Recently my friend Ed looked at flying to Texas. He looked at flying United and Southwest Airlines. When he looked at flying the friendly(?) skies of United, he found they wanted to charge him $175, each way, to take his bicycle with him. Yes, that’s a $350 total trip cost for his bicycle.
He wrote a note to United and told them he thought it was ridiculous that it cost more to fly his bicycle than it cost to fly himself to Texas. They wrote back and told him that bicycles are difficult to handle and it takes extra people to put that bike into and out of the cargo space. (I guess each time a bicycle comes to the ramp, an extra person is called in?!)
When he checked with Southwest Airlines, he found the airfare to get himself to Texas was slightly better than United’s rates. When he asked about flying his bicycle, Southwest told him it would be $50 per leg of the trip or $100 total trip cost for his bicycle.
Ed flew to Texas with his bicycle on Southwest Airlines and had a great trip. No flight or luggage issues whatsoever.
Athletes should shop around for airlines that want their business. Each airline has slightly different baggage policies and you might find that there are some airlines that want your business at a fair rate, while others that want a rate that is worth another passenger seat on the flight.