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  1. #1
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    Getting your bike from USA to Europe

    We've done lots of touring in the past, including a 2 year ride, but have never had to pay a fee for flying with the bikes internationally.

    It seems that airlines have now put an end to reasonable fees - United lists $200 one-way! My bike isn't even worth the $400 it would take to fly with it. (I thought it used to be $50 one-way.)

    This summer, we rode US50 from Reno to Colorado, and just used FedEx to get the bikes there - about $35 one-way. Unfortunately, using FedEx or UPS overseas is closer to $250.

    Any ideas on reasonable shipping methods for flying from the USA (Denver) to Western Europe (say, Frankfurt)?

    Thanks,

    Steve Casagrande
    http://scasagrande.tripod.com

  2. #2
    Lurker extraordinaire Golf XRay Tango's Avatar
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    Air Canada charges $50 for a bicycle for each flight leg. Air Transat (a small Canadian low-cost airline) charges $30. If you live near the border, it might be feasible to connect through a Canadian hub, although the current exchange rate might make the fares expensive.

  3. #3
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    It would just be cheaper to rent a bike in Europe than to ship it there.

  4. #4
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    Get a Bike Friday. It's a great bike and it packs into a suitcase whose total dimensions are under 62", so it still travels for free on flights between the US & Europe.

  5. #5
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    British arirways are about 30 each way.
    Travelling without inertia

    London's single speed and fixed gear forum

    http://www.londonfgss.com/

    Lets make this happen.

  6. #6
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrick View Post
    British arirways are about 30 each way.
    Stay away from Delta or United. They are screwing cyclists.. There are alternatives.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living









    ^ Since June 16, 2011

  7. #7
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    ^ I read about them something like 300 USD crazy, it pays to research these things, I've never taken a bike across the Atlantic personally though.
    Travelling without inertia

    London's single speed and fixed gear forum

    http://www.londonfgss.com/

    Lets make this happen.

  8. #8
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    Lufthansa charges $200 each way, they have a non-stop from Denver to Frankfurt.

    British Airways allows one checked bag on flights to Europe, your bicycle counts as your second bag and costs 32 pounds. It appears that if you could check your bicycle and carry everything else in a carry-on bag, there wouldn't be a charge.

    I took my bicycle on British Airways for free last May, and I took my bicycle for free on Lufthansa in May 2006. traveling with a bicycle isn't what it used to be.

    If you go with British Airways, be aware that the flight from Denver lands at Heathrow, and most of the onward flights to the continent leave from Gatwick, about 30 miles away. When I flew to Sicily in 2008, I cycled from Heathrow to Gatwick, but it wasn't easy.

  9. #9
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    30 min in a car with no traffic.
    Travelling without inertia

    London's single speed and fixed gear forum

    http://www.londonfgss.com/

    Lets make this happen.

  10. #10
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    Try aer lingus.

    I used them to fly over, and the bike was included in the regular luggage, which at the time was two articles. I think they may of changed their baggage policy since I flew with them, so you might want to research it, but the airline was low cost and our bikes were free. However, our plane was canceled the day we were supposed to fly out, and rescheduled for the next day, then our bike didn't even arrive with the regular luggage. This was a blessing in disguise cause they had to deliver the bike to northern france after that, and we would have never been able to fit them in the car at the airport!
    Last edited by zoltani; 10-27-09 at 09:40 AM. Reason: i didn't sue the airline i used

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Airline Baggage Regulation for Bikes

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

    But be sure to check with the actual airline you choose before booking to see what they currently charge, in case the above list is out of date ... and check again a week or so before you fly to see if the airline has made any further changes.

  12. #12
    Crazyguyonabike
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    I'm wondering if people feel that all this hassle makes S&S couplers more of a good idea these days. Any opinions on that? Does S&S make the airline process any cheaper in the long run?

    Thanks,

    Neil

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    If you have a touring bike, an S&S coupler will allow you to pack a full sized bike in a standard case. This will significantly reduce the airline fee. Its an expensive upgrade but its less expensive than paying those airline transport charges.

  14. #14
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    A drawback to S&S couplers is that you have to find a place to store the case during your tour. Otherwise, S&S couplers are looking better and better as airline bike fees go up.

  15. #15
    Crazyguyonabike
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    If you start and end at the same airport, then it shouldn't be too difficult to find someone local who's willing to store the S&S box or bag in a back room or basement for the duration of the tour. Pay them whatever nominal amount sweetens the deal and that's that.

    If you're ending somewhere different from the start, then I'm guessing it shouldn't be that expensive to FedEx or UPS an empty case (or, even better, a bag - can it be compressed into a smaller box?). Yes, it's a hassle that normally I wouldn't want to be bothered with, but it seems that airline fees are going up so much as they try to cut costs and eliminate non-paying weight and space. This is probably a trend that will only get worse, I think - all the airlines seem to be hurting, particularly in the USA since 9/11.

    If I end up trying to get a Co-Motion Americano, I'm just debating whether to try to go whole hog and get the S&S right from the start... are there any disadvantages, for normal use of the bike? I haven't heard of any, but I'd just like to make sure there aren't any gotchas. About the only thing I can imagine is that you can no longer lock the bike through the main triangle (since it's relatively easy to dismantle that and circumvent the lock). Apart from that, it sounds like it might be useful to be able to take the bike apart a bit, even if it's just for transporting in the back of a car.

    Sorry, not meaning to derail the original point of this thread... but it is somewhat related.

    Thanks,

    Neil

  16. #16
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    FedEx'ing an empty case makes sense, the bag would offer less protection to the bike and wouldn't cost that much less to ship.

    I think a special tool is required to dismantle the S&S couplers, I don't know how many bike thieves would carry such a tool or recognize S&S couplers. I could be wrong, though. At any rate, you can still secure the frame and rear wheel through the rear triangle, and run a separate cable through the front wheel.

    Getting the bike with S&S from the start would certainly save a few steps if you're getting a frame built, as well as being cheaper.

  17. #17
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    Steel can be converted but not aluminum or carbon fiber. Those frames have to built with S&S couplers by a custom bike frame buider.

  18. #18
    nun
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    There's no charge on Virgin Atlantic. I flew from Boston to London recently and just packed my bike into a Tardis soft sided bag and handed it over to the Virgin baggage guy at the airport. simple!!!

  19. #19
    sniffin' glue zoltani's Avatar
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    ^^yeah as long as your final destination is london. I hate transferring through london because they always lose my bag. One time I didn't see my nag again for about 10 days after my flight....that was a real PIA...

  20. #20
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    We took our Trek 2000 tandem from Tampa to London free last year on British Airways. It was packed in 11/2 bike boxes. British Airways used to consider bikes as sporting goods and allowed them to be carried free in addition to normal baggage. I don't know if they have changed their policy.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Artmo View Post
    We took our Trek 2000 tandem from Tampa to London free last year on British Airways. It was packed in 11/2 bike boxes. British Airways used to consider bikes as sporting goods and allowed them to be carried free in addition to normal baggage. I don't know if they have changed their policy.
    They have changed their entire checked baggage policy.

    See post #8, or visit https://www.britishairways.com/trave...k/public/en_us

  22. #22
    imi
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    Quote Originally Posted by markf View Post
    A drawback to S&S couplers is that you have to find a place to store the case during your tour. Otherwise, S&S couplers are looking better and better as airline bike fees go up.
    I've been looking at the S&S couplers and am considering getting these put on my next (custom) frame from the get-go.
    Airline prices for carrying bikes are getting ridiculous (as many have mentioned) and the S&S would quickly pay for itself.

    Previously at the end of tours I've searched for cardboard boxes from lbs's or sport stores... Thrift shops may have second hand suitcases that would do the job (better) than cardboard boxes... just a thought

    edit: second thoughts... are suitcases big enough? ...hmmm probably not

  23. #23
    Senior Member chrisch's Avatar
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    It has gotten more expensive. Swiss Air Lines is now charging CHF220.- (ca. Euro 150) to bring a bike on an intercontinental flight - and that's only in one direction!
    TrackMyTour.com - An iPhone app for Bike Touring! See who's touring now and where.

  24. #24
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoltani View Post
    Try aer lingus.

    I used them to fly over, and the bike was included in the regular luggage, which at the time was two articles. I think they may of changed their baggage policy since I flew with them, so you might want to research it, but the airline was low cost and our bikes were free. However, our plane was canceled the day we were supposed to fly out, and rescheduled for the next day, then our bike didn't even arrive with the regular luggage. This was a blessing in disguise cause they had to deliver the bike to northern france after that, and we would have never been able to fit them in the car at the airport!
    I was lucky with this little problem. By securing my Hollywood rack about my large suitcase and then wrapping the whole thing in plastic, they let me take the rack as one piece.. No charge.After re-assembling my bikes- All I had to do was put the cardboard bike boxes in recycling at the airport. I did have to pay an extra sixty buck for the second bike. That on KLM.. I 'd fear to think what transporting two bikes would cost today on most airlines.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living









    ^ Since June 16, 2011

  25. #25
    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    Just to be specific: S&S couplers added $700 (plus $50 in sales tax) to the cost of my bike. On top of that I still have to buy the case- these range from $400 (soft shell) to $600 (hard shell) and have it shipped here. So, all in, the cost for the S&S option is $1200-1400. YMMV.

    A long ways from a cheap and I'm still scratchin' my head wondering if it was a smart thing or not. Guess if I ever sell the bike (shut your mouth) I should recoup some of this.

    Neil, I have good friends who did the west coast last month on an S&S coupled Co-Motion tanden and had no issues. I just bought an S&S Americano and have never given the S&S a bit of thought- haven't toured loaded on it yet (next week!!), but I think if its done right the S&S is a non issue.
    Last edited by bobframe; 11-01-09 at 06:19 AM.

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