Flying with bikes on Southwest

Has anyone actually had an issue flying with their bike on Southwest. I have read various forums, including this one, that have had lots of warnings but not hard evidence of anyone actually not getting their bike on the plane or having to ship it as “cargo.” I understand Southwests dimensions on their policy is kind of weird but everything I have read seems to state that people have no problems. We will be flying from Bellingham to Vegas and then driving down to Sedona and will be using an EVOC soft case with an XC mtb inside. I dont care about having to pay for oversize or baggage fees my only concern is getting to the airport and having to leave my bike in my car or worse having to ship it via some other method when we come home. I could just rent a bike down there but would much prefer to ride my own. Thanks in advance.

No issues here.

The wife and I did a round trip from San Jose to Kona (no connections) and I had my carbon gravel bike inside an Evoc. Yeah $75 each way, but it arrived no problem. I checked it and my regular travel bag, so they counted two bags.

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Been a year or two but I’ve never had an issue. Have one of those Thule hard cases, had to pay for oversized baggage but no issues otherwise

No issues, but it can slow things way down. I had to wait like an hour in Denver for my bike to show up one time.

Flew with them a few weeks ago. No issues including a transfer each way.

At least in my experience, their policy has less gray area than other airlines in that you are clearly expected to pay for checking the bike.

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No issues here. On my most recent flight the bike was delayed. There was a CO2 cartridge in my saddle bag and I think that delayed the TSA inspection.

Otherwise pay the $75 and off you go.

My only experience was the outbound gate agent threatening to not accept it because it was above their bag policy allowance size. Once they were not involved the next person and every subsequent just expected the $75 and no other issues.

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I’ve had this with both Southwest and United. Sometimes you just have to find a way to move on to the next agent who understands the policy or is willing to read and apply the policy you show them from their own website.

I live in the Denver area and went on two bike trips on Southwest in the last six months. Once to SF, and then to Tampa last month. I have one of those big SCIcon soft cases where you can keep your handlebars on. Southwest charges a minimum of $75 each way, so even if you’re flying with miles, it can get expensive. On the way back from Tampa, a rather unpleasant agent charged me $125. I confirmed on their website that prices for oversized items have gone up.

On the return from SF trip, my case and handlebars were damaged. It appears they dropped the bag upside down and something pointy tore into the bag, went through the padding and gashed the handlebar. Lesson learned about soft cases. I patched the bag, replaced the bar/tape, and then disconnected the bar from the stem for my next trip.

Southwest oversized luggage at DIA is a cluster. They tell you to wait at least 15-30 minutes until the last of the regular luggage comes out. I waited an hour on the return from SF flight, only to discover the damaged case. I didn’t file a claim as my flight was delayed and I was exhausted. Apparently they only have one elevator, which causes a delay.

I have an airtag on my bike - consider this mandatory if you travel. My next trip was a direct flight to Tampa, and once I landed, saw that the bike was still in Denver. They found it and routed it through Dallas, arriving late in the evening. Things got exiting when the courier couldn’t fit it in his car and returned it to the baggage counter. I drove back to the airport the next morning to get it, and received a $200 voucher for my trouble.

So two out of my four flight segments had issues.

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Depends on the ticket agent. Sometimes they put it through no charge and other times I’ve been charged the $75. Just smile, be nice, and a little funny seems to do the trick.

Not sure if you saw it above, but I waited a very long time at Denver too. It’s odd considering it’s such a bike friendly area. Sorry yours was damaged!


I would contact their customer support and try to get your $50 back

Good idea. I still have the receipts and will try.

Standard oversized is $125 - here: Baggage Information | Southwest Airlines
But Bike bags up to 80 inches are considered “specialized sports equipment” & are $75 - here: Special Baggage and Sports Equipment | Southwest Airlines

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I’ve never had an issue – I primarily flew on Southwest multiple times per season the last few years to get to races across the Western USA. I stored my bike in an Orucase Airport Ninja bag and rarely had to pay bike fees either. :wink:

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Been a few years but never had any issues, but their terms seem to have changed from even late last year, they have always sort of been vague and “threaten” to make you send it cargo. If you look at what else they take no issues/standard fee like surfboards and kayaks, hard to imagine they would flip out on any standard bike case or even a bike shop box and leave you stranded.

I have the no longer made ruster sport hen house bag that is supposed to fit under the 63" limit (if the agent doesn’t understand geometry) and never had to pay on southwest. The only trouble I ever got was them getting annoyed I had packed other bike gear in the bag one time, that was just an agent giving me attitude and telling me the next person won’t be so nice.

Flying southwest BWI->LAX (drive to palm springs) in May, unsure if taking bike or trying to rent something there yet. Will update if I do take it even if its after your flight so that there is at least current info for people to search here.

I have flown with my bike in an EVOC bike bag on SWA dozens of times without issue. They have always made me pay the $75 fee each way. I’ve never received a break on it.

On the other hand, I’ve flown with my bike on American, and they often DGAF and don’t charge an oversized fee lol.

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I also have the Ruster Sports bags (one wheel bag and one frame bag) and have flown SW a handful of times without a charge. Sometimes I’ve gotten a bit of hassle. I also had to drop it off at oversized luggage area 2x but without an extra charge.

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Just was charged for the first time on SW. she even got the measuring tape out.


Charged is better than not taking, which I don’t think is actually an issue just their new wording is so vague I think a lot of people are scared they’ll refuse to take it.

Thanks for the update.

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:100: I’ve had friends just say “I’ll rent a bike when I get there” and not bring pedals, or saddle, then discover the rentals are all out, saddles don’t fit, pedals aren’t compatible and end up disappointed that they had a bad ride or didn’t ride at all. $150 round trip to have MY bike and minimize the risk on the bike side? so worth it.