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  1. #1
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    How to travel (by plane!) with a bike

    Hi! So clueless nicole is back to ask some more questions that may seem extremely obvious to all you experienced bikers
    What is the best way to travel, by plane, with a bike!?
    I know you can get bike boxes, but I'll be flying into one airport, riding, and then flying out of another. So the bike box will not be able to come along with me, therefore I don't want to spend a bunch of money on one just to ditch in at the airport.
    I talked to one guy at a bike shop who said he can package it all up for us in a cardboard box (like the ones bikes are delivered in to stores) and show us how to do this. Then once we arrive at our final destination, we can find a bikeshop in the city and do the same thing for returning home.
    I trust this guy, but I would like your opinions and any personal experience of good ways to fly with a bike!
    Thanks

  2. #2
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    On a more serious note. Could you ship it to a local bike shop in the town you are going? The do the same thing when you return? When I shipped my bike back last summer from the East Coast I just stopped into the first bike shop I came to and had them box it and ship it for me. Worked pretty well.

    Airlines are charging stupid money these days depending on the carrier to bring your bike.

    This is just one idea and I'm sure others will chime in.
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    thats a good idea! The thing is, we have a pretty exact schedule, so I dont want to risk the bike arriving late to our starting point. But that is a great idea for the way home! We end in NYC, so we won't be using our bikes while touring the city the week that we will be there. To get it off our hands that would probably be the best option!

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    Also... nice picture haha, that could work as well

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    if you have a minor amount of do-it-yourselfness any decent local bike shop can give you a used bike box for free. you'll need to do a few things like take the pedals off, loosen the headset and turn the handlebars sideways, take the front wheel off, ect.....there are guides to doing this if you use the old google.

    i had never done it before and we got 3 bikes to europe and back, plus one intercontinental flight where we bought bike boxes at the airport, no problem.

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    For the last 15 years I've been using my Bike Friday when going by air. If the start and end points on the tour are different then I'll take the trailer/suitcase; otherwise I use panniers for carrying stuff.

    But given the current anti-bike airline policies for regular bikes I second the idea of shipping it - at least for the homeward trip. Contact some bike shops in your destination city (NYC) and see if they're amenable to using one of their boxes for shipping your bike. That way they can be sure to save a box for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
    For the last 15 years I've been using my Bike Friday when going by air. If the start and end points on the tour are different then I'll take the trailer/suitcase; otherwise I use panniers for carrying stuff.

    But given the current anti-bike airline policies for regular bikes I second the idea of shipping it - at least for the homeward trip. Contact some bike shops in your destination city (NYC) and see if they're amenable to using one of their boxes for shipping your bike. That way they can be sure to save a box for you.
    By "anti-bike airline policies" do you mean they charge more? or...
    Also, I am taking ONLY panniers (with minimal clothing/equiptment in it) a sleeping bag, and tent (we'll be able to carry it all on)... couldn't I just count my bike as my one peice of check on, and possibly pay an extra $50 if it is over wieght... or should I expect some insane fee when I arrive on departure day?
    Last edited by nicole999; 06-24-09 at 11:53 AM.

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    I've lost track of exactly where on the East Coast you're riding....

    But next time, consider taking Amtrak. All told, it could be the easiest/cheapest way on the continent for long-distance travel with your bike. $15 for a one-way transport (with passenger ticket), which includes the box -- and the box is so big you just roll your bike in, no major disassembly required, just turn the handlebars and take off the pedals. (Some routes even have roll-on bike racks, no charge for the bike.) With a couple of wrenches, in 20 minutes you can be rolling out of the station.

    I don't think any airline can come close to that, for cost and convenience. Of course, some people just hate the train..... can't help there.

    -- Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    By "anti-bike airline policies" do you mean they charge more? or...
    Also, I am taking ONLY panniers (with minimal clothing/equiptment in it) a sleeping bag, and tent (we'll be able to carry it all on)... couldn't I just count my bike as my one peice of check on, and possibly pay an extra $50 if it is over wieght... or should I expect some insane fee when I arrive on departure day?
    Yes, many airlines have special extra charges for bicycles that are well above reasonable oversize/weight rates. Check with the airline in advance and carry a copy of their rules along in case the person at the counter tries to charge even more.

  11. #11
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee View Post
    I've lost track of exactly where on the East Coast you're riding....

    But next time, consider taking Amtrak. All told, it could be the easiest/cheapest way on the continent for long-distance travel with your bike. $15 for a one-way transport (with passenger ticket), which includes the box -- and the box is so big you just roll your bike in, no major disassembly required, just turn the handlebars and take off the pedals. (Some routes even have roll-on bike racks, no charge for the bike.) With a couple of wrenches, in 20 minutes you can be rolling out of the station.

    I don't think any airline can come close to that, for cost and convenience. Of course, some people just hate the train..... can't help there.

    -- Mark
    This may be true for some routes but not all. I couldn't get my bike on the Train from Maine going West. From Chicago West you can. Getting to Chicago was another story all together. Something about the smaller trains because of the older tunnels or some such. Don't know for sure.

    Rode with a few guys who did as you mention from MN to ND and it cost them like you said $15 for the box and the bike was free. All they had to do was take off the pedals if I remember correct and the whole bike fit inside.

    I'm sure someone has more information about the trains/routes that will allow a bike to come along.

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  12. #12
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    I grappled with this problem on a recent trip to the UK. My solution was to buy a simple bike bag called the Tardis from Groundeffect, cost about $90

    http://www.groundeffect.co.nz/produc...il-TAR-BAG.htm

    You have to take the wheels, pedals etc off the bike, but it only takes 30 mins to do this. The bag is unpadded, but I used my gear to pad the sides of the bag and it worked really well. The great thing about the Tardis is that you can fit it in a taxi which makes it far easier to get to the airport than a cardboard bike box. Once at your destination the Tardis folds down to the size of a phone book and weighs about 2lbs so you can carry it, although it's easier just to post it to your final destination. Here's a bit about flying with the Tardis, I didn't use cardboard padding on the return trip and it worked fine.

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=97931&v=Ck

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Package it in a cardboard box yourself. Don't let the LBS do it or you won't know how it's done. If it is the first time in your life you've ever taken your bicycle apart, you might want to take it to the LBS in question and do the job with them standing over you telling you what to do next.

    If you can, get a Madone box - they're great! Oh, and cardboard boxes, like the Madone, are free ... especially if you do the packaging work yourself.

    Then when it is time to return, you can just breeze into any LBS, ask for a free cardboard box, package your bicycle, and do whatever it is you want to do with it.

    As for fees ... if you're flying with a US airline, expect fees. Some airlines (United) have started telling passengers that items like bicycles may not be allowed on the plane at all, depending on the capacity of the plane, and may be sent on another flight. And some airlines (United Express) are also really restricting carry-on luggage too.

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    yikes... i should probably call. I feel like that is dumb, since I have some insane suitcases that wieght and are about the same size as my bike when its packed down small haha. Would it exceed $100? I hope not... I'm poor !

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    Okay so here is my next question! haha... sorry i'm freaking out while on hold with the airlines to ask them the costs.
    Question 1: I'm flying from Seattle to Wilmington, but have about 3 switches of airplanes/airlines on the way there. Do you know if they send your stuff to your final destination, or do I need to switch it (and pay the extra fee) for each airplane and airline switch I make
    Question 2: What if I sell my bike I'm using now (its not great anyways) and just buy a better bike the day I get to Wilmington. Or would this be a bad idea because I wouldnt be used to the bike.
    Question 3: How much would shipping it cost. So when I send it back to seattle at the end of the trip, how much will I be expecting to pay?
    Last edited by nicole999; 06-24-09 at 06:22 PM.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    Okay so here is my next question! haha... sorry i'm freaking out while on hold with the airlines to ask them the costs.
    Question 1: I'm flying from Seattle to Wilmington, but have about 3 switches of airplanes/airlines on the way there. Do you know if they send your stuff to your final destination, or do I need to switch it (and pay the extra fee) for each airplane and airline switch I make
    Question 2: What if I sell my bike I'm using now (its not great anyways) and just buy a better bike the day I get to Wilmington. Or would this be a bad idea because I wouldnt be used to the bike.
    You can look this information up on the airline's website. It depends on the airline. If you're on hold with your airline, when you get to a person, ask them question 1. The answer we can give you is ... "It depends." ... but they can give you a more detailed answer.

    As for question 2 ... if you had a week or two in Wilmington before you started the event, buying a new bicycle might be an option. How much time do you have?

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    yikes... i should probably call. I feel like that is dumb, since I have some insane suitcases that wieght and are about the same size as my bike when its packed down small haha. Would it exceed $100? I hope not... I'm poor !
    If I had opted to fly from Calgary to Denver, and Denver to LA ... on my way to Australia a couple weeks ago, I would have started with Air Canada, but Air Canada would have handed me over to United in Denver, and I would have been charged $175 for my bicycle.

    Fortunately I had the option of flying Calgary to Vancouver, and Vancouver to LA, so because both flights started in Canada, they remained under Air Canada's fee system, and I only paid $50 for my bicycle.

    So ... anywhere between $50 (although I'm not sure any US airlines charge that little) and $175 is probably a good guess. When you booked your ticket, it should have told you ... or you could look it up.

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    I only have 2 days unfortunatly. But I'll be there early morning and have 2 full days alone until my trip partners arrive (they are flying seperatly because we booked tickets at different times)... anyway, what if I contacted a bike shop before, gave them my information, and they gave me a list of bikes or something that I could look up/ check out in my own city. Or would this be a bad idea because I would have a feel of the bike before I started riding? For me I don't think it would be an issue, but then again I've never done a bike trip, so maybe my bum may be aching after a few days on a bike I'm not used to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    If I had opted to fly from Calgary to Denver, and Denver to LA ... on my way to Australia a couple weeks ago, I would have started with Air Canada, but Air Canada would have handed me over to United in Denver, and I would have been charged $175 for my bicycle.

    Fortunately I had the option of flying Calgary to Vancouver, and Vancouver to LA, so because both flights started in Canada, they remained under Air Canada's fee system, and I only paid $50 for my bicycle.

    So ... anywhere between $50 (although I'm not sure any US airlines charge that little) and $175 is probably a good guess. When you booked your ticket, it should have told you ... or you could look it up.
    I actually haven't book my ticket there yet. I'm going through United for some of according to the ticket I'm looking at buying. YIKES. So I'm thinking I should sell my bike.

    Now for another question (sorry for being annoying guys, its what I do best)... whats the best/fastest way to sell a bike??

    Edit: I just phoned United and they said they don't charge you if you start with another airline. They said they only charge you the initial rate from the first airline. Machka, was this not the case for you? I don't know how much I trust the lady I was talking to hah
    Last edited by nicole999; 06-24-09 at 06:45 PM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    whats the best/fastest way to sell a bike??
    If you're in a city with an active Craigslist bicycle section, and if you're comfortable dealing with strangers, Craigslist.

    I've sold 2 bikes on Seattle CL in the past year, each in a day. I sold a rooftop bike carrier the other day in 30 minutes. All were priced right, well described, with good photos. By "priced right," I mean - fair price to the buyer, fair price to me.

    There are fakes and goofballs trolling Craigslist, but plenty of real buyers and sellers as well.

    If you've got a valuable or unusual bike that's worth exposing to a national audience, try eBay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    I only have 2 days unfortunatly. But I'll be there early morning and have 2 full days alone until my trip partners arrive (they are flying seperatly because we booked tickets at different times)... anyway, what if I contacted a bike shop before, gave them my information, and they gave me a list of bikes or something that I could look up/ check out in my own city.
    I'd consider that to be workable. I'd bring along a seat that I knew was comfortable - hard to know in advance how well a different one will fit. And maybe a pair of pedals if using clip-in cleats so you'll be sure they're compatible with your shoes. With a couple days you should be able to deal with final adjustments to the bike and any rack/pannier issues (like mounting hardware, heel strikes, etc.). Make sure the bike shop is aware of your time constraints so they don't later tell you that they can't get to any adjustments until after a week or two.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    I only have 2 days unfortunatly. But I'll be there early morning and have 2 full days alone until my trip partners arrive (they are flying seperatly because we booked tickets at different times)... anyway, what if I contacted a bike shop before, gave them my information, and they gave me a list of bikes or something that I could look up/ check out in my own city. Or would this be a bad idea because I would have a feel of the bike before I started riding? For me I don't think it would be an issue, but then again I've never done a bike trip, so maybe my bum may be aching after a few days on a bike I'm not used to.
    I wouldn't want to get a new bicycle a day before I set off on a tour. It usually takes me a few rides to get the set up of my bicycle just right, and I've found that quite often about a week after owning a new bicycle, I need to take it back to the shop to have something adjusted.

    But how mechanically inclined are you? If you feel very comfortable pulling over and making adjustments to your saddle and handlebars as a part of the set up process. Then maybe a new bicycle isn't a terrible idea. Can you comfortably and confidently adjust your derailleur? It's usually something like that which needs a bit of adjustment after the first week or so.

    As for airlines ... there are lots of airlines out there. Go to their websites, look up Baggage, look up Sports Equipment, look up Bicycles, and see what they say. They will tell you on the website.

    This isn't necessarily up to date because airlines have been changing their policies every few days it seems, but it does provide you with links to the airline websites and an idea of how much airlines charge.

    http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm

    I think if I were flying in the US, I'd probably opt for one of the smaller airlines like Southwest if possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    Edit: I just phoned United and they said they don't charge you if you start with another airline. They said they only charge you the initial rate from the first airline. Machka, was this not the case for you? I don't know how much I trust the lady I was talking to hah
    That's generally the case for flights within the US. I suspect the problem in Machka's case was that there would be a need to go through customs with all baggage when entering the country. Then the baggage would be rechecked to the final destination and therefore subject to an additional bike charge.

    But it's wise not to be too trusting of the information given by the airline customer service reps. Best to get (and carry) a written statement of the policies. If only phone information is available at least get a specific name and time of the call to cite to the person at the check-in counter if there's a discrepancy.

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    Hm. Well I'm not mechanically inclined, but one of the girls I'm biking with is. We are also taking ACA maps so we have the bike shop info along our routes incase I am extremely uncomfortable and can't fix it myself. I guess I'd have to bring my rack along, as well as all my other stuff but I could just throw that all into a duffle bag that I could ditch once we got there. Oy... I didn't think this was going to be something I was thinking about a month before I take off.

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicole999 View Post
    Hm. Well I'm not mechanically inclined, but one of the girls I'm biking with is. We are also taking ACA maps so we have the bike shop info along our routes incase I am extremely uncomfortable and can't fix it myself. I guess I'd have to bring my rack along, as well as all my other stuff but I could just throw that all into a duffle bag that I could ditch once we got there. Oy... I didn't think this was going to be something I was thinking about a month before I take off.
    You haven't even booked your flight yet, why not check with all possible airlines (on their websites) to see how much a ticket would be, and how much they will charge for a bicycle. You might find one that isn't terribly expensive.

    You see ... you say you're poor, and that your current bicycle isn't that great. And that you'd like to get a new bicycle from a bicycle shop. I have no idea what your current bicycle is, or how old it is, but if you can sell it for $200, for example, a new bicycle in a shop is not likely going to cost you less than $500. So you'll be paying $300 to get that new bicycle. Granted you will have a new bicycle (but a very cheap one), but if paying more than $100 to travel with your current bicycle is a financial stretch ... can you afford $300?

    I'm just throwing these numbers out there as possible examples. While you're looking up airlines, look up bicycles like yours on Craigslist and see what they are going for.

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