couple of articles about boxing a bike for airline travel > but haven't seen any mention of the rack and fenders. What do you do > with those? > > -jeff- in Acton, MA
KLM Bike Transport guidelines 2002
Before my trip to Paris from Vancouver, BC (Canada) I contacted KLM/Northwest Airlines regarding Bike transportation and the following is what they sent me:
NWA/KLM/CO accepts non-motorized single seat bicycle/tricycle as checked luggage for a fee. Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed
or wrapped with protective packing material. Bikes should be placed in a bike box. When packed in other than a bike box, a Limited Liability
Release form must be signed.
Domestic Bike Charges:
One way transportation fee per bike - up to 100 lbs.
1 - 6 BIKES $80.00 USD/115.00 CAD EACH
7 OR MORE BIKES $180.00 USD/261.00 CAD EACH
**Bikes over 100 lbs. must be sent as airfreight.
Bike Box Charges:
$15.00 USD plus tax at NWA Airports
$30.00 NLG plus tax at KLM Airports
Bike box Dimensions: 69 x 40 x 9 inches (175 X 85.5 X
Bicycle boxes can be purchased at NWA/KLM ticket counters and are available in limited quantities on a first-come, first-served basis.
Bicycle boxes - passengers own:
KLM/NWA accepts hard-shell bicycle cases. Standard bike size case requires applicable domestic/ international transportation charge.
International Bike Charges:
Included in free allowance - no charge.
Thank you for writing. We appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions. We hope to have the privilege of serving your future travel
needs. You will find answers to many frequently asked questions by visiting our Help sections at http://www.nwa.com/help/index.html.
KLM, Birmingham, Guatemala City, Chile, Santiago, Buenos AiresKLM(1). I flew Gatwick-Buenos Aires via Amsterdam (1997). They told me I would have to box it and a box could be purchased at Gatwick. However at the airport they accepted the bike in a plastic bag. The airline informed me in writing I would be surcharged Â£33/kg if I exceeded 20kg. So with 10kg excess I tried the Excess Baggage Company (see next entry). Buenos Aires Internatioal Airport (known as Ezeiza but officially called Ministro Pistarini) is about 35km from town centre. If you are changing to a domestic flight, you have to go to the Aeroparque (officially called Jorge Newbery airport) which is in the town centre. You cannot ride on the motorway (prohibido a poder de sangre - blood-power prohibited - it poetically says), which goes all but the last few km to the airport. There are other ways, but they are indirect, not signposted and go through some very dodgy suburbs (BsAs cycling club carries a gun on training rides). You can negotiate something with a taxi or minibus service, though these things are not cheap in BsAs.
Excess Baggage Company (London Gatwick). My experience of sending my excess from Gatwick to Santiago with the Excess Baggage Company was not happy (1997). The basic charge per kg sounds cheap, but they have a minimum charge based on 25kg. Then there are the extras. The company quoted 6-10 days, but the first opportunity to retrieve my package was actually day 13. They assured me they would give me the telephone number of the local agent in Santiago who would handle the paperwork, but actually gave me (without explanation) a phone number in the USA. It took several costly international calls (a) to work out what this telephone number meant (b) to get the actual local number. Handling the paperwork comprised no more than receiving it and handing it to me, for which they charged an extortionate amount. I then had to go to the airport freight terminal to negotiate everything and pay a freight handling fee and a custom clearance fee - it added up to about Â£40 in extras plus the phone calls and bus trips. It would have been cheaper and much quicker to send it door to door with DHL. And even cheaper to post it to Poste Restante in Santiago - though that is not a something to try in every country.
Ivan Viehoff, August 01, 2000
KLM(2). I flew return trip Birmingham-Guatemala City via Amsterdam (2000) with two friends. This time KLM volunteered that we could check in the bikes uncovered if we signed a release form. On return, Guatemala City Airport was not used to checking in bikes. First they tried to prevent us entering the terminal with the bikes, because there was A Rule - we had to explain that they were baggage. Then they insisted on plastic bags, but did not have any bags of suitable size available. So it was scissors and tape job. Good thing we arrived very early. Guatemala City airport is only 6km from downtown, though you should not go into Zones 1 or 4 on a bike or on foot after dark - book some accom near the airport.