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Best way to get bikes from US to Munich for Trans-alp

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Best way to get bikes from US to Munich for Trans-alp

Old 02-23-19, 05:18 PM
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Best way to get bikes from US to Munich for Trans-alp

Greetings Bikeforums,
I hope this is the right place for this thread, and I am sure this type of thread has been done before so apologies in advance but I am interested in hearing thoughts. I am riding trans-alp this summer and am leaving from Munich. I am trying to decide whether to ship bikes (perhaps via bikeflights, etc) or invest in plane compatible bike transport options (like perhaps Ground Effect Tardis bags).

The quote I got on Bikeflights.com for two bikes was about $1000.00 round trip (estimated fees and duties, etc). Tardis Bags are about 200 apiece plus any airline fees.

I am sure there are a ton of variables but I am wondering if anyone can share overall thoughts and experiences with either of these two ways of getting bikes from the US to Germany (or Europe in general). Any info/thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
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Old 02-23-19, 05:26 PM
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Last two trips to Europe were on BA with no fees for bikes. I'd get the bike bag and carry it with you rather than shipping.
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Old 02-23-19, 06:04 PM
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Accompanied Luggage , Fly an EU airline From a Major city & you may not have a big fee added

Domestic carriers connecting flights that's more likely
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Old 02-23-19, 07:21 PM
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I've yet to find a bicycle shipping service for overseas tours that are less expensive than checking the bike on your flight. On some past tours the airline waived the fee for the bike since I did not check any additional luggage, but that is getting less and less likely. To me, the primary benefit of shipping the bike separately is one of convenience, such as not having to transport it to/from the airport and dealing with check-in staff who often don't seem to know what to do with it. For me though, that convenience is not worth the higher price of shipping.
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Old 02-23-19, 07:28 PM
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Yes, take it on the plane. Not only will it be cheaper, but when shipping unaccompanied there is always the chance that it will be held up in customs or you'll have to pay import duties on it. Look on Craigslist or Ebay for used bike cases. They come up often. Sometimes bike shops have them to rent, too.

If at all possible, try to fly direct. Less chance of the bike disappearing en route. Munich is a pretty bike-friendly airport, by the way (most German airports are as well). Are you renting a car or taking the train to the Trans-Alp start (I assume a car)?
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Old 02-23-19, 09:17 PM
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Bikeflights has good prices as long as there are no borders that can involve tariffs. That is why you should take the bike on the plane with you.

When you are checking ticket prices, add in the price of transporting your luggage and bike. Some airlines (mostly USA airlines) are quite hostile to bikers.

If you are going with a tour group or using a tour operator, check to see if they can line you up with a rental bike instead. Bring your pedals, saddle and water bottles and helmet on the plane and leave the rest up to them.

I think most European airlines have a luggage weight limit of 23kg which is close to the standard USA limit of 50 pounds. But check before you buy, some budget European airlines are 20 kg instead of 23.

A luggage scale is the travelers best friend.
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Old 02-24-19, 01:30 PM
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The answer is a no-brainer.
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Old 02-24-19, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Fishguy View Post
Greetings Bikeforums,
I hope this is the right place for this thread, and I am sure this type of thread has been done before so apologies in advance but I am interested in hearing thoughts. I am riding trans-alp this summer and am leaving from Munich. I am trying to decide whether to ship bikes (perhaps via bikeflights, etc) or invest in plane compatible bike transport options (like perhaps Ground Effect Tardis bags).

The quote I got on Bikeflights.com for two bikes was about $1000.00 round trip (estimated fees and duties, etc). Tardis Bags are about 200 apiece plus any airline fees.

I am sure there are a ton of variables but I am wondering if anyone can share overall thoughts and experiences with either of these two ways of getting bikes from the US to Germany (or Europe in general). Any info/thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
My wife and I both have an Orucase Airport Ninja. We have taken several trips and have not been charged for a bike. I have airline status and an airline credit card that gets me a free bag and it’s worked fine for that. We typically fly Delta and their partners (KLM in the EU). The fact that the bike goes as regular luggage, when Delta normally charges $150 for a bike means we’ve paid for our cases easily.

They move well through the airport. We arrive and depart throught the same airport typically, so we make arrangments with our first night hotel to leave our cases there during the trip. If I wasn’t arriving and departing through the same airport, I’d just work with a hotel to ship the bag ahead to my next destination for departure. Would be simple to set that all up ahead of time. Shipping the bag would be pretty cheap and a one time charge.

The downside is that you have to dissassemble your bike to a fair degree - remove wheels, fork, handlebars, pedals, unbolt and secure rear derailleur. Once you have it down, I can re-assemble two bikes in an hour. Takes me just over 20 minutes a bike if you think about it and come up with a good system.

Love these cases. We now fly with our bikes whenever we travel by air.

https://www.orucase.com/

Based on the quote you’ve gotten, you’d pay for this case before you ever got on the airplane.

The other alternative is you could make a cardboard “Orucase” in the same shape and ship that as luggage too. But I’d bet you’d stand a higher risk of getting charged.

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Old 02-24-19, 11:07 PM
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most bike shops will happily give you a cardboard box
they get them with new bikes all the time
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Old 02-26-19, 11:36 PM
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Pack your bike in a rigid bike case and pack it well. Consider insuring it as well.
Also, check the individual airlines policies on traveling with a bike. For example, from San Francisco to Europe, US Airlines charges $100, Swiss Air $289 and I think I read on an earlier post that British Air doesn't charge anything.

I can't emphasize the rigid case enough though. Last summer I bought a bicycle in Italy for my son who rode it for 5 weeks in the Dolomites with my brother. When we flew home I packed the bike in a soft case according to the instructions given by US Airways and the bike was destroyed beyond repair by the luggage handlers. Our flight was from Venice to Philadelphia and then on to San Francisco. The bicycle arrived in Philadelphia, where we had to declare it for customs, in perfect shape but when it arrived in San Francisco it was destroyed. US Airlines said it would only pay for the damage to the bike bag but after they saw the condition of the bag they agreed there had been abuse and they paid for the bike.
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Old 02-27-19, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by tulowulo View Post
Pack your bike in a rigid bike case and pack it well. Consider insuring it as well.
Also, check the individual airlines policies on traveling with a bike. For example, from San Francisco to Europe, US Airlines charges $100, Swiss Air $289 and I think I read on an earlier post that British Air doesn't charge anything.

I can't emphasize the rigid case enough though. Last summer I bought a bicycle in Italy for my son who rode it for 5 weeks in the Dolomites with my brother. When we flew home I packed the bike in a soft case according to the instructions given by US Airways and the bike was destroyed beyond repair by the luggage handlers. Our flight was from Venice to Philadelphia and then on to San Francisco. The bicycle arrived in Philadelphia, where we had to declare it for customs, in perfect shape but when it arrived in San Francisco it was destroyed. US Airlines said it would only pay for the damage to the bike bag but after they saw the condition of the bag they agreed there had been abuse and they paid for the bike.
You know, I just don't agree that the rigid case provides that much extra protection, if any. The airlines have a unique ability to damage things because they are using a lot of heavy power equipment. If they back the truck into the dock with your case in between, it isn't going to make any difference at all if your case is hard, soft or made from concrete or anything in between. And that's pretty much what happens when big damage happens. I've had stuff in hard cases damaged in ways that you just can't believe (like the alpine skis that were bent into a 90 degree angle). So the hard cases are no real benefit at all.

I do understand that the "hard" cases make the owner feel better though. And I do think hard cases probably last longer than soft because they handle abrasion better. That said, they are considerably heavier and usually considerably larger. I feel, based on a lot of air miles, that airlines are a lot more sensitive about weight than size. Weight means higher worker's comp costs from potential injury and it means higher cost from fuel expense. We've found that airlines are a lot more forgiving about a somewhat oversized bag than they are about even a slightly overweight one.

The reality is that a bike frame is an incredibly tough and strong structure if you have something in the dropouts to keep the frame from being compressed. If you don't have something in the drop outs, you're deeply at risk in any case - hard or soft - from pressure that's from the sides. So in *any* case, how you pack it into that case matters in a big way.
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Pretty much every case - hard or soft - has panels that are about the same toughness in preventing a point pressure from pushing against the frame. That would be "pressure" in the normal baggage handling sense, of course. If a truck backs into your case, if it falls off the baggage cart and gets run over, if it gets jammed in a conveyer or lift, all bets are off no matter what because those are forces produced by heavy equipment that is designed to move high volumes of tonnage quickly and if it is that force against your case, the case loses and it doesn't matter what the case is made from.

I'll also say that that sort of severe damage is becoming much more rare than it used to be. We've traveled worldwide with both skis and bikes in cases and have had a lot more success than failure (and it's improved over the years). With our current cases, the bikes go through the normal baggage scheme (no special handling required) and that seems to work the best. Where trouble happens, IMHO, is when you get out of that flow and the bag requires special handling and transport. That's when things fall off of trucks, protruding items get smashed into loading docks, and things get run over. Spends some time watching how baggage gets handled at an airport and I think you'll see what I mean. They've had to create baggage handling flows that handle cheap pink "snoopy" bags and a compact bike case is way more robust than that.

I will say this though - almost *any* bike case is better than a cardboard box. That said, thousands maybe millions of bikes are shipped every year in cardboard boxes without incident. That's how they come packaged to your LBS. But every one of those has protectors in the dropouts and caps over the wheel hubs - those pieces definitely make a difference.

We're big fans of our Orucase Airport Ninjas and are considered "soft" cases but which have been flawless in protecting our bikes and which we have yet to ever be charged an airline bike charge which on Delta/KLM is $150 each way. These bags have heavy padding around the circumference of the bag and dual sheets of dense plastic that provide similar structural rigidity to the bag as in a hard case. That's pretty typical in a lot of soft bags too. What's unique about the Orucases is that they are very close to the airline size spec without having to have a frame that has couplers and they are much lighter than most other bike cases. They just happily ride down the conveyors and up into the aircraft without fuss.




Last edited by JohnJ80; 02-27-19 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 02-27-19, 02:15 PM
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Based on recommendations here and in other media, my wife and I just got Orucase Airport Ninja bags for our upcoming trip to France. The savings in bike transport fees should pay for the cases this trip.

Previously, I transported my bike in a Trico hard case and also in specially designed boxes from Shipbikes.com. One of the big issues with any container you plan to reuse is what to do with it while you're touring. Shipping a Trico hardcase to my destination when I wasn't pedaling a loop route was expensive. The Shipbikes boxes fold flat and are cheaper to send to your destination, but being corrugated paper, they are only good for a couple of uses. I expect the Orucases to be a challenge to ship to my ultimate destination as well but not as costly as my hardcase.

A problem that no one has mentioned yet, is the mandatory TSA inspection. Whatever container you use, it will be opened by airport security people who likely have a poor understanding of the fragility of your bike. And, they have little time to repack it with the TLC you would use. Include photos and written instructions taped under see-through mylar tape to the outside of the box to help them do their job.

The first time I took my bike to Australia was pretty intimidating, but now, having taken my bike with me over a dozen times, it's not so worrying anymore.

Lastly, if you choose to go with a hardcase, I'll sell you my Trico, ping me for details

Safe travels.
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Old 02-27-19, 02:32 PM
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Thanks for your response. Given that you are much more experienced in traveling with your bike, I will take your advice. I have a hard case for our upcoming trip this summer and I was concerned about its weight and awkwardness. I looked into your suggestion of the Orucase and it's a little more than I hoped to spend but it's cheaper than a new bicycle not to mention the disappointment in finding your special bike destroyed.
BTW, I did put dropout spacers on my son's bike when I packed it but it didn't seem to help very much.
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Old 02-27-19, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
You know, I just don't agree that the rigid case provides that much extra protection, if any. The airlines have a unique ability to damage things because they are using a lot of heavy power equipment. If they back the truck into the dock with your case in between, it isn't going to make any difference at all if your case is hard, soft or made from concrete or anything in between. And that's pretty much what happens when big damage happens. I've had stuff in hard cases damaged in ways that you just can't believe (like the alpine skis that were bent into a 90 degree angle). So the hard cases are no real benefit at all.
Yeah. When I was at the Italian Cycling Center with some people back in 2013 one guy's carbon frame had punctures in it from the return flight, which also happened to be from Venice to Philly. His bike was in a hard case which also had punctures. The shape of punctures made it appear as if someone speared the case with a small forklift or something similar. Luckily for him, U.S. Airways agreed to pay him the cost of a replacement frame, but I think he had to eat the cost of the parts transfer.

I have flown with bikes and shipped bikes out west in a Crateworks plastic box numerous times with no problem. (Knock on wood.)

https://www.crateworks.com/product/p...stic-bike-box/

But I also once took three flights to get from Spain to the U.S. with my bike fully assembled in nothing but a plastic bag supplied by the airline. Only issue there was a slightly tweeked rear wheel.
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Old 02-27-19, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by schoolboy2 View Post
Based on recommendations here and in other media, my wife and I just got Orucase Airport Ninja bags for our upcoming trip to France. The savings in bike transport fees should pay for the cases this trip.

Previously, I transported my bike in a Trico hard case and also in specially designed boxes from Shipbikes.com. One of the big issues with any container you plan to reuse is what to do with it while you're touring. Shipping a Trico hardcase to my destination when I wasn't pedaling a loop route was expensive. The Shipbikes boxes fold flat and are cheaper to send to your destination, but being corrugated paper, they are only good for a couple of uses. I expect the Orucases to be a challenge to ship to my ultimate destination as well but not as costly as my hardcase.

A problem that no one has mentioned yet, is the mandatory TSA inspection. Whatever container you use, it will be opened by airport security people who likely have a poor understanding of the fragility of your bike. And, they have little time to repack it with the TLC you would use. Include photos and written instructions taped under see-through mylar tape to the outside of the box to help them do their job.

The first time I took my bike to Australia was pretty intimidating, but now, having taken my bike with me over a dozen times, it's not so worrying anymore.

Lastly, if you choose to go with a hardcase, I'll sell you my Trico, ping me for details

Safe travels.
Looking forward to hearing how you like your case. We really like ours but they do take a little investment in time to figure out how to best pack them the first time. Feel free to PM me if you needs some suggestions.

The Orucase has a zipper that goes around about 60% of the case. It's pretty easy for the TSA to open it up and look inside without having to take everything out and repack it. They've looked in our cases just about every time we've traveled with them and they always look in my ski boxes when I have wax with me. I think they want to make sure the wax isn't an explosive or something. Who knows with the TSA?

Tip here - we don't put much of anything in our cases other than the bikes. I know some believe in stuffing them full up to the weight limit, but I think keeping them light works a lot better. It's both easier to wrangle an awkward shape around and it's less of a red flag to the baggage agent. Read the suggestions about dealing with baggage agents in the videos and website from Orucase. We will take a large duffel with us and put other stuff in there if we need more. I have lifetime status on the airlines so baggage is less of an issue for me but if you have the airline's credit card and you bought the ticket with it, you often get extra bags. As long as you have one checked, it really isn't a hassle to check another one. Also, if you do choose to use the backpack straps on the case, 35lbs is not insignificant, more is very significant, so again less is more IMO.

We do put in some pretty substantial drop out protectors (we use the overpriced ones from Scion) and we do put the hub protectors and a layer of thin foam between the wheel hub protectors and the case. I also wrap the RD hanger with foam and put pipe insulation around all the tubes of the bike held in place with velcro straps. I only deflate the tires by about 20psi since atmospheric pressure is 15psi which minimizes pumping at the destination and makes the wheels a bit stronger by putting them under compression. Other than that, the bike wheels are pretty strong in and of themselves and they are also surrounding and protecting your bike. Done like that, the entire case, including some misc tools and bike parts comes in around 35lbs which is well below the 50lb or 70lb limit (international and domestic frequent flyer bag weights). No one complains and the smallest baggage agent can easily lift it and are usually pleasantly surprised at how light it is. Happy baggage agents are key.
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We also have the roll aboard bags that have metal frames (same ones a lot of aircrew use). I've used them for the many years when I traveled for business and they are brutishly tough. We were able to fashion a sling arrangement with the Orucase straps so the bikes ride on the luggage hook on our wheelies which makes them pretty easy to manage in airports, trains, and buses and not need baggage carts. I'm not sure I'd try that with just any wheelie, but the proof of that is left to the reader, I guess. These work great for that. On our last trip, we used them to wheel our bike cases about a half mile from the bus station to our hotel as well as through the airports. Worked great and that included carrying the duffel I mentioned above. Again, these wheelie carryon bags are beyond tough.

Originally Posted by tulowulo View Post
Thanks for your response. Given that you are much more experienced in traveling with your bike, I will take your advice. I have a hard case for our upcoming trip this summer and I was concerned about its weight and awkwardness. I looked into your suggestion of the Orucase and it's a little more than I hoped to spend but it's cheaper than a new bicycle not to mention the disappointment in finding your special bike destroyed.
BTW, I did put dropout spacers on my son's bike when I packed it but it didn't seem to help very much.
Agree and I think you'll be quite happy with those cases. I think you'll find that the more compact shape is pretty handy in airports and airport buses. Bear in mind, if the airline goes at your case with a forklift as above, the case - any case - loses every time. If you want to know more about how we do it, just PM me.

So there's always added risk over not traveling with the bike. That said, like most serious cyclists, we're pretty picky about the bikes we ride and how they fit. It's hard to duplicate that on a rental bike and there's nothing like riding your own favorite bike.

But if you did have to rent a bike, if you have the measurements written down, you should be able to get close and at least salvage the trip. Knock on wood - it won't be a problem but luck is when opportunity meets preparation, as the saying goes. You need the height of handlebars to the ground, the height of your saddle to the ground, the distance from the center of your seat post to the center of your handlebars, the distance from the nose of your seat to the handlebars, and the angle of your seat relative to the ground. Make sure the wheels are level - you may have to adjust for the ground not being level. Account for differences in ground height if you have fatter or narrower tires from when you did your measurement. That should get you pretty close. There are some great smartphone apps to get you the equivalent of a bubble level so that and a tape measure are all you need. Incidentally, nice to have if you forget to mark things like seatpost height or it rubs off.

Where are you going on your trip?

Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Yeah. When I was at the Italian Cycling Center with some people back in 2013 one guy's carbon frame had punctures in it from the return flight, which also happened to be from Venice to Philly. His bike was in a hard case which also had punctures. The shape of punctures made it appear as if someone speared the case with a small forklift or something similar. Luckily for him, U.S. Airways agreed to pay him the cost of a replacement frame, but I think he had to eat the cost of the parts transfer.

I have flown with bikes and shipped bikes out west in a Crateworks plastic box numerous times with no problem. (Knock on wood.)

https://www.crateworks.com/product/p...stic-bike-box/

But I also once took three flights to get from Spain to the U.S. with my bike fully assembled in nothing but a plastic bag supplied by the airline. Only issue there was a slightly tweeked rear wheel.
I guess that pretty much supports what I believe to be the case (although ascribing reason to airlines is not necessarily a reasonable expectation). As long as you stay in their luggage handling flow which is what it sounds like what they wanted you to do in your trip from Spain, you should be fairly safe with an expectation that things will work out ok. Some of that depends on the airline and how they agree to handle bikes. Some of that depends on the actual airport and it's baggage handling infrastructure (airlines can only use what is there). The rest is on you with your case/box and how well you pack it. No matter what though, hard to not worry about any luggage that's not carryon. Delta does have a pretty cool system now though where you can tell where your bag is real time. So while you're sitting in your seat and they're loading baggage, you can tell that your bag made it on the plane with you. That's pretty comforting in it's own right.

J.

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Old 02-27-19, 03:53 PM
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We are heading back to Venice. My family lives there and we are fortunate to return frequently.
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Old 02-27-19, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post


My wife and I both have an Orucase Airport Ninja. . . .

Love these cases. We now fly with our bikes whenever we travel by air.

https://www.orucase.com/

Based on the quote you’ve gotten, you’d pay for this case before you ever got on the airplane.
I have a friend who could use one of those! Thanks for the link.
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Old 02-27-19, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post

I have a friend who could use one of those! Thanks for the link.
glad to help. Hope it works for them as well as it has for us.

Originally Posted by tulowulo View Post
We are heading back to Venice. My family lives there and we are fortunate to return frequently.
wow - great to have family and friends in places like that!
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Old 02-28-19, 10:38 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Accompanied Luggage , Fly an EU airline From a Major city & you may not have a big fee added

Domestic carriers connecting flights that's more likely
Agree with this. I have used BA regularly and because I fly Premium Economy and have BAEC Silver status, the cost for me is ZERO. Similarly, I fly OW airlines a lot and the bike essentially flies for free in a cardboard Qantas bicycle box. Within Australia I have to pay for flying the box with Qantas , but not internationally.

FWIW, a decade ago I flew on Aeroflot and paid $100 Canadian one-way. No idea what the situation is now.
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