Taking Bikes on Planes to France - A Guide for Cyclists

Flying with your bike need not be a nightmare – here's some advice on how to get your bike to France by plane. By Lynette Eyb.

Putting it all back together upon arrivial at Biarritz airport. Photo: Matthew Sparkes

Putting it all back together upon arrival at Biarritz airport. Photo: Matthew Sparkes

Before you book your flight

If you plan on taking your own bike, check your airline’s cycle  carriage policy before booking as some airlines are stricter (and more expensive) than others when it comes carrying your precious cargo.

Virgin Atlantic has an excellent bike carriage policy that allows passengers to check in regular bikes and tandems for free as long as it's packed in a bike box or bag and weighs less than 23kg. This bike allowance is in addition to your baggage allowance.

Other airlines – including British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand – allow you to take your bike for free if it fits within your usual baggage allowance; fees apply once if exceed these limits. See here for KLM’s policy.

Some airlines charge a fee regardless of whether your bike fits into your usual luggage allowance.

Note that these fees are for bookings made online – you’ll often pay more if you book your bike in at the airport or via phone. I’ve kept them all in £ here for purposes of easy comparison (note prices change all the time so check ahead for the latest updates). Ryanair charges £50 each way for bikes; Jet2 asks customers to call their call centre for advice; Flybe has a £30 fee if booked ahead or £40 at the airport. easyJet charges a non-refundable sports equipment fee of £27.

Packing your bike for the plane

Ensure your bike is packed safely and securely for the journey to minimise any risk of damage; and don’t forget the make sure your insurance policy covers damage and loss, just in case.

Nearly all airlines will ask you to pack your bike in a bike box or bike bag. Online bike retailer Wiggle has options for every budget. A CTC plastic bag is a cheap option (Travelling Two road-tests it here). If you opt for plastic, check with the airline first to ensure it meets their specifications. Some airlines like KLM sell boxes at the airport (€20 each at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport). Cycletourer discusses bike boxes and bags.

How you pack your bag may depend on whether you plan on boxing/bagging it before you leave home/your hotel or if you’ll be packing it after you cycle to the airport. A bag can also be easily stowed in your panniers and used again, whereas a bike box can be more problematic once you arrive in France, especially if you're not flying out of the same airport you arrive at.

The CTC website has more information on taking your bike on planes.

John Telleman’s video below illustrates one way of safely and efficiently boxing your bike for the plane.

When you arrive

Once there, French airports are generally pretty bike-friendly with bike parking and other bike storage facilities usually provided. However it's usually a good idea to check the airport's website prior to departure for any bike-related information. One Freewheeling France user recently wrote in to praise Nice airport’s designated bike assembly area – complete with workstand and tools – in the baggage reclaim area.

If you are cycling from the airport, check routes ahead so you know the easiest and safest way out. If you planning on staying near the airport before/after your flight, check our bike-friendly accommodation section for hotels with secure bicycle storage facilities.

Consider shipping your own bike ahead

See our shipping page for information and contacts for hassle-free ways to send your bike ahead to your French hotel.

Consider hiring a bike instead

If this all sounds like too much hassle, consider hiring a bike instead. Check our bike hire listings to see if there's a bike hire shop near your destination.

And if you're taking a tour ...

Most tour companies will either have bike hire included in their tour price or they will be able to help you hire a bike for a surcharge to take the hassle out of bringing your own. See our Organised Tours section here.

See here for cycling accommodation in France


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