Can You Transport an Electric Bike By Airplane?

If you have developed the fantastic habit of traveling around on your eco-friendly electric bike as often as possible, do not let traveling abroad or a trip to another city keep you from limiting your carbon footprint.

Traveling to a far-off city in the USA or another country altogether means multiple ways to transport your electric bike by land.

However, if the distance is too big and going by airplane is your only option, it is better to check the airline’s rules regarding the permissible battery size.

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If the lithium-ion battery’s size and wattage are within the respective airline’s prescribed limits, you can certainly take your electric bike on an airplane on a trip with you.

Can You Take an Electric Bike on an Airplane?

Due to global access to mainstream social media and the internet, people worldwide are more aware of their impact on the climate and how they’re contributing to global warming and climate change.

Many of these people who do have the resources to bring a change have consciously shifted to electric vehicles, including electric bikes, to reduce their carbon footprint and to play their part in preserving the environment. 

However, when people travel to different cities, states in the USA, or countries for work or a vacation, they usually have limited control over the mode of transport they can choose to move around.

Hence, people are always encouraged to take their electric bikes along with them on the trip so that they can remain mindful of their footprint and can continue to reduce global emissions.

However, when one has to travel a distance that can only be covered by air, the question of whether they still have the option to carry their electric bike along arises.

Fortunately, many regional laws designed by the governments or specific airlines themselves permit the passengers to carry their electric bikes in the cargo cabin; however, only if certain conditions are met.

Usually, the primary condition is that the electric bike’s lithium-ion battery should be within the size and wattage limit.

If the size or wattage of the battery is larger than the permissible limit, the electric bike can still be transported; however, the battery will not be allowed on the flight.

Moreover, apart from the battery’s wattage, an electric bike’s curb weight can also create a slight problem when one has to transport it, especially via an airplane.

If the weight of the electric bike surpasses the weight limit allowed to the respective passenger, they might either have to pay the extra cost of carrying additional weight, or they will not be allowed to take their electric bike on the airplane.

Continue reading to learn about why airlines and local governments design laws that may restrict the transportation of certain electric bikes via air.

Moreover, the article also sheds light on other ways to transport your electric bike, along with listing the tips one can follow in a different city or country to keep their carbon footprint in check.

Let’s get started!

What Are the Benefits of Taking an Electric Bike on an Airplane?

Usually, two kinds of people invest in electric bikes. The first type of people are those who enjoy the futuristic concept and advanced technology of an electric bike and wish to experience its many benefits.

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The second type is those who believe in the benefits and importance of EV technology and are dedicated to reducing their annual and average emissions for the sake of the planet’s betterment.

However, regardless of a person’s reason for investing in an electric bike, they should always try to make it their primary mode of transportation as much as possible.

This is especially true in the USA, where carbon emissions are not a major public concern and people and corporations are trying to do their best to repair some of the damage done to the environment.

For this, people must try to take their electric bikes along on their trips and vacations, even when traveling via an airplane.

Some of the top benefits that come from taking an electric bike on an airplane are as follows:

  • Whenever people are traveling to another city or country, they are usually dependent on taxis, Ubers, public transport, or their friends or family members for their daily commute.
  • By taking along an electric bike to a trip or vacation, a traveler can enjoy greater independence and liberty when it comes to their commute.
  • They will be more comfortable moving around and will get the opportunity to explore a new country or city in a unique and more organic way.
  • Since the person will have their electric bike, they will no longer need to completely depend on gasoline-powered taxis and public transport to get from point A to point B.
  • As a result, their carbon footprint will remain low, and their traveling will not get in the way of their mission to preserve the environmental conditions.
  • Moreover, in many countries, public transport can be extremely expensive. This is because a majority of public vehicles run on fossil fuel energy sources, which continues to get pricier as time passes.
  • On the contrary, the per unit charge of electricity is much lower in comparison, making the running costs of EVs considerably lower than that of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • Hence, when these people have the option to move around on electric bikes that run on battery charging, their average traveling costs will be reduced significantly.
  • As a result, they will have the opportunity to instead spend their money on other expenses and more wholesome activities.
  • Although there are many ways one can transport their electric bike to another city or country, taking it along with you on an airplane is perhaps the best option.
  • For instance, if you decide to get your electric bike shipped to another country that you are traveling to, the chances are your shipment might get delayed, and you may not get your electric bike delivered on time.
  • Moreover, if you plan to have the electric bike transported via the train or the bus, it might get damaged or stolen.
  • Hence, if your electric bike is within the permissible range, you should always carry it with you on the airplane to ensure you can enjoy the benefits of riding it in a new country to the fullest.

Continue reading to learn why laws limiting the transportation of electric bikes on airplanes are designed in the first place.

Why Do Certain Laws Restrict the Transportation of Certain Electric Bikes Via an Airplane?

Any time you plan on transporting your electric bike on an airplane, you will never be allowed to take it in the passenger cabin, even if you have a small, foldable electric bike.

Instead, you will have to have your electric bike fully inspected and stored in the airplane’s cargo cabin. However, the process is not that easy, so you do not see people strolling their electric bikes into the airport too frequently.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, your electric bike’s lithium-ion battery size and wattage and the overall bike’s curb weight will play a big role in whether your electric bike will be flying with you to your destination.

Let us look at both of these limitations.

The Electric Bike’s Lithium-ion Battery

To understand why the wattage and size of an electric bike’s lithium-ion battery may become problematic when traveling via an airplane, it is vital first to understand the role and importance of an electric bike’s battery.

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The lithium-ion battery of an electric bike has nearly the same role that your heart does in your body.

Just as your heart enables all your organs and body parts to function by pumping blood into them, an electric bike enables the electric bike’s motor to produce energy by pumping an electric charge into it.

When the rider charges their electric bike, the flow of electrons gets converted to chemical energy for storage in the battery’s cells.

Once they begin to pedal their electric bike, the electric motor is triggered to discharge the chemical energy stored in the battery.

This energy is then converted to kinetic energy, which is transmitted to the electric bike’s tires. This is what makes the electric bike move and gain speed. 

However, if the lithium-ion battery has such a major role in how an electric bike works, why is carrying it on an airplane problematic?

The only reason this is often an issue is because of the nature of the battery. The main atomic composition of the electric bike’s battery fluid consists of lithium, nickel, and cobalt.

Since lithium, by its nature, is a highly flammable and explosive element, its presence in the battery poses a potential threat to the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.

For instance, if an electric bike’s lithium-ion battery gets damaged or punctured during the loading process or during the flight, its battery fluid may leak out into the hold.

If the lithium-rich battery fluid finds a spark, it will immediately catch fire and will cause the entire battery to explode.

Depending on the size and placement of the battery, the explosion can potentially cause the plane to crash, which will no doubt result in a number of fatalities.

Another reason an electric bike’s lithium-ion battery may explode during a flight is the pressure differences.

When an aircraft is at a high altitude, the external pressure drops. Due to this growing pressure gradient between the external atmosphere and the battery, the gasses and liquids in the battery may push outwards, causing the battery to swell.

Any small collision with other cargo can immediately lead to the battery’s charged gases and liquids leaking into the cargo cabin if it gets sufficiently swollen.

Since both the leaked gases and liquids are highly flammable, the chances of the battery catching fire and causing an explosion are incredibly high in this situation.

On the contrary, the risks associated with transporting an electric bike’s battery on the aircraft are significantly minimized when the battery wattage or size is small.

However, the size limit is narrow, allowing only lithium-ion batteries smaller than 100 Wh to be stored on the aircraft. If your battery is over that limit, you’re out of luck and won’t be able to take it along.

Moreover, even when the batteries are that small, they need to be packed and secured carefully inside the passenger’s carry-on luggage to avoid the risk of the battery getting damaged or punctured by the other luggage in the cargo cabin.

With all that said, the simple matter is this, unless you have an electric bike with a 100Wh battery, you cannot take it along.

However, if you leave the battery behind and buy or rent a new battery in the city or country you are traveling to, you will still have the option to transport your battery-less electric bike on the airplane.

The Size and Curb Weight of the Electric Bike

Another thing to consider when planning to transport your electric bike via an airplane is the electric bike’s size and curb weight.

All passengers boarding any aircraft are usually allowed to bring along a limited amount of cargo. For instance, when traveling on American Airlines, each passenger is allowed 50 lbs. of luggage.

However, since an electric bike is a considerably heavy object, the chances of it not being allowed on the aircraft due to exceeding the fixed weight limit are high.

Can You Transport an Electric Bike By Airplane
Can You Transport an Electric Bike By Airplane

Other Top Ways to Transport Your Electric Bike

If there is no way that your high-wattage electric bike will be allowed on the airplane, you still have other options to transport your electric bike to take it on your trip with you.

Some of these options are as follows:

  • You can have your electric bike shipped via the sea on a cargo ship. However, you must plan the shipping time accordingly so that the electric bike reaches you on time.
  • If you are traveling to a different city or state in the USA, have the electric bike delivered to you via a bus, delivery service, or public train.

Final Thoughts

Riding your electric bike while exploring a new city or country can be a lot of fun; however, you need to ensure the battery’s wattage is under 100 Wh and the weight of your total cargo remains within the airline’s limits.

If there is no way to take your electric bike with you on a trip, you can always keep your carbon footprint in check by renting a new electric bike or by walking as much as you can.

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