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Anyone flown overseas with a bike lately?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Anyone flown overseas with a bike lately?

Old 08-27-08, 10:14 PM
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Hornbiker
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Anyone flown overseas with a bike lately?

Before everyone shouts "use the search function," I used the search function, and none of the posts appear to be recent enough to incorporate all the changes and new fees the airlines keep slapping on every few minutes. I am going to Italy in a couple weeks, and we are staying at the Italian Cycling Center for the first part, bringing our bikes. As we have been trying to figure out what we will have to pay to bring them, the rules get more convoluted every day it seems. Each airline is different, and none of them I have called seem to know any answers without checking with a supervisor. We're flying United for the first leg and US Airways for the second. The way the fees are going up, we're beginning to wonder if renting bikes there is actually a better option (apparently there is a place nearby that rents high-end road bikes, but I'd much rather ride my own).

Any experiences or advice with this would be most welcome, thanks!
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Old 08-27-08, 10:47 PM
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Go to the Touring forum, more help awaits you there.
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Old 08-27-08, 11:37 PM
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build a second bike with S&S couplings.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:00 AM
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didn't pcad take his cannondale to greece?
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Old 08-28-08, 12:27 AM
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The rules are not consistent, so u REALLY gotta get it from your airline, and they should be spelled on their website under checked luggage. If there is no specific mention of a bicycle then apply the fee for oversized items, typically 62" height+girth+depth. Packaging not included. Be sure ur looking at the International section vs domestic.

A cursory look at UAL shows $200-250 one way. and I assume US Air partners with UAL. Else if u bought tickets separately then u pay to each airline.

Last edited by jsmithepa; 08-28-08 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:45 AM
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Yes, I flew oversees with a cold, inanimate object...oh wait, that was my ex-wife.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:46 AM
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Unfortunately you're apparently already locked into United. From what I've read, they're easily one of the worst for flying with a bike, i.e. expensive. The best bet is to fly to Europe with a European airline, like Lufthansa for example. The last time I flew to the states, I flew Lufthansa from Lyon to Munich where I caught a flight direct to Denver. I took one of my old bikes over for my son's collection and the cost was zero. Coming back I flew the same route and came back with a bike for a friend here and ended up paying 50$ but only because the bike box was overweight due to all the shopping I'd done in the states (taking advantage of the euro/dollar pricing of course).
But that said, I think calling the airlines to ask about pricing is totally worthless because you'll get different answers ever time and in the end the cost is charged by whoever checks you in and even with United you can get lucky and slip through with zero cost though I suspect that's becoming rare. Oddly enough Luftansa and United are sort of partners but their bike policies have little in common. So if it is at all possible, I'd recommend switching to a euro company (but not a british company as apparently they're more like the americans) for the trip to Italy.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:46 AM
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Shipping your bikes might actually be cheaper. Otherwise, rent at your location. It is outrageously expensive to fly with anything more than a folder these days.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:20 AM
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As you see, it can be hit-or-miss. The best you can do is contact the airline -- too bad they can't be consistent. At the very minimum, print off the relevant page from their internet site so you have some ammunition.

Also, note that for code sharing flights, you should really contact the actual airline that is running the flight. United and SAS, for example, have different terms.

United, in my experience, is one of the worst (though SAS, strangely, is one of the best) when it comes to bikes.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
As you see, it can be hit-or-miss. The best you can do is contact the airline -- too bad they can't be consistent. At the very minimum, print off the relevant page from their internet site so you have some ammunition.

Also, note that for code sharing flights, you should really contact the actual airline that is running the flight. United and SAS, for example, have different terms.

United, in my experience, is one of the worst (though SAS, strangely, is one of the best) when it comes to bikes.
Heh, heh. For the heck of it, I just checked their website, and everything listed only applies to domestic flights, with the disclaimer that for international flights, contact the airline.

You're screwed.

(OK, actually, I have found that international flights are usually cheaper than domestic for this sort of thing. If you decide to take your bike, make sure that it is smaller than 115 linear inches (H+W+L), the maximum they will likely accept. Also, make sure it is less than 50 lbs., the usual cut-off, or better yet, 22kg, the Euro cut-off. Otherwise you risk being hit with both an oversized fee and an overweight fee.)
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Old 08-28-08, 02:00 AM
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More info here:
http://www.bikeaccess.net/bikeaccess/
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Old 08-28-08, 05:52 AM
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I tried it...got a good draft from an airbus for awhile...then I bonked in the mid-Atlantic...was able to coast down to Iceland.
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Old 08-28-08, 06:25 AM
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British Airways are superb when travelling with a bike. Check out www.ba.com for their policy (essentially no charges).
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Old 08-28-08, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by j_amie_ View Post
didn't pcad take his cannondale to greece?
Correct. For the 3rd time in the last four years no less, to Greece twice and Germany/England once. This time on Olympic Airways to Athens, Greece. Olympic allows two 50lb suitcases (checked bags) and a carry on as part of your standard allowance, no surcharges, they never looked twice at the slightly oversized bicycle bag. I do believe this is dictated by international accord, and all the airlines are the same for international travel, but botto did recently PM me that Delta was charging $300 each way to take a bike to Europe. I am VERY skeptical of that latter claim, check with the airline you're thinking of using.

You will need a decent hard or soft case, I have a soft case that's about 20 years old that works GREAT, never fails me, and is more squishable and strappable to car tops on the Euro end than a hard case would be. 'Rent a bike'? I might rent a babe, since I'm an average horny guy. But as a cyclist, only my road bike will do. What kind of idiotic suggestion is that? Rent a bike. As if.

The only real problems with taking your bike is all the contingencies you have to cover and all the other stuff, helmet, shoes, clothes, spare tubes, tires, chain, your pedals, yada yada ad nauseum. You forget one thing and you're F'd. If you're in Greece I mean. Presumably in a European nation that's part of the 21st Century (Greece is only part way there) you'd be able to purchase anything you forgot at a bicycle shop. Here (locally, we're 90 minutes from Athens where there might be a serious bike shop) the bike shops sell kiddie bikes, mopeds and utter crap. Dura Ace or Ultegra? Never. That's why I brought an Ultegra chain as a back up. Fortunately that has not reared it's head. One more day to ride left, but over 450 miles covered, only two punctures, no other real glitches to report.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
That's why I brought an Ultegra chain as a back up. Fortunately that has not reared it's head.
Egads. Let's hope you can recoup some of your cost by selling it on ebay.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
Egads. Let's hope you can recoup some of your cost by selling it on ebay.
I go through chains like botto goes through psychoanalysts. At least 4-5 annually.
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Old 08-28-08, 09:47 AM
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100% true story:
I was flying to Brussels in July. The fee was supposed to be $120 each way.
At the check-in counter, she asked me "What's that?"
I told her is was a musical instrument.
She asked, "What kind?"
I said, "Percussion"
She never charged me for it.

On the way home, I said the same thing. They were so confused, they just let it go for free.
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Old 08-28-08, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by patentcad View Post
I go through chains like botto goes through psychoanalysts. At least 4-5 annually.
But Ultegra? You? Oh, the humanity!
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Old 08-28-08, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by patentcad View Post

I do believe this is dictated by international accord, and all the airlines are the same for international travel, but botto did recently PM me that Delta was charging $300 each way to take a bike to Europe. I am VERY skeptical of that latter claim, check with the airline you're thinking of using.

I don't know about international accord - I just checked on the Air France website (I'll be flying Air France in October) and their baggage regs say they are gonna charge me 150 EUROS each way for my bike - that's going to work out to around $400 round trip. I'm thinking it may be cheaper to rent a bike for 10 days once I'm over there.
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Old 08-28-08, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by sounddevisor View Post
I don't know about international accord - I just checked on the Air France website (I'll be flying Air France in October) and their baggage regs say they are gonna charge me 150 EUROS each way for my bike - that's going to work out to around $400 round trip. I'm thinking it may be cheaper to rent a bike for 10 days once I'm over there.
If you're flying into Paris, you might try these guys. Nothing fancy, but they set me up nice for 5 days last year.

http://www.bluemarble.org/
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Old 08-28-08, 12:49 PM
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Tell them it's two sets of golf clubs.

Tell them it's your own artwork.

Tell them anything, but don't tell them it's a bike.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:24 PM
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Taking a bike overseas these days is a risky proposition, because of falling exchange rates, you'll only end up with about 1/2 a bike when you land. If you are proficient on a unicycle, you should have no problem.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:33 PM
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Closer to .680182 at last check. So that includes the top tube and handlebars.
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Old 08-28-08, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by sounddevisor View Post
I don't know about international accord - I just checked on the Air France website (I'll be flying Air France in October) and their baggage regs say they are gonna charge me 150 EUROS each way for my bike - that's going to work out to around $400 round trip. I'm thinking it may be cheaper to rent a bike for 10 days once I'm over there.
more.
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Old 08-28-08, 02:18 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I really don't want to rent a bike unless the alternative is just too ridiculous. We've got two of the hard cases, so we're set that way. I guess it will be luck of the draw with whom we get at the ticket counter and how clueless they are. Funny about saying your bike was percussion—I am a musician and usually flying with my instrument is what I have to worry about. I am NOT above lying to the airlines, and it seems to me right now they are just asking for it.
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