bringing bikes on flights/ bike carrying bags?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by wnowak06, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. wnowak06

    wnowak06 New Member

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    hey guys

    do people here ever fly and bring their bikes? how do you do this. buy a bike carrying bag and then just check it like you would any other luggage?

    is it easy or a real hassle or in btw. id just like to get some feedback on how it is to fly with a bike.

    thanks
     
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  2. Walrus

    Walrus New Member

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    Whilst I've never done it personally, I know plenty who have. Check the website of the airline you plan to fly, most of them have specific instructions re bikes. Typically there's a small fee to store the bike underneath, some airlines don't count it toward your baggage weight limit.

    As for packaging, you can either get a hard case (quite expensive but great peace of mind) or some airlines actually sell bike boxes for $15 or something similar. The hard cases are no guarantee that there won't be damage, but if the bike is padded well, then you should be fine.

     
  3. sogood

    sogood New Member

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  4. UncleFred

    UncleFred New Member

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    Just this weekend flew on American Airlines, at Check in on the out leg I checked my bike in a box, got charged $25 for being overweight, fine not a problem.

    On the return, exactly the same box and bike and weight they were going to charge me $25 for being overweight again, when they asked what was in the box I said, "oh it's a bike". They then stiffed me for $80 and wouldn't back down despite me pleading with them and showing them the outgoing receipt for $25. But as a courtesy they let me off the additional $25 for being overweight charge!

    Moral of the story, if anybody asks what's in the box, just tell them it's all clothes!!!
     
  5. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    Yep, that's the new rule with many airlines, a highish fixed charge for carriage of bikes.

    But if you think about it, it's quite a coup for the cycling lobby that airline transport industry is feeling threatened by cycling as an alternative and competing transport modality. ;)
     
  6. carpediemracing

    carpediemracing New Member

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    For the last few years, I've flown twice a year with my bike. Typically JetBlue, sometimes United (no more, now that they no longer sponsor the USCF with bike coupons).

    I have a soft bike bag. Flown relatively lightweight parts, pack them well, no problems. Sometimes I carry two sets of wheels, sometimes more (tools, extra rims, etc). I usually stuff clothing and two helmets in there as well. Typical weight is 40-45 lbs, but I maxed out at 102 lbs once (but the European airline I was flying didn't charge for bikes).

    I expect to pay $50-75 each way for the bike. I asked what would happen if I didn't pay the fee (by saying that I was carrying "trade show exhibition parts" for example). The answer - if the bike is damaged but you said it was clothes, then the airline will fight you for damages.

    Sometimes you get a porter who, for a tip, will say "oh all his bags are fine". but then they check and they charge you anyway. don't tip the porter till he is pushing the cart away from the ticket counter!

    Figuring it would cost a few thousand dollars to replace my bike, and it would be virtually impossible to do it in a day or two without paying a stiff surcharge, I figure that paying the fee is reasonable. This way, if there is a problem, you can go to the local shop and say "How much to replace this bike right now?" and get a price that the airline has to pay.

    I sometimes ask for extra insurance and say the bike is worth $6000 or so (not unreasonable, esp if I had to replace the bike "right now"). They end up treating it much nicer and I don't have to pay for extra insurance.

    A friend of mine has a nice Ti bike that breaks up (uses S&S couplings). His bike case resembles a small, wide suitcase. Unless you have something like that (it's virtually indestructible), I would avoid lying about the contents of what resembles a bike case.

    cdr
     
  7. jrstevens

    jrstevens New Member

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    I think it's a necessary evil. I did it for the first time this year. I was charged $50 heading out b/c the person working the computer couldn't find the correct charge ($100). Heading home I was not so lucky and was charged the full $100. I borrowed a friend's Serfas bike box and had no problems with damage but the darned thing was so unwieldy I looked like a fool walking through the airport and getting on/off the shuttle. Oh well. I know many people will just ship their bike ahead of time via FedEx for $30 one way. Cheaper but downside to that is you will be without it for a few days on each end and unable to train. Also, I just read that United Airlines is ceasing their free bike voucher program to USA cycling members:(

    JS
     
  8. ieandro

    ieandro New Member

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    I travel all the time with my bike mostly internationally since i'm serving overseas.
    Turns out flights originating from the continental US don't require a handling fee for bikes. I travel with mine in a Trico case and check it in.

    I only found out about this charge on a flight coming from London to Newark and United Airlines charged me $100 for an oversized package under the category of sports equipment. They also explained to me that it was a policy for most US based airlines. Then a flight from Newark to Chicago through Continental cost me another $100 for handling and that was one way. Expensive yes, but also depending on the check in agent they can also waive that fee. I've had it waived on a flight from Newark to Florida and only because i was on orders.

    Flying with the bike is not too much of a big hassle. The only hassle is dragging that case through the airports, but that's a whole different post.
    The real worry for me are the cavemen who work at baggage handling department. Thank goodness I splurged on a case, but sitting in that cabin just watching them load luggage in always makes me start praying that i packed it well enough against the forces of evil.
    By the way, the best baggage handlers are all foreign airports for some reason. I would have to say Seoul Incheon has one of the best services. They had put 3 different relective FRAGILE / HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE stickers on my case and even watched them have two people gingerly place it on the conveyor right before picking it up.
    Frankfurt International comes in second and then London Gatwick.
    Oh yeah and the US ? scratch, ding, torn straps, missing strap, TSA approved strap missing ? Nothing but complaints.

    Hope this helps.
     
  9. EoinC

    EoinC New Member

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    I've flown with my bikes (only one at a time) internationally for years, and still do. I've never had a problem, nor have I ever paid a fee for the bike (reaches over rearward to touch wood). I usually only have hand-carry with me, so I don't get to the excess baggage weight limits, anyway.
    I'm still using a bike-bag that my dear old Mum made back in about 1982. I think it cost me about NZ $10 in materials back then. It's bashed and battered, with holes all over the place, but it still does the job. I take the pedals off, wrap the chain-ring with a rag (inside a plastic bag), and put the wheels down each side of the frame. I lash the wheels to the cross-tube and they hold the frame and Chain-ring off the bottom. Only things sticking out are the handlebars and the seat.
    My bikes are so bashed that I'd be more worried about damaging the aircraft than damaging the bikes. I think my bikes have enjoyed the comfort of being thrown into cargo compartments, along with all the samsonite - it's a lot better than the way they've been treated when I've been riding them.
    Those hard-case things look like they'd cost more than I've ever paid for any of my bikes, and I wouldn't want my sickles to get soft from being pampered - next thing they'll be wanting to get cleaned, too.
     
  10. dougadam

    dougadam Member

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    You can also go to a bike shop and ask for a bike box. And pack your bike in that. :)
     
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