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Cheaper to ship the bike or take it on a plane?

Old 08-14-18, 02:34 PM
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Cheaper to ship the bike or take it on a plane?

I'd be flying 3000 miles for a bicycle touring trip in September, what's the best way for getting bicycle from here to there? shipping it or taking it on a plane? Which one is cheaper or better and why, Thanks for any experience or wisdom or insight,
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Old 08-14-18, 03:01 PM
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Depends a lot on the individual circumstance, particularly airline charges. Do the research for the route you want and come to your own decision.

In June I was flying back to Dublin from Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and was interested to see lots of local ads offering to ship my bike home for €90 but as I'd already booked it to fly with me for €50 it didn't seem attractive even when you add in the cost of boxing the bike at the airport €17.50. which is obligatory at that particular airport. I'd flown out to Bordeaux (€50 for bike) and hadn't boxed.
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Old 08-14-18, 03:14 PM
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Alaska Airlines will take a boxed bicycle as checked baggage for $25. Downside is that TSA will maul your box. I used them roundtrip in July. On way out they checked the bike and all my panniers and didn’t charge me anything. On the way back they wanted to charge me excess weight fee of $50 because my box was over 50 lbs and goodies besides the bike were in it. She waived it “this time” but did charge the $25. Rear derailleur hanger was tweaked on the return flight.
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Old 08-14-18, 04:47 PM
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More info

To get a better answer, you really need to provide more info such as departure & destination, time limits (do you need the bike until the day before), are you a high level frequent flyer, etc. Other than that, all suggestions are totally guesses or personal experiences like those already given. Hope you have a great tour! John
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Old 08-14-18, 05:41 PM
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If you're traveling in the US, check out Bike Flights. Compare them to your airline fees, and what it will cost to get from the airport to the shipping point.
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Old 08-14-18, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by L134
Downside is that TSA will maul your box.
^This.
I knew a guy that took a high-end CF bike in a hard case.

TSA:
- Opened the hard case
- Threw away the small parts contained in a bag in the case
- Broke the CF frame, jamming it back in the case

Their attitude when he filed a complaint: (Shrug) So sue us.
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Old 08-14-18, 07:13 PM
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Ed, if you are serious about travelling with your bike, you will need to look at your destination and look into what companies fly there, at what prices, and then specifially look at their sports equipment and bike fees, as it varies wiiiiidely from company to another.
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Old 08-14-18, 08:46 PM
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Costs for shipping a bike depends on whether it is a domestic or international trip. IME it is cheaper to take the bike on the plane for international flights. It has been almost a wash between shipping my bike or taking it in the plane for domestic flights.

Last edited by Doug64; 08-14-18 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 08-14-18, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64
Costs for shipping a bike depends on whether it is a domestic or international trip. IME it is cheaper to take the bike on the plane for international flights. It has been almost a wash between shipping my bike or taking it in the planet for domestic flights.
Not only cheaper for international to fly with it but less hassle too. Shipping to another country can be a huge hassle in customs. A million times easier when flying or just riding across the border. Several times flying to Italy, the customs guys never even looked in the box.

And Italian TSA is scary lax, Or used to be. I remember once they x-rayed my box then instructed me to take it to the oversized luggage area unescorted ! I was still on the non cleared side of security!

Inside the US, even if it is cheaper to fly with I would still opt to ship. You don't need to mess with the box at airports and if you ship you know it got there if you were smart enough to ship ahead. Plus if you pay to have it built it will be ready for you when you get there.

The downside of shipping to a shop (like what almost happened to me on my recent tour in Oregon) is that if the airlines screws up your flight the shop might be closed by the time you get there. Plus there is something to be said for starting your tour right out of the destination airport.
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Old 08-14-18, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TulsaJohn
To get a better answer, you really need to provide more info such as departure & destination, time limits (do you need the bike until the day before), are you a high level frequent flyer, etc. Other than that, all suggestions are totally guesses or personal experiences like those already given. Hope you have a great tour! John
Thanks Tulsa John, just happens from Upper W Coast Seattle area to Kansas City MO for riding on Katy Trail ending in St Louis MO, then to Boston from there(for some riding in NewHapshire and Vermont, fall foliage up there that time of year?)
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Old 08-15-18, 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Eds0123
I'd be flying 3000 miles for a bicycle touring trip in September, what's the best way for getting bicycle from here to there? shipping it or taking it on a plane? Which one is cheaper or better and why, Thanks for any experience or wisdom or insight,
Depends on the airline.

Which airline are you planning to go with?


You can check this chart ... but you'll also want to check the actual airline to confirm.
https://www.ibike.org/encouragement/t...regs-chart.htm
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Old 08-15-18, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Eds0123
...from Upper W Coast Seattle area to Kansas City MO for riding on Katy Trail ending in St Louis MO, then to Boston from there(for some riding in NewHapshire and Vermont, fall foliage up there that time of year?)
izzat two separate flights with a short katy tour between? if so, double your bike transport costs. maybe ship your bike to boston for the big tour, fly to saint louis and rent a bike for the katy.
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Old 08-15-18, 05:07 AM
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bikeflights.com
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Old 08-15-18, 05:31 AM
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All my travel overseas (and interstate as an Australian resident) has seen my bikes travel on the planes with me. This includes a round-the-world trip about six years ago. Airlines travels does usually require the bike in a cardboard box below a specified weight, and the costs depend on what is normally charged by each airline. I have traveled several airlines, including on Australia, that don't charge anything. Majority, however, have charge of $100 or more.

The distinct advantage is that the bike arrives when you do, and you do need a certain level of reconstruction ability. After 20 years or so of practice, it all works quite well for me. After reconstruction, you can either set off on the intended route, or head for accommodation.
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Old 08-15-18, 07:10 AM
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I've never found an international option where it was cheaper to ship than fly with it. Plus, as mentioned, customs is essentially nullified escorting it across.

Domestic, it depends on your airline, destinations, and how long you can be without the bike.
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Old 08-15-18, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Eds0123
Thanks Tulsa John, just happens from Upper W Coast Seattle area to Kansas City MO for riding on Katy Trail ending in St Louis MO, then to Boston from there(for some riding in NewHapshire and Vermont, fall foliage up there that time of year?)
If you plan to take the train foe the KATY make you you reserve WELL in advance.

The train is actually the easiest way to travel with a bike but unfortunately there is nothing that gets you from Seattle to Kansas City, at least easily.
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Old 08-15-18, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by L134
Alaska Airlines will take a boxed bicycle as checked baggage for $25. Downside is that TSA will maul your box. I used them roundtrip in July. On way out they checked the bike and all my panniers and didn’t charge me anything. On the way back they wanted to charge me excess weight fee of $50 because my box was over 50 lbs and goodies besides the bike were in it. She waived it “this time” but did charge the $25. Rear derailleur hanger was tweaked on the return flight.
Yes, Thanks, yes, it's Air Alaska, should i get the bike shop pack it in a box or where do I get a box? I have shipped bikes before I know some did assembly etc is required ? what's the best way to protect rear deraileuer?

Also, I don't need this bike till the last day, I have other bikes I am using for everyday things,
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Old 08-15-18, 09:27 AM
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I have not been to an airport since flying to my father's memorial service, which was in 2000,

so before 9/11/01.. flew Sea-Tac and SFO, to AMS or LHR, in the 90's..
bike accompanied, I assembled it and rode off from airport ..
Schiphol was perfect for that..



Out here , the LBS receives boxed bikes , sent a couple weeks ahead,
and if indicated , assembled and ready to ride ,
when you get here... Amtrak or flying to PDX, then taking the bus to the coast,
which arrives 2 blocks away.




...

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-15-18 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 08-15-18, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
If you're traveling in the US, check out Bike Flights. Compare them to your airline fees, and what it will cost to get from the airport to the shipping point.
Thanks Andrew, yes bike flights looks like a better wiser choice,
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Old 08-15-18, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Eds0123
Yes, Thanks, yes, it's Air Alaska, should i get the bike shop pack it in a box or where do I get a box? I have shipped bikes before I know some did assembly etc is required ? what's the best way to protect rear deraileuer?

Also, I don't need this bike till the last day, I have other bikes I am using for everyday things,
I boxed the bike myself. Whether better to have shop do it or not probably depends on you. I used a Bike Flights box (not cheap) but one can also often get a free bike box from a shop. I tried that first but the box I got was too small and I decided to skip the hassle of finding another bigger one and just pay up for the Bike flights box. I also found the Bike Flights box easier to pack. Downside, TSA again, they wanted to rip it open from the top edge like you would the typical manufacturer’s box. On the other hand, I suppose once they do get it open, it is easier for them to inspect the contents so maybe less chance of lost items or damage? I communicated with Bike Flights about how this resulted in a lot of damage to my box and suggested they print instructions on the outside for TSA. They thanked me for the suggestion and sent me another box free! Not sure when I’ll use it but nice gesture for sure. Another advantage to the Bike Flights box is that it comes with other useful packing materials such as drop out spacers and, if you go to their website, they have a video on how best to pack their box, this includes removing the rear derailleur. If you decide to go with a Bike Flights box and pack it yourself, I’d be happy to be more detailed about my experience and how I might do things differently next time.
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Old 08-15-18, 10:38 AM
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Use bike flights. If you are staying at a motel, you can ship it there if the motel allows. Often bike shops can accept your bike and for a fee assemble it for you.

A big advantage of shipping bike separate from your flight is that you do not have to deal with getting a full size bike box to and from an airport. Taxis in my community can't carry a bike box in a Prius.
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Old 08-15-18, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo
^This.
I knew a guy that took a high-end CF bike in a hard case.

TSA:
- Opened the hard case
- Threw away the small parts contained in a bag in the case
- Broke the CF frame, jamming it back in the case
THAT is why i always ship via Fedex ground. no intrusion into your box/case.
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Old 08-15-18, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Use bike flights. If you are staying at a motel, you can ship it there if the motel allows. Often bike shops can accept your bike and for a fee assemble it for you.

A big advantage of shipping bike separate from your flight is that you do not have to deal with getting a full size bike box to and from an airport. Taxis in my community can't carry a bike box in a Prius.
What is bad about this plan is if for some reason you can't get to the motel because of last minute cacelation you might be stuck. A better option is a warmshowers host or bike shop.

Both will probably much more willing to send your bike back to you.
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Old 08-15-18, 11:26 AM
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Assuming that you are talking about using a standard cardboard bike box, the standard way to protect the rear derailleur is to have the derailleur shifted up to the largest cog. As a bike store owner for over 12 years, I have seen thousands of geared bikes, and that is the way that they always come. (I've never seen one damaged).
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Old 08-15-18, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian25
Assuming that you are talking about using a standard cardboard bike box, the standard way to protect the rear derailleur is to have the derailleur shifted up to the largest cog. As a bike store owner for over 12 years, I have seen thousands of geared bikes, and that is the way that they always come. (I've never seen one damaged).
I did a week long ACA trip in April, about 16 riders. I ended up being the unofficial bike mechanic because I had worked as one before I went to college. Of the fleet, two of the bikes had bent hangers and I did not want to risk breaking one of those breakable/replaceable hangers so I just tried to adjust their gearing the best I could without working on the hanger alignment.

If I was going to ship a bike on a plane, if it is a steel frame I would do what you suggested. But if it is not a steel frame, I would remove the dérailleur from the hanger and temporarily attach it to a chainstay or seat stay or rack with a zip tie. That of course means remove the chain, so it gets complicated and a bit messy. Bring disposable gloves, I always ask the dentist or doctors office when I am there if I can have a few spare pair and they are always happy to give me a few.
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