A folded strida in bag
The Supreme Court of Canada recently told Air Canada that people who need an extra seat on a plane because they are either disabled or obese need only pay one fare; Perhaps that is where I will have to go to defend the rights of cyclists with folding bikes. When I wrote previously about how they charged me fifty bucks to carry my Strida bike, which is smaller than their maximum luggage dimensions, most commenters suggested that it was "more of an example of a problem with the individual employee that the company itself." Alas, this was not the case. They are, in fact, blatantly bikeist. I wrote to Air Canada and asked for my money back. Air Canada responded:
Air Canada's baggage policy deals with sporting equipment, and as such, bicycles fall into that category. We do not differentiate between a folding bicycle and a tandem bicycle. They are all treated the same. In order to provide fair and consistent service to all passengers, we ask our agents to strictly adhere to the baggage policy.
Air Canada's current policy is the collection of handling fees for bicycles. Respectfully, we have to decline your request for a refund. While we understand that you are disappointed, we must remain fair and consistent with our handling of similar requests for all customers. (my emphasis)
Now I would respond to Air Canada (and who knows, maybe even the Supreme Court) with a few points:
1) There is a big difference between a tandem bike that is clearly oversized and requires special handling and a bike that is designed to NOT be oversized, and that falls within the maximum linear dimensions per bag as set by the airline.
2) Air Canada not only lets equipment for good Canadian winter sports like snowboarding, hockey and skiing on without extra charges, it WAIVES THE SIZE AND WEIGHT REGULATIONS. So for approved Canadian sports you can ship your six foot long skis or your sixty pounds of hockey gear without charge, but whiny cyclists on their foreign-sounding bikes pay through the nose, even if the bike is undersized and underweight.
That's bikeist. That's wrong. That's not fair. Air Canada should either start charging everyone for their sporting goods to be, as they say, "fair and consistent with our handling of similar requests for all customers," or they should recognize that a folding bike that meets their requirements for size and weight is a different category.
Any cycling lawyers who want to take this to the Supreme Court can drop me a line.
More on Bikes and Trains and Planes and Automobiles:
How Air Canada Lost a Customer Who Was Trying to be Green
Off To ICFF On a Wing and a Strida
Trend Watch: Multi-Modal Commuting with Folding Bikes