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Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I own a Trek Madone 5.6 which I want to ship so that I can ride it for the period that I am away from home (Seattle, home being Los Angeles). I was wondering to garner some knowledge about shipping bikes/ packing them up and bringing them with you on an aeroplane. Has anyone over here done it? What have you used? How much did you pay for it? Was it recently? What airline/shipping company did you use? Any further relevant questions that you can think of.

Thanks,
KausBose
post #2 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

I came oh so very close to putting my bike on a plane with me, but ultimately did not.

Why?

Chalk it up to price. I do know a few people who have done it and can summarize their experience.

You will pay an absolute minimum of $50 to ship your bike, almost always per direction of travel (meaning minimum $100 for a roundtrip). Although I've heard British Airways doesn't charge for bicycles, I am guessing they don't run a Seattle-LA route

Catch is this - the prices to ship the bike with you vary, from a minimum of $50 as mentioned above to about $200 - again these are one-way prices. Plus the airline with the cheapest bike shipping price like say Alaska/Horizon may not have the best prices on the plane ticket itself for you. So you kind of have to factor in total price if you are on a budget.

Usually you have to ship the bike w/o pedals, bars turned sideways, and in a box. You can go online and buy bicycle boxes for shipping if you can't find them locally. Yeap, one more cost to factor in your travel.

More info here and here:

I would check fares/routes/schedules then verify with the airlines themselves of their current policies since they are apt to change w/o notice. Also remember that the bike counts as a piece of luggage so you may pay more for your regular baggage too, since almost all airlines now charge for bags...

Overall the feedback I've gotten from friends who traveled with bikes has been positive: bike made it OK, some extra hassle in prepping/planning with the airline, and of course more money. For a short trip it probably is easier/cheaper to bring your saddle/pedals and rent a bike but if you are going to be there a while, then your own bike seems like a more economical choice.

Happy travels
post #3 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

Airlines are unsympathetic to cyclist. The ski resorts and golf destinations have won favor with the airlines and get a better break on ski and golf club shipping but cyclists are screwed.
It's gonna cost you a good sum depending on which airline.
post #4 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

First, here is a partial list of airline fees in the US. The good news is that with Frontier and Southwest you can cover a lot of the US. Of course the downside is that aside from Frontier, US, and JetBlue, financial rape is standard procedure for airlines. Yes, British Airways doesn't charge--or so it was in the recent past--even on international flights. Frankly, I think the costs on Frontier and Southwest are more than reasonable. Of course you have to keep in mind that those costs are likely in addition to checked baggage fees.

Overseas flight costs with bikes are usually more expensive, with carriers outside the US typically being cheaper. That said, I wouldn't mind paying more on an international flight. I'd just count it as part of the cost of getting to a cycling nirvana.

As for how you pack your bike, it entirely depends on what sort of bike bag or box you have. In the past I've used a Scion bag--Aero Comfort+--and all I did was remove the stem from the steerer. Pedals were left on. I padded the bike with pipe insulation and bike clothes and had zero problems. Some folks suggest/prefer shipping their bike to their destination via Fed Ex, UPS, or summat, but frankly, I hate to be separated from my bike. Besides, I've seen enough mangled shipping boxes to conclude that the shipping services aren't much better at treating a bike kindly than airlines. That said, I think the percentage of bikes damaged by baggage handlers is pretty darned small. Standard airline coverage for damages is usually small and less than the cost of the bike, but maybe some sort of flight insurance would cover the cost. I dunno.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

Hiya Dancen

Thanks for the info. I checked and it's pathetic. So I think that the bike not making it here and also it's not "wet ready" and I don't want the love of my life to get wet in the rain. Anyways thanks for the info.

Thank you alienator for the info too.

Cheers fellas.

<Waves his fists angrily at the airlines>
post #6 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

I have travelled often with a bicycle and never had an issue or damage of any sort.

For taking my bike on the plane I use a standard soft sided case ( one of the ones with a "frame" in the bottom of the case that the front and rear dropouts are attached to)

The wheels go in on either side of the bike.

The only thing I have done in addition to that is to go to home depot and pick up a couple of pieces of that 4 mm corrugated plastic which I have slid down inside of each side of the case.

As I say, I have never had an issue, never had any damage.

The advantage to the soft case is that when you are at your destination, you can roll the bag up and store it under a bed.

However, a bike in a case is a bulky item and you will find it dfficult to get cabs and what not ( you're always waiting for the minivan).

The last few times I've travelled I've used my S&S coupled bike - packs in an airline legal suitcase so takes up far less room.

If you are going from California to Seattle I would simply send the bike by Fedex.

Cheaper and easier.

If you are going to travel a fair bit, then get a bike retrofitted with S&S couplers, or get a Ritchey Break-away frame. One of the two.
post #7 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhuskey View Post
Airlines are unsympathetic to cyclist. The ski resorts and golf destinations have won favor with the airlines and get a better break on ski and golf club shipping but cyclists are screwed.
It's gonna cost you a good sum depending on which airline.
Further to this;

Last year I was standing in the check in line at Calgary airport.

I had an overnight bag and my bicycle in it's soft case.

The group of 3 men in front of me were all checking for the same flight as me.

They each had a suitcase, a set of golf clubs and 2 hockey gear bags. For those of you in warm climates who may not understand the Hockey Gear bag thing - you could hide a body n one of those and still have room for a VW beetle.

So, 3 guys - 3 suitcases. 3 sets of golf clubs, 6 Hockey bags.

Not one penny of extra baggage charges.

I walk up to the desk with my overnight duffel and bike in it's soft case - $50 of "extra baggage" charges.
post #8 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

In my experience Airlines suck when it comes to Shipping anything (People included). AMTRAK is bike friendly and reasonable. Go to your Local Bike Shop and ask them for a Shipping carton. Get alot of Bubble wrap and a few moving blankets. Use Duct tape to seal and you'll be in good shape. PS: Remove the handle bars and wheels.
post #9 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

The airlines "claim" that golf bags, skis, and all that stuff aren't oddly shaped, don't take up inordinate space, and are easy to load/place in the cargo hold. Of course, they claim that bicycle cases/bags are just the opposite.

That said, some of the airlines have cargo shipping services that are simply amazing. I once shipped a motorcycle race engine, in a wooden crate, from Cleveland to Seattle, guaranteed same day delivery, for $150. Unbelievable.
post #10 of 10

Re: Shipping a bike/ Taking it along on a flight

Quote:
Originally Posted by kausbose View Post
I own a Trek Madone 5.6 which I want to ship so that I can ride it for the period that I am away from home (Seattle, home being Los Angeles). I was wondering to garner some knowledge about shipping bikes/ packing them up and bringing them with you on an aeroplane. Has anyone over here done it? What have you used? How much did you pay for it? Was it recently? What airline/shipping company did you use? Any further relevant questions that you can think of.
How long will you be in Seattle?

A week? A month? A semester? A year, or longer?

Are you certain you'll have time to ride?

If you are going to be in the Seattle area for an extended period of time, then you may want to considering buying a FRAME + fenders to use during your sojourn ...

If you strip the relevant parts [i.e., you can leave the brake calipers and/or crank/BB on the Madone ... bring the wheels, handlebars/shifters & derailleur(s)] from your Madone to install on the "new" bike frame, then the "stuff" can be brought as part of your standard luggage.
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