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Old 05-15-12, 09:47 AM   #1
yangmusa
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Flying with Brompton H-type?

(Yes, yet another Brompton post! Sorry to repost from the "Gate-checking..." thread, but that was promptly overrun by irrelevant responses).

Has anyone flown with a Brompton H-type yet? Will it fit through the x-ray machines?

If nobody has tried this yet, can those of you who have flown with regular Bromptons chime in with how much clearance there is when it goes through the x-ray machine?

My H-type just arrived, and it seems to be about 1" longer and taller than my wife's M-type. About 24"x24"x11", compared to 23"x23"x11".

We're flying off to Japan in about 1.5 weeks, and the plan is to gate check out bikes. I'm looking forward to the trip, but a little anxious about the flights!
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Old 05-15-12, 10:02 AM   #2
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It appears from the photos that the handlebars are not larger than the folded up profile so should be ok. But please follow up on this thread after your experience at the airport so all of us can benefit.
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Old 05-15-12, 10:43 AM   #3
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It appears from the photos that the handlebars are not larger than the folded up profile so should be ok
The handlebars are not larger, but like I said - I have an M-type and an H-type side by side, and the H-type is at least one inch larger in two dimensions. It isn't the handlebars - it's the seat and the higher H-type stem hinge. I can always take the seat off (I have the extended seat post), but there isn't much I can do about the stem!
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Old 05-15-12, 01:43 PM   #4
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With the H model, the tallest point when the folded bike is standing is still going to be the saddle, just like the M (per the videos on NYCEWheels). And with the extended seat post, the saddle is definitely going to be higher than the H stem.
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Old 05-15-12, 01:57 PM   #5
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With the H model, the tallest point when the folded bike is standing is still going to be the saddle, just like the M (per the videos on NYCEWheels). And with the extended seat post, the saddle is definitely going to be higher than the H stem.
Correct. But I can easily take the saddle off, it just slides out of the extended post. And then the H-type stem is still higher than the M-type saddle.
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Old 05-15-12, 02:30 PM   #6
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the extra steering stanchion added, half is folded down,
so you don't add much , there.

Telescoping 2 section seatpost comes down more
than the Extended single seat post.. I'm told..

can't stand the creeping fascism since 9/11, so to avoid the bodily cavity searches,
I don't fly.

{ok. cruise ships to japan is a, not -- none)

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Old 06-10-12, 07:42 AM   #7
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I'm back from Japan, and the conclusion is - the H-type does fit through the security scanner. Success! Attached image is of the bikes at the gate on our first flight.

It wasn't entirely smooth sailing. The long story:
  • At SFO - check-in and security: I was pretty nervous, this being the first time I tried flying with the Brompton. Of course we were unable to check in online, our reservation could not be found in the United system, and had to stand in line to talk to United folks in rising order of competence.. I felt a bit cagey, hiding our luggage cart behind us and hoping they wouldn't ask. They didn't, just accepted that we wouldn't be checking any bags. At the entry to the security check I thought we were in trouble - they pulled over my wife and I thought "uh oh!", but it turned out to be because she had 3 items and not because one was a bike. The people at the actual x-ray scanner were very nice, lots of friendly questions about the bike.
  • At SFO - at the gate: based on threads here, I felt we should go straight up to the counter and ask to gate check the bikes so as to avoid the gate folks having to deal with it when they were stressed out during boarding. The first person we dealt with was super nice, checking the bikes through to Narita and giving us priority tags. Then a second person showed up and really grilled me on how I shouldn't have brought the bikes to the gate - should have checked them in and paid a bike fee. He really went off about how bikes are different from wheelchairs and strollers, and claiming it was a "mobility assist device" was an abuse of disability law, bla bla bla.. I told him there was no reason I should pay any fees, because the bikes are smaller than the maximum luggage size (and in fact smaller than the carry on bags many other passengers had!) and weigh less than our allowance. That shut him up, but he called his supervisor. The supervisor showed up, and was initially a bit icy - but after a call to the supervisor's supervisor, he warmed up and everything was ok. No fees, no damage waiver.
  • At Tokyo Narita: Malaysian Air would not accept that we wanted to gate check the bikes, and insisted we check them. But no talk of silly fees, and they even provided bubble wrap and tape for us to package the bikes. Had to sign a damage waiver for "missing or inadequate packing".
  • At LAX:We had to pick up the bikes to go through customs at LAX, and walk them over to the United terminal. Again we just told them we'd gate check the bikes, no problem. Security was a breeze (and I wasn't nervous this time!) - though security guards in LA are apparently not cyclists themselves, like in SF. At the gate we decided our new strategy was to wait until boarding, so the staff wouldn't have time to make problems. However, the flight was going to be full and they asked people with larger bags to come forward and gate check - so we did. No issues about bikes, but they refused to give us priority tags or even fragile stickers this time.

Results/Conclusion: Flying with the Brompton is pretty hassle free. Once we were in Japan it was a pleasure to have our bikes there, and the Bromptons were way less hassle to travel with and bring on the train than our friend who brought a Bike Friday and towed the suitcase as a trailer (though obviously if we were doing self supported touring with camping, or just day rides, then the BF probably would have had the edge). My bike got a couple of scratches through to the metal, but otherwise no damage. I'll get some touch up paint and all will be well..

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bromptons-gate.jpg (92.9 KB, 33 views)
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Old 06-10-12, 01:43 PM   #8
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Results/Conclusion: Flying with the Brompton is pretty hassle free. Once we were in Japan it was a pleasure to have our bikes there, and the Bromptons were way less hassle to travel with and bring on the train than our friend who brought a Bike Friday and towed the suitcase as a trailer (though obviously if we were doing self supported touring with camping, or just day rides, then the BF probably would have had the edge). My bike got a couple of scratches through to the metal, but otherwise no damage. I'll get some touch up paint and all will be well..
I'm glad people are having luck with gate checking, although I wouldn't, personally, describe your experience as "hassle-free": at the gate at SFO, *four* different officials were involved; at Narita the bikes couldn't be gate checked at all; and at the end of the trip, the bike had several deep scratches. There also seemed to be a certain amount of stress associated with each stage of the check in process (although people do have different tolerances for stress, and mine may be low...).

I'm not sure what the logistics of your trip were, but it seems like it would have been easier to have put the bike in a hard case and checked it. (Which does leave the issue of what to do with the case once you arrived; I know it used to be common for hotels to store luggage, but I'm not sure how common that is anymore, and I don't know whether long term lockers at airports/bus stations/ train stations are still available).
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Old 06-10-12, 02:02 PM   #9
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There also seemed to be a certain amount of stress associated with each stage of the check in process
I admit it, I was a bit stressed out at SFO But that was because a) it was the first time I'd flown with a Brompton & tried to gate check, and b) nobody could confirm if the H-type would even fit through the security scanner. But on the remaining two check-in/security processes I wasn't worried about it, since I knew it could be done.

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I'm not sure what the logistics of your trip were, but it seems like it would have been easier to have put the bike in a hard case and checked it.
Yes and no. I had expected that when I gate checked the bike I'd have to claim it at LAX, lug the bike through the airport, and repeat the security process. So when United checked it right through from the gate I was a bit surprised, but it sure was relaxing not to deal with it in LA.

Putting the bike in a case would have given me some peace of mind regarding damage to the bike, but I don't own a case and there was no practical way for me to store a case on this trip. Suppose I could maybe have paid to leave it at Narita.. I'm not to worried about the scratches - I bought the bike as a workhorse, not a museum piece. But if/when I fly again, I'll try to come up with padding for the exposed parts that got scratched this time.
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