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Flying with a bike.

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Flying with a bike.

Old 01-08-19, 10:35 AM
  #1  
crazyravr
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Flying with a bike.

How do you do it? Do you cardboard box it or do you use a proper case? Why one over the other? How do you pack your gear?
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Old 01-08-19, 10:58 AM
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I've done cardboard box and plastic bag. Generally do box on the way there and bag on the way back for convenience. Both have worked fine.
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Old 01-08-19, 11:06 AM
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What are some bags that would be recommended that fit nicely into a pannier after a bike is reassembled? (besides a plastic bag)
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Old 01-08-19, 11:32 AM
  #4  
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1-way trip: cardboard box.
round trip: S&S suitcase -- My wife and I got our first S&S coupled bikes in 2009. We've since upgraded our coupled single bikes and added a coupled tandem. Our nearest airport serves Southwest, so we generally carry our bike(s) for free.
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Old 01-08-19, 11:41 AM
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Creativity in problem solving is part of touring ...

I used and discarded cardboard boxes as my bike tours did not always form a loop , starting in one country and leaving from another..

Where I am now , A touring destination, some people use a hard case and pay to have it shipped to where they next will use it.

Or use a cardboard box ...

at the end of the season there is a service to box and ship of bikes for people who end their transcontinental tours here..

Reusing boxes and packing materials from earlier bikes built up for crossing the other way , and new bikes on the sales floor..


...
My last tour I started in Dublin , and left from Aberdeen made up a long enough box from 2, with a good amount of packing tape

my panniers in plastic bags used for shipping chicken feed grains ...





...

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-08-19 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 01-08-19, 11:53 AM
  #6  
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I bought a cardboard bikeflights box and have used it 4 times so far. I always ship to my destination, which is usually a relative's home. Helmet and shoes are usually with me in luggage though a helmet would easily fit in the box. I will get at least one more trip out of this box, but they are cheap.
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Old 01-08-19, 12:35 PM
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If you are flying inside the country then ship it ahead. It is usually cheaper and easier.

The exact requirements for packaging will depend on your airline.but almost all except at least boxed. I have used both hard case and box.
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Old 01-08-19, 12:43 PM
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Iím not one to give people crap for not searching, but this one is about as basic as it gets...
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Old 01-08-19, 01:24 PM
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My bike goes in its S & S case. My wife's goes in a Bikeflights cardboard box for now. Just recently became aware of this thing: https://postcarry.co/ thanks to Russ at pathlesspeddled. If it seems like my wife's bike is going to make many more trips, that might be worth having. The biggest hassle on our last trip was, after landing and assembling our bikes, realizing that we had no good way to carry the bike box out of the airport. That backpack feature on the Post Carry box would have been great.
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Old 01-08-19, 01:30 PM
  #10  
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S&S in a soft side case, and a separate checked bag with panniers and other gear. Either store the luggage if coming back to the same airport or ship suitcase with collapsed bike case inside to final destination.
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Old 01-08-19, 01:36 PM
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Regardless of method, at least a few days in advance make sure you can get your pedals off. Sometimes bike shops put them on really tight and you do not want to be trying to get a stuck pedal off the bike when you are under a really tight timeline.
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Old 01-08-19, 03:17 PM
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Know your airline dimensional and weight limits before packing. Print a copy just in case.

I split my coupled bike between a charity shop suitcase and cut down bike box for point to point travel. Full sized wheels are beastly to manage without a special case. The wheels go in the box.

My non coupled bike has only travelled by post and train.

Edit: Helmet goes on the head because I want to clue the X-ray people to what odd ball junk is in my carry-on. At one airport all the X-ray techs huddled together as the pointed at me and each object on the screen. I lol'd.

Last edited by escii_35; 01-08-19 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 01-08-19, 03:18 PM
  #13  
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I'd suggest you search the forum for past threads. This question gets asked about once a month ;-)
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Old 01-08-19, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Regardless of method, at least a few days in advance make sure you can get your pedals off. Sometimes bike shops put them on really tight and you do not want to be trying to get a stuck pedal off the bike when you are under a really tight timeline.
A very good point.
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Old 01-08-19, 04:52 PM
  #15  
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I wonder if he ever was able to have children?
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Old 01-08-19, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Philly Tandem View Post
I'd suggest you search the forum for past threads. This question gets asked about once a month ;-)
Sure, but then they will unwittingly add a comment to a thread that has been over for three years, and another group of folks will bash them for resurrecting a dead thread over starting a new one
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Old 01-08-19, 09:08 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Regardless of method, at least a few days in advance make sure you can get your pedals off. Sometimes bike shops put them on really tight and you do not want to be trying to get a stuck pedal off the bike when you are under a really tight timeline.
And you are able to remove the seat post. The day before our tour of the Selkirk Loop, my buddy's son decided to start packing. My buddy and his son were up to the wee hours of the morning getting the seat post unfrozen and the bike packed.
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Old 01-08-19, 09:17 PM
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For packing, there are dozens of you tube videos. Some are not very good and do not provide a lot of protection and some are probably more work than necessary, but if you look at half a dozen of them you will get a pretty good idea of what is important and what is not.

Regarding your specific question, bike case or card board box, I suspect it is somewhat dependent on your budget. And of course, the quality of the bike box if you got a used cardboard box from a bike shop. And the weight of your bike since a hard case often is somewhat heavy which could trip an airline weight limit if your bike was also on the heavy side.

I am not saying these are the best videos, but since they were produced by a shipping company, they have some automatic credibility.
https://www.bikeflights.com/pack

I have only flown with my S&S bike and with my folding bike in an S&S case, not with a conventional bike which I assume you have. Thus, I do not have much other advice to offer.
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Old 01-09-19, 06:55 AM
  #19  
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CrateWork plastic box. Racks, stove and fuel bottle fit inside with the bike. But I don't fly domestically anymore. I ship with BikeFlights.
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Old 01-09-19, 09:00 AM
  #20  
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Thank you guys for replies. I was curious about the safety of a cardboard box and whether those boxes get the same treatment by the airport crew as your typical suitcase, or are they actually being careful with it if they see its a bike.
I often go on vacation to Cuba and would love to explore the local countryside while there a bit more, so I want to bring my Trek Fx2 along one of these days and hop on when I feel like it.
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Old 01-09-19, 10:36 AM
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I've done both. I have a hard shell bike case but now I almost exclusively fly with the bike in a cardboard box because:
  • Most of my trips begin and end at separate airports and I don't want to hassle with shipping the case to my return airport. I make prior arrangements to have my bike packed by a local bike shop at the end of my tour. That way I know a bike box will be available even if I end up packing it myself. I request that they not seal the box because a) I want to check and make sure it's my bike and only my bike in the box. Some of the European airports still ask if I packed my own luggage. I want to be able to truthfully respond yes. And b) I want to put in the box some of my tools and other pointy things that I can't take on the plane.
  • I also prefer the cardboard box because it is lighter than the bike case. One airline tried to charge me double bike fee because the hard shell case with bike exceeded standard luggage weight requirements, even though it fell within the specific fee for special luggage category.
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Old 01-09-19, 10:47 AM
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We're planning to fly with our bikes from Copenhagen to Paris this August. The two airlines who have non-stop flights which work for our schedule are Air France and SAS-Ireland. Both require that we contact the airline at least 48 hours in advance to confirm that there will be space for bike boxes. This is concerning as we don't know what we'll do if there isn't room for the bike boxes!

Has anyone else here had experience with this new requirement?
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Old 01-09-19, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by redbagsrambler View Post
I've done both. I have a hard shell bike case but now I almost exclusively fly with the bike in a cardboard box because:
  • I also prefer the cardboard box because it is lighter than the bike case. One airline tried to charge me double bike fee because the hard shell case with bike exceeded standard luggage weight requirements, even though it fell within the specific fee for special luggage category.

Same here. The trick might be to use curbside check in. I did this in Pittsburgh and there was no problem. On the return I went straight to the gate. The woman at the gate wanted to charge me something like $400 when it should have been $25 or maybe it was $50. I think she was simply pissed that she needed to move the heavy case. She pretty much started off with a bad attitude as soon as she saw the case.
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Old 01-09-19, 11:33 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by crazyravr View Post
Thank you guys for replies. I was curious about the safety of a cardboard box and whether those boxes get the same treatment by the airport crew as your typical suitcase, or are they actually being careful with it if they see its a bike.
I often go on vacation to Cuba and would love to explore the local countryside while there a bit more, so I want to bring my Trek Fx2 along one of these days and hop on when I feel like it.
from my experience over the years doing the cardboard box thing (somewhere around 10 flights maybe) my recommendations are always the same--do your best on your end in packing it, using common sense of imagining waht parts will be banged into other parts with rough treatment, so use proper positioning, cushioning, and tips from experienced people to help the bike the best you can
-and then just cross your fingers, its a giant roulette wheel of luck depending on the individual luggage workers that day and how much they take care, or are pissed off at the world that day....its out of our hands once it disappears down the conveyer belt....

-use proper plastic bits you ask for at the bike store that come with all new bikes, fork protector in place of wheel, rd protector, foam bits
-place front wheel and handlebars in a common sense manner so they dont dent the hell out of your frame, use foam cushioning intelligently
-put front wheel skewer and pedals in with your luggage so they ddont get lost
-I now put some foam under the fork, tape it to the solid plastic thing and fork, to add some cushion for when the box is banged down hard , reducing force going into the headtube and frame
-I tape some foam to any obvious metal parts that are against the side of box (re rear wheel skewer) that will obviously receive bangs and forces into them from box falling over or from having suitcases layed on top of your horizontal bike box (seen it happen to my bike box myself, my box laid down on baggage truck, then all suitcases piled on top if it...)

-cross your fingers
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Old 01-09-19, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
The trick might be to use curbside check in. I did this in Pittsburgh and there was no problem.
Heh. Many years ago I had what I thought was a great plan when I had to fly with my bike. The flight was at a popular time, so I figured that curbside check in fellow might be extremely busy and might not think to charge me the $75 bike fee. Arrived by cab and, sure enough, he was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Gave him my bike box and gear bag and was not charged a thing. Proceeded to security with a "I just got over, big time, smile on my face. Just as I made it though security I heard my name over the PA system. I was being paged to come to my gate. When I got to the gate, an airline agent told me I hadn't paid the bike fee. I told her I was never asked to pay a fee. She happily took my credit card and charged me right there on the spot. At that time, the screening machine at the terminal I entered was close to the curbside check in location. Because the airport did not have large machines, the TSA agent opened the box. The airline agent told me that the check in guy just happened to walk by when the box was open, saw the bike and alerted her.
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