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those of you that have flown with bikes...

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those of you that have flown with bikes...

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Old 09-16-05, 11:33 PM
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kidreger
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those of you that have flown with bikes...

what is the usual dismantling process that your bike has to go through when flying with your bike? what do you have to take apart, what can you leave on? do most airlines provide boxes for you bike? is there usually a fee atatched to a bike box? can i include the bike box as checked bagage? what is usually the maximum amount of baggage i can fly with?
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Old 09-17-05, 12:33 AM
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Hi, I usually scrounge a used bicycle cardboard box from the cardboard recycling bin in the alley behind my LBS. Then I cut it down to size so is just about the length of my frame -(the box is reduced to the smallest practicle size to lessen the chance of an over-size charge)...I disassemble my bike, removing the fork, handlebars, crankset-(with bulky chainring) and the seat..-and wheels ofcourse...-and proceed to cram everything (including my helmet and tools if they will fit) into the "cut-down-to-sized" -modified bicycle box. Lastly I use about 3 roles of duck-tape to reinforce things, and try not to let the airline employee behind the check-in counter in on the fact that there is infact a complete bicycle in the package to avoid the fee -(haven't had to pay yet). good luck
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Old 09-17-05, 06:23 AM
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In general: I have paid airlines to ship my bicycle within Canada and the USA, and not paid to ship it overseas. Most airlines provide boxes or big plastic bags. In either case, the only disassembly required is removing the pedals, loosening the handlebars and twisting them sideways, and bleeding a little air from the tires. When I flew home from Italy last year, I had to pay to have my entire bicycle shrink-wrapped in plastic. It looked like an Egyptian mummy!

My bike ALMOST always arrives safely when I ship it. One time it was slightly damaged, and I spent two days and the equivalent of $70 to get it tuned-up at a bike store in London UK. (After a lot of letters, the airline eventually reimbursed me.) I met someone whose bicycle was damaged in a hard-shell plastic case. For me, the lesson is that there are no guarantees in life. I try not to worry about possible bike damage when I fly. Most of the time, a bike is going to be just fine.

Red House's approach is ingenious. Although it may be possible to disassemble a bike to avoid a shipping fee, I am not comfortable performing radical bike surgery, so I often do end up paying for shipping. I am not particularly mechanically gifted, so I have little choice but to pay a nominal fee with no guarantees.
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Old 09-17-05, 06:45 AM
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In my experience:

Interstate US, box plus a fee. I've read that you may be able to haggle with a counter person at check in (ie-don't tell them it's a bike in the box, just display parts).

International (from the US), I haven't boxed-nor paid a fee. I've flown Lufthansa and British Airways this way two tours, multiple flights(post 9/11). Check airline policy, BA had large clear plastic bags at Bostons Logan airport-but didn't bother with one from Istanbul. I just removed pedals, saddle/seat post and lowered+turned the handlebar. My touring bikes have full front+rear racks and fenders, so these may add some minimal wheel protection.

I travelled once with my Raleigh, and once with my Waterford using this method. It's super handy if your cycling to or from the airport. Setup/takedown time takes just a few minutes.

Also, I now use SRAM chains with quicklinks, so I'll be removing the chain for future trips.
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Old 09-17-05, 06:45 AM
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kidreger,
your from Canada, and so far these appears to be a Canadian thread. I've flown 3 Canadian airlines; from Air Canada to Zoom and I find they never charge (Air Canada in London wanted to weigh it and charge a surcharge, but didn't) as the bike flies as 'sporting equipment'. I usually travel with a photocopy of airline policy I've got from the web, that usually stops any arguments.

My favourite way is to ride the bike to the airport, then re-pressurize the tires, turn the bar and pedals and roll the bike into the plastic bag they provide. The bag is $5 and sometimes hard to find so I go a few days before and buy 2 bags; one to go and one to return.

This year I'm fastening the front wheel straight as once I got the bike back with it turned and it could easily have been damaged.

Once at your destination you can tear it out of the bag, straighten bars and pedals, pump up tires and within 5 minutes you are off!

Living in Toronto, I always fly direct, so there is not too much handling. How close are you to Winnipeg? Can you fly directly to your destination?
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Old 09-17-05, 08:23 AM
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If you use teh bike in a bag method, and camp, save the bag to use as a footprint. I didn't, but will in the future. Sliced open, I could have cut the bag down just shy of my tent bottom.
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Old 09-17-05, 12:43 PM
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Most airlines will have a section on their website detailing what has to be done. My experience w/ British Airways was similar to Camel's, just turn the bars sideways, take off the pedals and go. Some people slide pipe wrap insulating foam over the frame tubes to protect them.

American carriers charge pretty high rates, the last time I flew anywhere inside the US (Denver-NH) it was cheaper to box the bike and ship it FedEx ground.

My theory is that a cardboard box with an expensive bike in it will get treated like a cardboard box by the baggage handlers, thrown around, etc. while an unboxed bike will get treated like a possibly expensive bike and handled more carefully. If I were travelling with a road bike with carbon fiber frame or fork I would definitely use a hardshell travel case.
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Old 09-17-05, 06:15 PM
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Old 09-19-05, 01:54 PM
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I've always carried my bike in a hard case. All I have to do is remove the wheels, handlebar, pedals, seatpost (with saddle) and rack, all of which can fit in the travel case with the bike. I have never been charged a fee except once on the return leg from Canada. However, I have not flown my bike for awhile, so things may have changed a lot. I am aware, however, that Lufthansa still considers the bike as checked luggage.
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Old 09-19-05, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by PurpleK
I've always carried my bike in a hard case.
Where do you store the case? I've heard nightmares about the cost of storing. Also you have to start and finish at the same place unless you want to ship your empty case.
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Old 09-19-05, 04:54 PM
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Some airlines (eg qantas) have a bike box you can buy from them for $10, which is huge - I fitted my bike plus panniers and all my gear in it and they didn't charge anything. I packed really carefully using some foam that I got from an appliance store and cut to shape and the bike arrived in perfect condition.

I also flew domestic US on United - they said they were going to charge me $80 when I phoned, but I was very friendly to the girl behind the counter and she didnt charge me . I got a box from a bike shop and packed really well again. I needn't have bothered though as when I collected it it had been opened and unpacked by homeland security (or whatever it is called) and they just shoved all the bits back in without all my packaging - fortunatelty nothing was damaged....
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Old 09-20-05, 05:09 AM
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Hmm... I keep posting this link to these questions. IMO, it's the obvious authoritative source on travelling with bikes. Do all these repeat questions in the touring forum imply that it's still an obscure site?

http://www.bikeaccess.net/BikeAccess/default.cfm

The site has info on specific airlines, as well as opinions on, and hints for, boxing.

My "dismantling process" is twist the stem 90 degrees, remove pedals and deflate the tyres just enough to satisfy the ignorant check-in desk staff. Then wheel it straight over to Oversized Baggage.

I'll box only when absolutely forced to, as I think that casual boxing is more likely to result in serious damage. Cardboard boxes provide negligable protection- if you believe in boxing, go the whole hog and buy an expensive, bulky and difficult-to-store hardcase.

Regarding airline restrictions, this is highly dependent on the airline and destination. So check the website. That said, Westjet gives great baggage allowances (2 x 32kg bags). The smaller budget carriers such as Harmony screw you with 1x20kg.
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Old 09-20-05, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by stokell
Where do you store the case? I've heard nightmares about the cost of storing. Also you have to start and finish at the same place unless you want to ship your empty case.
Well, you just hit upon the downsides of the hard case. However, the protection they provide is enormous. When I took my bike to Ireland, I was able stand in the gate area and see my case being loaded onto the airplane. Imagine my horror when I watched the case tumble from the conveyor about ten feet to the tarmac. Only a few scratches to the case, no damage at all to the bike or other contents.

You are correct in that I have to start and finish at the same place, so my overseas tours have been loops. Even though I don't book most of my rooms in advance, I usually do book my first and last nights at the same place which enables me to recover from the trip over and prepare for the trip back. I make certain the guesthouse will store the case when I make the booking, and I usually request a confirmation through email that they will. I've never had a problem.

I have considered point to point tours instead of loops, but so far haven't done that. If I go that route (pun intended), my plan is to use a disposable bike box to get there and make prior arrangment with a bike shop in the departure city to have a box available when I leave.
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Old 09-21-05, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by womble
Hmm... I keep posting this link to these questions. IMO, it's the obvious authoritative source on travelling with bikes. Do all these repeat questions in the touring forum imply that it's still an obscure site?

http://www.bikeaccess.net/BikeAccess/default.cfm

The site has info on specific airlines, as well as opinions on, and hints for, boxing.
The site is a bit dusty. It lists airlines that don't exist any longer. I've posted several corrections, but I think everyone should do their own research to avoid a surprise at the airport.
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Old 09-21-05, 08:07 AM
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It also depends on the policy at the airport or the company that does the baggage handling for the airline.
At Schiphol in Amsterdam you have to box your bike, you can buy boxes from KLM (expensive) or Menzies (cheaper). At Gardermoen in Oslo they just wrapped some plastic around the wheels, and it was fine.
I like allan's idea of just bagging the bike. It makes luggage handling alot easier if you can just tear the bag off your bike, mount the panniers and wheel the bike around.

Last edited by skookum; 09-21-05 at 08:07 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 10-05-05, 10:37 AM
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I agree with markf. I have taken both my lightweight road bike and my touring bike on planes. The road bike always goes in a hard case as but my touring bike just gets the bars turned round (strap them to the frame somehow to stop the handlers turning the wheel the wrong way), pedals and chain taken off (Sram chain with power links) and the derailleur taken off and strapped to the frame with cable still attached. I also have some Velcro padding stuff on as much tubing as possible.

I think this way is much better that the cardboard box solution, for one thing it is a lot easier at the airports, just wheel up the bike to check in with my bags on. Also at the other end all the packing goes in to the bottom of my panniers ready for wherever I end up at the end of the tour. Never had a problem checking a bike in like this in Asia and Europe, but I have never tried in North America.

I have done this many times and apart from the odd little scratch on exposed paint work which I am prepared to accept on my tourer, I have never had serious damage, I think it is right that baggage handlers are more likely to be careful with a bike they can roll. But if you are concerned about scratches, hard case is the only way.
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