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Flying with a Tandem (or two)

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Flying with a Tandem (or two)

Old 08-15-13, 01:14 PM
  #1  
cbike
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Flying with a Tandem (or two)

Has anybody flown lately with a full sized tandem (no S&S couplers or fold)? I'm wondering if airlines like Delta/United is OK with them. It would be nice to take a pair of tandems along for a two week family bike tour overseas (trans Atlantic/Pacific).

PS: I can read the airline rules. So I'm looking for actual experiences flying with a boxed tandem. Thanks.
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Old 08-15-13, 01:20 PM
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Delta's rules say the don't take 2 seated bikes. Since they went to that change in their rules, we haven't risked ruining a trip, and have just shipped the tandem.

Given the hassles I'v had with flying with a single bike ( not wanting to take it because it's over dimension, wanting to charge a bike fee, and an overdimension fee on top, etc.) I don't trust the Gate agents to even understand their own tarrifs.

My bet is that with enough money, Delta will take a tandem, but I'm not betting my trip on it.
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Old 08-15-13, 02:01 PM
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Thanks, but I'm looking for actual experience.

This here sounds promising
http://santanatandem.com/Events/BillsTips.html

PS: The fees would be much more reasonable than the $2,000 trans-Atlantic shipping cost (per tandem) via bikeflights.com
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Old 08-15-13, 02:31 PM
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We have just returned from Europe after a Santana trip and there were many (30+) full sized tandems that came via the airlines. Cardboard boxes, bike pro cases and full sized hard cases. Some payed some high fees (400) others much less. We also went to New Zealand this spring and about 10 full sized cases shipped and the fees ranged from $56 to $454 on the same flight as I helped people check in and it was random what people were charged. I think you can get any tandem on but expect to pay some fees. We have S& S couplers and cases and have never been charged except if we have too many bags we pay the normal extra bag fee. It also makes a difference what class airfare you pay as to the fees charged.
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Old 08-15-13, 04:44 PM
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See:
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...em-worked-well
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-damage-survey
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Old 08-15-13, 06:25 PM
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On our trip to Europe this summer we flew Salt Lake to JFK on Jet Blue with the tandem in a Bike Pro case and weren't charged. JFK to SLC on Jet Blue, we were charged a bike fee, $50, plus an additional 75$ for being oversized for a total of $125. The counter agent threatened to add an over weight charge as well but didn't. Lufthansa from JFK to Munich we were charged $300. On the return we were charged 100 Euros. Jet Blue's website says they charge $50 for a bicycle with no mention of tandems specifically and no indication of an oversize charge but with a weight limit of 99 lbs. Lufthansa's site says $300 or 200 Euros each way for a tandem with no weight limit quoted when I inquired via phone. In our experience it seems to be at the discretion of the agent at the counter as to what one gets charged. Even though I had printed off the webpage with the information from the Jet Blue website, neither agent would even look at it. Worked in our favor in SLC and against us in JFK. The airlines listed below have varying weight limits and size limitations.

The following airlines specifically allowed uncoupled tandems when I researched this in the spring:
United
Virgin Atlantic
Air France
British Airways
Aer Lingus
Iceland Air
Lufthansa

The following airlines specifically stated no bicycles other than single seat bikes:
Delta
US Airways
Iberia

merlin: Can you give us an idea as to who you've shipped your tandem with and what the cost was? Thanks. On three different trips to Europe I've found shipping to be prohibitively expensive.

As an aside, we were able to store our tandem in the Bike Pro case at JFK in the lower level of the Lufthansa terminal for $16 a day while we spent time with relatives in NYC and found it relatively painless to get from one terminal to another on the airport train. The case and tandem easily traveled up and down on the airport escalators when needed. Similarly in Munich, it was easy to get the tandem from the baggage claim area onto the train at the airport and into town. We've had more difficulty navigating with two single bike cases. The tandem made the trip unscathed, though three of the four handles on the Bike Pro case were partially ripped from where they were stitched to it on the final leg from JFK back to SLC.

Curt

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Old 08-15-13, 11:45 PM
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I just plugged in a quote for a 'bicycle' on Lugless Travel, for a round trip from the US to France. Lugless picks up from your house, and delivers to your hotel, thus eliminating the dilemma of finding transportation of a tandem from the Airport to the hotel and back. For the 'bicycle' it was $636. I guess you'd have to inquire about a tandem.

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Old 08-16-13, 07:34 AM
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I think that $636 is the one way price to europe. When I put in a quote for a bicycle there was an additional $708 for the return trip for a total of $1344. In addition there would be another $15 for pickup in the US and then $49-99 more for pickup in europe if I'm reading there information correctly. A tandem would likely be more expensive as it falls outside their dimensions for a standard bicycle.
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Old 08-16-13, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
I just plugged in a quote for a 'bicycle' on Lugless Travel, for a round trip from the US to France. Lugless picks up from your house, and delivers to your hotel, thus eliminating the dilemma of finding transportation of a tandem from the Airport to the hotel and back. For the 'bicycle' it was $636. I guess you'd have to inquire about a tandem.
Be careful when shipping bikes internationally as unaccompanied freight. They can get held up in customs. Some years back I was working as staff on a commercial bike tour in France, and several customers ended up having to rent bikes at the last minute because their bikes (shipped over via UPS or FedEx, don't recall) were held up.
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Old 08-16-13, 01:50 PM
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When I did a bike race in Costa Rica I noticed that some airlines have blackout periods for bikes, so be carefull of that as well.
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Old 08-20-13, 07:25 AM
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I just returned from the Santana Trip and flew Delta with a full size tandem in a bike pro case. Going it cost an extra $50 above the $100 fee for being my second bag. On the return I got lazy and did not remove the cassette which put it over the 70 pound limit costing me $230 to check it as over weight. I have traveled several times and found keeping under 70 pounds and a smile on your face works wonders. Follow Bill's tips on the Santana web site.
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Old 08-20-13, 08:21 AM
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Thanks for the detailed replies. Sounds like it's doable. I'll have to check how much the tandem now weights with fenders and racks. Both of it would be desired when traveling and of course makes it harder to pack the tandem. I'll have to ponder about how to pack that without disassembling everything. I'd wish it would be as easy as traveling with a mountain bike (remove the pedals, turn the handlebar and drop it in the airline box).
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Old 08-20-13, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by cbike View Post
Thanks for the detailed replies. Sounds like it's doable. I'll have to check how much the tandem now weights with fenders and racks. Both of it would be desired when traveling and of course makes it harder to pack the tandem. I'll have to ponder about how to pack that without disassembling everything. I'd wish it would be as easy as traveling with a mountain bike (remove the pedals, turn the handlebar and drop it in the airline box).
Here's the problem:
http://shop.bikeprousa.com/Tandem-Race-Case-A-31.htm
The bike pro case weighs 41 lbs. and as apage4u commented, you need to be under 70 lbs. My naked custom box weighed 32.1 lbs. Doing it again, I'd cut a little more weight out of the box. It took a couple hours to either assemble or disassemble the bike, somewhere appropriate to do it, and the somewhat heavy tools to do it with. I packed a medical gown to wear while doing it. We only ran a front fender. Rear fender not necessary to protect stoker when touring and makes it impossible to fit the bike into most elevators by standing it on end.
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Old 08-20-13, 11:11 AM
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I've had enough problems getting my single bike flown around, I'm 6'7" and my single(s) won't fit in a standard bike box without disassembling the fork from the bike and removing all the cabling from the handlebars. Even then the box is bulging.

Not to mention the uneven application of airline policies, as noted by some others. Have the conditions of carriage and airline policies printed out with the applicable portions highlighted.

I don't think I'll be flying my tandem anywhere, sorry to say. I'd rather just ship two singles.
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Old 08-27-13, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by brons2 View Post
I've had enough problems getting my single bike flown around, I'm 6'7" and my single(s) won't fit in a standard bike box without disassembling the fork from the bike and removing all the cabling from the handlebars. Even then the box is bulging.

Not to mention the uneven application of airline policies, as noted by some others. Have the conditions of carriage and airline policies printed out with the applicable portions highlighted.

I don't think I'll be flying my tandem anywhere, sorry to say. I'd rather just ship two singles.
Problem solved.

I love our tandem but when we go to Europe we take our Brompton folding bikes which can be checked as standard luggage = $0 cost. They are also great for multi-modal travel - hop on a bus, train, light rail or short flight - quick, easy, economical and great fun.
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Old 08-28-13, 12:21 PM
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5 years ago I packed a Trek T2000 in 1.5 bike boxes taped together and took it with us for free on British Airways from Tampa to London. BA used to take bikes free as sporting goods, but I don't know if they still do. When I asked them on the phone about taking a tandem, they said it would have to go freight, but we took it to the airport anyway, gave it and our bags to a skycap and all the check-in agent said to the skycap about the big tandem box was "Take that to oversized baggage."
When we arrived in London, it was already in baggage claim. Customs were not interested and the bike stays in the UK.
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Old 08-28-13, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Artmo View Post
5 years ago I packed a Trek T2000 in 1.5 bike boxes taped together and took it with us for free on British Airways from Tampa to London. BA used to take bikes free as sporting goods, but I don't know if they still do. When I asked them on the phone about taking a tandem, they said it would have to go freight, but we took it to the airport anyway, gave it and our bags to a skycap and all the check-in agent said to the skycap about the big tandem box was "Take that to oversized baggage."
When we arrived in London, it was already in baggage claim. Customs were not interested and the bike stays in the UK.
When I checked this spring Tandems were ok on BA and went for free if under 23kg (about 50lbs). Over 23kg but under 32kg (about 70lbs) BA charged $60 each way if you were flying from the US.

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Old 08-28-13, 04:07 PM
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We thought about adding couplers to our uncoupled tandem, or shopping for a used coupled bike in the first place. We weren't sure how much flying we'd be doing with the bike. It seemed to us that we would probably save money flying with it uncoupled. The other thing is the pieces of baggage allowed transatlantic. The airlines with which we've flown allowed 1 pc. free and a small carry-on, 6 kg for transatlantic. The second piece would have been between $50-$65 each way. We had 1 pc. each, plus our carry-on, plus the one box for which we were charged. If we'd had a coupled bike, we'd have each had 1 or 2 pcs. and hence one or two extra baggage charges each way anyway, depending on how much civvy stuff we wanted to bring. We paid a total of $75 in extra baggage charges, both ways, due to one baggage agent's inability to comprehend the complex Schenken baggage rules. We should have paid $150 total.

Anyway, so far we are coming out on our decision, but we do have to be careful about which airlines we fly.
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