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Old 05-18-09, 08:45 PM   #1
Danimal89
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bikes on a plane!

Me and a friend of mine are flying out to Cali for vacation for a few weeks this summer and plan on using our bikes for the primary mode of transport while there. Has anyone had any experience with flying with their bikes? Or if it would be just easier to ship them to say an lbs there if they agreed to it.

Any thoughts on this would be great
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Old 05-18-09, 08:48 PM   #2
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No ... none of us have any experience at all with flying with our bicycles. We never go anywhere with them.

Do a search on "flying" or "plane" or look on the second page of this Touring forum ... there are probably hundreds of threads on this topic. I just did a search on each of those words, and came up with 500 threads on each. Granted, not all of them are probably applicable, but a lot of them are.

Last edited by Machka; 05-18-09 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 05-18-09, 09:10 PM   #3
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Oi, I suggested he ask here after he posted in another forum. Try not to beat him up too badly
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Old 05-18-09, 09:21 PM   #4
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Oi, I suggested he ask here after he posted in another forum. Try not to beat him up too badly
We just get a post a week in here asking the same question. The information is here ... it just takes a few seconds to find it.
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Old 05-18-09, 09:53 PM   #5
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Check the website of whichever airline you're flying with. Most airlines charge rather high fees, and it will quite likely be cheaper to box up the bikes and send them FedEx Ground.

And yes, there are quite a few threads on this topic on this forum.
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Old 05-18-09, 10:15 PM   #6
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This is somewhat related... I'll be shipping my bike in the next few weeks, but every time I try to put in the approximate size of my bike box, it always tells me it is too big, until I size it down to 24x24x24 inches. This has happened with UPS, USPS, and FedEx. Apparently DHL does not ship US domestic anymore. Halp?
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Old 05-19-09, 08:57 AM   #7
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flying bikes''''''

As I live in England, for touring abroad I mostly fly my bike. What I usually do is just wrap it up in thick plastic with pedals off handlebars turned in etc...for my panniers I put them all in a green ripstop bag I made...one of the panniers will be taken on board as cabin luggage...not everyone does it this way but I do and have only had one problem with it the times I have flown.
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Old 05-19-09, 06:18 PM   #8
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If you live in the states then ship them ahead if you can. It should be cheaper and for sure will be easier.
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Old 05-19-09, 06:40 PM   #9
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after muling it over and making calls to the airlines, i figured it eaisest to just ship it out ahead of time, less hassle at the layover airport as well. thanks for the solid info tho!
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Old 05-19-09, 06:40 PM   #10
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Enough is enough! I have had it with these monkey fighting bikes on this monday to friday plane!
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Old 05-19-09, 09:44 PM   #11
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I flew once on my bike but the landing was brutal so I'll never do that again.

Seriously, airlines are notoriously rough on stuff. Shipping by UPS can have the same effect, I use to work for UPS in my early college years and I can attest to their rough handling of packages; also with UPS your bike may not arrive when you want it to. So actually the best thing to do is to ship it on the airlines!

The cheapest and adequate box to ship your bike in is a Colorado Cyclist Bike box see: http://www.coloradocyclist.com/product/display/80700/ This method is the cheapest but you will need to secure it better by covering all frame tubes including forks and stays with foam insulation; wrap any loose parts, wrap handlebars and cranks etc with bubble wrap. Make sure you have insurance on it for lost or damage.


If your bike is very expensive and you want the best protection then see: http://www.trisports.com/triall3sporc.html or: http://www.jensonusa.com/store/sub/1...heel+Bags.aspx
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Old 05-20-09, 12:55 PM   #12
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I have flown with my bicycle many times, and it is always, always, always a pain. Twice my bike has been damaged enough to warrant a trip to the nearest bicycle store.

But I would do it again!

I have also tried getting to my destination by train and bus (Both are a little easier than flying, but not much.)

Another alternative is to choose destinations that you can ride to from your front door. I've done it twice, and may do it again this summer.
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Old 05-20-09, 01:15 PM   #13
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I would love to have a good bike box with extra protecting wrapping etc when flying but the problem is what to do with it when I get there!!!?

If anyone flies to my home town and needs to stash their bike box in my attic, then pick it up before flying home, then they're more than welcome to contact me...
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Old 05-20-09, 03:57 PM   #14
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I would love to have a good bike box with extra protecting wrapping etc when flying but the problem is what to do with it when I get there!!!?
You could store it in a airport locker if going back to that airport, send it by UPS to a motel if your know your going to be there and made reservations (clear this with the motel first), if riding back to home send the thing UPS to your house. You might be able to find a UPS store in the town your going to your trip at and have the thing sent there to wait for your arrival, but call the store first to get an ok; they may charge extra to hold it but so what.

By the way, you should buy a box depending on the value of your bike. If you have a bike worth less then about $1000 then use the $40 plastic bike box, otherwise invest in a good case.
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Old 05-20-09, 04:40 PM   #15
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I would love to have a good bike box with extra protecting wrapping etc when flying but the problem is what to do with it when I get there!!!?

If anyone flies to my home town and needs to stash their bike box in my attic, then pick it up before flying home, then they're more than welcome to contact me...

Rowan and I use cardboard boxes. These can be left sitting beside a garbage bin at the airport after you've set your bicycle up.
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Old 05-20-09, 05:00 PM   #16
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Not to alarm anybody with a story based on an apocryphal story...

Several years ago, I happened to be flying on the same flight with members of the Canadian triathlon team, and struck up a conversation with one of them about the perils of flying with bicycles -- something that they did all the time.

She told me that one of her teammates had used a hard shell case, but his bicycle was damaged anyway.

Another teammate removed the pedals, turned the handlebars sideways, and packed the bike in a big plastic bag. It looked fragile, but he had fewer problems than his teammate who used a hard plastic case.
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Old 05-20-09, 05:05 PM   #17
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Not to alarm anybody with a story based on an apocryphal story...

Several years ago, I happened to be flying on the same flight with members of the Canadian triathlon team, and struck up a conversation with one of them about the perils of flying with bicycles -- something that they did all the time.

She told me that one of her teammates had used a hard shell case, but his bicycle was damaged anyway.

Another teammate removed the pedals, turned the handlebars sideways, and packed the bike in a big plastic bag. It looked fragile, but he had fewer problems than his teammate who used a hard plastic case.
I've heard the same story ... it's partly why I go with a cardboard box rather than springing for an expensive case.
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Old 05-20-09, 10:25 PM   #18
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Rowan and I use cardboard boxes. These can be left sitting beside a garbage bin at the airport after you've set your bicycle up.
Yeah Machka, this is what I do... The problem is finding a new cardboard box for the home leg. An LBS near the airport is an obvious but I've lucked out in spain and tel aviv (unhelpful shop once, and unplanned bank holiday the other...)

I've never had a plastic or expensive box and have got away a few times with wrapping the bike in a tarp and silver tape (though I get the feeling airlines may soon start refusing to carry this... they seem to be getting tighter and tighter on everything regarding baggage... gah!)

Airport locker or mailing forward would be expensive/a hassle for a 3 month round tour IMO...
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Old 05-20-09, 10:39 PM   #19
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Yeah Machka, this is what I do... The problem is finding a new cardboard box for the home leg. An LBS near the airport is an obvious but I've lucked out in spain and tel aviv (unhelpful shop once, and unplanned bank holiday the other...)

I've never had a plastic or expensive box and have got away a few times with wrapping the bike in a tarp and silver tape (though I get the feeling airlines may soon start refusing to carry this... they seem to be getting tighter and tighter on everything regarding baggage... gah!)

Airport locker or mailing forward would be expensive/a hassle for a 3 month round tour IMO...
About airport lockers ... back in 2003 I contacted Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle to see if they would have lockers available for rent so I could leave my case there ..... and I was informed that they'd removed all their lockers. At about the same time, I heard that numerous other airports had also removed their lockers. The concern was that a terrorist would leave a bomb or something in the lockers. So ... if you're hoping for lockers to be available, you might want to contact the airport and find out if they even have them anymore.

About bagging the bicycle ... Air Canada says this: "If not packaged in a container, Air Canada will provide a plastic bicycle bag and will accept the item with a signed limited release." ... that's been their policy for years, and I don't think they'll change it any time soon. They have, however, added a comment that if the plane is full they won't take large items (i.e. bicycles), so there's no guarantee they'll accept things like that anymore.

About cardboard boxes ... some airlines will sell you a box. United used to sell bicycle boxes for $15. I don't know if they still do or not, but that would be something to check.
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Old 05-21-09, 08:24 AM   #20
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A plastic bag for protection of a bike thrown around by airport monkeys? YIKES! Might as well just sell the bike before you go home!
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Old 05-22-09, 02:24 PM   #21
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I think the honourable airport baggage workers actually find that a funny shaped thing in tarp or plastic bag is so weird they put it to one side and have fun throwing the rest of the stuff around, thus tiring themselves out... whereupon they gently put your bike gently on top of all the rest...

My bikes wrapped in tarp have all come safely home

... but don't quiz them on the names of the capitals of different countries!!!
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