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  1. #1
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Air Canada Bicycle Handling

    Hi all --

    I'm tentatively planning a tour from Quebec to Gaspe for July/August and am currently considering transportation to/from Quebec/Gaspe. Air Canada seems to have a nice bicycle policy and fee, and they also seem capable of handling a bicycle even at the smaller Gaspe airport.

    Have any of you flown Air Canada, recently, with your bicycle?

    If yes, how did you package the bicycle?

    Also, what as the condition of your bicycle at flight's end - any damage?

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Yes, I've flown with Air Canada frequently. I package my bicycle in a cardboard box, and so far it has always arrived at my destination in good shape. Any more questions?

  3. #3
    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    My bike also ended up being fine the last time I flew w/ Air Canada but I must say I am pretty thorough when I pack it. I probably have flown about 10 times and my bike has always ended up unharmed. However, the last time I traveled within Canada, I shipped it ahead via Purolater since the cost was going to be about the same. I didn't have to worry about the box being opened, contents removed, and crammed back in. I will be doing the same thing again in June.

    Check out this link: http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/boxingbike.cfm

    The best piece of advice I received from the above is to cut cardboard pieces the same width as the box then roll them up and tape them. Place them in the box wherever you can in order to resist lateral loads in case the box is laid flat and other luggage placed on top. I also usually have cheap pipe insulation laying around and I use it to wrap around tubes wherever metal might meet metal. Taping the bottom for the box helps it stay together in the event it is set down where it's wet. Probably more important in smaller airports. Remove the rear derailleur. I also add another layer of card board, by gluing and taping, where the handles are so they don't tear when the box is being lifted. Placing your panniers inside the box in critical areas also provides a little more puncture protection for your bike. What can I say, I don't like scratches or dents.

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I recommend just getting a Madone cardboard box ... those things are WELL built!!

    I want to get 2 more of them if I can.

  5. #5
    Senior Member HokkaidoRider's Avatar
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    Ive used AC a few times with a bike, using both a cardboard box and a bike bag. The only damage in the bike bag was a bent derailleur hanger. $50 each way, but be prepared to plea your case if you are transferring within your next country onto a domestic airline.

  6. #6
    Macro Geek
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    I have taken my bicycle on Air Canada flights eight times, and have had mixed experiences. The bicycle comes through unscathed six times, but on two occasions, the bicycle sustained minor damage. That is not a particularly high success rate.

    One of the times it was damaged, I was able to see the baggage handler load my bicycle in its box onto the plane from my seat. He threw it overhead!

  7. #7
    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Coroplast is your friend.

    Used this method to UK & back last trip. It survived the slings and barrows of outrageous baggage handlers. Can't comment on Air Canada. I try to avoid them.
    VeloWeb | VeloWebLog

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  8. #8
    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I recommend just getting a Madone cardboard box ... those things are WELL built!!.
    Marinoni are the best I've come across. Built as well as their bikes!
    VeloWeb | VeloWebLog

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  9. #9
    Always planning a tour birvine's Avatar
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    Rando - thanks for the link - I'll be sure to try it next time.

    As for AC, they may not always be the most pleasant, but my bikes have always arrived trouble-free.

    B
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  10. #10
    Recovering mentalist Randochap's Avatar
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    Unpacking the bike in England (with a little help):



    Strange, glowing atomic devices on the inside:

    VeloWeb | VeloWebLog

    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind." ~William Saroyan

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randochap View Post
    Marinoni are the best I've come across. Built as well as their bikes!

    Have you seen the Madone boxes ... their construction is different than the average bicycle box. I'll have to post some pics.

    Here are the pictures of Machak in the bottom part of the box. The top part of the box slides down overtop, providing a double layer of cardboard all around the edges. The box came with the foam pieces, and straps to hold the bicycle in place, and corner pieces.
    .
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    It is my understanding that although airlines develop policy and charge fees for bicycles, the people who actually handle the bike are employees of the airports. I have always had good experiences with the Toronto airport (GTAA) but have had trouble several times in Gatwick, including an attempted theft. In the case of Gatwick they were afraid to disipline errant employees for fear of a 'wildcat' strike, shutting down the facility.

  13. #13
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Thanks all for replies to my query. From various responses it appears Air Canada's bicycle injury probability is somewhere between 0.00 and 0.25 per carry. Likely that is as good as any airline.

    Seems lots of good packing suggestions offered above that are consistent with other recommendations I've seen elsewhere--solid, double cardboard box with various support pillars within. This is doable for the first leg of my journey to Quebec; the problem arises with the return trip from a different airport in Gaspé. The box used to ship my bicycle to Quebec won't be available so I'll have to find or construct another.

    I'll contact folks at the Gaspé airport to learn what options are available there. Any of you experience with flying from the Gaspé airport; anyone know where in Gaspé one might find suitable cardboard to make a box? I'll search various online sources to learn where I may obtain a bicycle box or suitable cardboard. Via Canada sells cardboard bicycle boxes for train trips and maybe I can buy one from them in Gaspé.

  14. #14
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I recommend just getting a Madone cardboard box ... those things are WELL built!!

    I want to get 2 more of them if I can.

    Our local Trek shop charges $30 each for them
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  15. #15
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    I read on this forum once a bloke saying all he's ever done is wheel his unprotected bike up to the baggage check counter and turn the bars sideways and maybe pull the seatpost. He said he's never had damage using this method. I'd imagine that's because it requires people to be more careful. Any throwing of bikes in this state of vulnerability would be pure malice. Anyone tried this method? It appeals to my lazy side.

  16. #16
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    I read on this forum once a bloke saying all he's ever done is wheel his unprotected bike up to the baggage check counter and turn the bars sideways and maybe pull the seatpost. He said he's never had damage using this method. I'd imagine that's because it requires people to be more careful. Any throwing of bikes in this state of vulnerability would be pure malice. Anyone tried this method? It appeals to my lazy side.
    I recall reading that note too although I think he also wrote that he then placed an airline-supplied bag over it. I'm tempted to give the bag a try, especially on the return trip.

  17. #17
    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    I read on this forum once a bloke saying all he's ever done is wheel his unprotected bike up to the baggage check counter and turn the bars sideways and maybe pull the seatpost. He said he's never had damage using this method. I'd imagine that's because it requires people to be more careful. Any throwing of bikes in this state of vulnerability would be pure malice. Anyone tried this method? It appeals to my lazy side.
    A couple of times on the way home I've had to just take my bike apart and wrap it in a cheap tarp and silver tape when finding a cardboard box has been out of the question. No damages... hihi but no guarantees for next time either

  18. #18
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    Good luck with it m8. I figure few boxes short of the hardened plastic $500 jobs can really do much to fend off the efforts of a REALLY abusive thrower.

    I'm thinking of putting a sticker on my bike that says "Guns don't kill people, I kill people". That and it's large size will probably encourage ppl to be careful with it. Either that or send my bike to Gitmo under suspicions of being a terrorist, lol.

  19. #19
    imi
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    geography quiz for airport handlers:

    ... and the capital of poland is?...


    PARIS!!!

  20. #20
    Macro Geek
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    I figure few boxes short of the hardened plastic $500 jobs can really do much to fend off the efforts of a REALLY abusive thrower.
    There is no guarantee that a strong box will deter a baggage handler bent on destruction!

  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnaMossity View Post
    I'm thinking of putting a sticker on my bike that says "Guns don't kill people, I kill people". That and it's large size will probably encourage ppl to be careful with it.
    Ummm ... no.

    The smaller the box the better, and the more polite and kind you are, the better.

  22. #22
    'roid monkey wannabe AnnaMossity's Avatar
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    Acantor: Thanks for reaffirming what I said.

    Machka: Hahahaha, I was FOOLIN' Y'all! Those was JOKES! Lol.

  23. #23
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    I've flown Air Canada with my bike five times. I've always packed it in a bike box. I've never had a problem.

  24. #24
    Member Windrush's Avatar
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    Air Canada Bicycle Handling

    I have flown Air Canada departing Toronto for Europe and return and never had a problem. Picture of package bike attached. I do find that some agents charge the posted fee and others do not even on the same flight. My only problem was on Air Transat from Toronto to England and they did reimburse us for the damages.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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