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  1. #1
    Weakling
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    folders on airplanes as hand baggage

    I had hoped that Search would show up answers.
    I remember vaguely that some or many have mention
    that they could take their bike on the flight.

    I must have chosen wrong search words.

    Didn't Mark Sanders tell in a blog or a pdf file
    with tips that he has had no problems with Strida
    on airplanes? I guess all Brompton folks could
    testify that that bike is accepted. So small bikes
    as A-bike would be within the limit? But Carryme
    maybe is on the wrong side? A few inches too high.

    No George Lin is traveling all over the world with his
    Carryme bike so which bike is too big? Strida?

    I don't plan to go by air just now but I ask for
    somebody else who are not member here.

    Could it depend on the individual company or is that
    regulated by international treaty?

    What are the dimensions and weight on hand baggage?
    Last edited by Weakling; 02-10-08 at 08:44 AM.

  2. #2
    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weakling View Post
    What are the dimensions and weight on hand baggage?
    Basically, as long as it fits in the overhead compartment or under your chair, it's good. But it really depends on the airline, so check the company's website for exact numbers. On my flight from the Philippines to the US (on Philippine Airlines), I had 3 bags, actually--an overstuffed, *huge* backpack, a laptop bag, and a small purse. They just waved me on.
    Wanna join my charity folding bike ride? Sign-up here!
    Quote Originally Posted by AEO View Post
    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way :p

  3. #3
    Weakling
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    But it really depends on the airline
    That could be true. I'm not a traveler so I have no
    experience of how they regulate such things.

    My Bother and Sister with their families travel every year.
    Canary Islands and Thailand etc. They don't use bikes though.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    The vagrancies are there. All airlines have size limits, whether they adhere to them is up to them and their agents. I travel quite a bit by air, but so far never with a folding cycle. I have seen at least one Brommie in the carry on collection. It was in it's soft bag and this was on a USAirways flight from PHL to CLT. It was stashed in the overhead a couple of rows behind me. USAir doesn't typically seem to check bag size, unless it becomes an issue or someone complains. FWIW United has just instituted a policy that the second checked bag is going to cost you money. I am sure others will follow suit? Best bet is to try it and be ready to accept an alternative. Todd Fahar(sp) of Clever Cycles fame, gate checks his as an "adult inline wheelchair"

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 02-12-08 at 03:17 AM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  5. #5
    Bicycling Gnome
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    Rules on hand luggage vary depending on where you live. You would not get away with a Brompton as cabin baggage in Europe for sure. We've had some incredibly tight rules lately supposedly due to terrorism risks - just part of the paranoia governments force upon us these days. The very idea of humping a B onto a crowded aircraft seems ludicrous to me in any case. The thing is at least 24x24x8 and far too weighty to be walloping your fellow travelers with, or having fall out onto someone's head during turbulence. We know they will fit into certain hard cases, so why bother taking it into the cabin?

    Current rules in UK:

    http://www.britishairways.com/travel...n/public/en_gb
    ďGet a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." - Mark Twain

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilV View Post
    too weighty to be walloping your fellow travelers with, or having fall out onto someone's head during turbulence. We know they will fit into certain hard cases, so why bother taking it into the cabin?
    I think it's the same reason you normally don't put your laptop or other fragile things into checked baggage. There are a lot of ways for damaging these things, and you have to do a really good job (weight + cost) to make sure that doesn't happen, then you're stuck with a large rigid box wherever you go.

    Everyone's heard these stories about someone taking a Brompton onto a plane. I think they were just lucky, both for being permitted to do this (it's over dimensions), and by not accidentally getting put onto a plane where that couldn't be feasible. Then, like many instrument owners find out when bringing a soft shell case for their guitar, they get it stuffed somewhere else and don't have control.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weakling View Post
    I had hoped that Search would show up answers.
    I remember vaguely that some or many have mention
    that they could take their bike on the flight.

    I must have chosen wrong search words.

    Didn't Mark Sanders tell in a blog or a pdf file
    with tips that he has had no problems with Strida
    on airplanes? I guess all Brompton folks could
    testify that that bike is accepted. So small bikes
    as A-bike would be within the limit? But Carryme
    maybe is on the wrong side? A few inches too high.

    No George Lin is traveling all over the world with his
    Carryme bike so which bike is too big? Strida?

    I don't plan to go by air just now but I ask for
    somebody else who are not member here.

    Could it depend on the individual company or is that
    regulated by international treaty?

    What are the dimensions and weight on hand baggage?
    CarryMe, Brompton, Strida, Dahon may all be too big for carry on. Rules can change at the drop of a hat. All you need is for one person to say the bike is not allowed and now you have to scramble for a box! You may very well miss your flight and who knows how long you have to wait. The last thing you want is to take you folder and just put it on the belt without any protection because a flight attendant turned you back. Always bring a box or hard shell.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    ..........FWIW United has just instituted a policy that the second checked bag is going to cost you money. ....
    Aaron
    Hmmm, "United"..........

    We arrived at LAX last week for a 1 night stay at the Holiday Inn, pending our onward flight.

    We returned to LAX to check in, & discovered it's now "automated".
    So, we pressed the relevant buttons, & the end statement was (paraphrased) that we relinquish all control & United is irresponsible, er I mean, not responsible, for any luggage damage.

    Next we had to work out how we get our bags (containing clothes etc. + 2 Strida's) onto the luggage belt.

    We find a United "agent" with a plastic Joker smile, who takes 1 of the bags & asks "what's in the bags?" My wife replies "folding bikes". Agent pauses, & responds "How would you like to pay the $170 for your folding bikes?"

    I was somewhat taken aback by this & proceeded to converse (within his earshot) with my wife about how the airline could have misled us over this. He of course overheard this, asking "So you came in on an international flight - how many nights here in the US?"

    To cut a long story short, there appears to be a serious deficiency in United's (maybe all?) automated check in, in that there's no history of one's journey, thus the assumption is that passengers start from LAX, destined for wherever, with the attendant extortion payable.

    Apparently a 1 night stay is ok, but several days incurs the hefty $85 surcharge for a folding bike. Naturally at the desk, 3 hours before take off, there is no way one can check the validity of any of this. One wonders how many unsuspecting passengers have been swindled out of $85!

    Our "main" airline carrier had told us that *any* kind of bike could go free, including via their "star alliance" partners. Clearly one star alliance "partner" doesn't know what the other is doing!

    I'm tempted to write to United, but how does one avoid the letter going straight to the bin? Is anyone really accountable in United? :-)

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclistjohn View Post
    Hmmm, "United"..........

    We arrived at LAX last week for a 1 night stay at the Holiday Inn, pending our onward flight.

    We returned to LAX to check in, & discovered it's now "automated".
    So, we pressed the relevant buttons, & the end statement was (paraphrased) that we relinquish all control & United is irresponsible, er I mean, not responsible, for any luggage damage.

    Next we had to work out how we get our bags (containing clothes etc. + 2 Strida's) onto the luggage belt.

    We find a United "agent" with a plastic Joker smile, who takes 1 of the bags & asks "what's in the bags?" My wife replies "folding bikes". Agent pauses, & responds "How would you like to pay the $170 for your folding bikes?"

    I was somewhat taken aback by this & proceeded to converse (within his earshot) with my wife about how the airline could have misled us over this. He of course overheard this, asking "So you came in on an international flight - how many nights here in the US?"

    To cut a long story short, there appears to be a serious deficiency in United's (maybe all?) automated check in, in that there's no history of one's journey, thus the assumption is that passengers start from LAX, destined for wherever, with the attendant extortion payable.

    Apparently a 1 night stay is ok, but several days incurs the hefty $85 surcharge for a folding bike. Naturally at the desk, 3 hours before take off, there is no way one can check the validity of any of this. One wonders how many unsuspecting passengers have been swindled out of $85!

    Our "main" airline carrier had told us that *any* kind of bike could go free, including via their "star alliance" partners. Clearly one star alliance "partner" doesn't know what the other is doing!

    I'm tempted to write to United, but how does one avoid the letter going straight to the bin? Is anyone really accountable in United? :-)
    Is anybody really accountable at ANY big business any more?

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  10. #10
    Hauja
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    Sorry to say this.

    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    Is anybody really accountable at ANY big business any more?

    Aaron
    Do not tell them what is in it.Say sporting goods or sports equipment .You are not lying. I mean some things like golf clubs they do not charge more to transport and they weigh as much.Besides if they charge you that much more they should take some responsibility.You can always buy insurance though.As i see it charging 85 dollars to transport a bike when other sporting goods fly free is discrimination.

  11. #11
    lube addict
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    Larry Lagarde of ridethisbike.com recently took his Strida on a cruise:

    "The Strida folding bike was packed in a soft sided, collapsible, rolling travel bag designed for golf clubs. In order for the Strida to fit in the bag, I unbolted the seatpost mount and plastic carry rack from the Strida's frame. I stuffed plastic bags filled with clothing for the trip around the frame members to protect them from damage."

    Assuming golf bags are routinely checked in by airlines as baggage, would Larry's method work without incurring additional cost? Has anyone done this?

  12. #12
    Bromptonaut 14R's Avatar
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    I travel VERY OFTEN with my Brompton as a checked bag. When asked what is inside my answer is "Bike parts".

    One time they asked how many bike parts and my answer was "enough to assemble one full bike and still have some spare parts in case something brakes".

    Never paid a dime extra.

    14R

  13. #13
    jur
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    In Australia (and I think everywhere) excess charges on bicycles only hold if said bicycle is excess baggage in terms of size and/or weight. So if you travel on an airline with a folding bike which is packed in normal type baggage and you don't have excess size or weight, then no one is even allowed to charge extra, which would amount to discrimination.

    In Australia flying Virgin Blue airlines, bicycles are regarded as sports equipment and only count as 5kg regardless of actual weight. Excess size does not apply. They are an exception.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the ideas & suggestions folks.

    Quote Originally Posted by chainstrainer View Post
    Larry Lagarde of ridethisbike.com recently took his Strida on a cruise:

    "The Strida folding bike was packed in a soft sided, collapsible, rolling travel bag designed for golf clubs. In order for the Strida to fit in the bag, I unbolted the seatpost mount and plastic carry rack from the Strida's frame. I stuffed plastic bags filled with clothing for the trip around the frame members to protect them from damage."

    Assuming golf bags are routinely checked in by airlines as baggage, would Larry's method work without incurring additional cost? Has anyone done this?
    Hello chainstrainer, interesting post thanks, so I'll take a look at that URL when we get back home. Internet access is sparse & expensive around these parts!

    My wife packed our bags almost identically to your quote above!

    I just removed our saddles, but may have to slacken off the seat moulding too on our return trip in the hope of averting more bag damage.

    We bought 2 cheapish golf bags (in hindsight, too cheap, as both bags are damaged, one severely, but the United electronic check in won't proceed unless one indemnifies them via the touch screen procedure - infuriating!), but the United Airlines "agent" still asked about the contents, & my wife, closest to the check in carousel, simply replied with the truth (as she always does, sometimes to our cost :-) ) but which I thought was ok as our main airline had already told us bikes were fine.

    I think in future we'll agree if asked to quote "bike parts" or similar. It seems there is no standard, & it's the whim of the "agent" what is permitted or not. There simply isn't time or the means to verify the "agent"'s statement when stuck at the airport

  15. #15
    Pretty sure... nollij's Avatar
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    My Recent Airline Travel w/ a Breezer I3

    I just flew to Seattle on Feb 7th on Alaska Airlines (from SFO). I had my Breezer I3 w/ me. I followed Todd Fahrner's advice and told them I needed to gate check "this".

    from Todd Fahrner's comment on his recent blog entry:
    Todd (admin) Says:
    January 28th, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Mike C, I gate-check the bike. This means you leave it literally at the hatch of the plane like strollers and wheelchairs. Itís last to go into the luggage hold and first to come off. On one occasion an attendant asked me to bring it into the plane instead. The bike will fit in the overheads of some planes but not of others. It passes through TSA x-ray belts no problem.

    Iíve never had a problem with security or at the gate with this, but I have heard of somebody else having to check it. I think itís a confidence thing. Just smile and state nonchalantly that you need to gate-check ďthisĒ. I usually have the saddle off at this point so it wonít get scuffed in the hold, but it also maybe helps it pass under any anti-bike radar.

    The gate agent said to me "isn't that a bicycle", I smiled my biggest toothy smile and said "No... it's a 2 wheeled cart". "What about the seat?" "Nope, it's a cart!". He shook his head and handed me the gate check. My flight was full going to Seattle. The bike came up to the hatch of the plane unscathed, and I was delighted though a bit surprised. I rather wish I'd remembered Todd's suggestion of calling it an "adult inline wheelchair", in case anyone asked. In each airport, I had at LEAST 4 people come up to me wanting to talk about the bike. One of em... I can't remember his name, but I'm fairly certain he's a member here, has a folder that he was riding around as a soldier in Iraq. He was in uniform and stopped to talk to me in Seattle. He was very nice, but I'm VERY bad with names and have forgotten it. He was on his way home to Montana to see family though... I do remember that. He has pictures up somewhere on the web of him and his bike out in Iraq: this ring a bell for anyone?

    I took the train (Amtrak) down from Seattle to Portland for NAHBS and I ended up throwing the folder in the baggage car, but they didn't charge me (the conductor wanted me to put it overhead, but the 3 speed shifter at the rear hub kept the bike from fitting between the bar and the ceiling).

    On the final leg home, I took the Portland MAX from the convention center to the airport. I rolled the bike onto the MAX, no problems (it was folded). On the plane ride home, I had to gate check again (Horizon Air) and this time they didn't even ask about the bike. The plane was completely full again and it was much smaller this time; I had to gate check my carry-on bag, a (Chrome Sultan) though it was NOT packed with the intention of being any place other than overhead or under the seat in front of me. Both bike and pack came up unscathed, to my delight and surprise. I've since ordered the soft bag so that I can be more covert with the bike: this should help the "gate check" process even further. The Brompton's fold even smaller and if I could afford one right now, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. I rode one for 2 days in London in January (rented from VeloRution) and I'm madly in love. My I3 seems so... cheap... and poorly fitted now (mostly the seatpost, and the fact that the frame doesn't clip together w/o bungees). *sigh* All the same, I only paid $150 for it, so I can't complain about it too much. I was VERY happy to have my own transport in Portland and Seattle: so much easier and more fun than cabs, buses and rail for inner-city transport.
    2008 Surly Big Dummy w/Stokemonkey, 2007 Azor Oma, 1970's Swing Bike, Breezer i3 (unknown year), borrowed Kestrel 200SC
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    I took my folder (Bike Friday Tikit) from Seattle to Portland on Amtrak for NAHBS too (and I did this a few months earlier for the Oregon BCA show). I just folded the bike and put it in the baggage closet at the end of each car. You don't need to put it on the baggage car or pay for a bike ticket. I've even done this with a much larger Swift Folder.

    I haven't tried gate checking my Tikit, maybe I'll do that next time. I always use the hard case and check it as normal luggage. No one has ever asked me what is in the suitcase when I'm flying with a bike, but I've done at least a dozen flights with take apart or folding bikes (S&S, Bike Friday Tandem Two'sday, Swift Folder, Bike Friday NWT, and Bike Friday Tikit over the last 10 years).

  17. #17
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    I took my Brompton/Merc in a soft bag on the Amtrak Acela (TGV) train from New York to Boston over the holidays and it presented no problems; the less the bike screams it has a bike in it the better I think - if it has a big Dahon or Trek logo on it it might catch the staff's eye and lead them to further investigation. Luckily Merc isn't exactly well known so it was fine in the end racks of the car.

  18. #18
    Pretty sure... nollij's Avatar
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    Was the train full?

    Alex, just one question for you: Was the train full that you took from Seattle to Portland? The train staff claimed the train was totally full and they almost didn't let some of the other bike riding NAHBS attendees on the train w/ their bikes (two of em were on a tandem: supposed to be a no-no, but they let em on). Not having taken the train before, I didn't think to put the bike in the compartment at the end of the car: I also didn't have a bag for the I3... I've got one on order now and I'll be sure to remove any branding on it once I get it...

    Quote Originally Posted by awetmore View Post
    I took my folder (Bike Friday Tikit) from Seattle to Portland on Amtrak for NAHBS too (and I did this a few months earlier for the Oregon BCA show). I just folded the bike and put it in the baggage closet at the end of each car. You don't need to put it on the baggage car or pay for a bike ticket. I've even done this with a much larger Swift Folder.

    I haven't tried gate checking my Tikit, maybe I'll do that next time. I always use the hard case and check it as normal luggage. No one has ever asked me what is in the suitcase when I'm flying with a bike, but I've done at least a dozen flights with take apart or folding bikes (S&S, Bike Friday Tandem Two'sday, Swift Folder, Bike Friday NWT, and Bike Friday Tikit over the last 10 years).
    2008 Surly Big Dummy w/Stokemonkey, 2007 Azor Oma, 1970's Swing Bike, Breezer i3 (unknown year), borrowed Kestrel 200SC
    Mumbled Rantings from the Evol God of Nollij

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    Quote Originally Posted by James H Haury View Post
    Do not tell them what is in it.Say sporting goods or sports equipment .You are not lying. I mean some things like golf clubs they do not charge more to transport and they weigh as much.Besides if they charge you that much more they should take some responsibility.You can always buy insurance though.As i see it charging 85 dollars to transport a bike when other sporting goods fly free is discrimination.
    Exactly. I fly a lot and have never been asked specifics other than flammables, firearms, etc. The only times I have had to open my luggage and give full disclosure is when flying with firearms. A Bike Friday or virtually any other folding bike fits in a normal suitcase, so they have no right to ask (other than the normal spiel about whether or not it's been out of sight or contains flammable or explosive items). The TSA can search it, but they have no affiliation with airlines and are not going to report to the airline that you had a bike in a suitcase. I do think it would be assinine to buy a large bag that said "Dahon" for example, or some other company that obviously makes folding bikes in case the airline posted a directive to look for those bags. I would be no more pressured to disclose that I had a folding bike in my suitcase than I would to disclose I had a bottle of port. Customs shouldn't care either unless you purchased it over seas. Just pack it carefully with lots of fluff as it will be handled roughly.

    By the way, I am not addressing carrying it on because I don't believe that's worth the effort or hassle, or even possible in most cases. Flying is difficult enough without an added variable to screw things up, so I wouldn't even consider trying it. I've never had problems with bikes checked as luggage in regular bike boxes, and am looking forward to keeping the fees with a collapsable bike.
    Last edited by Mr. Smith; 02-18-08 at 03:43 PM.

  20. #20
    jur
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    Over here carry-on luggage has a weight limit of 7kg IIRC, so a folded bike won't go no matter how smal it was. They occasionally check my hand luggage weight.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  21. #21
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel View Post
    I took my Brompton/Merc in a soft bag on the Amtrak Acela (TGV) train from New York to Boston over the holidays and it presented no problems; the less the bike screams it has a bike in it the better I think - if it has a big Dahon or Trek logo on it it might catch the staff's eye and lead them to further investigation. Luckily Merc isn't exactly well known so it was fine in the end racks of the car.

    You did spot a sore spot for the bike companies that always tend to splash their logos all over the bag or whatever attempting to advertise for free on your back. I have nothing against logos-I even have one-but I always love the quiet subtle approuch in not calling undue attention to me or my luggage by crass advertising. Just a careful tasteful choices of color and pattern on my part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePixel View Post
    I took my Brompton/Merc in a soft bag on the Amtrak Acela (TGV) train from New York to Boston over the holidays and it presented no problems; the less the bike screams it has a bike in it the better I think - if it has a big Dahon or Trek logo on it it might catch the staff's eye and lead them to further investigation. Luckily Merc isn't exactly well known so it was fine in the end racks of the car.
    Amtrak allows folding bicycles without a bag. I have the cover for my Tikit, but stopped using it on the train. The conductor watched me fold it (first asking if I needed to take it to the baggage/bike car) and thought it was neat.

    I don't think that the logo, or lack thereof, matters one bit.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by nollij View Post
    Alex, just one question for you: Was the train full that you took from Seattle to Portland? The train staff claimed the train was totally full and they almost didn't let some of the other bike riding NAHBS attendees on the train w/ their bikes (two of em were on a tandem: supposed to be a no-no, but they let em on). Not having taken the train before, I didn't think to put the bike in the compartment at the end of the car: I also didn't have a bag for the I3... I've got one on order now and I'll be sure to remove any branding on it once I get it...
    It was not full when I went to NAHBS. However it was full when I took the train to the Oregon BCA show in November. I also had my Tikit on that trip and had no problem getting on.

    I just roll my bike down to the car unfolded, fold the bike, and get on the train. I don't put it into a bag or anything.

    alex

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by jur View Post
    Over here carry-on luggage has a weight limit of 7kg IIRC, so a folded bike won't go no matter how smal it was. They occasionally check my hand luggage weight.
    I always thought it was silly that the U.S. carriers always care about whether or not it fits in the test box and not what it weighs. When they show incidents in turbulance and misshaps in planes and the overhead compartments come open, you'd think they'd want to minimize the damage rather than worry about the size of the luggage. 7kg is enough to hurt someone, but technically every passenger on a typical U.S. domestic flight could carry on a bowling ball or a few 20 kg plates in a piece of baggage and no one would care. The plane may not ever leave the ground... The TSA maybe would be suspicious of a bowling ball when you went through security, but still there is no weight limit I've ever encountered in U.S. flights outside of checked baggage.

  25. #25
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    RE: United - I'll never use that rotten company again. Used them twice to Japan, and regretted every endless hour. The so-called service and food, the attitudes both on the ground and in the air, the mangling of the luggage, the beat up aircraft, all contribute to that United Experience. Reminds me of Continental and seems more akin to Aeroflot. Sad to see how far it's sunk, all the while earning record profits which go into the pockets of the executive officers of the supposedly employee owned company. I've got a buddy who's worked for them for close to thirty years and they've whipped him like a junkyard cur time and again, so not sure what "employee owned" actually means. Maybe they only hire sado/masochists.

    In regards to the Star Alliance thing, it's solely for the benefit of the airlines. You can't even transfer milage from one airline to another. We now use ANA, and have to make sure to request "Japanese only" when purchasing tickets. A bit more expensive, but worth every dollar at the end of a twelve hour flight.

    The beer selection is better as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by cyclistjohn View Post
    Hmmm, "United"..........

    We arrived at LAX last week for a 1 night stay at the Holiday Inn, pending our onward flight.

    We returned to LAX to check in, & discovered it's now "automated".
    So, we pressed the relevant buttons, & the end statement was (paraphrased) that we relinquish all control & United is irresponsible, er I mean, not responsible, for any luggage damage.

    Next we had to work out how we get our bags (containing clothes etc. + 2 Strida's) onto the luggage belt.

    We find a United "agent" with a plastic Joker smile, who takes 1 of the bags & asks "what's in the bags?" My wife replies "folding bikes". Agent pauses, & responds "How would you like to pay the $170 for your folding bikes?"

    I was somewhat taken aback by this & proceeded to converse (within his earshot) with my wife about how the airline could have misled us over this. He of course overheard this, asking "So you came in on an international flight - how many nights here in the US?"

    To cut a long story short, there appears to be a serious deficiency in United's (maybe all?) automated check in, in that there's no history of one's journey, thus the assumption is that passengers start from LAX, destined for wherever, with the attendant extortion payable.

    Apparently a 1 night stay is ok, but several days incurs the hefty $85 surcharge for a folding bike. Naturally at the desk, 3 hours before take off, there is no way one can check the validity of any of this. One wonders how many unsuspecting passengers have been swindled out of $85!

    Our "main" airline carrier had told us that *any* kind of bike could go free, including via their "star alliance" partners. Clearly one star alliance "partner" doesn't know what the other is doing!

    I'm tempted to write to United, but how does one avoid the letter going straight to the bin? Is anyone really accountable in United? :-)

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