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.