Did you know you can take a bike on a plane? They’re accepted by all major airlines. They have to be checked and stored in the cargo hold, just like a piece of luggage. The exact rules and regulations vary by carrier. Follow these steps for safe and smart travelers:

Know the airline’s bike policies.

Check the website or call the customer service line. Find out if you have to keep it in a bag or a case, and any specific requirements for the type and size. Also ask if your bike has to be fully or partially disassembled.

Double check the size limits and fees.

Most airlines have a standard baggage limit of 50 pounds and 62 combined inches. Your bike will more than likely exceed that, so you’ll have to pay oversized fees. Find out how much so you can budget. A simple search for something like “how much does it cost to check a bike on Delta” will lead you to the page with information regarding costs as well as size and weight limits.

Pack it up.

Most airlines won’t reimburse you for damage, so pack it as best as you can. Always use a bag or case. We have had the best luck with the Evoc Bike Travel Bag Pro. However, the Evoc bag is a soft sided bike bag and most airlines will require you to sign a limited liability release waiver. If you use a hard side travel bag, most airlines will not require a release waiver. Unfortunately, hard sided travel bags often will only accommodate road bikes. If you are traveling with a mountain bike, use the Evoc Travel bag and be sure it is properly packed. Also use a TSA-approved lock.

Upon arrival, check your bag for damage.

The airline will most likely try to avoid paying for any damage, but you want to be sure to report it to them before you leave the airport. In some cases, when it is clearly negligence on the part of the airline or airport staff, they will pay for damages. The picture above shows the bottom of an Evoc case that fell off the luggage trolley and was run over by one of its wheels. Luckily, the bike was packaged very well and didn’t sustain any damage. Only the bag showed signs of damage.