I flew from Miami to Paris in July. Took my new TREK with me. Flew Air France. I boxed the bike with a regular bike box I bought from Continental at FT Lauderdale airport.
Removed front wheel, turned handle bars, took off seat, and padded both chain rings and the derailleur with bubble wrap and put a spacer in the front forks where the wheel axle goes. Arrived with NO damage at all. Agents at Miami were pleasant, informative and interested that I was taking my bike, and the food was fine including FREE champagne and wine with meals, (2 of them)
There is NO charge when traveling to Europe for a bike, it goes as your second piece of baggage, and this goes for almost all the airlines between USA and Europe, I inquired of almost all before I settled for AF. I carried my loaded panniers with me on board as carry ons thought they didn't weigh 30# total including the handle bar bag.
For the return I bought in Paris a fabric bike bag in a GO sporting goods store for 40Euros about 50$ US.Tires are supposed to be deflated for shipping, but its necessary to remove them from a cycle anyway.
When I go back next april for a much longer stay I will not take my bike.....instead buy one in the very numerous and VERy WELL stocked sporting goods stores in either France or Germany, and will prob sell it before I return to the USA. Reason.....a bit of bother for me going from the airport to hotel in Paris and from hotel to airport. Though I am told that flying into Frankfurt eliminates this prob as one can ride from the terminal into Frankfort on a bikepath that starts at the terminal doors
It was my first time with a bike to Europe......had a fantastic time riding, Germany is especially bike friendly bike paths everywhere and many trains accept them for travel without being in bags, though one must really check before traveling as a lot of intercity trains specially the Hi Speed trains dont take bikes. Don't take your bike into Amsterdam, or if u do don't take it out of the hotel, theft is incredibly hi,and A/Dam is a very walkable city, rent a bike if u want to ride around the city or in the country
I found by looking in the sporting goods stores an incredible selection of bikes and equipment, low medium and hi end of all kinds of things.
You might want to consider other than a thin tire type bike, cobble streets, gravel pathways and other probs are prevelant and many Euros opt for a slightly diff kind of bike
Go ride and enjoy