Southwest Airlines Bike Experiences

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

Southwest Airlines and Co-Pilot

I just flew home to San Diego from Baltimore on Southwest, on a $99 one way ticket, and had zero problems with my Co-Motion touring bike packed in the S&S backpack case. The agent didn't ask what it was, didn't put a "conditional acceptance" tag on it, just put the "SAN" tag and put it on the belt. It arrived unscathed in San Diego.

John Walker, July 08, 2007

Southwest Airlines bicycle policy

SWA's policy is pretty clear and can be found at:

The container must be under 62" (h+w+l)and under 50 lbs. or it's $50 each way.

BikeFriday and Co-Pilot are specifically mentioned as acceptble.

Eric Buck, June 06, 2005

Taking Bike to Europe

Found on: rec.bicycles.misc

I did it 2 weeks ago. I flew West Palm -> Baltimore (South West), 1 day stopover Baltimore -> Iceland (Icelandair) 3 day stopover Iceland-> Denmark (IcelandAir) 1 day stopover Denmark -> Paris (Air France).

I had my bike in a soft case and I used hot water pipe insulation (Home Depot $1.29) around the frame to add protection without adding weight. I stuffed the case with clothes as well. Therefore it was my only piece of checked luggage.

Southwest charged me $40 dollars.

Because it was my only checked luggage, IcelandAir didn't charge extra for it. Ditto for AirFrance (although because I didn't warn them in advance that I was travelling with a bike, they had to check first to see if there was enough space in the plane for it on the flight with me).

Because I made stopovers, I left the bike at BWI for 24 hours in the care of Southwest. They held it for me free of charge, but because of security reasons, I couldn't even touch the case once it came into the baggage claim area.

I had to take the bike with me into Rekyavik on the airport shuttle since there was no place to store it at the Keflavik airport. The guy there suggested I just leave it out at the luggage area for 3 days. He said not to worry about it, I was in Iceland. I almost went for it, but maybe with one of my other bikes...

I checked the bike at the Copenhagen airport for 40DKK ($5) without problems.

All in all no problems. I've always found it easier, cheaper and more hassle free taking a bike on planes in Europe than in the States.


HTH, December 23, 2003

Traveling with bikes for FREE

I'm constantly travelling with my bike on airplanes and have recently noticed that most airlines are cracking down and trying to charge me. I could write a book on all the experiences and excuses that I've given at the ticket counter.

First of all, I refuse to pay...if I don't have to. I travel with a Performance bike case which is the smallest case out there. It doesn't resemble some of the larger bike cases on the market. If anyone knows of a smaller one, please let me know. My latest trick: Most airlines now have kiosks where you can retrieve your boarding pass and claim the # of bags that you'll be checking. The kiosks are fantastic because you don't immediately encounter a human being who can ask you what's in the case. Once you enter the # of bags to check, your're asked to proceed to the counter.

At this point I carefully roll my case very close to the counter out of view from the agent. The kiosk agent already has the stickers in hand to place on your luggage. I shield my case till the last second. At this point the agents job is to place the stickers on the bags. Quite often the agent is very busy and won't hassle me with 100 questions. The agent's job responsibilty is to slap stickers and often they just want to move on to the next person in line.

When they ask if that's a bike, I don't say yes or no. I tell them it's either FRAMEWORK or HARDWARE. The term hardware usually throws them for a loop and I don't feel like I'm completely lying. This new kiosk system has minimized the face time that you'll have with the agent. With this minimized time of your interaction you've shortened the likelihood of negotiating the contents.

In some airports that I travel (SF0, OAK, SJC, SEA, and JFK) once the agent slaps the sticker on he/she will tell you to bring the case to the TSA Security rep. Once the case is the hands of TSA, the airline agent is on to the next passenger.

Southwest considers anything over 80 inches as oversized. The Perfomance bike case is exactly 88.5 inches. The next time I travel on Southwest I will challenge the agent on her measuring skills and have her to break out her ruler to measure the box. Paying for a bike is a joke. It's no different than two bags of golf clubs which are free.

One last suggestion or tip. When I get to the counter, I normally bombard the agent with questions to keep her attention off my bags such as "is the flight full, is the flight on time, what time does it land, can I have an aisle seat, window seat, exit row, etc. If you keep them busy they'll overlook your belongings.

Good Luck and Happy Travels!

Brian Kelly, July 15, 2003

Folders on Southwest Airlines

I had no problems with Southwest with a folder.

drehus, April 28, 2003

Southwest Airlines & Gorillium Systems Bike Box

I boxed my bike in a unmarked folding box(purchased off the web)and checked it as one of my two bags with Southwest at the counter. I put the bike box on the scales and smiled-they slapped a "baggage" sticker on it and taged my other bag.

Then they asked me what it was and I said " a bicycle" the clerks looked at each other like "whoops- we made a mistake but its too late now" I smiled. on the way back the "baggage" stickers really helped. No charges. My suggestions -- use an unmarked box, smile, don't offer its a bike- but if asked don't lie, smile.

The web site is this was formerly "The bike box". the company is "gorillium systems".

The basic box is $29.00 and plain white. it fold ups in a weird accordion style. Unlike the ad I didn't get an inside piece to tie frame to. I certainly enjoyed your web site and read many of your postings before I developed my strategy.


Barry Havens, December 10, 2001

Southwest Airlines

1. you may use this any way you want and list my e-mail.

2. I fly SWA. 2-3 times year w/ my Cannondale mt bike. wheels, handlebar, pedals off; in a bike box from my friendly neighborhood shop. rate now forty dollars and climbing. have twice sent my Vision recumbent bike. because box shape is so different, they have not asked & I have not volunteered that it's a bike, and have traveled no charge.

3. great site! thanks 🙂


Kesha Lange, August 18, 2000

Southwest Airlines

Paid $35.00 both ways to have my MTB flown with me. I put in a regular cardboard bike box I got for free from a local bike shop and took off the wheels, handle bar, and pedals and safely traveled with it. No damage either way but the box despite having fragile stickers all over it was crushed. Only usable once. I'd rather have some form of bike case to travel next time.

F. Rivera, June 20, 1998

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