The skies just got a little friendlier for bike travelers

August 30, 2017

Image: Joseph Hsu

Kimberly Kinchen, business network writer

Businesses keep making it easier to go by bike?whether it’s Yelp noting whether a local business has bike parking, or Amtrak expanding roll-on service to all long-distance routes, or car-share services adding bike racks to vehicles. You can now add airlines to that list. In July, Alaska Airlines announced that bikes can now be checked as travelers’ first or second piece of baggage for the very reasonable price of $25. The new rate went into effect July 19 and includes other items that fall under the category of sports equipment.

Most other major airlines, including American, Delta and United, all charge $150. At $75, Alaska’s previous charge for checking a bike was already among the least expensive of all major airlines. The new $25 rate is half the price of the next cheapest option, JetBlue’s $50.

Will Alaska’s lower fee be competitive with Amtrak’s recently expanded roll-on bike service? For long distance journeys where time is luxury, or for travelers who already own a bike case, the answer is yes. Air travelers will still need to pack their bikes in a case, but the lower fee could make investing in a case worth it. Especially for people who prefer their own bikes, or in destinations where bike share or a rental is not readily available. 

“We are excited that our guests who want to bring their bikes along on their travels are able to do this for a minimal cost due to this new policy. We have listened to our guests and being able to bring their bikes is something that is important,” Ann Johnson of Alaska says. The lower rate will also be available on Alaska’s Horizon Air and SkyWest flights immediately, with plans to add Virgin America later.

Whether other airlines will follow suit remains to be seen. For now, Alaska’s new policy is a welcome development for people who love or need to travel with their bikes, and a yet another sign that more businesses are figuring bike amenities into their bottom lines.

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