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Flying with my bike to France

Old 08-16-21, 12:29 PM
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Flying with my bike to France

Hi everyone, I tried searching for any recent information on shipping my bike on my airline flight to France but couldn't find any. I'm not the greatest at searching so if anyone can point me in the right direction or has recently did an overseas flight with their bike and can share any tips, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
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Old 08-16-21, 12:31 PM
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Have you talked to the airline?
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Old 08-16-21, 12:35 PM
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Not yet, haven't made a reservation as planning to go in Oct. Just doing some research like how to pack, what airlines might be more 'bike careful' than others.
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Old 08-16-21, 12:38 PM
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Read up on Paris-Brest-Paris. Lots of stories and tips on how to pack your bike for that ride. I borrowed a Trico Iron Case when I went.
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Old 08-16-21, 12:51 PM
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Wow, good on you to do PBP! I lived in the UK for 7yrs and did a lot of audaxing but longest was 300k which was a killer for me. Always admired you guys who could go longer.

That's a great idea on checking PBP threads for packing tips - thanks!
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Old 08-16-21, 12:55 PM
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Just had a look at Trico Iron Case - that's the way to go!
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Old 08-16-21, 01:38 PM
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Since Covid, many airlines have dropped the $200 baggage fee for a bike (each way). Well worth reading up on which ones.

My last visit to France was Summer of 2019 and I had an exceedingly generous baggage allowance on British Airways owing to the excessive use of points.

Air Canada has also been very favorable with bikes and fees. I have flown many times Air France with bikes and no problems. All told, I have probably flown 10+ times with bikes to France and only one incident. They broke my seat stay for PBP 2015. I had a small dent in the top tube of a steel bike many moons ago, I think you just have to expect some damage. A wheel was damaged in the plane on a tour to Norway. It happens

I understand Delta now lets bikes go free

As far as damage, TSA is going to open and mis-arrange everything. You have to research packing. Lots of threads on it. Most important part..
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Old 08-16-21, 01:39 PM
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Glad to help!

I had kind of a heavy bike at the time and packed a few tools into the case, so I remember just skirting under the airline's weight limit, above which they would have charged an extra fee. So I recommend distributing tools among your other bags. Some folks who don't mind a fair amount of disassembly will throw their handlebars into their suitcase.
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Old 08-16-21, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
They broke my seat stay for PBP 2015.
Yikes, before the ride? How did you resolve that?
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Old 08-16-21, 01:55 PM
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Thanks GhostRider for the tips on airlines! And, congrats on PBP - you guys amaze me. I'm moving to France (well, now waiting on approval of my long stay visa) and plan to live not far from Brest just down the coast in Vannes. I'd love to do PBP '23 but at 74 it's probably not in the cards.

Great idea on spreading my gear around, Thermionic
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Old 08-16-21, 02:03 PM
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Might consider saving the money and risk of shipping your bike and just buy another there. Or is this a permanent move?

There'll be bike brands there that you won't normally find here. So maybe a chance to bring home something we don't see here.... Again, if you are ever coming home!
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Old 08-16-21, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Yikes, before the ride? How did you resolve that?
I did not figure it out. It was really annoying. I thought the creaking noise was coming from the BB shell although it was a carbon fibre type of scratchy noise when applying power, which is why I thought it was the BB. I got it professionally repaired when I got home.
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Old 08-16-21, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I did not figure it out. It was really annoying. I thought the creaking noise was coming from the BB shell although it was a carbon fibre type of scratchy noise when applying power, which is why I thought it was the BB. I got it professionally repaired when I got home.
Glad it didn't take you out of the running. I feel pretty fortunate that my mishaps in 2015 were minor.
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Old 08-16-21, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Might consider saving the money and risk of shipping your bike and just buy another there. Or is this a permanent move?

There'll be bike brands there that you won't normally find here. So maybe a chance to bring home something we don't see here.... Again, if you are ever coming home!
Yes, it's a permanent move. I thought of buying one there and selling off my bike here, but I know it would take me a while to find the right bike. I just want to hit the ground running. It's not a special bike just and old Trek 520 Tourer but it fits me well and I know it. I'll definitely be on the look down the road for an upgrade though. Can't have enough bikes, right?
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Old 08-16-21, 03:42 PM
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Use the airline bicycle box. Take off the pedals, take off the front wheel, turn the handlebars 90-degrees, and set the bicycle in the box.
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Old 08-16-21, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by KKBHH View Post
Use the airline bicycle box. Take off the pedals, take off the front wheel, turn the handlebars 90-degrees, and set the bicycle in the box.
Thanks!
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Old 08-16-21, 07:31 PM
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Use a real bike box.

The airline boxes are so big and flimsy, they don't offer much protection. If you talk to your LBS, you may find some bike boxes are beefier than others. Pick the beefy one. And pick one that your bike fits without too much room - but enough room to place packing material around crucial areas.

If you go the "airline box" route, will you get a fork brace to protect your fork blades? And to keep them from poking through the bottom? Other bike-specific packing material to prevent "poke through" and other problems typical with bike shipping? Most certainly not.

Go to a good LBS and get ALL the bike packing material you can get. Axle covers, fork blocks, frame covering, small parts box, etc. There's lots used to protect bikes in shipping and shops throw it out. You should be able to get all sorts of great stuff to protect your bike.

When packing in a box, you want to be sure to attach everything together. Do not leave any loose items in the box. Zip tie and tape things together so your bike and parts slide in and out as one unit.

Why do I suggest this? My college roommate flew cross country. When he arrived at his destination, the cargo crew handed him his frame, fork and rear wheel. "Where's the box? Where's the rest?" Their reply? "What box???" Front wheel, pedals, saddle, etc. all lost. Turns out during a layover, his bike box sat out on the tarmac in the rain. Box dissolved and only the bike was left. (Probably not literally, but by the time his "bike" arrived at his destination, the box, front wheel and parts were LONG gone.)

So if you go cardboard, consider painting the box. Might be overkill, might be worthwhile. Either way, figure out how to get everything protected and connected. If this is too much, find an LBS experienced with proper bike packing for an airline flight.

PS I've boxed a bunch of bikes for international travel for myself, friends and customers and have never lost parts or had any bikes damaged. Extra time will help ensure your bike and all parts arrive intact.

Last edited by LV2TNDM; 08-16-21 at 07:34 PM.
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Old 08-16-21, 08:16 PM
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put the saddle/pedals in your carry on for safe keeping
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Old 08-17-21, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceH View Post
Thanks GhostRider for the tips on airlines! And, congrats on PBP - you guys amaze me. I'm moving to France (well, now waiting on approval of my long stay visa) and plan to live not far from Brest just down the coast in Vannes. I'd love to do PBP '23 but at 74 it's probably not in the cards.

Great idea on spreading my gear around, Thermionic
Depends on whether you can fly non-stop or if you have to have your luggage change planes.

I've only ever flown non-stop, on United or Air France, and always used cardboard boxes with the bike partially disassembled and well-padded, with fork and drop-out spacers, styrofoam blocks, and everything taped together. I did this five or seven times, and never had a problem with damage.

I don't think it would be hard to find a replacement for the Trek 520 but if it fits you and you like it, I'd just put it in a cardboard bike box, well-protected, unless you have to change planes. Each time the box gets moved to a different plane is an opportunity for Bad Things to happen, so the more transfers the more rugged your box should be.

Best of luck on your move. I like the Morbihan. Right now I'm writing this from the Cotes d'Armor, and about to get onto my bike to go for a ride.
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Old 08-17-21, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceH View Post
Thanks GhostRider for the tips on airlines! And, congrats on PBP - you guys amaze me. I'm moving to France (well, now waiting on approval of my long stay visa) and plan to live not far from Brest just down the coast in Vannes. I'd love to do PBP '23 but at 74 it's probably not in the cards.

Great idea on spreading my gear around, Thermionic
You will love the riding.

I somewhat foolishly decided to take every single coast road starting in Normandy after the Ferry all the way to Bordeaux. It seemed like Brittany took me forever with all the little nooks and crannies of the coastline. IIRC, the roads south of Vannes are pretty flat and the pretty hilly to the North. Lots of great departmental roads and low traffic in the country. GL with the move.
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Old 08-17-21, 11:10 AM
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Great advice LV2TNDM, Thank you!


Originally Posted by LV2TNDM View Post
The airline boxes are so big and flimsy, they don't offer much protection. If you talk to your LBS, you may find some bike boxes are beefier than others. Pick the beefy one. And pick one that your bike fits without too much room - but enough room to place packing material around crucial areas.

If you go the "airline box" route, will you get a fork brace to protect your fork blades? And to keep them from poking through the bottom? Other bike-specific packing material to prevent "poke through" and other problems typical with bike shipping? Most certainly not.

Go to a good LBS and get ALL the bike packing material you can get. Axle covers, fork blocks, frame covering, small parts box, etc. There's lots used to protect bikes in shipping and shops throw it out. You should be able to get all sorts of great stuff to protect your bike.

When packing in a box, you want to be sure to attach everything together. Do not leave any loose items in the box. Zip tie and tape things together so your bike and parts slide in and out as one unit.

Why do I suggest this? My college roommate flew cross country. When he arrived at his destination, the cargo crew handed him his frame, fork and rear wheel. "Where's the box? Where's the rest?" Their reply? "What box???" Front wheel, pedals, saddle, etc. all lost. Turns out during a layover, his bike box sat out on the tarmac in the rain. Box dissolved and only the bike was left. (Probably not literally, but by the time his "bike" arrived at his destination, the box, front wheel and parts were LONG gone.)

So if you go cardboard, consider painting the box. Might be overkill, might be worthwhile. Either way, figure out how to get everything protected and connected. If this is too much, find an LBS experienced with proper bike packing for an airline flight.

PS I've boxed a bunch of bikes for international travel for myself, friends and customers and have never lost parts or had any bikes damaged. Extra time will help ensure your bike and all parts arrive intact.
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Old 08-17-21, 11:12 AM
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Thanks Flip Flop, I'll do that.

Originally Posted by Flip Flop Rider View Post
put the saddle/pedals in your carry on for safe keeping
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Old 08-17-21, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Depends on whether you can fly non-stop or if you have to have your luggage change planes.

I've only ever flown non-stop, on United or Air France, and always used cardboard boxes with the bike partially disassembled and well-padded, with fork and drop-out spacers, styrofoam blocks, and everything taped together. I did this five or seven times, and never had a problem with damage.

I don't think it would be hard to find a replacement for the Trek 520 but if it fits you and you like it, I'd just put it in a cardboard bike box, well-protected, unless you have to change planes. Each time the box gets moved to a different plane is an opportunity for Bad Things to happen, so the more transfers the more rugged your box should be.

Best of luck on your move. I like the Morbihan. Right now I'm writing this from the Cotes d'Armor, and about to get onto my bike to go for a ride.
Wow, so you're in Brittany right now - very cool!

I don't believe there's a non-stop to Paris from Austin, but I'll definitely check. I think Air France wanted to do one but covid got in the way. Have you been in France long? I'm hoping to find a club to ride with, more audax or randonneur riding. I found one fb group but there a bit speedy for me at 18-20 mph avg.
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Old 08-17-21, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
You will love the riding.

I somewhat foolishly decided to take every single coast road starting in Normandy after the Ferry all the way to Bordeaux. It seemed like Brittany took me forever with all the little nooks and crannies of the coastline. IIRC, the roads south of Vannes are pretty flat and the pretty hilly to the North. Lots of great departmental roads and low traffic in the country. GL with the move.
GhostRider that's an amazing feat! The coastline of Brittany is crazy! Got to ask, how long did that take? Must have been some incredible moments. I did Seattle to SF about 30 yrs ago and did something similar - was going to see every lighthouse from WA to CA. I got mid-way into OR and quit the lighthouses, just too much for me and I was running out of time. I'm pretty intrigued with the area south of Vannes and around Nantes. Some claim it has a special micro climate and during winter can have as many sunny days as Nice - but I don't believe it!
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Old 08-17-21, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceH View Post
GhostRider that's an amazing feat! The coastline of Brittany is crazy! Got to ask, how long did that take? Must have been some incredible moments. I did Seattle to SF about 30 yrs ago and did something similar - was going to see every lighthouse from WA to CA. I got mid-way into OR and quit the lighthouses, just too much for me and I was running out of time. I'm pretty intrigued with the area south of Vannes and around Nantes. Some claim it has a special micro climate and during winter can have as many sunny days as Nice - but I don't believe it!
I was young. I started in London and went South and then thru Wales into the tip of Scotland and it was so cold there in early May, so, I said screw that and went to France. It was several weeks to do the coast. I camped. In Nantes, my sleeping bag was stolen, so, I rode to Bordeaux more direct in two days on an N road IIRC. Spent maybe a week in that area and then cross the southern part of the Pyrenees to the Cote D'Azur where I camped and sun bathed and swam before heading to Nice and going north over all the big Alp passes and then to Dijon for mustard and up to Reims for champagne. Train from there to Paris and flight home. Maybe 4 months? I could look at the old passport. But the slowest was the coast. I also took a ferry to an island, Ile de Brehat IIRC and spent several days there. I did not go into Brest. Don't like cycling big cities. Somehow skirted around it to landerau and then to a natural parc. It was a lot of time and no cycle computer back. I am looking at the Google map thinking how crazy that was.
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