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  1. #1
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    Checking bike at airport - airline/TSA

    Hello all,

    I flew from Detroit to Paris w/ my bike last yr.

    I went to check-in the bike (in a box) at the airline counter. The lady said I have to
    first get the bike checked out by the TSA personnel before she can give me
    a boarding pass, so I haul the bike there, where
    I am asked "where's your boarding pass" I tell the guy I was told to check w/ him
    first, but he refuses to proceed w/o me having boarding pass, so back to airline
    counter and then once again to TSA (now I can't remember who relented first, but
    I do remember I made several not so enjoyable trip hauling the bike back and forth,
    I was getting frustrated getting very close to the departure time)

    The same story when I came back where this time I connected thru Detroit to LA.
    Neither the airline connecting agent nor TSA wanting to do their part before
    the other group does their part. I think the airline person finally relented and
    gave me a boarding pass.

    Has anyone had this kind of experience? What is the rule in this case?

    I made the trip to France and back safely so it doesn't matter now, but
    still would like to know what the deal is.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Senior Member greenstork's Avatar
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    The moral of this story is to stay far far away from Detroit

  3. #3
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    It's a crap shoot whether the employees involved know the rules, whatever they might be. It does tend to be 'Catch 22.'

    I think the moral is to leave lots of time and expect to jump through some hoops. If you have a good attitude (or at least pretend to) things seem to go a lot smoother. I swear it helps to smile and say "how are you doing today" and that kind of thing.


    have a nice day!
    anna
    ...

  4. #4
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I'd talk to a manager. Part of a manager's job is to take customer's complaints and resolve hassles. A big part of the problem is as said, no one really knows what policy is. It can vary from agent to agent. Seems the biggest problem would be airline agent. Is not the usual procedure to get a boarding pass , then go to TSA? Whether or not you have a bike? Careful with TSA. Don't get fryed with the airlines and TSA , BS. They can test one's nerves. Many TSA agents share the wanna be cop complex and love to flex their wanna be authority. In the end , they can ruin your day.

  5. #5
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    Which airline? I've taken a bicycle to Europe once with British Airways and once with Lufthansa, no problem either time. Before you bought your ticket, you probably should have checked the airline's website and found out exactly what the airline's policies were about baggage in general and bicycles in particular. It wouldn't hurt to print off a copy of the airline's regs and have it with you at the check in counter. As soon as the airline person and the TSA agent started to give you the runaround, you should have politely asked to see a manager.

    My own rules when taking a bike by plane are to only fly with one airline for the complete journey when possible, andto keep the stopovers / plane changes to a minimum. And yes, do leave lots of time at the airport and between flights for this kind of nonsense.

  6. #6
    Zen Master Miles2go's Avatar
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    I go online the night before and print my boarding passes. Problem solved.

    Then all I have to do is deal with checking the luggage. That's where my Bike Friday comes in. No one bats an eye when I hand them a 45lb suitcase with my bike inside it.

    Some airlines probably don't allow online check-in but I'm still good in those cases because my bike doesn't look like apart from all the other Samsonite cases.

    Ticketing has to come first. Checking the bags first isn't efficient from a business standpoint. Get a manager involved and keep your cool.

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  7. #7
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CL39
    Hello all,

    I made the trip to France and back safely so it doesn't matter now, but
    still would like to know what the deal is.

    Thank you.
    I've travelled with bikes on planes many times. I always carry a print-out of the airlines policy on bikes with me. It always trumps what an employee says.

    Once the bike has been accepted, the real problem begins because each airport has their own handlers and every airline flying out of that airport has to use them.

    I flew out of one European airport back home on a direct flight. The bike never arrived. I started screaming right away and phoned security at the originating airport. Then I went on Bike Forums and a member gave me a link to BBC News. Turns out that baggage handlers at that airport regularily stole things. The airlines never complained because if they did the baggage handlers would go on strike and close down the airport.

    I got my bike back several days later. It had the pedals on and air in the tires. I'd turned the bars, took off the pedals and deflated the tires in preparation for the flight.

    The moral of this story: Complain immediately. Complain loud and never stop complaining.

  8. #8
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    I've travelled with bikes on planes many times. I always carry a print-out of the airlines policy on bikes with me. It always trumps what an employee says.

    I flew out of one European airport back home on a direct flight. The bike never arrived. I started screaming right away and phoned security at the originating airport. Then I went on Bike Forums and a member gave me a link to BBC News. Turns out that baggage handlers at that airport regularily stole things. The airlines never complained because if they did the baggage handlers would go on strike and close down the airport.

    I got my bike back several days later. It had the pedals on and air in the tires. I'd turned the bars, took off the pedals and deflated the tires in preparation for the flight.

    The moral of this story: Complain immediately. Complain loud and never stop complaining.
    The time I returned from Paris, the bike never made it to baggage claim in LA. I was given a form to complete by overworked personnel. For the most part, there was no one to talk to. The bike went on to Tahiti, without me. But, two weeks later it was returned. It was an agonizing two weeks. The airline was Thaiti Nuhui. .

  9. #9
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    I didn't have the problem you described this past summer. Maybe the airlines have gotten their act together (until TSA changes the rules again)? I did have to have my bike sent to a special over-sized TSA area, and, I had to accompany it (similar to the charade of going through customs) to the TSA area, but TSA did not want me touching it or in their space.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    I've travelled with bikes on planes many times. I always carry a print-out of the airlines policy on bikes with me. It always trumps what an employee says.

    Once the bike has been accepted, the real problem begins because each airport has their own handlers and every airline flying out of that airport has to use them.

    I flew out of one European airport back home on a direct flight. The bike never arrived. I started screaming right away and phoned security at the originating airport. Then I went on Bike Forums and a member gave me a link to BBC News. Turns out that baggage handlers at that airport regularily stole things. The airlines never complained because if they did the baggage handlers would go on strike and close down the airport.

    I got my bike back several days later. It had the pedals on and air in the tires. I'd turned the bars, took off the pedals and deflated the tires in preparation for the flight.

    The moral of this story: Complain immediately. Complain loud and never stop complaining.

    All airline having the same baggage people may be true in Europe, but in the US the baggage handlers work for the airline.

  11. #11
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Do they have curb side Luggage check in?
    Might check out options of that.

    Yea bike policy in hand
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  12. #12
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheel
    Do they have curb side Luggage check in?
    Might check out options of that.

    Yea bike policy in hand
    Curbside check in will get you nothing but having to pay a tip for being escorted to the check in desk. The only way this may be worth it is if you have far too much stuff to carry on your own or in the unlikely evet you meet someone that knows the procedure.

  13. #13
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    Northwest Airlines at Detroit has curb side luggage check in. It is geat. I've been dropped off right in front of the check in area, swiped the old credit card, printed two luggage tags and left the luggage and walked into the airport. At the Smith terminal (the old terminal) there are porters who take your bag and a tip and put the bag in line with you at the long counter line. I think that is what spinnaker is talking about. BTW, every single time I have taken my bicycle or camping equipment, there is a little note that the TSA folks searched the contents. I even leave a note stating that there are not any containers of grease, oil, camping fuel, or co2 cartridges. I mean, if I was going to try to take a bomb on board, I'd probably use a regular looking suitcase, not a large army duffle bag (camping stuff) or a large bicycle bag.

  14. #14
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    Hi all.
    I found an online service, http://www.checkmein.eu/uk/ which provides online check in by giving the best seats preferred by us. They send boarding pass by email.

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