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  1. #1
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    Packing bicycle on plane (non-loop routes)

    Just want to find out what others do with their bicycles when completing a tour that finishes at a different destination that the start?
    We will be flying into to Glasgow, Scotland with our bikes boxed and will be completing our trip in Dublin, Ireland. Obviously we won't have the bike boxes with us so just looking for ideas.

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    There are lots of threads on this, but here goes:

    One pannier comes on board with each person as carry-on. The other stuff (handlebar bag, other panniers, stuff that you would put on the rack) goes into a duffel bag and is checked baggage. Turn the handlebars sideways, take off the pedals, and wheel the bikes up to the check in counter. Get to the airport early so the baggage handlers have plenty of time to load your bike, they get careless when they're in a hurry. When you arrive, either throw the duffel bag away and buy a new one for the trip home, or roll it up and carry it with you. Lots of airports have baggage shops, you can just ride up to the airport, buy the duffel bag and pack up in a quiet corner of the terminal.

    This approach has worked for me with British Airways, Aer Lingus and Lufthansa.

    Double check the airline's website and find out exactly what their rules on bicycles are, and plan your itinerary so that you don't change planes too many times and you have plenty of time between flights. You can get amazingly cheap overnight train fares from London to Glasgow on the Caledonian Sleeper train, a non-stop flight to London and a train to Glasgow might be a better way to go than flying into Glasgow.

    I've cycled to and from Heathrow, Gatwick and Dublin Airports, Glasgow should be doable as well. Cycling into and out of the airport is usually easier than trying to get a bicycle on public transport or a taxi.
    Last edited by markf; 05-23-09 at 05:06 AM.

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    I had to deal with this issue on my last tour - I had planned to use cardboard bike boxes or heavy-duty polythene which could be cheaply acquired and discarded at both ends, but British Airways were completely unsympathetic and inflexible, and insisted that we pack the bikes in 'recognised bicycle bags or boxes'. I offered several speculative definitions, but they threatened to withdraw my permission to fly if I tried to check in with packaging they didn't like, so in the end we just sucked up and bought the cheapest possible bike transit bags. We packed the bikes in those, and all but one of our panniers in cheap, huge, lightweight laundry bags. Once we got to our start point (where we had acclimatization time to kill), we packed the bike bags and some other bits and bobs into one of the laundry bags, and posted it to a hotel at our destination town, where we'd booked a luxury night before our trip home. You should have no trouble in Glasgow (my home town!) or Dublin: they're both big cities with all the facilities you need, including great bike shops which will provide cardboard bike boxes if your airline will accept them. Have a great trip!
    Last edited by Al Downie; 05-23-09 at 01:55 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Downie View Post
    I had to deal with this issue on my last tour - I had planned to use cardboard bike boxes or heavy-duty polythene which could be cheaply acquired and discarded at both ends, but British Airways were completely unsympathetic and inflexible, and insisted that we pack the bikes in 'recognised bicycle bags or boxes'. I offered several speculative definitions, but they threatened to withdraw my permission to fly if I tried to check in with packaging they didn't like, so in the end we just sucked up and bought the cheapest possible bike transit bags. We packed the bikes in those, and all but one of our panniers in cheap, huge, lightweight laundry bags. Once we got to our start point (where we had acclimatization time to kill), we packed the bike bags and some other bits and bobs into one of the laundry bags, and posted it to a hotel at our destination town, where we'd booked a luxury night before our trip home. You should have no trouble in Glasgow (my home town!) or Dublin: facilities they're both big cities with all the facilities you need, including great bike shops which will provide cardboard bike boxes if your airline will accept them. Have a great trip!
    How did they fair with the bags?
    "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."

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    How did they fair with the bags?
    The bags were fine - the only slight hassle was having to empty every single thing out of the panniers (all well-packed in the laundry bags!) at the Indian airport check-in on the return journey. At first they were interested in the unusual-shaped objects on the outsize-baggage x-ray, but after that they just wanted a tour of all the gadgets we had: gps, water-filter, stove etc. No sweat. One of the bikes suffered a bent chainring too, on the outward journey, but that was easily fixed with strong pliers.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Downie View Post
    I had to deal with this issue on my last tour - I had planned to use cardboard bike boxes or heavy-duty polythene which could be cheaply acquired and discarded at both ends, but British Airways were completely unsympathetic and inflexible, and insisted that we pack the bikes in 'recognised bicycle bags or boxes'. I offered several speculative definitions, but they threatened to withdraw my permission to fly if I tried to check in with packaging they didn't like, so in the end we just sucked up and bought the cheapest possible bike transit bags. We packed the bikes in those, and all but one of our panniers in cheap, huge, lightweight laundry bags. Once we got to our start point (where we had acclimatization time to kill), we packed the bike bags and some other bits and bobs into one of the laundry bags, and posted it to a hotel at our destination town, where we'd booked a luxury night before our trip home. You should have no trouble in Glasgow (my home town!) or Dublin: they're both big cities with all the facilities you need, including great bike shops which will provide cardboard bike boxes if your airline will accept them. Have a great trip!
    Interesting that British Airways was so inflexible with you, but so accommodating with me. I guess it all depends on which employee you deal with, doesn't it? I did use the philosophy of "it's easier to beg forgiveness later than to ask permission beforehand", looks like I got lucky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markf View Post
    Interesting that British Airways was so inflexible with you, but so accommodating with me. I guess it all depends on which employee you deal with, doesn't it? I did use the philosophy of "it's easier to beg forgiveness later than to ask permission beforehand", looks like I got lucky.
    I agree - I expect I would have been fine if I'd just turned up with a smile and my fingers crossed, and I should not have bothered asking them for 'clarification'. But once I'd made my mistake, I couldn't take a chance that they'd screw up my tour so I pretty much had to comply. Bummer.

  8. #8
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    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

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    stanmah just a thought ,but you could get in touch with cycleways in dublin ,ask them to box the bikes for you ,then get the bus to airport,it's not that far maybe 30 min.

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    Thanks

    We depart today so thank you for all of your help and replies...
    antokelly, we got in in touch with cycleways and they are going to save a couple of boxes for us.
    See everyone on the other side!

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    great stuff have a great time especaly here in ireland,if you run into troble get in touch if i can help i will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by markf View Post
    There are lots of threads on this, but here goes:

    I've cycled to and from Heathrow, Gatwick and Dublin Airports, Glasgow should be doable as well. Cycling into and out of the airport is usually easier than trying to get a bicycle on public transport or a taxi.
    I would like to comment on the Dublin Airport access. I was surprised that they did not build any public transit access to the airport. They a road, which you can ride to the airport. I took the bus. This is very unreliable. When I took the bus from Heuston Station to the Airport it took me two hours. I was trapped on some sort of weird bus tour as the driver went eveywhere but the airport.

    I would also comment that the bus drivers are insane. They drive periously close to bicycles. Watch out for them.
    Bill

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_doctor View Post
    I would like to comment on the Dublin Airport access. I was surprised that they did not build any public transit access to the airport. They a road, which you can ride to the airport. I took the bus. This is very unreliable. When I took the bus from Heuston Station to the Airport it took me two hours. I was trapped on some sort of weird bus tour as the driver went eveywhere but the airport.

    I would also comment that the bus drivers are insane. They drive periously close to bicycles. Watch out for them.
    Bill
    I cycled from Rathfarnham past Heuston Station and on to the airport in under two hours with touring gear! It's not a bad ride.

    I spent two weeks in Ireland, including around Dublin and around the Iveragh and Beara peninsulas and had no trouble with bus drivers or any other drivers. The double decker buses are a little scary at first, though, kind of like having a good size building chase you down the street.

    It is a little odd that DART doesn't go to the airport, just like BART in the San Francisco Bay Area misses 2 major airports!

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    i was at the airport yesterday ,man it's a crazy place at the moment, building going on everwhere really hard to find your way around.as far as getting out on a bike or in for that matter, there is a shuttle bus, that runs to the long term carparks which is a good route to the city centre.

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    On European budget airlines such as Ryanair and Easyjet they accept bikes in thick polythene bags. I use pipe insulation foam for extra protection. I have cut foam for every tube and marked it for easy assembly.
    Packing takes about 20mins at the airport, with plenty of ductape. Unpacking may take alittle longer depending how good I want the assembly (bars, pedals, saddle, sometimes wheel and fender).
    The packing material can be rolled up and carried on the rear rack. Its not heavy but is a bit bulky. For a short trip is no big deal but for a longer one it may be useful to locate a hardware store for the materials. The polythese is used by builders for protecting concrete and the foam is used by plumbers.

  16. #16
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    I've done this multiple times and have a lightweight nylon duffel that holds panniers within it and that I carry with me (except when I cycled across EurAsia when I just bought one on the other side).

    For the bike itself, in developed countries, I generally show up at the airport and use what boxes I can buy there. In developing and second world countries, I've gone to local shop and had things packed up before I got to the airport.

    I've had bikes dented twice during travels. It seems like if the bike is in a cardboard box, then baggage handlers forget it is a bike and sometimes put it on bottom of a cart and pile all the other luggage on top. Hence, if I could send it in clear plastic bag or by itself - I'd generally fare better because it looks like a bike.

  17. #17
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    on my last trip ,when i collected my skicon bikebox on the other side , Spain. would you belive they actually broke the bike box ,i couldent belive it ,this box is super strong ,obviously the baggage handlers are stronger.i have a fantastic new thorn ,im useing the ferry to get to france in june .takeing no chances.

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