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Update: Air Canada and Folding Bikes

Back in December, BikingToronto posted the story of Lloyd Alter, a Toronto-based blogger at TreeHugger.com and cyclist, who was takin
g issue with Air Canada charging for having a folding bike in baggage:

Over at TreeHugger.com, Toronto cyclist Lloyd Alter (himself an architect and prefab housing builder, as well as “green blogger) is having a bit of a dust-up with Air Canada. It seems that although his Strida folding bike compacts into a bag smaller than Air Canada’s maximum dimensions for luggage, they will still charge you $50 because there is a bike in the bag. This “Excess Baggage Fee” is waived if you try to fly with hockey bags, hockey sticks, skis or snowboards (all of which is much bigger than a folding bike), but not if you have a bike.

This case is now a legal one, before the Canadian Transport Agency, with Lloyd making the case that the “Additional Handling Fee” is discriminatory and unreasonable, as it requires (nor was given) any special treatment nor additional handling:

After I was charged for the handling of the bag, I deposited it on the same belt as all of the other luggage, and it came down the same ramp and landed on the carousel with all of the other luggage. On my return flight to Terminal 3 on American Airlines, it hit the carousel in the midst of conventional luggage, so Pearson Airport luggage handlers appear to have treated it like conventional luggage. At least at the portion of its journey visible to me, it received no special handling.

Also, notwithstanding M. De Serre’s listing of the tariffs on other airlines for bicycle transport, I have travelled with this bicycle on American Airlines, Porter Airlines and United Airlines and not one of them charged me this tariff because they considered it baggage.

I was travelling with a bag that met all of Air Canada’s restrictions on size and weight and was packaged in a fashion that required no special handling and so far as I can tell, did not receive any. None of the conditions that merit special handling fees applied; there were no operational constraints, and no special handling requirements. It was a bag. The fact that it contains a special folding bike is almost completely beside the point.

Read the entire legal submission by Lloyd on his personal blog, and his post on TreeHugger from December about this.