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Old 09-18-12, 09:25 PM   #1
jur
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Flying with my Brompton with zero protection

I just flew to Sydney from Melbourne and took my Brommie with me. I decided to deliberately not bag or pad it in any way to see how it would come out the other end. All I did was wrap a luggage strap around the whole to keep it well together, and tighten the hinge clamp screws to prevent them from falling out.

So here's what happened:

1. Arriving t the checkin desk, I was asked what that was, and I said, "Bicycle." Mistake. I said I wanted a Fragile tag which she attached.
2. She looked at it, hesitantly fetched a big tray to put it on, and noticed it wouldn't fit in the tray.
3. Call supervisor, "There's a customer with a bicycle here..." Supervisor came over, looked at the small package (for a bike) and said, "Sir, we have bike boxes, you don't have to disassemble it like that".
4. Explained it's actually a folding bike, it's not disassembled. Big surprise and friendly interest.
5. Some more looking, some talking over a walkie talkie, then, "Sir it's got to go into a bike box. We sell these for $15."
6. I insist it's no bigger than a standard suitcase, it's only half the weight limit, it's no different from a stroller, it's absurd it must go into a box.
7. Some more humming and staring at it, then, "Sir this sticking out metal bit will damage the aircraft." Points at right pedal.
8. She repeats herself, I repeat myself, several times, each time a bit louder than before. Finally she seems to hear me and decides it can go as-is with the oversize stuff. Even though it is not oversize.
9. At the other end, the bike waited for me at the oversize stuff again, the only item.

Damage? The two hinge screws' thumb levers were bent. Both of them. The wheel rubbed against the mudguard. Otherwise it was fine.
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Old 09-18-12, 09:48 PM   #2
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You, sir, are a brave man. I would never have risked my Brompton naked with the airlines.
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Old 09-18-12, 10:14 PM   #3
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I'm liking it! lucky you got personnel who could ~adjust~ the rules ..
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Old 09-18-12, 11:47 PM   #4
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my brother was able to travel [just 2 months ago] on a domestic flight with a brompton and he put it on the overhead bin just above his seat

no cover no bags no straps just the seat was removed and I think he removed the drive side pedal.

this was on a Southwest Airlines from Los Angeles to Texas im guessing he flew on a Boeing 737 didn't even know the overhead bins where that big to fit a brompton.

he was asked a couple of times prior to boarding and when boarding what it was and politely saying its a mobility assisting device/apparatus

there was no damage at all to the brompton

the brompton is painted ALL BLACK[like most wheelchairs] it does look like a tiny weird looking wheelchair when folded to someone that is not familiar. if he left the brooks leather seat in the bike i think no one would have believed him.

the brompton bicycle folded should just always go where the baby strollers or mobility devices ie folded wheelchairs, walkers go. there is a specific area where these are kept inside the cabin until passengers with babies, old folks, persons with disabilities disembark to claim them. basically should be allowed checked-in as a stroller.

Reality is most airline personnel are unfamiliar with their own rules and the word "bike" "bicycle" triggers them to charge fees. im not sure what kind of trouble you could get into these days for not saying so. An alternative answer to the question to "what is that your carrying Sir ? " answer: " oh these are some bicycle parts for my 6 year old sons bike. "why are you hand carrying it ?" answer: I just want to surprise him when i arrive or something to that effect
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Old 09-19-12, 03:15 AM   #5
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the brompton bicycle folded should just always go where the baby strollers or mobility devices ie folded wheelchairs, walkers go. there is a specific area where these are kept inside the cabin until passengers with babies, old folks, persons with disabilities disembark to claim them. basically should be allowed checked-in as a stroller.
I'm not really sure about the usage of "should" in the above passage. The reason that wheel chairs and strollers are gate checked is not because they inherently belong in the cabin, but because people use them to get to the gate.

Unless you are using your brompton to get to the gate. Now that would cut the "estimate walking times" down to size.

The fact that people can carry bikes onto a plane makes a nonsense of the ridiculous airport rules. That at one departure point people are having irradiating body scans, and at another people are carrying on 3 feet of metal tubing while bound for the same destination is crazy.

(Mezzo is going into the hold tomorrow morning, lightly clad, but not sky-clad)
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Old 09-19-12, 02:12 PM   #6
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You, sir, are a brave man. I would never have risked my Brompton naked with the airlines.
I did cover the most vulnerable tubes with helicopter tape before, just to have a reasonable attempt at avoiding scratches. I went naked because of previously-reported cases that if you have something visible they might handle it with a bit more due care than a generic-looking canvas bag. I got some quite serious frame damage last time when I packed it as well as I could in a bag with lots of padding. Still can't figure out how they managed that. And of course, after using it very often, almost daily for well over a year, it has become much more of a utility item than an objet-d'art. So I am no longer super-fussy about it.

The bent thumb-screws are obvious with hindsight - they do stick out quite far. Still, the bike must have been banged down on those. I am speculating it was stood up on them in the aircraft.
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Old 09-19-12, 05:44 PM   #7
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Anyone recently carried a Brompton on board? I'm about to attempt this in 2 weeks. Any tips are greatly appreciated. I will remove the seat/seatpost. NOT describe it as a bike. Remove pedals. Anything else I should know? Thanks!

Last edited by A.Danger; 09-19-12 at 05:46 PM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 09-19-12, 06:41 PM   #8
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Anyone recently carried a Brompton on board? I'm about to attempt this in 2 weeks. Any tips are greatly appreciated. I will remove the seat/seatpost. NOT describe it as a bike. Remove pedals. Anything else I should know? Thanks!
Are you going to use the cover bag or leave it bare? Let us know how your experience goes.
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Old 09-19-12, 06:58 PM   #9
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Wow, that's crazy that you have your bike check-in as unprotected!

I am flying JetBlue in 3 weeks and will for the first time bring my Brommie. I just called JetBlue and asked if I could gate-check a "folding bike" that folds into 23x23x10 in. She automatically said no because it's a bike and read to me all the rules about bikes as check-ins. Then I told her what if I mention to the check-in counters staff that it is a "mobility device" and she suddenly said "hold on, I will check with my manager" along that line. She came back and said if you bike is collapsible to a carry-on luggage size, then you can gate-check it. Then she said to make sure the security allows it as well. I called TSA at my airport and they said that if your folding bike is allowed by your airline and if it doesn't fit through the scanner, it can go through the human scanner. I will call them again when my flight date gets closer because I don't want to bring my Brommie there and have them charge me an arm and a leg at check-in.
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Old 09-19-12, 10:12 PM   #10
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You can probably call it a scooter as well. That way it's not mistaken as a device actually needed by someone that is incapable of walking (like a wheelchair or stroller).

There are all manner of scooter contraptions out there that fold up.
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Old 09-20-12, 10:43 AM   #11
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You, sir, are a brave man. I would never have risked my Brompton naked with the airlines.
You have a Brompton or that was hypothetical lol?
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Old 09-20-12, 10:45 AM   #12
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The new name for Jur is Dange-Jur!

I'd never let mine go exposing itself through the barbaric lands of luggage handlers except in a hard shell case!
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Old 09-20-12, 10:54 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by jur View Post
I just flew to Sydney from Melbourne and took my Brommie with me. I decided to deliberately not bag or pad it in any way to see how it would come out the other end. All I did was wrap a luggage strap around the whole to keep it well together, and tighten the hinge clamp screws to prevent them from falling out.

So here's what happened:

1. Arriving t the checkin desk, I was asked what that was, and I said, "Bicycle." Mistake. I said I wanted a Fragile tag which she attached.
2. She looked at it, hesitantly fetched a big tray to put it on, and noticed it wouldn't fit in the tray.
3. Call supervisor, "There's a customer with a bicycle here..." Supervisor came over, looked at the small package (for a bike) and said, "Sir, we have bike boxes, you don't have to disassemble it like that".
4. Explained it's actually a folding bike, it's not disassembled. Big surprise and friendly interest.
5. Some more looking, some talking over a walkie talkie, then, "Sir it's got to go into a bike box. We sell these for $15."
6. I insist it's no bigger than a standard suitcase, it's only half the weight limit, it's no different from a stroller, it's absurd it must go into a box.
7. Some more humming and staring at it, then, "Sir this sticking out metal bit will damage the aircraft." Points at right pedal.
8. She repeats herself, I repeat myself, several times, each time a bit louder than before. Finally she seems to hear me and decides it can go as-is with the oversize stuff. Even though it is not oversize.
9. At the other end, the bike waited for me at the oversize stuff again, the only item.

Damage? The two hinge screws' thumb levers were bent. Both of them. The wheel rubbed against the mudguard. Otherwise it was fine.
Jur = man with too much money!?
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Old 09-20-12, 01:10 PM   #14
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You have a Brompton or that was hypothetical lol?
My Brommie M6L sits in the boot of my car, ready to be used at all times...



Here he is with his bunk-mate, a Tikit (since sold).

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Old 09-20-12, 02:39 PM   #15
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Ahhh we have not lost you from the fold after all. So it's not just a Moulton and a Downtube you have left! Never give up the Brommy!
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Old 09-22-12, 09:55 PM   #16
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I've flown with a checked Brommie several times in Europe. Remove hinge bolts/clamps and slide into the standard Brompton slipover cover. Sometimes wrapped some cardboard inside the cover but more often not. Check in as a mobility aid (never use the bicycle word, the check-in drones start following their script) and you are good to go. My earlier Brompton would often have the rear rack bent sideways a little, so push it back into alignment and ride away. Never any other hassles.

A hardcase limits your mobility too much and kills your weight allowance. A Brompton is a tool and I can't get too worked up over scratches, YMMV.
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Old 09-26-12, 07:53 AM   #17
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Taking the Brompton as carry on (incl. gate checked) pretty much eliminates any other carry on bag asides something fairly small. Did you end up checking another bag or just travel quite lightly?
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Old 09-28-12, 04:14 PM   #18
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I flew to and from Japan with my Brompton in May/June of this year - mo packaging at all, gate checked both ways from SFO to Narita, no problem! I did take the hinge locking clamps off though (I was afraid they'd come loose).

I tried to repeat the same trick flying from SFO to Portland in August - no go at all. SFO has tightened restrictions at security - they wouldn't even let me enter the line. They had one of those stands showing maximum carryon size, and the Brompton definitely exceeds it. I pointed out that many people in the line had bags that were way over this size, and that they were only picking on us because our bikes were obviously different. They still wouldn't let us enter, though to be fair I noticed afterwards that they also turned away people with ridiculous rolling luggage

Ended up having to pay $25 per Brompton to check as normal luggage (covered only in slip cover).
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Old 09-28-12, 04:48 PM   #19
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Reading these posts leaves me with a sense of awe and apprehension, all at the same time.

I just bought a near-mint (used) M3L in sage green with tons of Brooks goodies as well as the Shimano dynamo light set. I'm thinking of sending mine cased as checked luggage rather than risk significant damage in transit. Of course, I might way off base here as the brommie will certainly pick up some surface wear through normal use, but I'm more concerned with broken hinges, frame damage, etc.

Don
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Old 09-29-12, 08:58 PM   #20
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Did it. Flew on Alaska Air from Portland, OR to D.C. today without issue. We carried our Bromptons on the plane and stored them in the overhead compartment. Removed seats and pedals, and bubble-wrapped only the most vulnerable bits. TSA gave us no hassle (even made comments like "those bikes sure look fun!"). I was all prepared with the term "mobile assistance device" but the airport folks kept referring to them as bikes, and didn't have any problems with it. They fit fine on the conveyor belt at security. No extra charges.
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Old 09-29-12, 09:35 PM   #21
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Did it. Flew on Alaska Air from Portland, OR to D.C. today without issue. We carried our bikes on the plane and stored them in the overhead compartment............
What is make and model of that bike please?
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Old 09-29-12, 09:45 PM   #22
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Brompton S6R and M6L: one of each.
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Old 09-30-12, 07:24 PM   #23
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I may be stuck w/o a choice of airlines, but at least I'm stuck with AK Air, regularly one of the top 5 airlines in terms of customer service. I could be stuck with Delta, or some other horrible airline.
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Old 10-11-12, 12:02 AM   #24
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No problems with Brommie in overhead bins.
http://primacyclorina.com/2012/02/24...t-by-brompton/
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Old 10-11-12, 04:02 PM   #25
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what is the max weight for those overhead bins ??? I have been in a plane where most of them opened up during lets say a dumm landing attempt trying to avoid a tornado..... besides all that luggage a Stewardess came flying by ( broke both arms in the process) I would hate to see bicycles flying inches over my head ....
just sayin

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