Overseas travel with a bike

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by happybuddha, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. happybuddha

    happybuddha New Member

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    Do any of you have much experience traveling overseas with your bike? I know cases are available, but how do the airlines handle bike cases? Is there a charge since they are oversized? I guess it varies from airline to airline, but what is the range? Are some airlines better than others? I'm especially interested in info related to traveling between the US and Asia as I'm an American living in China.

    Also, does anyone have experience with S and S Bicycle Torque Couplings, which allows a bike to be broken down and fit in a case sized to be airline legal?

    Cheers,
    Drew
     
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  2. AussieRob

    AussieRob New Member

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    I took my bike home to Aust. from NY with me on United, the second worst airline in the world, and it was fine.

    Customs in Aust. gave me a hard time, but I am pretty sure the TSA didn't open it. I borrowed a plastic hard case from the club and I didn't even have to pay an excess baggage fee.

    In terms of insurance you are screwed if you have good bike unless you have contents insurance. Check the wording of your policy before you leave, and take some dated photos of your bike the day you pack it so you don't get into the " it must have been broken when you packed it " argument.

    Good luck
     
  3. graf zeppelin

    graf zeppelin New Member

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    Yeah, it varies I think. I went to southern France last year for three weeks and rode all over the place. I settled on a hard case from TriSports because I didnt have to take the bike apart much at all, it was well protected (since it was my best bike) and it had the added bonus that there was plenty of space to toss in soft goods and biking supplies. It worked perfectly well and can say at least from my experience that I'd recommend that route. Talk to the airlines before you purchase the case, have the dimensions handy and estimate the weight and/or get their weight requirement. Once they approve it, only then buy the case - at least that was how I did it.

    I travelled via Air France. They were very accommodating to the idea of travelling with a bike. The case came in slightly oversize but they didnt charge me anything and counted it as one piece of checked luggage provided I met the weight limit. Their only requirement was that I wait about a week to get confirmation about the case's acceptance through the connecting flights (the Paris->Toulouse flight was a smaller plane, so this is what they were looking at).

    The other thing to consider though about a TriSports case is its size. I was both picked up and driven back to the airport by my host who had a Berlingo (sort of a minivan) and she could fit the case in there. Couldnt have gone with the TriSports case if she couldnt transport it, so look into how you are travelling to and from the airport as well.

    Have a great trip!

    PS: Yes, insurance too. I got insurance for estimated value through Air France. They of course did charge for that, but it wasnt a lot considering what the loss of that bike without insurance would have been. Air France was the best airline I have ever travelled on, completely off topic. Their price came in only a couple hundred dollars more than the cheapest flight I could find and in retrospect for a trip like this, its SO worth it customer-service wise.
     
  4. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    My husband and I went to Spain about 2 years ago. We flew British Airways to London and then some small Spanish carrier to Sevilla. We had a silmilar experience to the other two posters. We were bike touring so we had only our bikes and our panniers. The bikes went as our checked luggage and the panniers our carry on. We were not charged any extra for the oversized hard cases (we rented them from a local shop). The cases and the bikes came out of all of the flights just fine. The hardest part was getting a cab from the airport - we had to take two since they were tiny and could only hold the bike in the back seat with one of us riding in front with the driver. We stayed overnight in London on the way back and were able to check the bikes at a luggage storage area until we came back the next day.
     
  5. happybuddha

    happybuddha New Member

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    Thanks for the info, it sounds a bit more positive than I anticipated.

    Cheers,
    Drew
     
  6. erik44gary

    erik44gary New Member

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    quick question..was this a storage area in Heathrow??? how much did it cost?

    My son regularly travels from Australia to Europe with a bike and finds Austrian airlines very helpful. As long as you tell them well ahead you can check your bike case in as a bike for $A100 extra..up to the legal top weight of 32kg, and then you have your usual 20kg allowance.

    Personally as I am racing the World Masters road champs and take 2 bikes (TT and RR) I get a "round the world" ticket which allows you 2 pieces of luggage to a certain weight. I stuff everything I need into 2 bike cases.

    I am VERY careful with packing the bikes..foam around all tubes..heaps of bubble wrap, and to date have had no damage at all. The wheels go into the bike case in padded bags with huge wads of foam around the hubs.

    I've used hard and soft cases, but prefer the soft due to weight consideration.

    Hope this helps
     
  7. friedmikey

    friedmikey New Member

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    In general, I found traveling with a bike to be no big deal. As for how the airlines will treat you, you're right - it's hit or miss, even with the same carrier. Last time, I flew BA from SF to London-Heathrow, Alitalia from LHR to Rome-Fiumicino, Air Alps from FCO to Rimini, and then the reverse on the way home. All the way out to Rimini, I didn't get charged anything, as is typical of BA. The case appeared to have been opened, but everything arrived in good shape. On the way back, Alitalia (code share with Air Alps) charged me 50 Euro, as is typical of Alitalia. Security at LHR put the case through the oversize x-ray, but I don't think they opened it. As I understand it, if airlines are going to charge you, they have a specific flat fee just for bicycles, so you might as well pack some other gear in the case - just try to keep the total weight a bit under 70 pounds

    Be aware of how much walking you will have to do when selecting your bike case and suitcase(s). I managed to strap the pull handle of my rollaway suitcase to my Iron Case bike case, so that they could roll together with one hand. Also think about potential size restrictions with ground transport.
     
  8. My_Aching_Fiets

    My_Aching_Fiets New Member

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    I've both travelled overseas with my bike and have shipped it via courier overseas. Neither of those options had any major drawbacks, and both were about equal in price. For each trip, I used a hard shell bike carrier (don't skimp on this purchase). I don't know of an airline that will NOT charge an oversize baggage fee.

    Regardless, aside from lugging a cumbersome bike box around the airport, the process was never too painful.

    Regarding the S&S couplers - I've not tried them, but can seriously picture a couple of S&S-equipped bikes in the near future. I'm hooked on overseas cycling!

    MAF
     
  9. UncleFred

    UncleFred New Member

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    Just come back from a trip to France and Flew the following airlines with a hardshell case that weighed 23kg's on the way there and 27kgs on the way back. I was also had a kit bag with 18 kgs in each way.

    Tortola BVI to Antigua on Caribbean Star - Allowance 20kgs - No Excess Charged
    Antigua - London - British Airways - Allowance 30kgs - No Excess Charged
    London - Channel Islands - Aurigny Airlines - Allowance 20 kgs - $10 Charge
    Channel Islands - London - Aurigny Airlines - $30 Charge
    London - Antigua - Virgin Atlantic - 23kgs Allowance - No Excess
    Antigua - BVI Caribbean Star - No Excess

    All in all travelling with the hard case was easy, especially as it has wheels on each corner so you can push it through airports.

    Like a previous poster said though, make sure whoever meets you at arrivals has a big enough car to get the box in!!
     
  10. My_Aching_Fiets

    My_Aching_Fiets New Member

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    Good to know this.

    If I recall correctly, I was charged for oversize baggage based on the size of the case, not the weight.
     
  11. ::dom::

    ::dom:: New Member

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    A Ritchey Break-Away (there are a few frames on eBay at the moment) is another option.

    I travel quite a bit and I've noticed that airlines are getting more "charge for the bike" happy. Although you can usually talk your way out of being charged I don't think it will get easier with the price of oil.

    Anyway for me it was a great excuse to buy a new frame.

    They usually come with a cool bike bag/case with wheels that fits in an airport locker and can be checked in as normal luggage... and the bikes (specially the Ti version) look and feel great!

    [​IMG]
     
  12. My_Aching_Fiets

    My_Aching_Fiets New Member

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    Nice looking ride.

    Did you do any comparisons of the Ritchey design vs. the S&S coupler design? The Ritchey design is certainly interesting in that it uses the seat post as a coupler between the top tube and seat tube. Do you know of any technical analysis' that have been done on the two respective designs?

    MAF
     
  13. ::dom::

    ::dom:: New Member

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    I've never ridden an S&S. But the Ritchey looks and feels like a normal road bike. No clunky looking couplings. It is one of the best bikes I have ever ridden.

    Most S&S bike (I may be wrong) are reengineered road bikes. But the Ritchey frame is designed to be taken apart.

    I've got it down to 7 mins to pack or unpack and the entire package, bike and box (no tools, shoes, helmet etc) is 10.5kg.
     
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