UPDATE: Air Canada motorcycle cargo options

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.

SOUTH AMERICA

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.

WITHIN CANADA

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.

EUROPE

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.

28 thoughts on “UPDATE: Air Canada motorcycle cargo options”

    1. I’m very curious to see how much they charge from Toronto to Milan, Italy and if they provide return prices upon booking. I have a BMW R1200RT that’s waiting to return to it’s home country for a visit. Planning on going over in June.

  1. I shipped Air Canada from Vancouver to Frankfurt Oct. 1st 2015. Cost $1030 plus $100 dangerous goods Cert. They did a great job both in Vancouver and Frankfurt. If they keep these prices it is the only way to ship. By boat it is $1200 plus $50 to $400 port charges and takes six to eight weeks.

      1. [email protected] says:

        It’s easy I shipped my bike from Calgary to Heathrow … just a quarter or less tank of fuel no lithium batteries you ride your bike to cargo with all the panniers and bags backed in it and it’s done. Pay your fees and that’s it

    1. I would also love to hear more about the whole process of shipping from Vancouver to Frankfurt, or any city in Europe. I’m hoping to do just that next summer and stay for 2-3 months, so insurance would be an issue too.
      Hoping to hear more about this!
      Thanks!

  2. I shipped my 800 gs in 2013 before the ac new “M/C deal” to santiago chile I paid about $2600 one way,bike only. Bike was there in two days when I arrived in santiago the AC staff didn’t know where I supposed to pick up the bike. But they had a good customer service and finally they directed me to the huge warehouses where the bike was storage , non AC warehouse all run by private companies and walking distance from the terminal. People were really helpful ,assigned me a worker to put the bike together and refused to accept tip, I was impress. The custom part was handleled quick and proffesionally, in less than an hour, since arrived to the warehouse I was in my way to beautiful valparaiso in route to the Dakar. Chile is avery modern country and I found that are ahead of other S/A countries with respect to border crossing and custom , very effective and fast paper work. Therefore AC should not stop this service to Chile because there are custom problem in some other countries. perhaps discontinue the those countries and keep chile as only destination using this”excellent” deal that I’m sure we M/clists we would love to use. Just be specific about fees.

  3. I would like to ship my bike to Buenos Aires, Argentina from Toronto. I am a U.S. citizen and Toronto is the largest Canadian city close to me. Are there any issues being a U.S. citizen shipping from Canada? Do the motorcycles have to be crated and if yes does the airline offer this crating service? Additional fees are mentioned that are collected by the airline. Can anyone tell me what these additional fees were and how much (for example the Dangerous Goods fee)? I was excited to see the original article in March 2015 about one way fares for motorcycle shipment to B.A., Argentina and then saddened to see they no longer ship to South America. I hope they start again….the excuse for stopping seemed strange to me.

    1. The program officially ended Sept 29th 2015 but may start up again this coming year. I have been promised the information as soon as Air Canada determines its plans and pricing. I have a lot of experience shipping to Europe and back, and have done so as a Canadian citizen shipping from LA and Seattle at different times, so no there won;t be any issues that way. Insofar as carting is concerned, the bike is not crated but AC straps it to a pallet of sorts to stabilize it for flight. The bike will be treated as Hazardous Goods so the proper forms have to be completed and the bike comply with IAAA regulations.
      Not sure when the program will restart in 2016.

  4. We’ve been doing the Europe riding thing since 2004, and done it everyway you can think. We rented BMWR1150RT’s for 2 trips. Slug bikes that took away from the experience.
    Then I shipped by sea my V Strom and back; over a 3 yr period, then shipped back by sea and back home recently by Air Canada over a 2 yr period.
    Air Canada back, (last week) was a cluster F***. Great in Frankfurt terrrible in Vancouver. But my main comment is avoid buying used and then hoping to sell over there; first it takes time to get your bike ‘just right’ with seat, bars, suspension, etc. Why have discomfort detract from your ride because that is why you spent the money. Get your Bike right then ship. If you are there over 3 weeks it is right economically as well. It has cost me less than $5000.00 CDN, to ship my bike twice, and had access to it for 5 years, and, over a year in actual travel.
    Also forget about shipping over and thinking of selling, unless you can sell to another resident of the same province, since prov. to prov. title transfers require the bike to be inspected, and, it can’t be done long distance. Some, like BC even need to physically view the VIN. Lots of conjecture and opinion floating around, but take some advice from people who have actually done it.

  5. US$ 1000,00 for a 3 week tour. Why all the hassle, as you easy can find under US$ 100,00 per day a good bike to rent. in Europe + use of tires + chain + oil + etc etc means at least a US$ 1400.00 expanses. means you could stress free rent a bike for 14 day !!! + try to ride an other bike then yours…..

  6. We just used this deal to ship our two bikes to Frankfurt from Toronto….About $500 each
    US (about $600 each CA) to get them there….We had a written confirm of the same price back but did not get the email in our phone…Add the Inspection fee and Dangerous Goods certificate and it is STILL a VERY good deal!! We had a big problem when coming home when Toronto didn’t know about this return policy and charged us WAY more…Then we found the written invoice so now they are scrambling to get it straightened with many apologies…Still an amazing deal to have our own horses in the Alps for three weeks of crazy mountain passes!!!!! Will keep you posted on that refund……….Would still do it again next year……………… 🙂

    1. Hi Patti,

      I am in Seattle and next June 2016 my plan is to ride Toronto. Load my KTM 1190R and fly to and from Frankfurt. Please please advise as much as you can and maybe I can support you guys in a ride this way? I have good resources in Montana for instance.

      My email is [email protected] and I am not spamming-scamming in anyway whatsoever! So interested in hearing about your ride.

      Oh yeah, I am chief_lee_visceral on advrider.com as well

    1. Save your money; purchase a bike here. Then sell it.
      Go to “Forums” (top of the page) and click on Soapbox.

      Become a regular there for advice and help. Ignore
      the halitosis and rampant homosexuality. For all of their
      faults, they are worse than Hitler. But, they’ll help you.
      So long as you feel Enoch Powell was too socialist,
      and just not right for our sort of country, now is he?

      Mention Bovril and Penguin biscuits and maybe those
      nice ones with the jam that come in that decorative tin
      with the commoration of The Queen’s sixtieth anniversary
      on it. And if anyone with a French name responds, just
      ignore the dirty little bastard, because, after all, that is
      why we built this bloody Empire now, isn’t it?

      Also, continue posting here for help and advice. I would
      suggest landing on one of Canada’s majestic coasts. The
      bonnie banks of Scotlands one true doppelganger: Cape
      Breton; majestic highlands protecting the gaelic harbours
      of the North Atlantic. Where the evergreens stand in
      solitary testament to the plucky Atlantic Salmon.

      Or, maybe, the towering mountains of British Columbia,
      and their powerful rivers. Flush with the spoils of the lush
      trade in forestry. Ride the logs as they sluce down the
      Fraser River: Leaping from tree to tree! As they float down
      the mighty rivers of British Columbia! The Larch! The Pine!
      The Giant Redwood tree! The Sequoia! The Little Whopping
      Rule Tree!

      Then sing! Sing! Sing!

      Oh, I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay,
      I sleep all night and I work all day…

      1. I sort of agree with gpfan, at least on the part about buying a bike here. Depends what you want, of course, but if you’re clever and can find a helpful soul over here, you can find a sturdy tourable bike for a good price, then sell it when you leave.

        1. ” …and can find a helpful soul over here… “

          I once drove to Courtice Ontario to purchase a
          motor for a Ninja 250. I then went to the Scarborough
          UPS office (since moved) and shipped it over night
          to New Brunswick. On my holidays.

          All for an American. That was not a Soapbox regular.
          But an on-line pal of Wes. A Ninja 250 guy that was
          once a SB regular.

          That is why I mentioned Soapbox. The braintrust
          that inhabit that place are likely to quit drooling long
          enough to be quite Canucky-like.

    2. My full comment is below…but we had mostly great luck getting our two bikes from Toronto to Frankfurt…The one glich is getting fixed right now…We LOVED it!!!

      1. What about insuring your riding in Europe? Which company did you deal with as I’m having a hard time finding information.

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