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Old 11-28-05, 06:29 PM   #1
spinnaker
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Where should I pack my bike?

Considering the heightened security at airports. Where should I pack my bike? At home or at the airport? Are the checked baggage xray machines large enough to accomadate a bicycle? I never really noticed since I never had to transport anything that large.
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Old 11-28-05, 07:48 PM   #2
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They ususallty have a large separate xray machine that you have to go to. I spent ages taking my bike apart and packing it prioperly with foam cutouts etc etc. When I picked it up it the box had been ripped open, the bits all just shoved back without my packing, and loosely taped up with US homeland security or whatever they call it stickers. When I went to complain they gave me a printed page saying basically that they can do whetever they want to luggage and are not liable for any damage.....
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Old 11-28-05, 08:39 PM   #3
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Pack it anywhere you like. I've done it at home, I've had a shop pack it, and I've packed it (several times) right there in the airport.

And here's how the process goes when you get to the airport with your bicycle and luggage:

1) Ensure that your bicycle is safely packed in the box (whether you packed it at home or there at the airport); ensure that you've got only one other piece of checked luggage; ensure that there is nothing they might consider dangerous in your carry on luggage.

2) Place all your pieces of luggage on a trolley for easier transportation around the airport.

3) Walk, with your trolley full of luggage to the airline which you are flying with to check in and get your boarding pass.

4) Your bicycle on the trolley will pose a bit of a problem as you round the corners of the line to get your boarding pass, but if I can do it, you can do it. Just smile a lot and apologize if you bump into anyone or knock things over.

5) When you get to the desk they will ask you if you packed it all yourself and if you left it unattended anywhere. Hopefully you did pack it yourself, and didn't leave it alone somewhere. They will give you a sticker to stick to the box and to attach to your other piece of checked luggage. You should take this moment to fill out address tags which you can tape to the box and so on. They will also give you your boarding pass complete with little tags for claiming your luggage later if necessary. They will point them out to you and tell you about them. Don't lose those! If your luggage doesn't show up at the other end, they are the proof that you had luggage and aren't trying to swindle the airline.

6) What happens next will depend on the airport. You may be directed to take everything to the X-Ray machine which will be within sight. You will have to wait in another line, but as you get closer someone will likely come along and take you (and your bicycle and everything) to another side of the machine to send it through there along with all the other oversized luggage. Or after you finish getting your boarding pass the person you are dealing with may signal someone to come over and that person will escort you (and your bicycle and everything) to another part of the building, where you will wave good-bye to your bicycle as they take it away. Or you will be sent through customs with it (this happens to me when I fly from Canada to the US) where they will ask you 1001 questions about the bicycle and cycling in general, and then you will be escorted by a security guard or someone to where you need to drop it off.

I'll just mention here, that when I fly without my bicycle I am a nameless face in the crowd and I get treated like all the rest of the nameless faces in the crowd. But when I fly with my bicycle all of a sudden I become somehow "special" and I get escorted all over the airport, and put to the front of lines and everything. It's very strange ... but nice!! I'm definitely not complaining!!

Last edited by Machka; 11-28-05 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 11-28-05, 08:45 PM   #4
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Thanks for another great write-up Machka. You are so helpful!

john
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Old 11-28-05, 08:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mtnroads
Thanks for another great write-up Machka. You are so helpful!

john
No problem ... that's all stuff I wish I knew before I took my first flight with my bicycle. I was half panic-stricken. But I've flown a lot with my bicycle now, and while I wouldn't say it is easy, the process can be made easier if you just relax, be polite and accommodating, and have an idea of what to expect.



Oh, one other point I should have made is this: When you are getting your boarding pass, and they are putting the stickers on everything and so on, they will take that opportunity to charge you for the privilege of taking your bicycle on the plane. Be prepared with your credit card.
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Old 11-28-05, 08:58 PM   #6
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Thanks Machka.

I would probably extend what I do with luggage to my bike. I place identification inside the luggage as well as outside. Just in case outside id becomes lost or damaged in some way. The inside ID should be right on top of all of your clothes. In the case of a bicycle, I would attach it to the bike itself.

Outside ID should be well covered. It should be obvious that it is ID but the ID should not easily be read without having hands on the luggage. Luggage tags should have covers. In the case of a bike box, a piece of paper with "Remove for Personal Identification" could cover the ID. The reason for this is that burglars hang out at airports looking for pigeons. If they see a local ID then they know this person is going to be away from their home for at least a couple of days and their homes are free for the picking.
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