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Taking folders on planes?

Old 02-21-10, 02:43 PM
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BluePlate55
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Taking folders on planes?

(Sorry if this has been addressed elsewhere; my search wasn't bringing up much.)

I've got a trip coming up in the next few days, and I'd like to bring my bike with me, if possible. Does anyone out there have any advice for bringing folding bikes on planes?

I'm guessing that they have to be checked--they're small, but not *that* small (mine, at least, isn't small enough, I'm sure).

I've never put a bike, folding or otherwise, on a plane before. Are they careful with them? I recently got a small, hard-shell suitcase back with a wheel ripped off... that doesn't exactly inspire confidence in how my bike would be treated.

I have a bike bag, which would surely help with scuffs, but it's not a protective case or anything, so the bike could still get banged up pretty badly unless they were watching out for it.

What do you think? Worth the risk? Advice much appreciated!
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Old 02-21-10, 03:01 PM
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bdi121
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I re-use my cardboard bike box and have no problem . I'm thinking about using my soft bag the next time and pad the sensitive parts.
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Old 02-21-10, 04:29 PM
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What kind of bike to do you have? I've packed mine (with some dissassembly) in a standard hardshell suitcase on a couple of trips, and it worked just fine. Not recommended for all bikes, though.
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Old 02-21-10, 06:03 PM
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I have the Citizen Bike Barcelona. I'm sure I'd at the least have to take off the basket, but I hadn't thought of just getting a big hard-shell suitcase... Our Goodwill always seems to have lots of used ones, and I could just stuff towels in to pad it!

Thanks for the ideas!
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Old 02-21-10, 09:22 PM
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You'll need a big suitcase: at least a 31", and it's possible the Citizen won't be made to fit in it. Even so, your primary problem here will be weight. The Barcelona is a heavy bike: it weighs 30 pounds. A lot of oversized luggage, particularly stuff from Goodwill for example, will weigh a good 20 pounds or more. This could put you over your weight limit depending on where you're coming (or returning).

Padding's not a problem: this bike is made out of metal. As long as the fragile elements are protected, you'll be fine.
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Old 02-21-10, 10:10 PM
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I'm wondering the same thing for a Japan trip in late spring. I've been able to get my 20" Downtube folder into the smaller recommended Samsonite plastic suitcase. Wondering if there will be much hassle at the airport with security & all. If they have to inspect it'll be a pain to put everything back so it closes.

I bought the folding bike for this purpose, but haven't use it like this yet because of checked baggage fees for domestic flights, but it looks like going to Asia allows 2 checked bags for free. The only other downsides I see are an extra piece of luggage & less room for souvenirs.
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Old 02-22-10, 12:26 AM
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Yeah, checked-luggage charges are unpleasant enough without having to pay an additional fee for over-weight luggage. We usually fly Southwest, which doesn't charge for the first two checked bags, so that's nice bonus.

I'll report back if I ever manage to find a suitcase to fit it.
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Old 02-22-10, 01:07 AM
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They won't treat them particularly nicely, and you should assume TSA will open your suitcase for inspection.

Put as much padding in as you can and have padded containers for small parts and/or tools. Use an easily removable strap around the case to help hold it together (if it's not easily removable, TSA will cut it off).

I put a sign inside my case that says "This is a folding bicycle. It only fits in the case one way. Please do not remove it if you do not know how to repack it." I also include my contact information. Some people put in a copy of detailed packing instructions with pictures.

Good luck!
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Old 02-22-10, 02:23 AM
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I've also noticed that on some carriers, the charge for transporting a bike is less than the excess baggage charge. On one trip, I booked the bike (packed away in suitcase) as bike on one leg of the trip, and as regular baggage on another.

Fine print can be your friend...
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Old 02-22-10, 08:46 AM
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If you're doing an actual tour (e.g. riding your bike for two weeks straight with your luggage on it), using a good folding bike is probably worth it. But that requires more than a few days to really put it together.

If all you plan to do is ride a little bit, I recommend you rent a bike at your destination instead. Keep in mind your bike will be at least 30 rather bulky pounds that you have to get to the airport, and from the airport to the hotel, and back again....
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Old 02-24-10, 08:35 AM
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I have travelled with Strida's, and being a tightwad I try and avoid paying any extra. The key thing is to read the airlines luggage info, (and print it - as often check-in clerks are not as up to date as the airline's own policies. Strida's are easy as they are pretty 'bomb proof' (maybe that's a bad analogy), and their bags looks like golf bags. This gives the option of choosing to describe it as either 'sporting equipment' implying golf or 'bicycle' , depending on airline's policies. Apparently a strida fits well into golf travel bags - which have little wheels so you still get the roll when folded function.
It is debatable whether sports good's in soft bags get treated any better than for example hard cases. I think handlers are finally getting that bags are part of potential repeat airline custom, so treat better than they used to .. I've certainly had no damage. I have also packed a brompton into a slightly oversize (66") suitcase, delsey 4x4 with just removing the saddle. This means there are NO restrictions if the suitcase is accepted. I was worried that the concentrated mass of the brompton might punch its way out, as the suitcase gets dropped etc. on the conveyors - but with dense packing on all sharp corners it was OK.. but tight and with the weight of the case its self, just under the 20Kg allowance.

THE best airline for all cyclists, by a long shot is Virgin, and especially Virgin atlantic. They have a policy that bikes can be taken free, as well as any luggage allowance - and this includes full-sized bikes, suitably packed. The only proviso is that its at your own risk.

I can thoroughly recommend taking bikes to foreign cities - they are THE best way of getting around, as well as seeing sights and being part pedestrian, part rapid transport.
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Old 02-24-10, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Simple Simon View Post
THE best airline for all cyclists, by a long shot is Virgin, and especially Virgin atlantic. They have a policy that bikes can be taken free, as well as any luggage allowance - and this includes full-sized bikes, suitably packed. The only proviso is that its at your own risk.
Just Virgin Atlantic. Not Virgin America.
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Old 02-25-10, 04:59 PM
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Try this out.... Clicky

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