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  1. #1
    Senior Member HokkaidoRider's Avatar
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    HUGE ISSUE! Airlines reduce Economy Baggage to 44lbs TOTAL

    Hey everyone! Im flying out tomorrow and have just found out that Im going to be charged massively for bringing my bike with me. Im going from Japan, to Thailand, transfer there to Nepal. From Nepal we'll be riding back to Tibet. Sounds like a great trip, but honestly I've had nothing but an uphill battle the whole way. It will pay off, I believe it. But in the meantime, if anyone has any information about baggage allowance throw it on here ASAP please! Im using Korean Airlines and Thai Airlines. On the net Ive heard that Thai was very 'bike friendly'. I saw on Korean Airs website that as of OCT.1st they changed their economy checked baggage to allow only 20kg (44lbs) for the TOTAL of both pieces of checked luggage. I put my bike in a cardboard box, already it was at 22kgs (with helmet, bike shoes in too).

    In my main piece of luggage, all I am packing is 4 shirts (will be biking for 22 days), 2 shorts, raingear, some tools, sleeping bag and thermarest, and a camelbak bladder. I dont think Im being excessive at all am I? I just want to GET there, with what I need thats it. When I weighed that bag, it tipped 17kgs. Already Im basically at 40kgs, and was told for every kg OVER the allowance it will be a 1200 yen ($11) surcharge. Thats a pretty heft sum... In addition, my L+W+H dimensions of the bike box are 224cm, the website states 158cm is maximum. Looks like Im in for a hefty fight tomorrow....

    As a bonus, Thai Airways just emailed me back also stating that 20kg for BOTH pieces of luggage is the new standard and I will be charged more after. RIght after that, I get a call saying the ShuttleVan that was to take me to the airport isnt available, so I get to drag my box / luggage the 1km to the train station then climb all the stairs. Awesome!

    Someone keep me motivated here, Im hitting a new low.....

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Is this for all international flights, or just inter-Asia flights? Twenty kilos in nothing.....

  3. #3
    Senior Member HokkaidoRider's Avatar
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    Perhaps only for inter-Asia flights.. I talked to Korean Air in L.A. also, and he thinks that N.America to/from Japan is no problem...

    Either way, I'm hooped.

  4. #4
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    This is nothing new. Air New Zealand charge $AU10/kg once you go over 20kg, at least they did between Brisbane and Christchurch. I was at 27kg on the flight out and 29kg on the flight back. I was lucky that I found an attendant who was happy to waive the $70 charge flying out, but no such luck flying back. If you can get reasonably close with the weight, you might get away with it, but I'm not going to try to guarantee anything.

    Something else you might think about is going through your luggage and seeing just how much you can get away with in the carry-on/cabin bag you're allowed (I'm assuming you're allowed one of these). It might save you a kg or two in check-in luggage. As far as your other problems with bike boxes and whatever else go, I'd call the airline to see if you can get a bike box at the airport and just ride there, arrive a little earlier, and pack your bike at the airport. That might save you having to lug the box for a kilometre or pay a train fare.

    Ask yourself if there's anything heavy in your luggage that would be reasonably cheap to just buy at the destination. There might be a kg or three (and possibly a few dollars) to be saved there.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  5. #5
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Had major headaches getting my bike back from germany last year. I ended up posting it DHL to avoid about 200euro excess baggage.
    Singapore airlines claim to have a bike friendly policy which goes something like this:
    A bicycle can be accepted within the free baggage allowance, but if exceeding, the
    following charges will apply:
    For a maximum of 15kg , 6kg will be charged.
    Please take note , that the bicycle must be packed in a hard-shelled box.

    So in effect you get 9 free kg.

    Some airlines offer 10kg free for sports equipment, usually golf clubs or dive gear.
    I am counting on this to get me home from fiji next month. I am also taking it in this
    http://www.groundeffect.co.nz/produc...R&category=BAG
    Its half the weight of a bike box and a lot less hassle for the nice lady behind the counter who decides if she is going to charge me excess baggage or not.
    Read the fine print for your airline.
    Also check out what you take for free. Things like cameras, a coat, binoculars some reading material etc are exempt from luggage charges as they are "personal items". From AirNewZealand:
    In addition to your allowance, you may also carry on board personal items such as an overcoat, handbag, walking stick, camera or slimline laptop.

    Now I digress...
    I had bought the Bianchi Volpe in the states and took it back to germany. Flights from the US last year had 60kg limits and no worries with a bike box. I had to fly home to New Zealand a month later and had the 20kg limit to deal with. I had been working in germany for 3 months so had 30kg of non bike stuff too.
    Posting it DHL involved quite a bit of work. You can post a bike box most places but not to NZ. Its too big. You need to read the german fine print to figure this out. Aussie is OK. The nice lady at the post office(who had been so helpful with postcards etc) just says nien. If you remove the wheels, cut the box into a shorter wider triangular box it will be under the size limits but the nice man at the post office will tell you you cannot post a triangular box. Oops. Make another triangular box and stick it to the side of the one containing the bike to make a big rectangle. The perfect size. After weighing I had to find some thinner cardboard because it was all about a kg over weight. Ended up the max size and weight for DHL, 100 euro to post it as far as anyone can post anything. Arrived a week later. ANd I put it down as a business expense

  6. #6
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    Wow 44 pounds what a blast from the past. That was the level in force back in the good old days when they claimed you couldn't take more than that because of flight weight requirements. Eventually that became a false claim when airliners became more powerful, but maybe with all the seats they jam on these days, and the state the industry is in, they are going to bring back some of these service jems from the past.

    Ah well, good luck with your trip. It just seems as though the flight issue are a bigger hurdle than the Himalayas.

    I just wonder how they can change these rules between when you booked and are departing. It's one thing if you are buying a ticket now, but this is a major problem for a bike tourist.

  7. #7
    Senior Member HokkaidoRider's Avatar
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    Guys/Gals,
    The comments and experiences are much appreciated. I'm definitely going to pare down even more, and stuff all heavy things into my carry on that is allowed. Screw it, Im going to damn well make it to Tibet, dragging my bike box down Japans sidewalks, lugging it up stairs, paying out my *** to fly it there.... in the end its all just money and things, and the experience at the end justifies the means.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I Have mixed feelings about this. Reason, yes- I am offended about surcharges on reasonable amounts of luggage. Bikes, should be included as regular weight, should other items not put you over the allowed limit. One of the reason, I often fly foreign airlines. On non US airlines, it is common to see bicycles counted as routine luggage. Seems foreign nationals value cycling more than Americans?
    But, the other side, an engineer friend told me about 5 plane crashes have been caused by passengers stuffing so much stuff within their hand luggage. Google searches did confirm much of this. Is stuffing your bags of stuff worth risking a crash.
    Not that I think this is the primary motivation in airlines reducing allowed weight. But, as passengers do we know sneaking excess weight on board might not be in your interests. Unless, you have suicidal tendenacies.
    Of course, maybe some of the explanation as to these crashes, the obesity of too many Americans. Maybe passengers need be weighted in. Obese people need pay their fair share.

  9. #9
    Senior Member HokkaidoRider's Avatar
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    You're right, the screening process to decide who is obese because of their own "fault" or not would be brought into question for sure. I actually usually dont even bring a carry on, sometimes just a plastic bag with some snacks I bought and a book. I didn't know at all about heavy carry on causing crashes.....scary. Definitely though, obesity has at least partly caused the flights to lower their limits, as well as high oil prices... let's just blame G.W., that's easiest!

  10. #10
    Senior Member jcbryan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    I just wonder how they can change these rules between when you booked and are departing. It's one thing if you are buying a ticket now, but this is a major problem for a bike tourist.
    I'd ring up Korean AIr and tell them they quoted on the day you bought your ticket that you could take your bike and other stuff at the said rate of the day!
    You might also mention your a double goldish platnium member of a competitor airline and was wanting to use them (Korean) because of the great service your travel friends had mentioned. The mention of "I thought you guys wanted to be MY airline of choice?" usually gets their attention. Your travel arranger can also make a forceful inquiry into the change after you'd booked. Might even get your credit card to ring them up.
    I've also tried calling several times to the booking agents until I find one that is willing to say yes?

    From a never say die traveler, don't just give in.

    Best, john

  11. #11
    Senior Member HokkaidoRider's Avatar
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    I will fight for sure, as I for once feel confident that I am not bringing more than what I need to get by on this trip. I actually started searching for flights to Nepal 6 months ago, and finally got my price ONE week ago (my travel agent said Korean is the last to release prices), so it's been stressful. Ill use your advice too, of threatening lost business. Hopefully in a few days when I touch down I'll drop you an update, thanks.

  12. #12
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HokkaidoRider
    You're right, the screening process to decide who is obese because of their own "fault" or not would be brought into question for sure. I actually usually dont even bring a carry on, sometimes just a plastic bag with some snacks I bought and a book. I didn't know at all about heavy carry on causing crashes.....scary. Definitely though, obesity has at least partly caused the flights to lower their limits, as well as high oil prices... let's just blame G.W., that's easiest!
    I just recalled one flight were on in south america. Did not think anything about it at the time. BUt, the take off was delayed. They asked passengers to be re-assigned seats from the orignial assignments. Not sure what that was about? I suspect something related to my post? It was a medium sized aircraft. When i board, I have to have my carry ons. Such as my laptop, cd's, reading material. Doubt it is more than 10 lbs.One flight we were so fleeced by United Airlines for excess weight. My solution is to send regular mail( the national post office, is my choice due to reasonable charges.) for much of my luggage. Just remember insuring it is vital.

  13. #13
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Where have I been? I fly to Europe every year and I never recall it being more with my airline. I've never paid any overage fees as bikes travel free. I checked the luggage grid and discovered to some destinations like Haiti you can have 50 kilos!

    Maybe we should considere Portugal...

  14. #14
    Senior Member thomson's Avatar
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    If the weight limit is for safety or fuel usage reasons, perhaps they should charge by the kilogram for passenger+baggage. Currently a 140 kg passenger with 20 kg of baggage pays less than a 70 kg passenger with 30 kg baggage. Or is this not politically correct?

  15. #15
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    HUGE PANIC! THE SKY IS FALLING! Err....

    First of all, why exactly are you panicking? Take a few pounds of crap out of your bike box, put it into your other checked baggage, take out anything you can buy over there (e.g. normal clothes, toiletries, etc) and take the biggest carry-on bag you can afford. Worst case scenario you're out $50-100. You'll live.

    Some of us have known for awhile that "officially" the airlines are now charging you when you transport a standard bicycle. Most US airlines have a baggage allowance of 60 linear inches and 50 lbs, and will charge $80 or more, each way, for taking a bike. These charges have been in place for at least 18 months (probably longer), although in practice some people can transport their bikes without getting charged.

    Next time, check the baggage allowances BEFORE you purchase the ticket. And don't forget to eat lots of mangosteens while you're there.

  16. #16
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    Call me crazy but I am having a hard time grasping how your bike+shoes+helmet+box are weighing in at 48pounds.

    Being generous lets say your bike is 35 pounds, pretty heavy bike. That would put the helmet+shoes+box at 13 pounds? Seems high. What else is in that box. Panniers? If so take the panniers out and fill them. Use them as checked luggage if possible. There has got to be a way to get your weight to fit.

    -D

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    I gather his pottential loss is some multiple of 50-100 since he has connecting and return flights. Seems the demographic on this board includes a lot of folks who have to save pretty hard to take off on these trips and cash can be short. Anyway, I do think cyclists should push back on this stuff, it really harms touring if there are huge penalties on bikes even if they are fair by some measure like nobody else gets a similar break. Airlines are huge poluters and could do their bit to spread a little ecological travel.

    There probably is some average weight envelope they are basing these calculations on. With a bunch of cycle gear, I'm not going to make it no way no how, but if it was say 220/passenger and you were 140 pounds, plus gear, should you really pay huge overweight penalties for your bike. Hard to say.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas
    Is this for all international flights, or just inter-Asia flights? Twenty kilos in nothing.....
    I thought 20kg was about the limit for ryanair, maybe other Euro discount carriers too. Yeah it's not a lot, for sure.

  19. #19
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Derath: I can definitely see it. My 24 lb folding bike, packed into a hard-shell suitcase with helmet, rack, lock and other accesories hit 45 lbs.

    Peterpan1: Doing all that flying is not cheap, and the dude should've checked on the luggage allowances months ago -- as in, before he bought his ticket. Plus, as a hard-working dude (well, sorta ) who cannot afford to take the time out that a cycling trip from Nepal to Thailand requires.... well, this guy qualifies for honest and helpful advice, but not fiscally-based sympathy.

    Personally I prefer to go for a travel / folding bike over tilting at windmills. I would've suggested the OP get a folding bike -- but sadly, 24 hours is not quite enough time to make that a realistic suggestion.

  20. #20
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by znomit
    I am counting on this to get me home from fiji next month. I am also taking it in this
    http://www.groundeffect.co.nz/produc...R&category=BAG
    Its half the weight of a bike box and a lot less hassle for the nice lady behind the counter who decides if she is going to charge me excess baggage or not.
    i use one of these bike bags too ... they are really good, plus you can pack in lots and fool the 'check-in chicks' by saying that it is wheelchair, promotional display material, etc ...
    i find a pleasant attitude and a nice smile will always win ... if you go there worked up for a fight and have a beligerent attitude from the word go, they will dig in and enforce every policy going just to p*ss you off, because they can ...

    after our plane was grounded due to a instrument fault, we had to check in again and get alternative flights ... the toffee nosed tart in front of us was voicing her opinion to all and sundry in very loud tones and thumping the desk and threatening the check in dude with calling their manager etc ... she got flights all over the place, where as myself and the guy behind me [with a bike] smiled at the guy and just talked to him normally and we got to our destination at least 6 hours ahead of this toffee nosed tart, plus we got vouchers for free coffee etc ...

    i try to pack as much as i can into my panniers and use them as carry on luggage, as well as a small foldable daypack ... i put both front panniers into a rear pannier, and then clothes etc into the other rear pannier ... i try and get someone i know to hold onot them when i check in, so all you are checking in is your bike, and they are more likely to let a few kg slide if that is all you have ... the girls at the gates don't really worry too much of they see you with the panniers, but try not to make it too obvious that you have them ... and try to get on within the the first third of the passengers, or you wont have much room to stow them in the overhead lockers ... not too sure how this goes with the new carry on luggage regs following the renewed terrorist threats ...
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  21. #21
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    In his case he may have verified the policy on bikes, it was just the company that waits till the last minute to release the prices. Of course if that last minute was after Oct 1 he is kinda screwed.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Derath: I can definitely see it. My 24 lb folding bike, packed into a hard-shell suitcase with helmet, rack, lock and other accesories hit 45 lbs.

    Peterpan1: Doing all that flying is not cheap, and the dude should've checked on the luggage allowances months ago -- as in, before he bought his ticket. Plus, as a hard-working dude (well, sorta ) who cannot afford to take the time out that a cycling trip from Nepal to Thailand requires.... well, this guy qualifies for honest and helpful advice, but not fiscally-based sympathy.

    Personally I prefer to go for a travel / folding bike over tilting at windmills. I would've suggested the OP get a folding bike -- but sadly, 24 hours is not quite enough time to make that a realistic suggestion.
    Jealousy is a curse, and you have it. So what if the guy has built his life around being able to take holidays for such a trip. Maybe it's his once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Not everyone in the world has to live by the US way of corporate life.

    And, I suppose you have a recommendation for a durable folding bike that will survive the Karakorum Highway or somesuch, fully loaded with the gear he is taking, etc, etc? I'd rather a well-built trekking bicycle than tilting at foldable windmills, thank you.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by derath
    Call me crazy but I am having a hard time grasping how your bike+shoes+helmet+box are weighing in at 48pounds.

    Being generous lets say your bike is 35 pounds, pretty heavy bike. That would put the helmet+shoes+box at 13 pounds? Seems high. What else is in that box. Panniers? If so take the panniers out and fill them. Use them as checked luggage if possible. There has got to be a way to get your weight to fit.

    -D
    We're talking a bike for a long trek, probably equipped with front and rear racks and made of steel. My own bike comes in around 12kg, and bike boxes actually weigh around 3kg. It doesn't leave much room for leeway if there is a 20kg limit. Carry-on obviously is becoming more problematic, so I restrict that to only clothing these days.

    It pays to get a kitchen scale and bathroom scales and weigh everything you intend to take so you can sort and re-sort to cull what you won't need. Put all the weights on a spreadsheet. You will be surprised just how much items such as clothes, panniers and camping equipment do weigh.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  24. #24
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Hoogie: I took two medium-sized panniers as carry-ons to Europe recently, no problems.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    Jealousy is a curse, and you have it.
    Congratulations on missing several emoticons, which are the obvious tip-off to those reading on the Internets that my comments in that regard were not serious.

    I could drop everything right now and tour the world twice, if that's what I wanted to do with my hard-earned savings. I have no problems with this guy going wherever he wants. What I do have a problem with is him blaming the airlines for his own lack of preparation, and declaring that the luggage requirements -- which many tourers have known about for years -- is a "HUGE" new problem.

    If you're going to take a trip like this, you need to be mentally and financially very well prepared for these kinds of contingencies, and find out about things like baggage requirements as far in advance as possible. Airlines typically notify their employees and customer service reps about these types of changes months in advance. The guy literally did not buy his ticket until a week ago! The OP was not properly prepared, and unfortunately he's getting slammed for it.

    Maybe next time he'll know better. But not if he's going to blame someone else for his problems.


    So what if the guy has built his life around being able to take holidays for such a trip. Maybe it's his once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Not everyone in the world has to live by the US way of corporate life.
    For all we know, the guy could've spent the last 10 years as an investment banker, and will run a hedge fund on his return.

    If it's a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, then he definitely ought to have investigated baggage requirements much earlier than "one day before the trip."


    And, I suppose you have a recommendation for a durable folding bike that will survive the Karakorum Highway or somesuch, fully loaded with the gear he is taking, etc, etc? I'd rather a well-built trekking bicycle than tilting at foldable windmills, thank you.
    ....? There are numerous durable high-quality highly customizable folding / packable bikes that will pack into a suitcase for airline travel, first and foremost being a Bike Friday. BF's are rugged, packable, and fully configurable to your specs and riding style. I have total faith in my Swift bike to take me anywhere in the world that's got a paved road, and more than a few unpaved ones as well.

    The two categories are far from mutually exclusive; there is absolutely no reason why a folding / packable bike cannot also be a "well-built trekking bicycle."

  25. #25
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
    Hoogie: I took two medium-sized panniers as carry-ons to Europe recently, no problems.
    ok, that is heartening to hear indeed ... we saw pictures on the news of folks having to empty all their handbags and stuff and just got to carry on the barest of necessities in clear plastic bags [meds, passports, wallets and b*gger all else] ... i guess you just need to pack smart in that regard, like only clothes and non-threatening material???

    i got challenged on the return trip from melbourne a couple of years ago ... the check-in chick made me put my panniers onto the scales and they came in at 9kg [limit was 5kg] and she said that i couldn't carry them on unless i took some weight out of them, but then she said that they could travel in the hold for nix, so i went with that ... considering she let slide the fact that my bike bag was 7kg over the 20kg limit too, i think i came out on top of that one ...
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

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