Bikes on planes.

I’m taking my bike on a plane next week. Jetstar’s website says I should deflate my tyres. Do I actually need to do this? The pressure will probably make them explode, right? I don’t want to fap around trying to find a decent pump when I get out of the airport, but I’ll probably have to, eh?


you know, i don’t think i ever let my tires down when putting my bikes on a plane. didn’t do them any harm, and definitely no explosions. but don’t quote me on that.

Do I actually need to do this? The pressure will probably make them explode, right?


Sweet, thanks for that Bren.

Matt, thanks for pointing out what the internet has already made clear.

can you report back on how you go with any luggage excess? i plan on taking my bike home for xmas. not sure if i should try and source an old, large suitcase or just pack it up in an old bike box.

Will let you know Murray. Pretty sure it’s fine with Jetstar, as long as your bike weights under 20kgs. I’m gonna bung it in an old bike box so fingers crossed it’s ok. Bubble wrap will be my friend.

who are you flying with? most of the info should be on the airline’s website. it’s generally classed as “sports luggage” and free…
last time i flew back to brisbane i took my bike with me in a bike box and it didn’t cost me anything extra.

thanks sam and sarah.

flying with qantas. i’ll chck out their website.

not in my experience. pretty sure virtually every airline includes it as part of your regular luggage allowance. some north american airlines will screw you because a bike box/bag is oversized. that’s why S&S couplers are so popular over there.

it seems like outdated overkill but airlines do require you to deflate.

Australia is lucky…

Almost every north american airline charges to put a bike on… and in some cases (<cough> united <cough>) the charge each way can run to over $100USD as my friend found out recently.

the trick in that case is to not use a bike box (or mask it as being one)… and then claim it is trade show equipment/artwork if questioned, or say its only a frame and wheels if they get really questioning.

I used a ground effect tardis a number of times this year to much success. in one case i checked in with 14 other bike riders (90% of whom had bike boxes) and ducked out on $80 of excess charges.

on the tyre deflation - i’ve seen the above links before… but if the nice man/lady at oversize check-in insists you have to deflate the tyres are you going to pull out all the above printouts to dissuade him? and will (s)he care?

end result is that you will have to unpack your (hopefully) nicely packed bike to let the air out of your tyres… they dont always ask. but ive been asked enough times (and take enough care with my packing) to not want to have to get back into my bike bag in the middle of the airport.

my trick was to let them half down, and know where the nearest bike shop was after i arrived. my portable pump will get me ~80kPA pretty easily from there.

Deflate the tyres and stuff them full of coke. That should pay for the trip once you get there.

hahah you could probably get 12psi blowing into the tube - buy a new pump! :wink:

I recently spent time reading Qantas’ & AA’s policies and speaking to customer support, to see if a frame box (5kg) could be checked through from DFW-LAX-BNE without charges, flying AA from DFW-LAX, Qantas LAX-BNE.

Charges depend on the first airline you check in with, if you can get it through then the others will have to take it to your destination without further charges.

Luggage limits to-from-through the USA are higher (at least for now). 32kg vs 23kg I think?

The controlling factor is the linear dimension, 72" IIRC, length+width+depth. It’s nigh on impossible to get a frame box under this, forget about a bike.

Some airlines have generous sporting good policies (Virgin Blue used to treat them as 5kg of your allowance as long as they were under the OHS weight limit, but I have been told it is now 23 + 5kg total allowance.)

Qantas told me that a box slightly over the linear dimension (it was ~74-76" I think) would very likely be ok for an international flight. AA told me it would be US$150 in excess fees. Perhaps it would slip through ok, likely depends on the mood of the agent you get.

I have recently flown the following, all with no other checked luggage:

Frame only in box, 5kg, MEL-BNE, Qantas, greater than 72", no hassles/fees, even came out on the carousel.

Touring bike & 1 loaded pannier in airline bike box, MEL-Launceston, ~26kg, Tiger Airways, prepaid a $30 oversize fee.

Touring bike & 1 loaded pannier in airline bike box, Hobart-MEL, ~26kg, Virgin Blue, pre-purchased regular 23kg checked luggage allowance for $12, no oversize fee charged.

The Ground Effect Tardis / ?? soft cases look nice for the price, and you don’t lose a lot of your allowance in the weight as you do with a hard case. Airline boxes are huge and only require front wheel/bars/seat removal. I used an old front axle/locknuts with the front wheel skewer to brace the fork.

I deflated just to avoid the hassle, they may be able to tell when x-raying and haul you up for it, but I doubt they’d notice.

Get a Bike Friday Tikit, it’d almost fit as carryon!

a bag of chips once exploded on my lap when I was flying.

Nobody can tell whether you’ve lowered tyre pressures. If asked if I’ve let some air out, I say yes (…by allowing normal tube porosity to drop pressure 5 psi or so).

Virgin allow you an extra 5 kg allowance if one of your items of checked luggage is a bicycle.

I usually use an S&S bike bag or a full-size bike bag. Bike boxes make travelling to/from the airport a real pain.

Bromptons have been taken on as carry-on but not since 11th Sept. Nothing else sensible is small enough for that. Tikits are nearly double the folded size (but fold faster).

TJ, bicycle tyres can gain 30+ psi during a long descent. Going into space would drop air pressures by about half that.

I liked their old policy much better. Bike/sporting goods treated as weighing 5kg was great.

Watching the videos of the Tikits blew me away, the hyperfold is amazing when compared to the extra twiddling/unbolting on Bromptons/etc.

Did you decouple your S&S bike and drain out the floodwater? :wink:

The handlers at Vancouver asked to check my tyre pressure twice on domestic flights. Discovered another benefit of the tardis in that you can ‘feel’ the tyres through the bag.

Also with some judicious packing you can keep it under the 60" that Air Canada requires before they go to oversize.

Another trick (if travelling in pairs or a greater group) is to break the bikes down and have one person box the frames and the other the wheels/additional parts. Add in your carry on capacity [pedals/bars] and you can stay under the max size (and also claim you dont have a ‘bike’ and pay the full charge).

Just remember to pack your tools in the checked luggage! Multi-tools are not security friendly…

If you can’t take a tennis racquet as carry on, could you take handlebars?

I accidentally packed a folding Park chain tool and got that through after demonstrating it on the spare links. I was also once queried about a front QR hub, as it ‘looked like a container with a tap’.