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Explorer C

I know there are older discussions on traveling with a bike box but i am trying to understand if Southwest has had a policy change. I have previously flown on Southwest with a bicycle in a hard side case that measures 109 total inches(L+W+H) which weighs 47 lbs and paid a $75.00 fee. I was told by a friend that Southwest now does not allow anything over 80 total inches to be checked as baggage and must be shipped as cargo by a known carrier. I have called the Southwest help number and was told that I could fly with it but it would be $175.00 even though the website does indeed state that anything over 80 total inches is a no go. I just don't want to show up at check in traveling to a race and told sorry, you can go but the bike can't. Anyone have any solid information on this.




Adventurer C

Hi there! The policy on the SWA website is clear. I would NEVER trust anything an agent tells me over the phone that contradicts what is clearly stated on the website. If there are conflicting opinions between agents once you get to the airport, they're going to stick with what's in the written policy.


  • Bicycles (defined as non-motorized and having a single seat) properly packed in a bicycle box or hard case from 51 to 100 pounds in weight or 63 to 80 inches in total dimensions. Pedals and handlebars must be removed and packaged in protective materials so as not to be damaged by or cause damage to other baggage. Bicycles packaged in cardboard or soft-sided cases will be transported as limited release items. Bicycles over 100 pounds in weight and/or 80 inches in total dimensions cannot be checked as baggage and can only be shipped as Cargo if the Customer is a Known Shipper.


Explorer C

Every time there’s a post on here about Southwest’s ridiculous bike case restrictions, someone replies with a verbatim quote of the “Specialized sports equipment” policy thinking that will solve the issue. Thoughtful, but kind of misses the point.


The actual issue is that 80 inches as a maximum limit for bike travel cases is OBSURD.


The smallest bike shipping box I have ever seen for a standard adult bike is 32x42x12 (86” total). Standard bike travel cases that every other airline seems to be ok with are more like 90-100 inches.


Unfortunately, the Cargo/Known Shipper option mentioned in the policy is not realistic for most normal people because it requires multiple layers of vetting and certification, and it’s prohibitively expensive for recreational bike travel. Southwest customer support gives all kinds of inconsistent answers and advice on all this stuff, so I’m going to attempt to make it simple:


*Whether or not your bike case can fly is 100% dependent on the agent who checks you in.*


Fortunately Southwest generally hires friendly people who actually want to not ruin your day, so customers have more hits than misses relying on this simple truth, but it’s not a guarantee, and that stinks.


All that said, here are some tips to increase your chances of making it through on flight day:

  • Be kind.
  • Make sure your case looks clean and legit (no cardboard-scotch-tape hack jobs).
  • If it says "bicycle" or "bike" in official printing on the outside, that's even better.
  • Keep it under 50 pounds if you can—this will keep the alarm bells from going off and forcing your agent to look up the specifics of the policy.
  • Don’t put anything in your case that is not directly related to your bike.
  • Be kind.


Finally, keep posting about this, and like these posts! At some point Southwest may realize they’ve put a pretty unreasonable restriction in their policy.


Good luck out there!