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  1. #1
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    Shipping a Bike vs. Carry On an Airplane

    I was planning a trip home for the holidays with the intention of driving down with a friend (bringing my bike with me of course), but things have changed. Luckily, airline tickets are cheap, but I still want to bring my bike. Having never brought a bike to check as luggage (I don't even check luggage), I was wondering if the process is hell to go through and if I would be better off just shipping my bike down ahead of time. I am willing to get to the airport extra early to stand in line and make sure my bike gets on and I get on, and I can deal with transporting my bike there in a box on the subway. But if it's not that costly to ship and I can get the box for free, is it just plain easier to send it ahead of time (and safer?). What say you, Bike Forum readers?

    I will post the rules of Continental, for bike luggage, since that is who I am planning on flying with. Also, I ride a road frame converted into fixed if that helps you deduce the weight (I don't think I would get charged the $100, do you?)

    Bicycles

    Continental Airlines accepts a non-motorized bicycle with single seat or up to two non-motorized bicycles packed in one case as checked baggage. The following are bicycle restrictions:

    If the bike(s) are packed in a container that is over 50 lbs (23kg) and/or 62 (157 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), a $95 service charge applies each way. The service charge is in addition to any excess baggage charges that may apply.
    Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed or
    All loose items must be enclosed in plastic foam or similar protective material or
    Bicycle should be transported in a sealed box. If a box is needed, see the Courtesy Bags section of this site.
    Continental is not liable for damage to bicycles that do not have the handlebars fixed sideways and pedals removed, handlebars and pedals encased in plastic foam or similar material or bicycles not contained in a cardboard containers or hard-sided cases.
    Note: Bicycles will not be accepted during an excess baggage embargo when no excess baggage is allowed.

  2. #2
    Conservative Hippie
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    I honestly don't have any experience in traveling with a bike as checked baggage, but I do plenty of experience flying commercially, both domestic and international. I prefer to ship ahead everything that would go in checked baggage, and particularly anything of value to me. It has been my experience that there is a much better chance of my stuff getting there without getting lost, and getting there in the correct number of pieces, if I ship it ahead. By insuring it with the shipper, it's also much easier to rectify if something doesn't get there, or is broken in transit.

    Flying with just a carry-on also means I don't have to deal with checked baggage on either end of the flight. My stuff is already there when I arrive.

    Remember: "We are not responsible for items not in locked baggage. Please do not lock your bags so that security may more easily inspect them."

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I would ship it ahead and go with the carry on, especially during the winter holiday travel months. Too many things go wrong with flying this time of year. FWIW I very, very seldom check bags anymore.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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  4. #4
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OMNOMNOMNOM View Post
    Also, I ride a road frame converted into fixed if that helps you deduce the weight (I don't think I would get charged the $100, do you?)

    ...
    If the bike(s) are packed in a container that is over 50 lbs (23kg) and/or 62 (157 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), a $95 service charge applies each way. The service charge is in addition to any excess baggage charges that may apply.
    Depends on the size and weight of the boxed bike, not the size of the bike. If it exceeds the listed dimensions, be prepared to pay the full $190 for a R/T.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    UPS Ground; go brown...it isn't that expensive.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  6. #6
    another cat...FAB! stevesurf's Avatar
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    Fedex 2 day was $85; couple that with the Trico Iron Case...

  7. #7
    Dog is my copilot. GGDub's Avatar
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    I've travelled with my bike on a few occasions. I would say based on $95 each way, shipping may be the better option, especially since you're going home and have someone on the other end to get it. When I've flown with mine (on Air Canada) it was $50 each way which makes it better deal than shipping.

    Its not a huge pain to fly with it, but expect a few more hassels like needing a cart, having to go to two baggage lines (normal and oversized, although oversized is always a short line), and having security guards checking it. The key there is not to tape it like crazy until you're sure that security isn't going to want to open it, then tape it up more (assuming you just use a regular bike box and not a travel case).

    I think of all types of baggage, bicycles are the least likely to get misplaced because they are freaking huge and standout to the baggage guys, normal travel bags on the other hand...
    Rubber Side Down

  8. #8
    Senior Member acroy's Avatar
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    I have a bike case and have travelled with it many times. Shipped it a few times too.
    Shipping works great, i've usually shipped it slowboat via my work's account so it's pretty cheap.

    When flying with it, I don't volunteer it'a a bike. Its seems to depend on the person behind the desk whether or not it gets charged! i've flow about 75% without getting charged for it not bad record thus far. It's never gotten lost or misplaced, but has occasionally taken a while to come out the baggae claim, as some airports consider it versize" and have a special (slower) area for it.

    my 2 cents....
    beer-bottle target

  9. #9
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    You guys that have shipped, what did it end up costing you?

  10. #10
    Senior Member ZeroG's Avatar
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    I live in Europe and every year I visit the States on business, where I usually purchase a bicycle and take it back with me. The exchange rate and assortment of bicycles make this worth the effort however my point was that I have had good results with both methods. International airfare (SAS / BA / Luftansa) allows for the checking of a bicycle as one of your two checked items for free, and I have never had any problem or anyone ask me to open the standard cardboard box they originally where shipped in. On a couple of occasions though, the bike I wanted was not in stock and I simply left a UPS International airbill with the bike store and they shipped it for me when it came in. So moral of the story, either way I think works fine but I personally like having it on the plane with me as opposed to waiting for it.

    Good luck and enjoy your trip.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    Some LBS rent fiber bike boxes. Mine will disassemble and pack the bike and reassemble when the box is shipped back. He charges 25$ per week.

  12. #12
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OMNOMNOMNOM View Post
    You guys that have shipped, what did it end up costing you?
    Average cost for me has been in the $50 range. It varies depending on which bike and which carrier. Next stop I hope to have a Brommie or a Bike Friday with it's own hard shell suitcase

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  13. #13
    Campy NR / SR forever cadillacmike68's Avatar
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    I would get a bike box from a bike store (for free) and pack it up well. Unless it's a gas-pipe it shouldn't exceed 50 lbs. as far as dimensions - I see huge golf bags, etc in checked baggage all the time. Shouldn't be a problem. I actually saw some cyclists (I think they were returning from an event) with theit bikes in hard plastic cases and their wheel bags, etc. one time...

    If you want to lock your checked bags, the airports sell TSA locks which the keep baggage handler thieves out while still allowing TSA to "inspect" your luggage if they deem it necessary to preserve our american way of life (which has steadily gone downhill in the last 6 years.....)
    1978 Raleigh Pro - bought new - me
    1987 Shogun 400 - bought new - her

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