Last March, Editor ‘Arris spotted an Air Canada booth at the motorcycle shows offering what seemed like remarkably cheap airfares for flying your motorcycle to such exotic destinations as Bogota or Calgary.
The numbers seemed too good to be true, and almost immediately people started saying they were unable to take advantage of the discounts. Plus, they were a little bummed out about all the other fees (hazardous cargo fees, etc.) that were tacked on to boot.
Seeing all the chatter about the story, we called up Air Canada to get the details for ourselves.
The original offer said discount flights would have to originate in Montreal or Toronto, so we decided to see what price they’d give us for a Montreal-Bogota flight. We were originally told they were no longer offering discounts on any flights to South America. But, when pressed, they came back with a number that was $200 more than the discounted rate originally advertised.
This experience echoed the comments we’d seen from readers, who told us the prices they got from AC were different than what they saw at the show, or that the prices they were given had changed. Curious to see if Air Canada’s pricing would indeed change, I called back and was again told Air Canada was no longer offering discounted motorcycle freight to any South American destinations, as too many customers had trouble with customs at the South American end.
So what would be the price without the discount? Approximately $2,600 to ship a KLR650 to Bogota, although the weight of luggage could certainly bring that price up, and careful packing of the bike (remove wheels, tank, etc) could bring it down, as the price was based on shipping dimensions, not a flat rate.
So, according to this call, no cheap flights to South America from Canada. Looks like you’ll have to ride your KLR to Panama, and work out how to get it further south from there.
But wait, there’s good news! While South America may be out, the representative told me Air Canada is still discounting motorcycle shipping within Canada (Toronto and Montreal to Vancouver and occasionally Calgary, depending on if there’s a big jet flying there with the cargo capacity), meaning you can still do an adventure ride in the Rockies without having to ride the bike out there and back yourself.
As of July 31, the price I was quoted for inter-Canada travel was $650 for the flight, plus fees (Dangerous Goods fee, scanning fee, etc.). However, that price assumes the traveler is also flying AC as a passenger. If not, the price goes up to $950.
Those are the same prices we were given back in March.
What if you still want to leave the continent? Air Canada also informed me they’re still offering discounts on European flights. The representative said I could fly my bike from Montreal to London, Edinburgh or Manchester in the UK; Dublin, Ireland; Brussels, Belgium; Paris, France; or Frankfurt, Germany.
I was quoted a price of $800 for all those flights, one way. That doesn’t count Dangerous Goods fees, etc., and assumes I also flew AC as a passenger. If I didn’t fly as a passenger, that cost would jump to $1100. If you check the advertising Editor ‘Arris photographed back in March, you’ll see those prices have gone up a bit.
But what about the return trip? It’s not as if you can ride your bike home from the UK. From the UK, a return ticket on Air Canada would cost £650 (£850 without passenger ticket). That’s about C$1,320/C$1,740 at today’s exchange rate!
From Dublin, a motorcyclist would pay a €950 cargo rate (€1150 without passenger ticket). Brussels and Frankfurt would cost €1150 with a passenger ticket, €1400 without. A return cargo shipment from Paris would cost €1250 with a passenger ticket, €1500 without (€1 = C$1.44 at time of posting).
Plus, there would also be administrative fees like the Dangerous Good charges on any return trip, a Navigation Canada fee for cargo, based on weight, and a $50 import fee. So, sadly not as cheap as originally advertised.
Have you shipped a bike via Air Canada? Let us know your story in the comments section below.