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Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

worstbikepolicy
New Arrival

I have been planning to bring my bicycle in a special bike box as a checked bag. I have taken this on flights before and haven't had issues, but have yet to take it on Southwest Airlines. Recently, I noticed that SWA's bicycle policy states as follows:

 

Bicycles over 100 pounds in weight and 81 inches in total dimensions cannot be checked as baggage and can only be shipped as Cargo if the Customer is a known Shipper.

 

 

My bicycle bag's total linear dimensions comes out to 105 inches - this is way higher than the 81-inch limit stated. 81 is a ridiculously unrealistic limit, and I don't see how any bicycle boxes can fit within those limits unless they're for extremely small bikes, folding bikes or bikes with SS couplers. Most other airlines seem to have a limit of 110-115 inches for bike bags. Is this 81-inch limit strictly enforced? Will I not be able to check my bag?

21 REPLIES 21

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

dfwskier
Top Contributor

People "get away with" luggage that is a bit larger than spec. Those that are significantly larger than spec. do not.

 

Remember you have to remove the handlebars and pedals, so you don't need a very wide box. Taking the seat off would help, too.

 

I agree with you that 81 inches is probably not reasonable. I just measured my mountain bike and it is 62 inches long and 30 inches high, and it is a "normal" size bike.

 

It might work if you took both wheels off.

 

You might want to complain to customer relations about the issue.

 

https://community.southwest.com/t5/Knowledge-Base/Contact-Customer-Relations/ta-p/108355

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

jcanon81
New Arrival

I’m in the same boat and struggling to get a clear answer from SW. I have called to speak with a representative, but despite doing this for “22 years” she wasn’t too familiar with the bike policy and had to reread it a couple of time. She then said nothing over the 81 inches could be check, to which I explained the same policy allows other things over 81” to be checked. She then gave me the number to the check-in at the airport I plan to fly out of who was really busy and just said, “bring it and we’ll take care of you.” That’s not exactly reassuring. What happens when I show up with my bike in a travel bag and they say, sorry, we can’t check that?

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

dfwskier
Top Contributor

@jcanon81 wrote:

I’m in the same boat and struggling to get a clear answer from SW. I have called to speak with a representative, but despite doing this for “22 years” she wasn’t too familiar with the bike policy and had to reread it a couple of time. She then said nothing over the 81 inches could be check, to which I explained the same policy allows other things over 81” to be checked. She then gave me the number to the check-in at the airport I plan to fly out of who was really busy and just said, “bring it and we’ll take care of you.” That’s not exactly reassuring. What happens when I show up with my bike in a travel bag and they say, sorry, we can’t check that?


You either leave the bag and take your flight  .or.

 

you and your bag leave the airport together -- but not on a plane.

 

I did a quick look, and most of the carboard bike boxes seemed to be 54 inches long.

So it seems that the box makers expect users to to remove at least one wheel. 

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

jcanon81
New Arrival

Every bike case designed for travel, which is what we’re talking about, requires some form of bicycle disassembly. This includes removing both wheels and the handlebars. Even with this standard disassembly, the bike bag/box end up measuring a total of around 100 inches (L x W x H). There are a few exceptions out there, but at least 90% of all cases designed for air travel exceed 81 inches in total dimension. 

So the questions remain. Has Southwest updated their policy to eliminate bike travel for a vast majority of cyclists? Do check-in counters limit the dimensions to 81 inches? Is the policy just unclear and worded in a way that is open to interpretation? We’re trying to get a clear answer from SWA and have been unable to do so. 

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

worstbikepolicy
New Arrival

Jcanon81, I am currently on my trip. Although I do not have a clear answer to the question about the interpretation of the policy, I do have some encouraging news: I got my bike bag through without any questions. In fact, they didn't charge me for a 3rd checked bag, so I only had to pay the bike fee. The guy didn't even look at my bike - just weighed it and entered it in the system as "special equipment." It came up as 70lbs because I stuffed some bike gear and tools in there, but it didn't raise any eyebrows. I cannot guarantee that you will have the same experience, but I think you are fairly safe considering that between us both, we have seen zero reports of this arbitrary rule actually being enforced, and SWA staff have proven to not actually have knowledge of it. Personally, I don't think I'll ever take my bike on a SWA flight again until that rule is eliminated or changed, but I think you'll be fine. I would recommend not even mentioning the rule or talking to customer service before hand. Just go straight to check-in and say you've got a sporting equipment that you want to check.

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

ksbrg
Employee
Employee

@worstbikepolicy - as an avid cyclist, I've been keeping up with this thread and am happy to read you were able to get your bike on board.

 

I saw your post about accidentally marking one of the replies as a "solution," so I've unmarked that. If you feel like another post here IS a solution, feel free to mark it.

 

I'm no expert at flying with bikes (yet!), but I've always understood Southwest's policy to be $0 if within the measurements listed (1 of 2 checked bags, basically) and $75 if over those measurements. I'm sure I'm over-simplifying it.

 

NOTE: I do work at Southwest, but am not a policy expert and this is not an official post as a Southwest representative - on these boards, I'm just another bicycle-loving Southwest Customer

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

worstbikepolicy
New Arrival

@dfwskier wrote:

@jcanon81 wrote:

I’m in the same boat and struggling to get a clear answer from SW. I have called to speak with a representative, but despite doing this for “22 years” she wasn’t too familiar with the bike policy and had to reread it a couple of time. She then said nothing over the 81 inches could be check, to which I explained the same policy allows other things over 81” to be checked. She then gave me the number to the check-in at the airport I plan to fly out of who was really busy and just said, “bring it and we’ll take care of you.” That’s not exactly reassuring. What happens when I show up with my bike in a travel bag and they say, sorry, we can’t check that?


You either leave the bag and take your flight  .or.

 

you and your bag leave the airport together -- but not on a plane.

 

I did a quick look, and most of the carboard bike boxes seemed to be 54 inches long.

So it seems that the box makers expect users to to remove at least one wheel. 


From bicycleuniverse.com:

 

"Most bike boxes are 43x11x32, but others can be bigger, such as 53x29x9 or 54x28x8."

 

None of these fit within the SWA's 80-inch total dimension policy, even with wheels off, which is the standard practice for packing bikes. The 54 inch one that you were referring to also doesn't fit within their policy as it comes out to 86 inches total dimensions. And these are standard cardboard boxes, mind you. There are very few bikes that can actually SAFELY fit within these dimensions, which is why it is a ridiculous policy. Not to mention that they don't have the same limitations for kayaks, surfboards, etc.

 

I don't disagree with your top part. It's true, unfortunately. I'm gonna chance it and hope that they don't really understand the policy. I don't have time to put it into a smaller box and I wouldn't feel comfortable taking it on an airplane. If they don't take it, then I'll have my friend ship it and simply never fly with SWA ever again.

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

dfwskier
Top Contributor

@worstbikepolicy wrote:
 

 

I don't disagree with your top part. It's true, unfortunately. I'm gonna chance it and hope that they don't really understand the policy. I don't have time to put it into a smaller box and I wouldn't feel comfortable taking it on an airplane. If they don't take it, then I'll have my friend ship it and simply never fly with SWA ever again.


Ahh so you'll be bitter about the airline enforcing  a policy that you are fully aware of.

 

Hey, that's your choice.

 

Don't expect other airlines to be any different.

Re: Bicycle bag policy - Dimension limitations

worstbikepolicy
New Arrival

@dfwskier wrote:

@worstbikepolicy wrote:
 

 

I don't disagree with your top part. It's true, unfortunately. I'm gonna chance it and hope that they don't really understand the policy. I don't have time to put it into a smaller box and I wouldn't feel comfortable taking it on an airplane. If they don't take it, then I'll have my friend ship it and simply never fly with SWA ever again.


Ahh so you'll be bitter about the airline enforcing  a policy that you are fully aware of.

 

Hey, that's your choice.

 

Don't expect other airlines to be any different.


Holy crap, dude. Are you that big of a jerk in person too or just on the Internet? There's absolutely no reason for you to be like that. I already got my answer, partially from you (although I was able to find that on my own before you did), but you've been condescending this whole time and I don't appreciate it. It's not unreasonable to be upset about an unreasonable policy. And it's not unreasonable to not want to ride on SWA again because of it. At this point you aren't being helpful at all, you're just being an ass for no reason. Do you just go around on forums looking for people to talk down? Does it make you feel better about yourself acting like that?

 

I don't expect other airlines to be different. But I never run into problems with other airlines like this. Of course I am going to try to see if they'll make an exception - I have no reason not to. Why wouldn't I at this point? In any case, I am not using SWA again unless the policy is changed. I wasn't the one who bought these tickets, so that's why I am using it this time (figured I'd get that out of the way before you give me another snarky response).

 

I'd prefer that you don't reply on this thread anymore. I don't need anymore input from you.