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Old 02-13-12, 06:47 PM   #1
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Samsonite F'Lite GT 31", has the airlines charged you the oversized fee?

It looks like the exterior dimensions of the Samsonite F'Lite GT 31" hardside bag is 65.0 or 66.5 inches, (depending if you measure at the bottom of the bag or the top). The F'Lite 30" bag measures 61.5", still more than most airlines allow, (61"). I'm also not sure a folder would fit into the 30" bag. I'm leaning toward purchasing a Bike Friday, but am also looking at the Swift and Pacific Reach. I'd also consider an Airnimal, but there don't seem to be any stateside dealers.

Has any airline charged you the oversize fee for your checked bicycle? Which airlines are somewhat more lenient?

For those of you who have a BF, does it fit into the 30" bag?
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Old 02-13-12, 07:35 PM   #2
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I have a '93 Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. Originally it came with a smaller Samsonite case which I'm pretty sure was 61" or less. That case wore out and was replaced by a slightly larger Carlton that measures 62" (which is the most common airline limit). Bike Friday now sells the larger Samsonite case which would make packing it even easier, but I'd think most of their bikes would still fit in the smaller cases they sold previously. I'd check with them about the specific bike model in which you're interested.

So far my experience has been that airlines don't bring out any tape measures as long as the suitcase looks like normal luggage. But they are strict about the weight limit.
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Old 02-13-12, 07:37 PM   #3
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Same here, they chek weight but seem to ignore size of the Flite.
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Old 02-13-12, 08:34 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by volosong View Post
It looks like the exterior dimensions of the Samsonite F'Lite GT 31" hardside bag is 65.0 or 66.5 inches, (depending if you measure at the bottom of the bag or the top). The F'Lite 30" bag measures 61.5", still more than most airlines allow, (61"). I'm also not sure a folder would fit into the 30" bag. I'm leaning toward purchasing a Bike Friday, but am also looking at the Swift and Pacific Reach. I'd also consider an Airnimal, but there don't seem to be any stateside dealers.

Has any airline charged you the oversize fee for your checked bicycle? Which airlines are somewhat more lenient?

For those of you who have a BF, does it fit into the 30" bag?
A separable Moulton TSR will also fit the F'lite 31 suitcases.. one of my customers flies frequently with his TSR-9 worldwide as well as inter-continental.. the Airnimal with it's 520mm wheels won't fit (but the frame will fold down small enough for carry-on and the wheels could be bagged separately and checked.. I still have access to Chameleon frames/bikes..
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Old 02-13-12, 09:35 PM   #5
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Calhoun cycle in Minneapolis sells airnimals, a sweat ride as are the xootr and bike friday, I own them all
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Old 02-14-12, 06:17 AM   #6
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Calhoun cycle in Minneapolis sells airnimals, a sweat ride as are the xootr and bike friday, I own them all
But, be careful, Calhoun sent me a frame with some of the paint scrapped off. I think they saved their worst frame for the next mail order customer. They refunded $60 which was less than acceptable to me, but I had already discarded the box so I it would have been a huge hassle to get another box to ship the frame back to them so I reluctantly kept it.

I bought the Airnimal Joey believing the claim that it fit in an airline approved size of luggage. But that claim was specific to British Air that at that time had a more generous size criteria than USA based airlines. I did not have that figured out until it was too late for me to return the frame and fork.

Nice bike, but I can't use it for the purpose that I bought it for, thus it gets very little use and was a big money looser.
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Old 02-16-12, 08:25 AM   #7
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Same here, they chek weight but seem to ignore size of the Flite.
+1 This is my experience too.
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Old 02-16-12, 10:02 AM   #8
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Same here, they chek weight but seem to ignore size of the Flite.
Thank you for your input, everyone. I placed an order for a Bike Friday and their 31" case also. I could have purchased the Samsonite case from Amazon and saved a few bucks, but decided to support the company. Bike will arrive in plenty of time to get some packing/unpacking practice in before my trip to Thailand later this year, (work related trip, but there will be plenty of time to get some miles in while I explore southern Thailand on our down days).

p.s. Any "problems" with the TSA folks? Do you place a sticker outside the case saying what's inside? Have they opened your bag, and things were not as they should be, resulting is scratches or such?
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Old 02-16-12, 11:59 AM   #9
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In a couple of US airports, I was able to observe what the TSA agents were doing with my Bike Friday suitcase. They open up the suitcase and swab the interior, then stick the swab material in some machine which presumably does a chemical assay. The machine tells them that my suitcase is OK and they close it and send it on its way. I'm always afraid that they're going to start taking stuff out and will never be able to put it back in the suitcase and close it, but that thankfully has never happened (yet).
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Old 02-16-12, 02:26 PM   #10
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A Birdy fits the in 31 Flite with some room to spare

I had no problem with the airlines but my last flight with the bike a couple of years ago
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Old 02-16-12, 05:10 PM   #11
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p.s. Any "problems" with the TSA folks? Do you place a sticker outside the case saying what's inside? Have they opened your bag, and things were not as they should be, resulting is scratches or such?
If you put a sticker on the outside, you may get the airline on your back. A nightmare are, in fact, bike companies sticking their names on bags, covers and cases you get from them, particularly including a bike silhouette. TSA's approach is pretty much a 'matter of fact'. I guess they have seen many things and a bike is pretty low on their scale of extraordinary. Common thing is to tape an A4 size photo on the inside of the suitcase, with the packed bike, so that they have a rough idea how to pack your bike back if they decide to take it out.
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Old 02-16-12, 07:16 PM   #12
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Note that the F'lite cannot be opened by the TSA. Which means: don't lock it.

Do NOT put a sticker on the outside indicating what it is. Put a sheet of paper on the inside which says what it is and that it only packs one way, and do NOT tell the airline what it is or they will want to charge extra for it. Airlines cannot / will not look into your luggage, only the TSA will (and they can just as easily X-ray it).

I have repeatedly gone through the toughest airport in the country TSA security-wise: Ronald Reagan National Airport in downtown DC. In Reagan, you check in your luggage, then hand-carry it to the TSA screeners yourself (the airline doesn't put it on their "belt"). I've always told the TSA (but not the airline) what it is, and they always think it's awesome. (I've also checked in humanoid robots this way, which the TSA screeners think are REALLY awesome).
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Old 02-17-12, 03:33 PM   #13
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Good advice in the last two post.
It is a very good idea to tape the pics of the packed bike on the inside of the bag.

I just brought my Mu P8 to the Canaries (of the coast of Africa) luckily and had no problems with three flights and two different airlines.

Might start a thread and post some pics if anyone is interested, this place is incredible.
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Old 02-18-12, 06:39 PM   #14
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I was traveling Quatar Air with my Dahon in a soft bag. I was asked if it was a bicycle. It was in a soft bag, there was no hiding it; so, I told the truth and said yes. All they did was to ask me to let the air out of the tires.
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Old 02-18-12, 08:26 PM   #15
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I have decided that the Friday counts as bicycle parts when I check it. This allows me to answer 'no' if they ask if it's a bicycle.
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Old 02-19-12, 04:45 PM   #16
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I have decided that the Friday counts as bicycle parts when I check it. This allows me to answer 'no' if they ask if it's a bicycle.
I wouldn't even say that ("bicycle parts"). Have never had an issue with airline wanting to charge extra (if within size or weight, no problems with flite 31 either as have one) as always flying with an SS or 20" folder, last time carried a wheel in a normal box (<62" total dimensions) and mentioned that I had a bicycle wheel and other items. Have often said bicycle parts previously as well. [american airlines] Employee said they should charge me extra for this and would be evaluated as passed through security scan. Nothing came of it, but I think they know you have little recourse often when arriving just before a flight and it's less frustrating just to pay for this than find another option, because there really aren't many others.
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Old 02-19-12, 05:19 PM   #17
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I haven't flown with a whole bicycle...yet. But I have flown with a Brooks saddle in my carry on bag, TSA had fun with that one. My son brought multiple parts back in his checked baggage from the UK to the USA for me. Best one was a complete 16" dyno hub wheel, he said US Customs thought it was interesting.

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Old 02-21-12, 10:47 AM   #18
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Here's a run down on what to expect with airlines and bikes. Some airlines are very lenient on bikes to a point of not even charging you for an over-sized full size bike in a heavy bike case. That airline is West Jet which is a Canadian airline. The complete opposite however is Air Canada. The worst thus far is US Airways which WILL CHARGE YOU irregardless if you say you have a bike or not.

While it is true that airlines are not allowed to open suitcases during check-in (only TSA officials), it is NOT TRUE that they will not ask you to do so. They will employ "passive aggressive" tactics to make you open the case out of your free will. I had seen this done twice, once with the old United Airlines out of SFO and another in LAX with US Airways but always with non-anglo-saxon customers. Again, I'm not sure why people other than white get asked often and inspected often a lot. Airlines who make their extra revenue out of gouging customers for extra bags.

If your suitcase looks like a suitcase, then it's just a matter of weight. The only way they can get you to open your suitcase is if your suitcase is OVERWEIGHT. Then they will ask you to immediately remove items to lighten the suitcase to airline regulation. But once you open the suitcase and they see if you have wheels in there, they will immediately charge you for a bike PLUS overweight charges. So, the lesson here is to make sure your suitcase does not go over the weight limit.
But that's a problem with Bike Friday low to mid end bikes. The bike alone can weight in like 25 to 28lbs. Suitcase is about 12 to 15lbs. You do the math and before you know it, it gets very close to 50lbs. Don't assume the weight scale is absolutely accurate either -- just give about +/1 2lbs offset. My Dahon Mu SL which weighs in 19lbs with all the accessories bolted on and in my Delsey 31" suitcase with shoes, helmet, small sized panniers, spare tires and parts and bike tools weigh in 46lbs on their scale, whereas my warehouse digital scale Canada Post/Purolator approved said 44lbs!

So, make sure you do not exceed weigh limit.

Another way airline people can make you open a suitcase is when the suitcase does not conform to a normal suitcase shape. S&S coupled bikes is a good example of airlines asking questions, because their case is actually 26x26x10 = 62 linear inches. This is to accommodate 26" wheels. Problem with that is that, it looks oversize and airlines personnel CAN arbitrarily charge you for that and they may even refuse to whip out their own tape measure to convince them of the case. Bring your own tape measure and if they dispute it, they will all of a sudden produce their own tape measure and measure it!

Other than that, Samsonite and Delsey cases never have problems with all airlines as long as it meets the weight requirements.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-21-12, 12:30 PM   #19
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Just wanted to add my data point here. I've flown a couple of times from BOS -> FLL, MIA->BOS as well as internationally to Taipei.

Never had a problem with my F'lite.

However, as a measure to keep it light I did travel with a few of my tools in my bag (curiously, TSA allows tools under 7 inches. A 7 in screwdriver seems way more dangerous than a pair of nail clippers) However, I forgot that the screen again internationally and I lost my wrench in Japan. On the way back I forgot to pack my bike lock in my checked luggage and got that confiscated too. :-(
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Old 02-21-12, 01:19 PM   #20
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I think nail clippers are banned not because they are dangerous, but because they can be used to make a dangerous weapon. I think.
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Old 02-21-12, 01:46 PM   #21
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Just wanted to add my data point here. I've flown a couple of times from BOS -> FLL, MIA->BOS as well as internationally to Taipei.

Never had a problem with my F'lite.

However, as a measure to keep it light I did travel with a few of my tools in my bag (curiously, TSA allows tools under 7 inches. A 7 in screwdriver seems way more dangerous than a pair of nail clippers) However, I forgot that the screen again internationally and I lost my wrench in Japan. On the way back I forgot to pack my bike lock in my checked luggage and got that confiscated too. :-(
Nail clippers is banned for check-in luggage. Don't even bother trying to conceal it deep in the bag either. They found my mini nail clipper in my backpack which I thought I had lost (I couldn't find it), but their X-ray did. They did tore and abused the pack enough to retrieve that clipper. I wish they didn't do that and tore the pack. They said, it's either they confiscate the whole backpack or they do surgery to get it. Btw, TSA will not compensate me for the torn backpack. They said it's my fault. Oh well.
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Old 02-21-12, 04:40 PM   #22
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I think nail clippers are banned not because they are dangerous, but because they can be used to make a dangerous weapon. I think.
Stupid thing is if someone is hell bent on causing mayhem they don't need to bring a single thing on the plane with them...their are plenty of ready to go items on the plane. I have heard of TSA referred to as Security Theater and I am inclined to believe that.

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Old 02-21-12, 05:03 PM   #23
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On the way back I forgot to pack my bike lock in my checked luggage and got that confiscated too. :-(
I set off alarms at Paris de Gaulle because I had a harmonica in my backpack.
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Old 02-27-12, 03:03 AM   #24
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Trying to bring any tools (size doesn't matter) is a big no-no. Also consider what might be used as a "bludgeoning device" when wanting to avoid discretionary issues with security - maybe that explains why someone above had their U-Lock confiscated.

Some things that can help avoid weight issues are getting pedals into carryon, your cycling shoes, you can wear your helmet onboard (for space not weight), you could get your whole handlebar assembly off if you've got that setup in such a way for easy removal (eg, davinci cable separators).

What pacificcyclist said above is dead-on accurate regarding "sixth" sense for when questions are asked for suitcases (eg, non-rectangular, perfectly square [SS] suitcases).
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Old 02-27-12, 08:03 AM   #25
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I agree with the suggestions about leaving a large paper inside the suitcase, telling TSA that this is a folding bicycle and that it fits in precisely the way that you've packed it. I then use nylon cord ties to tie the frame and and as many parts as possible together in case they are lifted out for inspection. It's harder with Bike Friday because there are so many pieces, but it seems to have worked so far with the flights that I've taken.

I've also labeled the suitcase on the outside "THIS SIDE UP" to make sure that it's opened the right way without pieces spilling everywhere.
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