I have discovered the criminal behavior by the airline industry to over charge passengers traveling with a bicycle. For my trip to Nepal, I started shopping for the best routes to take from Atlanta, GA to Kathmandu, Nepal. Unfortunately, the routes are not the biggest obstacle. Finding an airline that won’t steal all my money or that will even take my bike and case is the issue.
Initially, I wanted to fly on Delta since I have Gold status with them, but I also wanted to fly on airlines with baggage agreements so I could have my bags checked all the way through to Nepal. Not going to happen with Delta, but mainly because Fly Dubai, which is my connecting flight in Dubai, doesn’t allow bikes period.
I used Skyscanner and found an awesome route from ATL>PHL>DOH>KTM, in 22 hours! This was on US Air and Qatar Airways, and both are part of Oneworld alliance. I new I would have to pay $150 on US Air each way between ATL and PHL, but Qatar was an unknown. According to their website, it seemed I could fly with my bike for free since it was sporting equipment and I was going to and from the US. Score right?! Not so fast. I called to confirm the bicycle travel and was told it would be free as long as the bicycle case was 62 linear inches or less and weighed less than 23kgs/50lbs. Wait, what?! Who the fuck is going to fit a full size mountain bike with 27.5″ wheels in a 62″ case? No one, that’s who! They preceded to inform me that if the bike case was over 62″ and less than 82″, it would cost me $450 EACH way. Yes, $450. I have a Trico Iron Case that measures 88″ linear, and they won’t take that even I paid them $100k. It would have to be shipped cargo. Qatar Airways lawn darted their chance.
I filled out the online wizard for bikeflights.com and that came out to a hefty $2,000 round trip to ship the bike via FedEx. They crashed and burn on takeoff, but at least it was a quick and easy elimination.
Next up is British Airways who offered two connecting flights with Emirates and Fly India. BA charges 50 pounds to fly with a bike, which ain’t bad, but Emirates and Fly India have strict bike requirements. Failure to launch.
I went to Expedia and did a search and found a flight on American Airlines and Etihad. Again, American charges $150 each so I’m up to $300 round trip between ATL and ORD (Chicago). Surprisingly, Etihad charges $0 for sporting equipment if less than 23kgs/50lbs. I had to call and confirm this because now the size was a concern. The customer support person informed me that the bike case would be FREE as a checked item as long as it didn’t weigh over 50lbs! What?! I was in disbelieve so I asked about the linear dimensions and was told the size of the case was irrelevant. This can’t be right. I asked if I need written authorization and they said no. This sounded very promising, but being the critical thinker I am I decided to email Etihad. I haven’t received a response back but I am waiting with anticipation.