Reliable Research: Know Before You Go!

Tracy Stewart, April 11, 2011
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. When I checked in for my trip at Los Angeles I asked the Swiss attendant how much I would have to pay to bring a bicycle. The agent told me that international flights have a two bag allowance and since I only had two bags, there would be no fee. When I went to the Rome airport to begin my homeward journey the Swiss attendant told me I would have to pay $200 for the bicycle to take it home. She also gave me the choice of leaving it at the airport to donate to charity. I contacted Swiss and told them of the mistake and how my choice of paying the bicycle fee was deceptively taken away. Swiss said they were sorry but they cannot change the policy. After contacting the State Consumer Protection Board of New York State I was told that although Swiss may have poor business practice, they did not break any laws. Is there nothing I can do?

    A. Though you would expect the folks working behind the counter to be familiar with the rules and regulations of the airline that employs them, the harsh reality is that not every agent you encounter will be the best and brightest, and can't always be taken for their word. For example, the agent that insisted I would need a visa for a flight from Sydney to Honolulu, that escalated to a reminder from a manager that Hawaii is an actual US state. Anyhoo, there is some degree of responsibility that falls upon the traveler to do a little research of our own before we begin our trip. You'll find the website of your airline to be much more reliable than what you might be told over the phone or at any counter. does state the additional charge for sporting equipment, including "1 regular bicycle without motor or 1 tandem or 1 child trolley for the bicycle," considered medium size, at $200 on intercontinental flights. Next time, read up before you go.