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Flying with Bike Case For the First Time - Help Please

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Flying with Bike Case For the First Time - Help Please

Old 07-12-22, 01:16 PM
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Symox
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Flying with Bike Case For the First Time - Help Please

I got a used Serfas hardshell case off of Craigslist for a good deal. I practiced packing it for an upcoming trip from California to Hawaii on Southwest airlines. It seems sturdy enough for the application.

I'm looking for tips to make the transport of the bike as stress free as possible. I will be letting out the air in the tires, removing the pedals, seatpost and wheels and bringing a mini hand pump. I have a few questions

1) Should I lock the case to protect it during airline transport? Seems like a no no
2) Can I put all the necessary tools in the case? They will be protected of course
3) Can I bring a tube of grease and carbon seat stay paste and put it in the case?
4) Is Southwest generally good about taking care to not sit on the case or should I get additional insurance?
5) Should I remove the rear derailleur and/or hanger? I'm leaning towards removing the derailleur

Thanks for the help. I'm very excited to bring the bike for the first time on a flying vacation
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Old 07-12-22, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I got a used Serfas hardshell case off of Craigslist for a good deal. I practiced packing it for an upcoming trip from California to Hawaii on Southwest airlines. It seems sturdy enough for the application.

I'm looking for tips to make the transport of the bike as stress free as possible. I will be letting out the air in the tires, removing the pedals, seatpost and wheels and bringing a mini hand pump. I have a few questions

1) Should I lock the case to protect it during airline transport? Seems like a no no
2) Can I put all the necessary tools in the case? They will be protected of course
3) Can I bring a tube of grease and carbon seat stay paste and put it in the case?
4) Is Southwest generally good about taking care to not sit on the case or should I get additional insurance?
5) Should I remove the rear derailleur and/or hanger? I'm leaning towards removing the derailleur

Thanks for the help. I'm very excited to bring the bike for the first time on a flying vacation
To start I HATE hardshell cases and would never use one. TSA is going to open it for inspection (which means you'll need a TSA approved lock that they can open) and they'll move stuff around. They do not care in the least about putting things back the way they were. In my opinion semi soft cases like Evoc and SciCon are the ONLY way to go.
1) See above.
2) Might as well, you probably won't be allowed to carry them on.
3)Sure, I don't see why not.
4)I wouldn't trust any airline's baggage handlers at all.
5)I'd definitely remove the derailleur.
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Old 07-12-22, 05:31 PM
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1 - yes, with a TSA approved lock, 2 - yes, 3 - yes, 4 - no, 5 - depends on the box

Assume the baggage handlers will run over it with a truck.

For anything other than a true hard "shipping crate" style case (like a Buxumbox Tourmalet) I'd remove the RD.
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Old 07-12-22, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I got a used Serfas hardshell case off of Craigslist for a good deal. I practiced packing it for an upcoming trip from California to Hawaii on Southwest airlines. It seems sturdy enough for the application.

I'm looking for tips to make the transport of the bike as stress free as possible. I will be letting out the air in the tires, removing the pedals, seatpost and wheels and bringing a mini hand pump. I have a few questions

1) Should I lock the case to protect it during airline transport? Seems like a no no
2) Can I put all the necessary tools in the case? They will be protected of course
3) Can I bring a tube of grease and carbon seat stay paste and put it in the case?
4) Is Southwest generally good about taking care to not sit on the case or should I get additional insurance?
5) Should I remove the rear derailleur and/or hanger? I'm leaning towards removing the derailleur

Thanks for the help. I'm very excited to bring the bike for the first time on a flying vacation
2) Unless it puts you over the weight limit for $$$. I have to carry my chain in separate luggage to squeak under the limit.

4) When you fly with a bike, light damage is common, and they do lose bikes. Sometimes they find them, sometimes they do not.

5) Absolutely
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Old 07-12-22, 06:07 PM
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1) Should I lock the case to protect it during airline transport? Seems like a no no

I lock mine, but really it's up to you. Security may want to open your bike case. They always seem to want to "spot drug test" the inside of mine...


2) Can I put all the necessary tools in the case? They will be protected of course

Yes. Just make sure they are secure and don't tip you over the weight limit. You don't want them coming loose and rattling around during transit, possibly damaging your bike! Don't be tempted to take your tools as carry-on either as some airlines may not let you take them on board.


3) Can I bring a tube of grease and carbon seat stay paste and put it in the case?

Yes. I pack a bottle of chain lube and some grease inside my case.

5) Should I remove the rear derailleur and/or hanger? I'm leaning towards removing the derailleur

I recommend this, but it depends on the design of your bike case and how well your bike fits in it. I always remove mine, bubble wrap it, then secure it so it can't move around.

Have a great trip! 😀
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Old 07-12-22, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I got a used Serfas hardshell case off of Craigslist for a good deal. I practiced packing it for an upcoming trip from California to Hawaii on Southwest airlines. It seems sturdy enough for the application.

I'm looking for tips to make the transport of the bike as stress free as possible. I will be letting out the air in the tires, removing the pedals, seatpost and wheels and bringing a mini hand pump. I have a few questions

1) Should I lock the case to protect it during airline transport? Seems like a no no
2) Can I put all the necessary tools in the case? They will be protected of course
3) Can I bring a tube of grease and carbon seat stay paste and put it in the case?
4) Is Southwest generally good about taking care to not sit on the case or should I get additional insurance?
5) Should I remove the rear derailleur and/or hanger? I'm leaning towards removing the derailleur

Thanks for the help. I'm very excited to bring the bike for the first time on a flying vacation
try to pack and secure stuff as though a couple of inquisitive gorillas are going to root through it. Iíve heard nightmare tales of TSA either unable or couldnít be arsed to close up a hard case, so they just wrap tape around the whole thing and hope it stays together. If small items fall out through the gaps, themís the breaks. Donít lock it - theyíll break the lock. Remove the RD and tape it to the inside of the chain stay. Leave your CO2 cartridges at home
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Old 07-12-22, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
try to pack and secure stuff as though a couple of inquisitive gorillas are going to root through it. Iíve heard nightmare tales of TSA either unable or couldnít be arsed to close up a hard case, so they just wrap tape around the whole thing and hope it stays together. If small items fall out through the gaps, themís the breaks. Donít lock it - theyíll break the lock. Remove the RD and tape it to the inside of the chain stay. Leave your CO2 cartridges at home
This is specifically what TSA locks are for. Do a little research. If you travel with a firearm it has to be locked by law...with a TSA lock.
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Old 07-13-22, 01:43 AM
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Why do you prefer semi soft cases?
Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
To start I HATE hardshell cases and would never use one. TSA is going to open it for inspection (which means you'll need a TSA approved lock that they can open) and they'll move stuff around. They do not care in the least about putting things back the way they were. In my opinion semi soft cases like Evoc and SciCon are the ONLY way to go.
1) See above.
2) Might as well, you probably won't be allowed to carry them on.
3)Sure, I don't see why not.
4)I wouldn't trust any airline's baggage handlers at all.
5)I'd definitely remove the derailleur.
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Old 07-13-22, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
To start I HATE hardshell cases and would never use one. TSA is going to open it for inspection (which means you'll need a TSA approved lock that they can open) and they'll move stuff around. They do not care in the least about putting things back the way they were. In my opinion semi soft cases like Evoc and SciCon are the ONLY way to go.
I have to agree with this sentiment. I had a B&W BikeBox II, which was nice and protective. TSA opened it 4 times, and got it closed properly ZERO times. The bike was not damaged, but the box was after the last trip. So no matter how carefully you pack your bike in the box, it will arrive poorly packed. I got to watch the customs/TSA equivelent in Italy, and they just looked at the box, and passed it through. When arriving at the international terminal in ATL, I needed to open it and let her root through the box. At least I got to close it up my self, but I still got it a little wrong. The last time I went to HI, I just rented a bike there (I recoment West Maui Bikes if that is your island). I just sold that box beause with my new integrated front end bike, I knew I would never try that again... the degree of difficulty went WAY up.
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Old 07-13-22, 04:53 AM
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Good advice above!

Add an Apple AirTag to the inside of your bike box so that you can track it throughout your journey. I recently went from Canada to Mallorca and felt relief to see the bike traversing the terminals between connections and keeping step with me along the stops in Montreal and Geneva.

Good luck!
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Old 07-13-22, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Why do you prefer semi soft cases?
You're kidding, right? Did you bother to read my post?
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Old 07-13-22, 10:21 AM
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Best piece of advice I can offer someone flying with a hardshell case for the first time: Make sure the rental car or taxi/Uber you'll be using at your destination can accomodate it! Ask me how I know...


Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
Iíve heard nightmare tales of TSA either unable or couldnít be arsed to close up a hard case, so they just wrap tape around the whole thing and hope it stays together.
Yeah, I've certainly told one of those tales, probably here or on other cycling forums, but in short, ^^^that's exactly what happened.
The Good News: Nothing fell out of the case despite it barely being held shut by this tape, so everything arrived at my destination.
The Bad News: Because this not-fully-closed/held-together-by-tape case was now no longer a flat, symmetrical rectangle, it got caught in some mechanism on the way down the conveyor belt from the plane to the baggage claim area, and was crushed. Destroyed the case completely, and ******d up my bike enough to require extensive repair by the framebuilder. American Airlines, you suck!


Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
You're kidding, right? Did you bother to read my post?
Y'know, I was wondering the exact same thing as Symox, so I went back and re-read your post. There's absolutely nothing in it that explains why you prefer semi-soft cases. Zero. Nada. Nicht.
Try again.
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Old 07-13-22, 10:24 AM
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I did and donít see how what you wrote is any different for a semi hard case. will TSA not open a semi hard case for some reason?


Originally Posted by cxwrench;[url=tel:22573210
22573210[/url]]You're kidding, right? Did you bother to read my post?
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Old 07-13-22, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
To start I HATE hardshell cases and would never use one. TSA is going to open it for inspection (which means you'll need a TSA approved lock that they can open) and they'll move stuff around. They do not care in the least about putting things back the way they were. In my opinion semi soft cases like Evoc and SciCon are the ONLY way to go.
1) See above.
2) Might as well, you probably won't be allowed to carry them on.
3)Sure, I don't see why not.
4)I wouldn't trust any airline's baggage handlers at all.
5)I'd definitely remove the derailleur.
I would have thought this was enough of an explanation but I guess if you don't know how a SciCon case works then more details are needed. The bike is held by a steel support that attaches to the fork and rear dropouts. The 'bag' closes up around the frame/fork and the wheels are held in side pockets. It can be fully opened, inspected, and then closed again with zero skill or 're-packing' required.
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Best piece of advice I can offer someone flying with a hardshell case for the first time: Make sure the rental car or taxi/Uber you'll be using at your destination can accomodate it! Ask me how I know...




Yeah, I've certainly told one of those tales, probably here or on other cycling forums, but in short, ^^^that's exactly what happened.
The Good News: Nothing fell out of the case despite it barely being held shut by this tape, so everything arrived at my destination.
The Bad News: Because this not-fully-closed/held-together-by-tape case was now no longer a flat, symmetrical rectangle, it got caught in some mechanism on the way down the conveyor belt from the plane to the baggage claim area, and was crushed. Destroyed the case completely, and ******d up my bike enough to require extensive repair by the framebuilder. American Airlines, you suck!




Y'know, I was wondering the exact same thing as Symox, so I went back and re-read your post. There's absolutely nothing in it that explains why you prefer semi-soft cases. Zero. Nada. Nicht.
Try again.
See above.
Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I did and don’t see how what you wrote is any different for a semi hard case. will TSA not open a semi hard case for some reason?
See above.
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Old 07-13-22, 05:00 PM
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The opening of bike boxes must be a TSA / America thing.

I've never had my bike box opened (without me being present) by airline or security staff. It's definitely something to consider as you can bet they won't pack it with the same care you do! Check-in security in countries I've flown to/from have requested I open it so they could swab the inside, but then I am there to carefully and correctly close it up again.

A hard-shell bike box can be a pain in the ass (see rental car comment above, plus taxis are not always a fan, or storage at your destination) but I'd never trust my bike in anything else.





Originally Posted by SkepticalOne View Post
Add an Apple AirTag to the inside of your bike box so that you can track it throughout your journey. I recently went from Canada to Mallorca and felt relief to see the bike traversing the terminals between connections and keeping step with me along the stops in Montreal and Geneva.
I added an Apple AirTag on my last trip. Apart from peace of mind, it's kind of fun passing the time at the airport tracking your bike... 😂
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Old 07-13-22, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
I got a used Serfas hardshell case off of Craigslist for a good deal. I practiced packing it for an upcoming trip from California to Hawaii on Southwest airlines. It seems sturdy enough for the application.

I'm looking for tips to make the transport of the bike as stress free as possible. I will be letting out the air in the tires, removing the pedals, seatpost and wheels and bringing a mini hand pump. I have a few questions

1) Should I lock the case to protect it during airline transport? Seems like a no no
2) Can I put all the necessary tools in the case? They will be protected of course
3) Can I bring a tube of grease and carbon seat stay paste and put it in the case?
4) Is Southwest generally good about taking care to not sit on the case or should I get additional insurance?
5) Should I remove the rear derailleur and/or hanger? I'm leaning towards removing the derailleur

Thanks for the help. I'm very excited to bring the bike for the first time on a flying vacation
I traveled the world with my Serfas case and loved the protection it provided. The only issue was storage once I arrived. I also put a brace in the center of the case so it cant be compressed for extra security. Ignore the scolds who love to chime in and let everyone know what the right way is! I load my case to the maximum weight, yes to grease and lube, most airlines contract out baggage handling so thats the luck of the draw (another reason why hard cases are awesome), yes to remove rear derailleur.

Have a great trip.
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Old 07-13-22, 08:16 PM
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If hard cases were all that great SciCon and Evoc wouldn't sell their product. Nor would virtually EVERY pro team use them when their riders have to fly w/ a bike. Everyone has 'their' experience, I have seen more than a few get damaged.
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Old 07-13-22, 09:43 PM
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^ True I guess, but each has their benefits and drawbacks.

I've seen bikes in soft cases arrive safely, I've also seen bikes in soft cases arrive broken. I've personally never seen or heard of a bike in a hard case arrive broken (which of course, doesn't mean it doesn't happen). Flying through the USA I'd be tempted with a soft case so the TSA can open/close it without me there. The hard case takes some care so you don't jam the pole through your spokes! Anywhere else and I'm rocking the hard case BikeBoxAlan.

I think the pro team use of soft cases may come down to storage at the other end, rather than outright protection. Soft cases you can squish to save on space. Imagine having to transport and store 20+ empty hard shell bike cases! Even one is bad enough! 😂

If I had to fly with a soft case, I'd go the SciCon one hands down!

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Old 07-13-22, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
If hard cases were all that great SciCon and Evoc wouldn't sell their product. Nor would virtually EVERY pro team use them when their riders have to fly w/ a bike. Everyone has 'their' experience, I have seen more than a few get damaged.
The OP already mentioned he had purchased a Serfas case so it is of no use to point out that soft cases are superior in your opinion. There is no way that the a soft case can provide the levels of protection that a hard case provides so the advantages are in other areas. That said I normally use a Biknd soft case when traveling abroad due to storage issues.

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Old 07-16-22, 08:55 PM
  #20  
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Well its packed. Here it is before I put the final piece of foam and clam shell to close it. Wish me luck.

The dimensions are over the 80inch limit but under the 100lb limit (48lbs actually), so I think I have to pay $75 each way to bring this per Southwest's policies

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Old 07-16-22, 09:29 PM
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Looks a pretty tight fit! Good luck, you've packed it well with plenty of added padding. I'm sure it'll arrive unscathed.

Did you pack some scissors to cut the cable ties at the other end? 😁
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Old 07-16-22, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist;[url=tel:22577052
22577052[/url]]Looks a pretty tight fit! Good luck, you've packed it well with plenty of added padding. I'm sure it'll arrive unscathed.

Did you pack some scissors to cut the cable ties at the other end? 😁
wire cutters, yeah

it is pretty time consuming to ship a bike
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Old 07-18-22, 07:39 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
The dimensions are over the 80inch limit but under the 100lb limit (48lbs actually), so I think I have to pay $75 each way to bring this per Southwest's policies
Ask the agent at the ticket counter if Southwest is still honoring their Tour de France special: They used to waive the additional baggage fees for folks flying with bicycles during the month of July in honor of Le Tour.
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Old 07-19-22, 07:01 PM
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Successful arrival

Iím happy to announce the trip had no drama. I just assembled the bikeÖ
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Old 07-20-22, 01:14 AM
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Went for a short ride

It was glorious to have my bike in a new vacation location. This is going to be fun!
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