Why are bikes such a problem on airlines?

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Janet, Feb 27, 2004.

  1. Janet

    Janet Guest

    Hi All,

    I've read some of the threads about bikes on airlines. I just don't understand why bicycles are such
    a problem for the airlines. I've never tried to fly with my bicycle, but have flown several times
    with skiis. For skiers, 1 ski bag + 1 boot bag = 1 piece of luggage. So essentially a skier has 3
    items - ski bag, boot bag, plus a regular suitcase. (Four items if you also count a carry-on.) So I
    just don't understand why a bike doesn't count as 1 piece of luggage????

    Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?

    Janet
     
    Tags:


  2. Ken

    Ken Guest

    Janet <[email protected]> wrote in news:7wU%[email protected]
    news.ops.worldnet.att.net:
    > Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?

    They charge you $100 because they can.
     
  3. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    Janet <[email protected]> writes:

    > Hi All,
    >
    > I've read some of the threads about bikes on airlines. I just don't understand why bicycles are
    > such a problem for the airlines.

    They're big, fragile and the owners are complaintive when the gorillas damage them. Airlines just
    don't want to have the hassle and want you to leave your bike at home.
     
  4. On Sat, 28 Feb 2004, Janet wrote:
    > Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?

    Perhaps illogical, surely not transparent.

    First of all Airline Companies no not behave all alike, nor each in a consistent manner from time to
    time, or from Airport to Airport.

    For example, in Pisa, with British Airways, I found it hard to get to know for sure if a custom-made
    case (of 'odd' size, containing a frameset) would eventually be accepted at the check-in. Another
    parcel I had made, of similar dimensions, had been turned back by Alitalia only because it didn't
    look right.

    Walk up to the Check-in counter and just ask:

    'What largest size would you accept?' 'Could it be a wooden box with a handle and a latch so as to
    make it adequate for inspection?'

    If they ask you 'What on earth would you put inside it?' never answer: 'Oh, my bike!'.

    Better say: 'That's none of your business, safety assured'.

    Sergio Pisa
     
  5. >Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?

    Not completely illogical, but certainly a patchwork that is (1) fairly inconsistent (2) large price
    increase in last few years.

    An airline is going to charge "what the market will bear". A bike can be a large bulky item needing
    special handling. Despite disclaimers everyone has to sign, a potential exists for an expensive
    claim. Airlines will also charge for other special cases such as pets. The airline market is an
    ogilopoly and if some carriers establish fees, others can follow.

    There has always been some inconsistency, but five years ago it felt like the pattern was more like:
    -- domestic flights charge ~$50 -- international flights count bike as one piece of luggage as well
    as may base things on total weight -- smaller/regional/economy airlines either don't make provision
    for bikes or have unique rules (e.g. free, or by weight or not allowed or ...) -- ticket agents had
    discretion; approximately 1/3 of time I went they'd look at that $50 fee and find a way to be
    sympathetic and not charge the fee. Less true at large carriers with much traffic.

    This has been fairly stable from 15 to 5 years ago.

    During the past few years, several of the fees have risen quickly so that $80-$100 is closer to the
    price I see. At that rate, the inconsistent comparisons with other things that fly free (oversize
    trade show materials, skis,...) as well as to ticket price for a passenger becomes more visible.
    Though an airline is going to price more based on what the market bears than on such comparison...
    [in same way that you and I might have nearly identical seats on the plane but pay very different
    amounts for the journey].

    I've flown >30 times with a bicycle and have paid more $$ for my touring bike to United Airlines
    than I paid to Cannondale...I'm still paying what market bears here, though have also shifted more
    to trains or rental cars in some cases due to increased costs.

    --mev, Mike Vermeulen
     
  6. TBGibb

    TBGibb Guest

    In article <7wU%[email protected]>, Janet
    <[email protected]> writes:

    >I've read some of the threads about bikes on airlines. I just don't understand why bicycles are
    >such a problem for the airlines. I've never tried to fly with my bicycle, but have flown several
    >times with skiis. For skiers, 1 ski bag + 1 boot bag = 1 piece of luggage. So essentially a skier
    >has 3 items - ski bag, boot bag, plus a regular suitcase. (Four items if you also count a carry-
    >on.) So I just don't understand why a bike doesn't count as 1 piece of luggage????
    >
    >Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?

    Sometimes a bicycle is just one piece of luggage. Other times it isn't. Reasons: they can be
    awkward, they can be heavy, and the airlines would love a little more money. I doubt it costs the
    airline $75 to put one on an airplane.

    Tom Gibb <[email protected]
     
  7. Sergio SERVADIO wrote:

    >On Sat, 28 Feb 2004, Janet wrote:
    >> Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?
    >
    >Perhaps illogical, surely not transparent.
    >
    >First of all Airline Companies no not behave all alike, nor each in a consistent manner from time
    >to time, or from Airport to Airport.
    >
    >For example, in Pisa, with British Airways, I found it hard to get to know for sure if a custom-
    >made case (of 'odd' size, containing a frameset) would eventually be accepted at the check-in.
    >Another parcel I had made, of similar dimensions, had been turned back by Alitalia only because it
    >didn't look right.
    >
    >Walk up to the Check-in counter and just ask:
    >
    >'What largest size would you accept?' 'Could it be a wooden box with a handle and a latch so as to
    >make it adequate for inspection?'
    >
    >If they ask you 'What on earth would you put inside it?' never answer: 'Oh, my bike!'.
    >
    >Better say: 'That's none of your business, safety assured'.
    >
    >
    Not in this day and age. That answer would get you bumped off your flight as a possible terrorist. I
    can't imagine that answer as ever having been acceptable.
     
  8. On Sat, 28 Feb 2004, Chuck Anderson wrote:
    > >Better say: 'That's none of your business, safety assured'.
    > Not in this day and age. That answer would get you bumped off your flight as a possible terrorist.
    > I can't imagine that answer as ever having been acceptable.

    What's wrong with assuring that it is a safe parcel, and possibly letting them inspect it,
    at request?

    I do remember carrying a spare (new) gasoline tank for my decrepit FIAT 1100 on an International
    flight from Roma to JFK in 1971. At that time hijacking was not so infrequent. No problem to board
    the craft, to the bewilderment of my fellow passengers.

    Sergio Pisa
     
  9. Sergio SERVADIO wrote:

    >On Sat, 28 Feb 2004, Chuck Anderson wrote:
    >> >Better say: 'That's none of your business, safety assured'.
    >> Not in this day and age. That answer would get you bumped off your flight as a possible
    >> terrorist. I can't imagine that answer as ever having been acceptable.
    >
    >What's wrong with assuring that it is a safe parcel, and possibly letting them inspect it,
    >at request?
    >
    >
    Saying, "That's none of your business. It is a safe parcel." is hardly *reassuring* to a baggage
    inspector, .... wouldn't you think?

    >I do remember carrying a spare (new) gasoline tank for my decrepit FIAT 1100 on an International
    >flight from Roma to JFK in 1971. At that time hijacking was not so infrequent. No problem to board
    >the craft, to the bewilderment of my fellow passengers.
    >
    >
    >Sergio Pisa
    >
    >
    >

    --
    *****************************
    Chuck Anderson • Boulder, CO http://www.CycleTourist.com Integrity is obvious. The lack of it
    is common.
    *****************************
     
  10. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    [email protected] (TBGibb) writes:

    > Sometimes a bicycle is just one piece of luggage. Other times it isn't. Reasons: they can be
    > awkward, they can be heavy, and the airlines would love a little more money. I doubt it costs the
    > airline $75 to put one on an airplane.

    No, it doesn't. The charge is punitive and meant to discourage you from bringing your bicycle on
    their plane.
     
  11. Gary Smiley

    Gary Smiley Guest

    When I returned from Pisa via British Airways in June 2002 , I had no box. They supplied a large
    plastic bag. All I had to do was turn the handlebars sideways and remove the pedals. I flew from
    Pisa to Gatwick in London, transferred by bus to Heathrow, and flew back to Boston. The bike arrived
    in perfect condition, and there was no extra charge. American carriers are not as generous.

    "Sergio SERVADIO" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:pine.LNX.3.96.1040228101052.1162L-
    [email protected]
    > On Sat, 28 Feb 2004, Janet wrote:
    > > Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?
    >
    > Perhaps illogical, surely not transparent.
    >
    > First of all Airline Companies no not behave all alike, nor each in a consistent manner from time
    > to time, or from Airport to Airport.
    >
    > For example, in Pisa, with British Airways, I found it hard to get to know for sure if a custom-
    > made case (of 'odd' size, containing a frameset) would eventually be accepted at the check-in.
    > Another parcel I had made, of similar dimensions, had been turned back by Alitalia only because it
    > didn't look right.
    >
    > Walk up to the Check-in counter and just ask:
    >
    > 'What largest size would you accept?' 'Could it be a wooden box with a handle and a latch so as to
    > make it adequate for inspection?'
    >
    > If they ask you 'What on earth would you put inside it?' never answer: 'Oh, my bike!'.
    >
    > Better say: 'That's none of your business, safety assured'.
    >
    > Sergio Pisa
     
  12. Tim McNamara

    Tim McNamara Guest

    Chuck Anderson <[email protected]> writes:

    > Sergio SERVADIO wrote:
    >
    >>On Sat, 28 Feb 2004, Chuck Anderson wrote:
    >
    >>> >Better say: 'That's none of your business, safety assured'.
    >
    >>> Not in this day and age. That answer would get you bumped off your flight as a possible
    >>> terrorist. I can't imagine that answer as ever having been acceptable.
    >>
    >>What's wrong with assuring that it is a safe parcel, and possibly letting them inspect it, at
    >>request?
    >>
    > Saying, "That's none of your business. It is a safe parcel." is hardly *reassuring* to a baggage
    > inspector, .... wouldn't you think?

    In a similar vein, a brain-injured client of mine once, for reasons known only to himself, sent
    several pounds of newspaper clippings to a Federal judge in Missouri. This was shortly after the
    McVeigh bombing. In his child-like scrawl on the front of the thick manilla envelope, he wrote a
    statement claiming "it's not a bomb." The mail department at the courthouse was *not* amused.
    Neither was the FBI.
     
  13. Matt O'Toole

    Matt O'Toole Guest

    Ken wrote:

    > Janet <[email protected]> wrote in news:7wU%[email protected]
    > news.ops.worldnet.att.net:

    >> Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?
    >
    > They charge you $100 because they can.

    Yup, I think that's the bottom line.

    Matt O.
     
  14. Per Löwdin

    Per Löwdin Guest

    > I've read some of the threads about bikes on airlines. I just don't understand why bicycles are
    > such a problem for the airlines.

    Usually they are not. We always box our bikes in the type of box the bike shops use and have so far
    flown back and forth to India, Thailand, Singapore, Geneva, twice to Mallorca once to Teneriffe and
    to Denver. Has always worked out fine.

    Per http://lowdin.nu
     
  15. Per Löwdin

    Per Löwdin Guest

    > No, it doesn't. The charge is punitive and meant to discourage you from bringing your bicycle on
    > their plane.

    Depends on how much other weight you got. We have never paid on transatlantic flights as the bikes
    have gone as our second pieces of luggage. The most we paid has been with SAS which charged as 100
    USD, Stockholm - Delhi, http://www.lowdin.nu/MTB/MTB-Himalaya.html considering what the over-weight
    charges would have been we thought it was perfectly reasonable.

    Per http://lowdin.nu
     
  16. > Usually they are not. We always box our bikes in the type of box the bike shops use and have so
    > far flown back and forth to India, Thailand, Singapore, Geneva, twice to Mallorca once to
    > Teneriffe and to Denver. Has always worked out fine.
    >

    Yeah, that's what many people say they do. But what do you do with the box when you get there ?
     
  17. Per Löwdin

    Per Löwdin Guest

    > Yeah, that's what many people say they do. But what do you do with the box when you get there ?

    Depends, last year, when we flew from Stockholm to Denver we left the boxes there with some friends,
    we had all our stuff in boxes as we had two BOBs too. Then, we used the same boxes on our return
    trip. When we went to India we did the same. Bike boxes are not easily avaiable there. Same for
    Mallorca and the Canary Islands. Well boxes are probably available but one uses the same box going
    in and out.

    On the other hand when we have flown to SEA we have just left the boxes in the hotels we spent the
    first night. Then, we got new boxes in Bangkok. When we landed in Geneva we unpacked right next to
    the conveyour belt or whatever it is called where you pick up the luggage, put on the pedals,
    mounted the steering bar and the panniers, dumped the boxes in a place for trash, and then we cycled
    through customs and migration.

    Boxes are safe, you can protect the bike quite well, and they tend to be available almost anywhere,
    takes five or ten minutes to get the bike unpacked and ready to go. Some send their bikes as they
    are, perhaps with just some cardboard wrapped around, seems to work too, but our bikes are just to
    good for us to let them be handled like that, we also have a fascistoid tendency (our only!) about
    wheels. I just can?t tolerate wheels that are untrue.

    Per http://lowdin.nu
     
  18. Lyle

    Lyle Guest

    The bike charges or 'freight fees' are simply excessive and at times extortionary. My limited
    experience is similar to Mikes. For a flight from STL to LA, American Airlines charge me 80-100
    dollars per bike, per leg of trip, for transporting my bike. Even though I purposedly flew on a
    Tuesday morning at 6am, to avoid a crowded situation. I arrived at the gate 2 hours aherad of time.
    I was nice and patient with the airline employee. The flight was empty. It was an MD80 that had 30
    people on it. Yet the American Airline employee informed me that American charges freight fees on
    bulky items--160 dollars for 2 bikes--CHA CHING. THIS IS A COMPLETE RIP-OFF!! Ive flown small
    carriers, ie Frontier, and they have waived these charges. Airlines such as American are not bike
    friendly, nor passenger friendly.

    My questions are:

    International flighjts the bike rides free--why? Because competition makes it necessary??

    Why is it that other countries bikes ride free, especially in SE Asia?

    Why is it when planes are empty, meaning 30% capacity, do they still charge fees?

    Why is a handling fee of 80 dollars charged?

    My solution is hammer the airlines with customer service emails and letters voicing your
    displeasure. Second start flying airlines that charge zero for bikes--there out there but we need to
    hear others experiences, so we now who they are. Third send a letter to your congressman demanding
    more competition and better services from airlines, especially for domestic flights. I would love to
    see China airlines running some domestic flights in the US.

    I would like to know if there is somewhere out there, in webland, that lists bike-friendly airlines,
    and non-friendly ones. We need a site like this.

    Lyle

    Mike Vermeulen <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...
    > >Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so illogical that it defies explanation?
    >
    > Not completely illogical, but certainly a patchwork that is (1) fairly inconsistent (2) large
    > price increase in last few years.
    >
    > An airline is going to charge "what the market will bear". A bike can be a large bulky item
    > needing special handling. Despite disclaimers everyone has to sign, a potential exists for an
    > expensive claim. Airlines will also charge for other special cases such as pets. The airline
    > market is an ogilopoly and if some carriers establish fees, others can follow.
    >
    > There has always been some inconsistency, but five years ago it felt like the pattern was more
    > like: -- domestic flights charge ~$50 -- international flights count bike as one piece of luggage
    > as well as may base things on total weight -- smaller/regional/economy airlines either don't make
    > provision for bikes or have unique rules (e.g. free, or by weight or not allowed or ...) -- ticket
    > agents had discretion; approximately 1/3 of time I went they'd look at that $50 fee and find a way
    > to be sympathetic and not charge the fee. Less true at large carriers with much traffic.
    >
    > This has been fairly stable from 15 to 5 years ago.
    >
    > During the past few years, several of the fees have risen quickly so that $80-$100 is closer to
    > the price I see. At that rate, the inconsistent comparisons with other things that fly free
    > (oversize trade show materials, skis,...) as well as to ticket price for a passenger becomes more
    > visible. Though an airline is going to price more based on what the market bears than on such
    > comparison... [in same way that you and I might have nearly identical seats on the plane but pay
    > very different amounts for the journey].
    >
    > I've flown >30 times with a bicycle and have paid more $$ for my touring bike to United Airlines
    > than I paid to Cannondale...I'm still paying what market bears here, though have also shifted more
    > to trains or rental cars in some cases due to increased costs.
    >
    > --mev, Mike Vermeulen
     
  19. I'm used to the bike charges on flights within the US. On
    transatlantic flights, the carriers don't charge
    specifically for the bikes. I guess if you're under the bag
    limit or weight limit you're OK? What happens if you're
    flying to Europe with a bike but are flying to the departure
    point? Will you be charged for the US flight if you're on
    the same carrier overseas?

    lanny "Ken" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Janet <[email protected]> wrote in
    news:7wU%[email protected]
    > news.ops.worldnet.att.net:
    > > Can someone explain this, or is the airlines policy so
    > > illogical that it defies explanation?
    >
    > They charge you $100 because they can.
     
  20. > What happens if you're flying to Europe with a bike but
    > are flying to the departure point? Will you be charged for
    > the US flight if you're on the same carrier overseas?

    I have had the bicycle flown for free in that situation.
    However, it has taken a conversation with the gate agent,
    along lines of "Isn't this an international flight?" Also,
    on return may need to pick up the bike, carry through
    customs and redeliver to US domestic transfer.

    I generally try to be polite (e.g. not impatient, demanding,
    allowing lots of time), but also politely asking or even
    being surprised at the large fees. That has helped me in a
    number of situations where I've been given some leeway).

    --mev, Mike Vermeulen
     
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