Lufthansa Bike Experiences

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

More about Flying Bikes to Madrid and from Lisbon, and Lufthansa

See previous post:

Your bike, boxed or not will have to go through the "oversize" scanner at the airports. As you may know, Lufthansa does not require a bike box to fly. (take off the pedals, turn the handlebars.) But, if you do not lower your seat (as I did not do in Lisbon)it won't go thru. In addition I had checked the bag with all my tools. My bike was maybe 2 inches too big. Fortunately, I took the front wheel off and all was fine. Flying without a box? Make it as small as possible.
Madrid airport: Madrid does not seem to have an "oversize" ramp, so the bike, with or without a box, must be kept small to fit on the luggage carousal. Lower the seat and all is well with my 54cm touring bike. If you have a 63 or larger frame, think about it and check into the seize.

Stuart Bonning, October 15, 2012

Bike across the Ocean - Lufthansa

It used to be fun to fly to Germany via Lufthansa. Now the handlers are more careless and the price to bring your bike has risen to $200 dollars "each way" regardless if you only have a bag and the bike. As of Oct 2008. This was quite a surprise as it wasn't announced to me when I bought my ticket.

Malcolm Gaissert, December 06, 2010

lufthansa bent my frame

I took my bike on lufthansa from the states to europe, no box or bag- the airline assured me it would be fine several times and all the comments I read had no problems. The chain was off when I picked it up and the seat was pushed sideways but other than that it looked fine. After we put the pedals back on and turned the handlebars it wasn't shifting well- I took it to a bike mechanic and the frame is very slightly bent, either they threw the bike really hard or they threw something on top of it. You can't see that the frame is bent but it affects the shifting in low gears and of course, my frame is now bent... It's too late to file a claim with the airline, I think I would rather sell my bike than risk taking it back on the plane again. Who throws something on top of a bike????

traveler, May 19, 2008

Air travel to Vienna with Boxed Tandem on Lufthansa United SAS & Austrian

I recently returned from a trip to Austria and Italy with my Tandem from Portland, Oregon. I booked the ticket from United and flew Lufthansa & Austrian to Vienna and then SAS and United on return.

Before I travelled I checked the websites and called all the airlines with which I was flying to make sure that there was a note with my reservation and to confirm policies.

Lufthansa do not charge for the bike as long as it is one of your two pieces of check-in luggage and weighs under 23Kg. If it weighs between 23Kg and 32Kg the extra baggage charge is $50. If you check it as a 3rd piece of baggage as a bike the charge is currently $100 with a 32Kg max. At over 32Kg's the charges are very high.

Despite weighing it at home my bike weighed 34Kg at check-in but fortunately they turned a blind eye to the extra 2kg and charged me $50. The length restriction for checked baggage does not seem to apply to bikes (mine was in a carboard box obtained free from a bike shop that measured 73x11x31 inches)but it is probably 2 meters in any one dimension. Lufthansa do not require that the bike be packaged but the handlebars must be turned. The regulations for SAS and Austrian appear to be the same as Lufthansa. United have stricter rules but the regulations that matter are the ones for the airline that you start your flight with. But I called United anyway and they also said that if the bike was part of your checked baggage that there should be no charge as long as it was less than 23Kg and no single diemension larger than 80". However, a friend that travelled to Europe this summer with a solo bike on United was charged $85 even though it was a one of his 2 checked pieces of baggage. I would advize calling United and getting this settled in advance of your flight and a note put in with your reservation.

On my return I reduced the bike box weight to under 23Kg by removing pedals, wheels, lock, one handlebar and tools and putting them in my second checked in piece (in a cardboard box I found behind a store in Vienna - I took the rest of my baggage as carry-on)and when I checked in with SAS at Vienna I did not have to pay anything.

I would advize checking in at least two and a half hours before your flight leaves to leave time to resolve unexpected problems.

Here are some additional sites (but they do contain some inacurate information):

I don't think it is possible to cycle in to town from Vienna airport. I had to hire a van taxi for E68 to take me to a hotel downtown where I stored the box and stayed after the trip. If you could arrange this in advance it could be cheaper (try Teri at 0650 600-3383). When checking in at Vienna you should go to the check in counter for bulky items which is behind you as you face the Austria airlines check in counters.

I will post my experiences of travel on Austrian and Italian trains in another post.

David Shepherdson, August 12, 2007

Bike across the ocean - Lufthansa

Taking your bike with you on a transatlantic flight (SFO-MUC in my case) is free of charge if you bring just one other piece of baggage. With two pieces of baggage PLUS your bike, they'll charge USD 127.

This information was provided by Lufthansa in Apr 2006.

Stefan Pommerenk, April 25, 2006

Bike across the ocean - Lufthansa

I spent a month in Texas, USA, and bought a bike there to keep me from getting dull and slothful (which is a real danger in the US). I bought a Specialized Langster at a LBS, rode it for a month on the concrete roads of Texas, then brought it back to Hungary.

The re-boxing of the bike at the LBS cost me 40$ (a bit expensive), and the first box they put the bike in was too big to fit in my useless rental limo, so they had to find a thinner box.

At the airport I simply proceeded to check in (economy class), they weighed the bike (14.5 kgs), and considering the size of the box it was no surprise that I had to go to the oversized baggage gate. The real surprise was for me that they took it for free of charge (I had one more suitcase). Thanks, Lufthansa!

The bike arrived OK, I only noticed it back home that they forgot to deflate the tires at the LBS (I was in quite a hurry, so I did not check it). The box was opened and then closed back with duct tapes (US customs), and a hole was cut in it (by the Hungarian customs, I guess). The only problem is that the box is now unusable for further travels, so I will need to buy a proper bike carrier bag...

Gabor Kulcsar, March 08, 2006

Lufthansa's a breeze, Florence Taxis a little harder, Italy Trains a Snap

Flew Boston - Frankfurt - Florence on Lufthansa
Wheeled my trico right to check in, checked bike and one other large bag - no worries, no issues, no cost.
Bike made plane tranfer no problem, arrived 98% as secure as I had secured it initial packing with no damage and a nice note from inspectors.

Florence taxis refused to fold down rear seat - i had to finally do lift hatchback, fold down seat, put bike in and demand to be taken to my hotel.

Italian trains are a snap - look for cars with bike icons.

Andrew Steinhouse, January 16, 2006

Europe with Folders

In July - August of 05 we purchased Dahon Speed TR folding bicycles with the express purpose of making it easier to take them on planes & trains in Europe. Here are some of our experiences:

  • Bikes & Bags: The Dahon Speed TR is an excellent touring bike, good range of gears, takes a good load, very comfortable. We deliberately sought out and bought the '04 model, as we did not trust the hydraulic brakes on the '05 in a touring scenario (especially after seeing a shop floor model with the fluid leaking). These bikes fold well, and we found they could be folded and quite carefully packed for travel in between 15 - 30 mins. We used large fabric bags specifically designed for folding bikes. Once packed, these bags are heavy and awkward to manoeuvre.

  • Our first trip (London – Edinborough – London) netted some damage to the bikes (broken hub gear ‘click box’, so we changed our packing technique. Our final packing technique involved: some cut down Styrofoam used for a protective case around the hub gear click-box/derailleur section. This was supplemented by a cut down piece of car washing sponge (which doubled as an excellent hip cushion whilst camping). Both these items and some masking tape, we carried with us, along with the folded up bike bags (which doubled as picnic rugs in messy spots). Before each flight/long train trip we scrounged newspaper and cardboard to line the base of the bags and protect various parts of the bike.

  • On our final flights (Trieste-London, London-Thailand-Sydney) we used camping foam mattresses (all 1.3cm of comfort of it) to line the whole inside of the bag. This worked really well, and we will re-use this method as the mattress is light and easy to carry, and easy to obtain. Despite this level of protection, luggage handlers must be distrusted – one bike arrived back in Sydney with a bent rear hanger, which must have required a substantial blow.

  • Airlines. Ryan Air: London-Edinborough-London. No extra charges for bikes, loaded via oversize luggage but arrived back on general luggage conveyer in London. Easyjet: London – Linz. Charged extra for bikes despite the fact we had no other checked luggage and were within our allowance. No special handling despite paying extra. Generally unpleasant and punitive for bringing a bike, even a folder that is no bigger than a large suitcase anyway. Easyjet: Trieste – London. Again charged extra and no special handling. Would not recommend Easyjet. Lufthansa: London – Thailand. Lufthansa were great. They have a flat charge for bicycles, which beats paying excess baggage for them (this time we had other checked baggage also). But we were lucky and were not charged at all, due to some special frequent flyer status we have with United. Thai: Thailand – Sydney. In theory bikes were to be charged as excess baggage, however we were not charged at all, again the frequent flyer thing helped.

  • Trains: took numerous short and long train journeys in Scotland, Austria, Hungary-Slovenia, Slovenia. Found the folders fantastic in this respect, as could fold & pack them for trains where no bicycles were allowed, or where it was not clear whether bicycles were allowed, or where charges for bicycles were made.

  • Overall: folders were not as easy as we thought, and the careful packing required for flying is a bit of a pain. However unlike a box packed full size bicycle, they can be loaded into normal taxis, buses or trains. And components do not need to be removed to the same extent. And they are easier (although awkward) to carry in their ‘packed’ state than boxed normal bikes. We had thought we would sell these bikes, but like riding them so much we are keeping them and will no doubt use them for further adventures.
Jo Clendon, November 11, 2005

Frankfurt-am-Main Airport

Flew to Frankfurt am Main with British Airways from Birmingham this September (2005). The bikes came up on the overgauge luggage belt very shortly after we had landed.

The airport is easily accessible by bicycle and you are soon on a dedicated cycle path. The Euro city Frankfurt map scale 1:16500 shows the airport and routes into the city. We did not cycle, however but took the regional railway from the station in terminal 1 where we got a train to Frankfurt-Sud and on to Wurzburg with no problems.

Flying back to Britain we were stung by a charge of 25 euros per cycle. The British Airways lady was hugely apologetic after I pointed out that I flew my bike two or free time per year with BA and had never parted with a cent. She explained that the airline had no option as to an extent they had to offer the same terms as the home airline (Lufthansa).

This is a German thing only and I remember reading of its introduction in the CTC magazine about 12 or more years ago.

For that reason I have never flown the bikes to Germany but the cycle path routes were so wonderful that I might pocket my pride and fly again.

Brian P. Moss, September 17, 2005

Bikes on public transport in Finland

I've been slowly catching up after 3 weeks in Finland, half of it bicycle touring. This is a report on bikes on public transportation.

We had four people, two single bikes, and one tandem. The tandem can convert to a single, and we were prepared to do that if necessary, but we did not have to.

Within Finland, we took many ferries, one train, and two buses. We did not have to pack the bikes or do anything else to them except take the panniers off (and attach the train ticket to the handlebar).

*** International airlines

We took our own bikes, traveling by USAir and Lufthansa. The singles are S&S coupled, the tandem is a Bike Friday Q. They were inspected by airline security and they were delayed with our other luggage by USAir on our return trip, but as far as I know there were no special problems. We were not charged extra. We stayed in Helsinki for a few days before and after the bike trip, and the hotel stored our bags and boxes.

*** Ferries

No problems. On car ferries there's always room to squeeze in another bike. If there's no one directing traffic, let the cars on and off first, then find your space. If there's someone collecting fares or directing traffic, they'll have a place in mind. We took one ferry from Hanko that didn't take cars, and they had a place on top of the boat to load bikes.

*** Trains

Trains come in many flavors. Each flavor has its own rules.

Pendolino (fast trains): As far as we can tell, no bikes.

Express: The Express we wanted to take had a baggage car. The agent said "that's better anyhow, you have a tandem". The train stops, the conductor opens the baggage door, you hand up the (unloaded) bikes, then you toss in the panniers. It cost an extra 9 euros for the single bikes, double that for the tandem. If I read the ticket correctly, a single plus trailer would also be 18 euros.

InterCity: Each (most?) train has room for 3 bikes. Reserve ahead. One of the spaces was already reserved on the one we wanted to take, so we took the next train, which was an Express. W never did figure out whether they would have taken the tandem on the InterCity. I believe they also charge for bikes on InterCity.

Local commuter trains: we have no direct information

*** Buses

A friend made advance reservations for our bikes on a couple of bus routes. When we went to pick up the tickets, it appeared that they had no trace of the reservations. They did, however, make fresh reservations. No one else was traveling with bikes that day, so I can't tell whether the reservations made any difference -- but I'd make them just in case. The buses were the big cross-country buses with baggage bays on the bottom that ran the full width of the bus. We loaded the bikes ourselves. They were not quite tall enough to stand up the bikes, so we laid the bikes on their sides. On one bus, there was lots of space. On another bus, the driver had to rearrange cargo to makes space. No problem with the tandem -- the width of the bus was sufficient to take the length of a full-sized tandem.

Mary Shaw

Mary Shaw, August 10, 2005


I have a hard case and have checked my bike several times on Lufthansa including overseas flights and have not had a problem.

Norman Sherran, August 20, 2004

Flying with bike

Wanted to share my experience after the trip.

I flew to New Zealand (Vienna-Frankfurt-Tokyo-Christchurch) with Lufthansa, ANA and Air New Zealand with my bike. Did not box it and everything was fine. I only deflated tyres.

On the way back in Christchurch I was only asked to cover the chain with provided plastic bag.

At Sydney airport I was given a tape to wrap front wheel to the frame so it would not move.

Jerzy Bin, April 23, 2004

Lufthansa bike shipping

I shipped by bike, no charge as baggage, handle bars turned, pedals off, wheels deflated, from Portland OR direct to Frankfurt and back.

I wrapped the bike in plastic sheeting, taped top and bottom with duct tape, with some convenient hand holds for the handlers. The bike arrived well cared for.

I saved the packing along with a roll of duct tape, and left it in a duffle at the hotel I would stay at the night of my departure. Repacked as before with no problem on return trip. Would do it this way again.

David Manfield, January 18, 2004

San Francisco to Milan on Lufthansa

Found on: rec.bicycles.misc

My wife and I flew two bikes from San Francisco to Milan on Lufthansa in October.

No charges and no hassles.

Any other questions?
Chris Neary

Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Bicycling combined all the elements I loved - Adapted from a quotation by Charles Lindbergh
Chris Neary, December 22, 2003

Lufthansa and München

I travelled with Lufthansa this summer from Arlanda (Stockholm) Sweden to München Germany.

No hassle, I simply removed the pedals and twisted the handlebars on the bicycle. I ducttaped the top tube, padded the rear derailleur with cardboard and put bubble pastic on the brake/gearlevers. No extra charge from the airline, just be sure to call in advance to secure a place for your bike.

My bike was delivered to me in the baggage area. There was a sign from the roof in the middle of the hall saying "Sperrgepäck". You simply stand there until your bike is deilvered, which took less time than my ordinary luggage.

The underground train goes right into the city center and the Central station. Just don't forget to buy a special ticket for your bike, as the fine for not having a correct ticket is 40 Euro. Also you are not permitted to bring your bike on the underground train during rush hours, but nobody seems to bother.

From München central station you can take local trains further, which have excellent bike carrying possibilities. Just remember to get a special biketicket to put on your bike, the cost is 10 Euro.

My trip home was exactly as smooth.

Marcus Femling, July 17, 2003

Tandem on Lufthansa

Recently travelled from SFO to Toulouse with tandem in soft BikePro case. Lufthansa did not want to allow us to bring bike on board, as they deemed it over-weight. Bike was only item in the case. We patiently and politely waited as they discussed what to do. Eventually they allowed the bike to get checked for an additional $127. (Note: Air France for return trip did not charge any additional fees). Bike did arrive in perfect condition and on time.

Christine, July 04, 2003

total lack of brain from lufthansa

tried to go vancouver-frankfurt edinburgh. 1st sector ok, but plane "too small" to take a bike box (!?!) from frankfurt to edinburgh even though i'd checked by phone when i bought the ticket that the bike would be ok. took 5 hours of calls and 3 days waiting for unreturned calls to get it sorted. had to use the girly bursting into tears trick for the operator to let me speak to a real live manager. prior to then had been told everything from $350 freight charge, $50 charge, have to go through independent handler, has to go my surface transport, to cant go at all! all she had to do was reroute me, ended up going for free only because i persevered. nobody had a clue what the policy was.

sara, February 03, 2003

Bike Pro Case

I recently travelled with my bike on Lufthansa from Phoenix to Athens, Greece. I sent an email to Lufthansa a couple of weeks before flying and they suggested reconfirming my reservation with the added note that I would be travelling with a bike. I did.

At the check-in counter they were expecting it. The lady charged me $30 one way and no fuss. I was carrying two suitcases, so the bike was considered excessive baggage. With one suitcase, there would have been no charge.

I used the Bike Pro case to transport the bike. The case comes with its instructions and is very straight forward to put the bike in. There is, however, not enough space to put helmets and hydration packs in. Everything else fits just fine.

The case worked wonderfully. The bike came out of the case looking exactly the same. No scratches, no dings, nothing. I did use a lot of pipe insulation, so maybe that helped. But all in all, NO problems.

The case is expensive ($400+), but my bike is worth 10 times that. So, worth it.



Agam Sharda, November 25, 2002


I recently returned from a 2 week trip, biking from Munich to Budapest. I flew my bike via Lufthansa with a connection in Franfurt each way.

I simply took off the pedals, turned the handlebars and deflated the tires. Both times the bike arrived undamaged at the oversize area of baggage claim before I could clear passport control. No problems at all.

This is the way it should be.

stuart bonning

Stuart Bonning, July 23, 2002

Bags vs. Boxes ... (a continuing debate)

I have shipped my bike in a plastic bag on various occasions by way of Delta, Lufthansa, Qantas, Transat and Canadian Airlines (now Air Canada) without any problem at all. In most cases, the airlines provides the bag for a small fee. On the other hand, Alaska Airlines insisted I box my bike and although the bike did arrive in good shape, that box had obviously had very rough treatment. I was afterwards told by an agent that it's better to ship in a clear bag, since the bike is then handled and stored separately from other baggage

John Cuthbertson, January 07, 2000

Bags vs. Boxes ... (a continuing debate)

Last year I took my bike on Lufthansa, no box required; charge 100DM ($60 or so) each way. Brought back two bikes this way; one had a large chipped area on the enameled handlebars for which Lufthansa paid $300 plus refund of fee.

To Germany, panniers were on bike, pedals removed, handlebars sideways. Coming back the panniers were full and _that_ was a problem with the agent in Dresden. They did take the bike, but only after I argued that that was the way the bike had come to Dresden (more or less).

This year we were thinking "use boxes," but frankly, reading the messages here, I think the anonymity of a box is a bad thing. The real advantage of a box though is add'l storage space.

My take is that we're (now) paying a fee for special handling of a bike and this represents an implied contract to handle the bike with due diligence - which will only be done if it's obvious that the package is a bike.

Nonetheless, I think that judicious use of foam tubing and tape may be wise and if my bike were new and scratch-free, I would... probably leave it home!

Kevin Pfeiffer, April 27, 1998

United Airlines

Sorry for the delay in this response. I took my own bike, having it boxed in a regular new bicyle shipping carton by my dealer for the trip over. That cost $20. Lufthansa quoted me DM100 each way for the cost of shipping it. In fact, I flew over on a United plane. They wanted $65, but agreed to $55, based on the Lufthansa quote (they're cooperating carriers). On the return, Lufthansa accepted the bike as baggage and charged me nothing. Obviously, it makes a difference who your gate agent is. I packed in in the same box for the return, removing the pedals, seat, front wheel, front axle, and handlebars. It wasn't as artfully packed as my dealer had done, but it got back in good condition.

Ronald L. Wallenfang, October 14, 1997

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