If you’re anything like us, your bike is your baby. You obsess over every detail and there isn’t a scratch or creak that goes un-accounted for. You grimace when friends ask to borrow it, and you’ve invested countless hours into getting the setup and fit just right. So it only makes sense that you’d want your trusty steed by your side, or moreover, between your legs when you’re riding Park City’s famous singletrack.
Flying With a Bike on Airlines
The most obvious answer to this dilemma is to simply pack your bike and check it with the rest of your baggage. However, this comes with it’s own set of dilemmas and challenges. First-off, you need a bike travel case. These are not inexpensive, and when it comes to protecting your precious cargo, a good case is not something you want to skimp on. Secondly, you need to possess some modest mechanic skills, or be willing to pay a shop to disassemble and reassemble the bike for travel. Lastly, you will need to pay any relevant airline fees which range from $50-$150 each way. However, we’ve found that claiming your oversized luggage as “exercise equipment” and not as a bicycle is a good way to get around these fees. Just make sure you a choose an ambiguous looking travel case and that you’re not sporting any gear that pegs you as an obvious cyclist.
Regardless, between a $500 travel case and airline fees, flying with your bike can get expensive quick. And if you only plan on flying with a bike once every couple of years, you may not be able to justify the initial investment of a good travel case.
Ship Your Bike
In some cases, shipping your bike to and from your destination is a better option. Typically, it costs between $75-$100 to ship a bike one-way via most common ground services. A service we would recommend is BikeFlights.com. And while it still requires some disassembly, you can typically find an old shipping box to reuse from your local bike shop. Additionally, most shops are willing to receive bike shipments on your behalf, especially if you have them handle the reassembly. The obvious drawback to shipping your bike, is that if you only have one bike, you have to go a few days before and after your trip without it.
At $100 or so in shipping each way, if you only plan on flying with your bike occasionly, shipping it out ahead of time can be a better value. However, should you find yourself in Park City without a bike, there are plenty of bike rental options to get you on the trail.