Bikepacking 101: How to travel with a bicycle on a plane in India



Travel with a bicycle on a plane

One of the most frequently asked questions about my bicycle tour is how I carried my bicycle to all the places I’ve toured? Did I ship my own bike? Or did I rent one over there? I instantly get a surprised look when I tell them I travel with my bike on a plane.

Flying with a bicycle isn’t really difficult and is as easy as carrying your checked-in luggage. All you need to do is some basic planning, understand the rules of the airline you fly with, and pack your bike well. I have flown with my bicycle both within India and to international destinations. I feel it is convenient and often cheaper to fly with a bike as checked luggage than it is to ship it separately or rent one at the destination.

In India, few airlines like AirAsia, Indigo, Air India, and Vistara allow you to fly along with your bicycle by paying the same fee as you do for sports equipment or oversize baggage handling charges. I was a little nervous when I first flew with a bicycle in Thailand but thereafter I had flown multiple times with my bicycle and it worked out fine every single time. So, I will try to detail out the cost, airline policies, bicycle packing and more, to make it easier for you when you fly for the first time with your bicycle.

Can I take a bicycle on a plane?

Yes, most commercial airlines (as long as they aren’t smaller aircraft), allow taking a bike on a plane or for you to carry oversized baggage. I’d generally Google “(airline name) bicycle policy” to find its policy on how to carry bicycle or sports equipment onboard.

Cost of flying with a bicycle on an airplane?

The cost of flying with a bicycle generally depends on the airline policy. Indigo, Air Asia and Go Air have a dedicated sports equipment policy wherein they mention rules of carrying the bicycle along with its charges on domestic and international routes. However, Air India and Vistara consider a bicycle under the oversized baggage policy and charge accordingly.

This is why you need to choose your airline carefully when flying with a bicycle. The prices mentioned below are the handling charges and do not include the baggage weight.

 AirAsia – £4.90 for domestic routes and £9.80 for international routes

 Indigo – £9.80 for domestic routes and £19.50 for International routes

 Go Air – £11.70 for domestic routes and £24.40 for International routes

 Air India – There are no specific rules and excess baggage rates are applicable for a bicycle.

 Vistara – £19.50 for a domestic return as oversized baggage

Pro-Tip: Most airlines ask you to pack your bicycle well before checking them; preferably in a bicycle corrugated box and deflate your tires. 

Pack Your Bicycle Properly

Packing your bicycle sounds like a daunting task, but believe me, it isn’t that difficult if you understand the basic mechanics of a bicycle. The first time I flew with my bicycle, I used the help of YouTube and there was no stopping me after that. Now, I would generally take anything between 25-30 min to pack my bike completely and around 20 min to unpack and fix my bicycle at the destination. Instead of getting it done by the local bike shop, I always recommend you do it yourself as it helps you understand the process better and makes you more confident…

Kanishka Poddar
Bicycle Mayor of Ranchi, India
Author, Bikepacker, Designer, Travel Blogger
Kanishka runs a design studio for men’s ethnic wear in his hometown at Ranchi, India. He loves bicycle touring, playing with words, sketching, and cooking. Traveling has always been the balancing factor in the juggle between work and life.
Instagram/twitter: @kp1200

Excerpt from BIKE Magazine, click here to continue reading the full article

June 2021

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