Best bike bags for air travel

Svetlana November 11 2021

As a cyclist, when looking for the best bike bags for air travel, it is important to look at what you actually need in your bag.  You want to make sure you find something that fits your needs and fits in with the rules of your airline (so many people get their luggage lost these days).

Air travel with your bike

If you are traveling with your bicycle on an international flight, you will need to check in your bike with the airline.  Most airlines do not charge any additional fees for this service, but it will count as one of your checked bags.  Once they have received your bicycle at their counter, they should give you a baggage tag with a bar code and put them on your corresponding bag(s). This bar-coded bag is now considered "luggage", and is subject to all the same rules and fees as any other luggage.  

Many of the problems that people run into when flying with bikes come from putting them in their bike bags (which they will be checked in as luggage).  This is because the bike bags are not really designed to handle rough baggage service.

Another important part of flying with your bike is making sure that it is packed correctly for the airline.  Most airlines will allow you to fly domestically with a bicycle, but if you are flying internationally it has to fit certain size requirements.

In addition, if your bicycle is boxed it has to be marked with a "This Side Up" label on all sides of the package. An additional label should also say "Handle This End". If you are not boxing your bicycle, make sure that it has a tag saying how it should be loaded in an airplane (not upside down, handlebars pointing up or down?).  

Best bike bags

The best bike bags for air travel should have some sort of strap system so that you can secure your bike when transporting it through the airport. Ideally, there will also be a handle so you can carry it easily.  Most airlines require that your bike not exceed 100 pounds, so you will want to find something that is at least somewhat durable.

The best bike bags for air travel are going to have some extra padding on the outside of the case with some internal reinforcement.  You never know what sort of damage could happen if luggage gets thrown or dropped. A good bag should be constructed of either plastic, ABS composite, aluminum, or composite material with double stitching and/or rivets in all key pressure points. The wheels need to be durable as well because most international flights are quite long.

Other features you should look for are a handle so you can carry it easily, a durable exterior with extra padding and internal reinforcement to prevent damage when in transit, and an easy way to lock up your bicycle in the bag. With some research, you will be able to find the best bike bags for air travel that suit your needs.

Aerodynamic performance is enhanced by the low drag coefficient profile of each wheel tire. The result is improved speed, greater control, superior comfort, less fatigue, and reduced rider effort. Comfortable airline baggage size - fully adjustable retractable handle & smooth glide wheels. Easy care luxurious interior lining material made of 100% microfiber offering excellent protection against shocks to bikes during transport.

Another thing to consider when buying a bag is whether or not you have hard or soft panniers on your bike.

Hard panniers can be more difficult to pack into a bike bag, but they are usually smaller and easier to carry than soft bags. Soft bags can sometimes get bunched up when trying to pack them in a box, case, or bag. If you have time, it is best to play around with both and see what works for you and your needs.  

As long as you are aware of what to look for when purchasing a bike bag, it shouldn't be too difficult. The best bike bags for air travel should have some sort of strap system so that you can secure your bike when transporting it through the airport. Ideally, there will also be a handle so you can carry it easily.  

What about extra fees?

Some airlines will charge extra fees if your luggage weighs over 50 pounds or if the piece of checked baggage is larger than 62 linear inches.  The best bike bags for air travel should not add any excess weight onto this limit, nor be any larger than inches (length + width + height).

On the other hand, some airlines do not charge extra fees for checked luggage that is over 50 pounds or larger than 62 linear inches. This will depend on the individual airline and also where you are flying to or from.

Best bike bags for air travel should keep your bicycle safe while in transit, even if it does need to be checked in with the airline.  The better bags not only protect your bicycle but can also act as a way to get through airport security without any extra hassle. Before purchasing one, be sure to research which one will suit your needs best so you won't have any trouble or problems once you arrive at your destination.

Best choice

Some good options are the Saris Bones RS 3-Bike Trunk Rack and the Thule Crossover 40-Liter 4 Wheel Rolling Duffle.

The Saris Bones RS 3-Bike Trunk Rack is a hitch rack that can be attached to your car's rear or front end. It comes with an anti-rattle device and also has built-in locks to help keep it secure when you are not using it. It can hold three bikes up to 35 pounds each, putting the total weight at 105 pounds (which many airlines will allow). This bike rack is durable and made mostly of aluminum, so it should last for a long time even when traveling through rough baggage services by airline.  It folds flat when not in use and includes a lock system to help protect your bicycle from theft.

The Thule Crossover 40-Liter 4 Wheel Rolling Duffle is a good option for those who want something that can be checked in with the airline without having to pay an extra fee for weight and size. It only weighs about 12 pounds empty, but still has a capacity of 40 liters (which most airlines will not have a problem with).  This particular bag also has wheels which make it easier to transport through airports or train stations.

These bike cases may also be used to ship a bicycle in the mail.  You should know that the airlines will only allow you to transport bicycles as checked baggage, but not as a package.

One thing you'll want to check is whether or not the box has a specific label applied that says it contains a bicycle. Some carriers won't even allow anything that doesn't have this label. The best way around this is by purchasing a separate UPS label from the place where you purchased your bike bag so there will be no trouble when transporting your bike. 

Are there any disadvantages?

The downside of soft bike bags is that they are not as durable as hard cases.  In addition, some airlines will refuse to check in a bag if it contains any sort of item that could cause damage to other pieces of luggage once it's chucked into the belly of the airplane.

One thing you'll want to keep in mind is the extra fee for checked baggage. This can be around $50 - $100 per flight, depending on which airline you use and how much your bicycle weighs. The best way around this is by purchasing a separate UPS label from where you purchased your bike bag so there will be no trouble when transporting your bike.

Conclusion

Protecting your bicycle while traveling by air is of utmost importance.  The best bike bags for air travel are those that are durable, light, and spacious enough to hold all the necessary items you'll need on your trip.

Choosing a hard case may be expensive but it will provide the most protection for your bicycle. It is also better to use them if you plan on using your bike immediately after landing at your destination.  For soft cases, they have their advantages in being more affordable and easier to store once inside an airport or train station.

Just remember that these can sometimes damage other pieces of luggage when checked in with the airline, so it really just depends on what works best for you.