Update: Air Canada motorcycle cargo rates

AIR CANADA motorcycle
Air Canada Photo: Brian/Wikimedia/ CC 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

A few weeks ago, we told you Air Canada was reviving its motorcycle cargo program for 2017, with details coming later in the spring. Now, we’ve got some more information on what destinations are available and about this year’s rates.

This year, Air Canada offers its special motorcycle cargo rates from May 1 to September 30.

Generally speaking, it seems rates are up this year. It also seems Air Canada is sticking to its policy of shipping only within Canada, or to European destinations. There are no South American or Asian destinations available; customers had trouble with South American flights in the past, which brought on the cancellation of the offer for those routes. It’s too bad, as Air Canada offered a very affordable way to cross Panama’s Darien Gap.

Air Canada also offers no special motorcycle cargo rate to any destinations in the United States or Mexico, or Australia.

Here’s the direct link to the Air Canada web page for bikes, but here’s the rundown and some handy advice from previous experience:

Where can I go?

Shipping inside Canada, as before, is limited to airports that handle wide-body jets. You can ship your bike from Halifax to Vancouver, but don’t expect to ship it from Charlottetown to Bella Coola.

If you want to ship your bike to western Europe, it seems Air Canada wants you to start your trip from Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto. From there, the rates change slightly depending which airport you’re flying to. Options include Frankfurt, Paris, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Rome, Casablanca, Brussels, and others; if Air Canada can’t fly you to the country you want to visit, it can probably at least fly you to the country next door.

Air Canada offers its cargo discount for motorcycles to many cities in western Europe.

What does it cost?

If you purchase a passenger ticket along with your motorcycle cargo fare, you can expect to fly to those European destinations for about $1,200-$1,300 CAD one way. If you don’t purchase a passenger ticket, air fare will be about $1,400-$1,550 CAD.

Getting your motorcycle back to Canada is more pricey, just as in previous years. Expect to pay around 900 Euros for shipping your motorcycle back to Canada if you also purchase a return ticket, and around 1,200 Euros if you don’t purchase a return passenger ticket.

Inside Canada, it will cost you about $900 to ship your bike one way if you also purchase a passenger ticket; if you don’t buy a passenger ticket, it will cost you about $1,200.

Remember that the prices above are for air fare only. Shipping your bike by air requires you get a certificate from a company that clears dangerous goods for each flight. Expect to pay at least $100 for this in Canada, and probably more at the other end, if you’re returning from Europe.

Shipping your bike outside the country will also require you to clear customs. In Europe, that should be straightforward, but you may end up paying some fees for paperwork. Of course, there is no paperwork after landing in Canada.

Also, Air Canada recommends you insure your motorcycle. Insurance cost is 3 per cent of your bike’s value; for instance, a $10,000 motorcycle would cost $300 in insurance.

Air Canada says its motorcycle rates are locked in for the season, but remember that passenger tickets prices are not. If you’re planning to purchase a passenger ticket along with your motorcycle fare, it might make sense to plan ahead to get the best price there.

Want to take flight with your motorcycle? You’ll have to prepare it to meet the dangerous goods standards first.

How do I get my bike ready?

In order to pass clearance for your dangerous goods certificate, you should show up for the inspection with a quarter tank of gas or less. The dangerous goods inspector will also want to know the bike’s weight, and the name of the shipper/consignee. In past years, some passengers have reported shipping their motorcycle luggage attached to the bike, with their gear packed inside.

We’ve also heard Air Canada doesn’t want you shipping your luggage attached to the bike (an Air Canada rep says it depends on the weight of the luggage). If you do want to try this, make sure you don’t have shaving cream, a camp stove, etc., packed in your luggage – don’t pack anything that won’t pass dangerous goods clearance. However, camping equipment like a hatchet or knife is okay, because your bike is locked away in the cargo area.

If you call ahead and give them some information in advance, it shouldn’t take long to clear the dangerous goods inspection, but remember, you might only be able to do this inspection during regular business hours. Don’t leave it until the last minute. And, it would make sense to find and arrange this service for your return flight before you leave.

Depending which city you’re flying from, Air Canada may recommend a specific business to clear your dangerous goods; you may be able to find one on your own.

After you arrive at Air Canada’s cargo terminal, airline staff will prepare your bike for shipping. You don’t take care of tying it down — they do.

What happens after I land?

If you were smart, you either shipped your bike ahead of your own flight, so it’s waiting for you, or you flew on the same plane (not always possible or recommended). If you’re in Canada, the airline staff should be able to guide you through the process of unpacking your motorcycle at the airport.

If you’re overseas, Air Canada will give you the customs documents for your bike, and you are responsible to clear it through customs.

What about the competition?

We also called WestJet, curious to see if it offered a special cargo rate for motorcycles. Alas, the agent we talked to said WestJet did not have any such deal, since it didn’t want to deal with flying dangerous goods.

We have not heard of any foreign-based airlines offering motorcycle cargo discounts for flights originating in Canada. If you’re in less of a hurry and headed overseas, shipping by sea is usually much less expensive but takes a month or two.

For more information, click on on the direct link, or contact Air Canada by phone (1-800-387-4865) or through the Air Canada Cargo website.


  1. Hi. Ive use Air Canada twice to ship my Vincent to Canada. I just turn up at Heathrow with a weigh certificate, dangerous goods cert and follow the bike the next day. They did want an address in Canada for contact purposes. They could not be more helpful either in Vancouver or Toronto.
    Im going back again in 2023.

    • motocampbg@yahoo.com contact name is Ivo 60€ per month if you leave it registered as Canadian. Motocamp also has places where you can store it if you plan to travel through Europe. As far as international license some European countries require it such as Greece, others don’t but for the $50 cost well worth the peace of mind. International license is offered at any CAA and is cheaper if you are a member.

  2. With air canada it’s easy. $1200 plus about a hundred for transportation of dangerous goods. I cannot stress how easy and user friendly it is. I have left my bike in Greece. I paid customs did everything I could legally. 800€ which is $1200 canadian. Went to the ministry of transportation they sent me to a local drive clean outfit to get the pass for my bike. They would not do it because bike is licensed sold in north America not Europe. Was told I have to get it done in athens meanwhile I am already in rhodos. Do not hand in your plates any where as i am now riding with canadian plates and insured through a company in bolgaria. Cheaper to buy the bike there. Less stress. I love Greece but man they make everything impossible.

    • Which country is best to purchase a brand new bike, insure, plate and store the bike for long term use of perhaps 2-3 months of the year ?
      Or is it best to purchase the bike in Canada and Air Freight it over?
      We are from Ontario Canada and prefer to keep the bike in Spain.

      • I would buy it in Europe if I could do it over again. The cost is not the issue it’s the hassle of trying to change it over to greek license plates. $1200 for the flight 600€/$900 for customs and €40 to ministry of transportation only to find out I would have to take it to Athens to get paperwork done. So now I am driving with expired Canadian plate and insured through motocampbg@yahoo.com contact Ivo, for 60€ per month. My advice go to spain check out price and then make decision. Expect to pay 25% value of bike at customs.

  3. just flew my HD to Italy on July 12 2018 by AIR CANADA service was fantastic Air Canada’s people were incredibly helpful and courteous

  4. Thanks. I just flew it with Air Canada for $1200 canadian. They have a deal every summer to certain European destinations. Most big airports that can handle the large planes. I suggest having it arrive on an earlier flight so it makes it through customs by the time you get there. Have insurance and an international license they check before giving you your bike.

  5. motocampbg@yahoo.com cost is 60 euros for one month. 40 euros a month after that. They need 2 months advance as they send it by snail mail because you need the hard copy when receiving your bike in europe. Also make sure you have an international license as places such as greece will not even give you your bike. International licence is cheap to get and easy at any CAA.

  6. I flew from Toronto to Vancouver. The process was very easy and well worth the cost. Bike was on the same plane as me. By 8pm Vancouver time I was riding my own bike after a 3 hr flight.

    • Hi Tim..thanks for the info. We are planning (early stages) on flying 3 bikes from Toronto to Vancouver like you. We will probably land the day before the bikes. Do you mind if I ask your final costs including your flight. We are just now running the numbers. Any other tips Tim would also be very appreciated. Thanks and ride safe! Ed

  7. Does anybody know of a ship by sea company that could ship my motorcycle from Toronto Canada to Rodos Greece? I got a quote of $2500 ???. I hate the idea of a ferry from Athens to Rodos 16 hours?

  8. $900 one way across Canada is not bad. I remember paying about $400/day to rent a touring bike out west.
    And riding for 3 days from Ontario to AB is not my idea of a vacation

    • I just returned from driving a BMW R1200 GSA from Vancouver to St. Johns Newfoundland round trip. 17,550 kilometers in 6 weeks. Cost $1,065 in gas so $900 one way by plane is a good deal.

  9. I flew my bike with Air Canada last year (to Frankfurt). Whole process was very easy.
    I am glad they added Italy to the program. I called earlier this week and they will start offering service to Athens around beginning of June! Definitely going to reuse their service this summer!

    • Hi,. Can you share the breakdown of your last year price? I’m looking for the cheapest quote between. Vancouver to western Europe either London, Paris or Frankfurt.

    • I am always a bit worried about having my ride damaged in the process. How’s Air Canada packing your bike and do you need extra insurance ?

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