...and boy, are my arms tired...
More seriously - I just returned from spending four weeks in Europe (mostly Germany) with my Brompton. It wasn't specifically a biking vacation, but I ended up riding my bike on most days. Here are a couple of thoughts I had on the packing/transporting experience.
I have the B&W clapton, which I used to pack the Brompton. I removed the twiddly knobs and put them in a bag, and rubber banded foam pipe tape over parts of the bike that looked particularly exposed (like the open hinges), although in a kind of ad hoc way. The bike suffered no damage, not even a scratch, despite having to switch planes in DC (on the way) and Newark (on the way back). The clapton itself suffered a superficial scratch but is perfectly functional.
The clapton itself comes with fairly weak-seeming locks and built in velcro straps to keep it closed; I added my own aftermarket luggage strap, which made me more confident that the case would stay closed.
The biggest issue with packing turned out to be weight. The Clapton weighs 18 lbs. My fully equipped M6R, with dynamo, weighs almost 29 lbs (with my B-67 saddle accounting for some of that). This gives me a comfortable 47 lbs, with leeway for some padding, for which I also used my rain cape and the brompton cover bag.
However, I also needed to bring a lock and some minimal tools, which would take me over the 50lb limit, and I was not sure that TSA would allow me to bring the U-lock or the tools on the plane. So I ended up taking off the seat and carrying it on, while putting the tools and u-lock in the clapton. Official airline weight was 49.5 lbs. (Note: I weighed the thing about ten different times at home).
I also own the brompton B-bag - the somewhat padded soft bag with wheels and metal bottom - which I've used for bus travel. It only weighs 4 lbs, which would make things much easier. I considered tarting it up with coroplast and some braces, but finally decided that I wanted the protection of the clapton. If I had nonstop flights (or time for more extensive modifications), I might have reconsidered.
Although the fact that the bike didn't have a scratch is a pretty good advertisement for the clapton.
3. Other issues
When I was flying back from Berlin, the luggage attendants were acting like they might charge me for the bike (when they asked was in there, I told them), but I basically talked them out of it. However, buried in my luggage, I also had a copy of their actual policy (see paragraph 2):
So it's good to have a printout of the policy with you. (And accessible).United accepts non-motorized bicycles with single or double seats (including tandem) or up to two non-motorized bicycles packed in one case as checked baggage. If the bicycle(s) are packed in a container that is over 50 pounds (23kg) and/or 62 (158 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), a $100 service charge applies each way for travel between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and a $200 service charge applies each way for all other travel. If the bicycle(s) are packed in a container that is less than 50 pounds (23kg) and 62 (158 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), there is no bicycle service charge, but, if applicable, the first or second checked baggage service charge applies.
If the bicycle(s) are packed in a container that is less than 50 pounds (23kg) and 62 (158 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), there is no bicycle service charge, but, if applicable, the first or second checked baggage service charge applies.
And it was great to have my bike there!