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Taking Your Bike in a Plastic Bag on a Plane Update

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Taking Your Bike in a Plastic Bag on a Plane Update

Old 04-13-11, 03:57 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Bag or box, it seems that US airlines don't give a hoot about bikers & I'm not sure Euro/UK airlines are any better.
I use Aer Lingus and Ryanair to fly with my bike to/from Ireland to European mainland regularly. Mostly France but Italy also.

Have never used a box or a bag for that matter.

Only problem I had was last year flying back from Lyon when a checkin clerk told me I had to put it in a box. She immediately backed down when challenged.

Last edited by Caretaker; 04-13-11 at 04:01 AM. Reason: second thoughts
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Old 04-18-11, 09:49 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
I use Aer Lingus and Ryanair to fly with my bike to/from Ireland to European mainland regularly. Mostly France but Italy also.

Have never used a box or a bag for that matter.

Only problem I had was last year flying back from Lyon when a checkin clerk told me I had to put it in a box. She immediately backed down when challenged.
Interesting. I'm assuming you remove the pedals & twist the handlebar parallel to the bike--but other than that do you do anything else like unbolt derailer, put foam over frame tubes etc? Is your bike sturdier than average?

Anyway your no box/no bag method has it's points considering that a plastic bag gives no protection & a box very little.
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Old 04-19-11, 10:01 PM
  #28  
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I have been forced to do this. Rome airport refused to take an unpackaged bicycle despite airline regulations stating otherwise. I ended up taking the wheels off and shrink wrapping the entire thing at the airport shrink wrap machine. When I gave it to them it was an unwieldly green mass that couldn't be easily carried or rolled. One more example of bureaucracy making life difficult for both traveler and baggage handler.

At Singapore airport they charged me a fifty dollar handling fee for an assembled bicycle, then instead of rolling the bicycle away, they pushed it away in a trolley...
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Old 04-20-11, 10:45 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
I have been forced to do this. Rome airport refused to take an unpackaged bicycle despite airline regulations stating otherwise. I ended up taking the wheels off and shrink wrapping the entire thing at the airport shrink wrap machine. When I gave it to them it was an unwieldly green mass that couldn't be easily carried or rolled. One more example of bureaucracy making life difficult for both traveler and baggage handler.

At Singapore airport they charged me a fifty dollar handling fee for an assembled bicycle, then instead of rolling the bicycle away, they pushed it away in a trolley...

Interesting story. RE Rome at least they had a shrink-wrapping machine...whereas in the USA I'd guess the airline staff would tell the cyclist to box the bike & of course no boxes would be available at the airport. Re Singapore, was the $50 assembled bike fee in addition to the "regular" bike flight surcharge?
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Old 04-21-11, 03:15 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Interesting story. RE Rome at least they had a shrink-wrapping machine...whereas in the USA I'd guess the airline staff would tell the cyclist to box the bike & of course no boxes would be available at the airport. Re Singapore, was the $50 assembled bike fee in addition to the "regular" bike flight surcharge?
In Singapore I was flying Air China, which has no surcharge for bicycles, and does not require packaging. The $50 was charged by the airport ground staff.
In Rome I was flying Air China too. I think how they handle this really depends on the local staff. They took my shrink wrapped bicycle and waived my 9kg overweight surcharge because I'm a (not really that) frequent flyer. This airline has always been pleasant to deal with. They even had a Chinese speaking Italian customer service agent.

Last year I flew Quantas to and from Australia, and wasn't charged for my bike either. Sadly Air Canada does charge a fifty dollar fee. I avoid them if I can.
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Old 04-21-11, 04:15 AM
  #31  
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another problem is that many airline companies have a restriction on the amount of luggage 'items' you are allowed to bring, for example 1 item of hand luggage and 2 items of 'normal' luggage, meaning that when you arrive with 4 paniers + hand luggage + a bike in a bag, you will have to pay extra for the luggage as well as the bike

with a box however, i was able to transport the bike as well as 2 paniers as only 1 'luggage item'

the regulations are always fuzzy though, i was charged 50 eur extra flying from Brussels to Buenos Aires, while coming back from Buenos Aires was free (same airline companies, SN Brussels + Aerolineas Argentinas)
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Old 01-03-12, 12:36 PM
  #32  
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I'd give a big fat thumbs DOWN to bagging your bike based on my experience. I flew on Iceland air two years ago to Copenhagen for a 2 month tour and pretty much all of our wheels on two bikes (including a brand spanking new custom built bombproof rear touring wheel, perfectly trued) were banged up and badly out of true, which really ticked me off. There was some obvious abuse since one bike had something gash into the brand new leather handlebar tape and rip it right off. Brake hoods were mashed to the side. Luckily it wasn't anything that we couldn't fix at the airport, and no frame scratches or bent frame parts. But I will NEVER fly my bike bagged again. On the trip home we boxed them, and though that was a hassle, it was a wash since I'd much rather spend the extra time boxing and unboxing than in fixing mangled wheels and bent things.

This being said there's obviously a lot of good/bad random luck involved here since I did a lot of research before going and read a lot of "no problem" posts about bagging your bike. I went to a local mattress store and they gave me two brand new bags off this big huge roll of bags they use instead of used ones, which I'm sure they had plenty of. The plastic sheeting was cut up at the airport and we were able to salvage sections that weren't torn that we used for our tent ground tarps for the whole trip. I still have my "custom fitted" tarp that I used on another one month tour and it's still in great shape

I am very strongly considering an S+S coupled bike for my next trip to avoid the whole disaster bagging and/or boxing hassle, not to mention the baggage charges. It's just so nice to be portable, and I'd MUCH rather tour in Europe or other faraway places than the US so I'll be on planes and trains in the future for sure.

I did have a great experience boxing my bike for the train ride home up the Amtrack Coast Starlight up the west coast from San Francisco to Seattle, the amtrack boxes are huge and all I had to do was remove the handlebars and pedals. The entire bike rolled right into the box, racks and all. I picked up a used box for like $10 right at the station and it was super cheap to take the bike with me on the train. I understand on some trains you can just strap the bike down in the cargo hold, but on this particular train it had to be boxed.
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Old 01-03-12, 01:04 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Jeez, seems like the big airports could have some co-operative system to provide hard-shell bike cases for a reasonable fee.
Interesting business idea...
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Old 01-03-12, 10:03 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
For US domestic flights I stick to Southwest (or maybe Frontier) since they seem to be the only bike friendly choice(s). Since the language on their web page specifically refers to cardboard boxes and cases only I wouldn't push my luck.
Add JetBlue to the your list. They are also bike-friendly. $50 for a bike properly boxed with no linear dimensions limit (unlike Southwest's 80 inches). They do charge extra if it's overweight. If you can get your bike box under 20kg, then it's just $50.

Also, I found out when I flew them recently that they drop the charge in July. Apparently they celebrate the Tour de France.

Last edited by longhaulblue; 01-03-12 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 01-03-12, 10:12 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
In Singapore I was flying Air China, which has no surcharge for bicycles, and does not require packaging. The $50 was charged by the airport ground staff.
In Rome I was flying Air China too. I think how they handle this really depends on the local staff. They took my shrink wrapped bicycle and waived my 9kg overweight surcharge because I'm a (not really that) frequent flyer. This airline has always been pleasant to deal with. They even had a Chinese speaking Italian customer service agent.

Last year I flew Quantas to and from Australia, and wasn't charged for my bike either. Sadly Air Canada does charge a fifty dollar fee. I avoid them if I can.
I was also charge USD50 in Singapore but I was flying ANA which has a $25 charge for bikes per segment. My flight has 2 segments. Singapore to Tokyo, Tokyo to Chicago.

USD50 is not much. American Airlines charges USD200 each way! Domestically! Most of the large US carriers do this. And IMHO, the service on US airlines are mediocre compared to Asian airlines.
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Old 01-04-12, 10:56 AM
  #36  
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I've used a softsided bag (Groundeffect Tardis) to get my bike and gear across the Atlantic a couple of times and it's great. The airlines haven't charged me extra baggage fees, but I do have to take it over to the large bags area for loading. It fits in taxis and is easy enough to take on a bus. When I arrive I leave it at a hotel or just mail it to the nearest post office to my departure place. The bag packs down to the size of a phone book so it's easy to post. At a pinch you can carry it on the bike too.

http://wheelsofchance.org/2009/09/10...th-the-tardis/



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Old 01-04-12, 12:27 PM
  #37  
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hi there nun, did you buy your Tardis in your area or in the UK?
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Old 01-04-12, 03:59 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
hi there nun, did you buy your Tardis in your area or in the UK?
I'm in the US and bought the tardis from the Ground effect website

www.groundeffect.co.nz
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Old 01-04-12, 11:37 PM
  #39  
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ta, was curious as I havent seen them around stores here, but then havent actively looked either.
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Old 01-07-12, 11:22 AM
  #40  
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nun, That looks a good solution and it started me thinking on whether it was possible to make a similar diy version at lower cost. However, looking at it again I see that you would have to remove the rear rack and mudguards as well. That isn't a huge problem but it all adds to the amount of time and effort needed to dismantle and reassemble the bike at each end.

I also found this similar sized but lighter and less rugged one http://www.probikekit.com/uk/luggage...-bike-bag.html

As almost all touring involves some use of public transport I am coming to the conclusion that a Dahon sized folding tour bike is probably the best solution unless a tour is going to last for weeks/months.
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Old 01-08-12, 01:33 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by twobadfish View Post
Still seems pretty risky... what if they stack luggage on top of it?
Ah, the arm chair lawyer approach commonly used by those who have absolutely NO vested interest in the topic at hand (IMHO) and merely use the "what if.." argument to amuse themselves at absolutely no cost to themselves - and to perhaps rile/agitate other readers who do have a vested interest ...

Well, what if you died in the next 5 minutes? We won't have to worry about answering your hypothetical question would we? And then would you care??

I rest my case and await the reply of "the jury"

As an aside, I sometimes transport my expedition-grade touring bike in an Air Canada supplied bike bag. It has been around the world a couple of times in various trips/segments and has been fine. I have never detached the RD , and have only reduced the pressure a bit in the tires....

Last edited by tmac100; 01-08-12 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 01-08-12, 07:14 PM
  #42  
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My wife, son and I put our bikes in clear plastic bags for our trip to Holland last summer. We built the bags ourselves out of heavy plastic and moving box tape. To prepare the bikes, we turned the handle bars, removed pedals, tied the two wheels to the frame to avoid motion during transit, and unscrewed the rear deraillers from the frame (but left all of the cabling intact) and zip-tied them out of the way. Packing/unpacking took about 20 minutes/bike. We carried the rolled up bags for 2 weeks (only about 1 pound each) and used them on the return flight. Extra gear was put into a cardboard box which we threw away at the airport and then replaced for the trip back. We flew Iceland Air and had no problems.

It worked fine for us, but our bikes are stock and easily replaced. In fact, replacing our bikes would only have cost about as much as the plane tickets. In this case, it was worth the risk as compared to expensive and very inconvenient (no fun disassembling and assembling 3 bikes, and storing boxes in Holland!) hard plastic cases.

I personally would not use a plastic bag for any particularly "special" bike, but I don 't own such a bike anyway :-)

I would recommend against regular card board boxes, which provide little protection but encourage stacking and rough handling.
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Old 01-09-12, 09:46 AM
  #43  
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For what it is worth, I have flown three times with either a bag or no packing. No big issues, though also didn't set out to do this:

1. Returning from Amsterdam a number of years ago, the Air Canada had only plastic bags. I put the bike in the large bag and all went well.
2. Flying from Portland to Bangalore last summer, I arrived at Portland airport and no bike boxes were to be found. I was told that Lufthansa was willing to take unboxed bikes and then my connecting leg on United Express from Portland to San Francisco was also willing to fly that leg without a box. (They briefly pointed me at a bike shop away from airport, but timing logistics would have made that iffy, so they were willing to fly with bike just taped up, no bag nor box).
3. Flying from Hilo, the first leg to Honolulu didn't have boxes at Hilo airport. Fly first leg bare without bag or box and then got a box in Honolulu airport for rest of return flight.

I would probably still pick a box if I had choice to find one, but in the other cases, will fly without one as well.
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Old 01-09-12, 12:11 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by freebooter View Post
nun, That looks a good solution and it started me thinking on whether it was possible to make a similar diy version at lower cost. However, looking at it again I see that you would have to remove the rear rack and mudguards as well. That isn't a huge problem but it all adds to the amount of time and effort needed to dismantle and reassemble the bike at each end.

I also found this similar sized but lighter and less rugged one http://www.probikekit.com/uk/luggage...-bike-bag.html

As almost all touring involves some use of public transport I am coming to the conclusion that a Dahon sized folding tour bike is probably the best solution unless a tour is going to last for weeks/months.
I've thought about folding bikes too, they certainly make getting on trains and buses easy although I had no trouble putting my bike on the buses in Iceland last summer. All I did was to cover the chain and crank with one of these http://www.chaincondom.com/ and take the front wheel off.

For travel with folding bikes check out this fantastic site www.pathlesspedaled.com

The Scion bag you linked to isn't much different from a plastic bag and isn't designed to take wheels. It's made of lightweight nylon rather than the Cordura of the Tardis. Also the Tardis is big enough to take some gear and if you travel light it's possible to fit all your gear in the Tardis along with your bike. When I fly I arrive at the airport check in with just two bags; my handlebar bag that I use for my carry on stuff and the Tardis containing my bike and everything else. The Tardis weighs around 40lbs so it's well within the luggage weight limits and I've never had anyone recognize it as a bike so I don't pay the bike fee. The Tardis does usually get put in the oversized category, but there's no extra charge for that, you just have to take it to the oversized baggage area as it is a bit too big for the regular check in conveyor belt.
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Old 01-09-12, 01:17 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
Also the Tardis is big enough to take some gear and if you travel light it's possible to fit all your gear in the Tardis along with your bike. When I fly I arrive at the airport check in with just two bags; my handlebar bag that I use for my carry on stuff and the Tardis containing my bike and everything else. The Tardis weighs around 40lbs so it's well within the luggage weight limits and I've never had anyone recognize it as a bike so I don't pay the bike fee. The Tardis does usually get put in the oversized category, but there's no extra charge for that, you just have to take it to the oversized baggage area as it is a bit too big for the regular check in conveyor belt.
I was always impressed with how you were able to have the bike apart in there with your gear. Using gear as padding works well doesnt it? I've done that with boxes in the past.
If not recognized as a bike, have you had to be "interpretive" of what contents were, or were you never asked? I imagine it is the luck of the draw as usual. I really would have thought you would have been asked straight out what it is.

Im also a big fan of filling ones pockets with things if possible, or having a plastic bag with stuff in it, basically anything that can make you look as "touristy" as possible. Ive put camera bodies and lenses in coat pockets etc etc in the past. It has always bugged me that as a light guy, there have been times Ive had to beg for my carryon being slightly heavy, while behind me in line some guy who weighs 80 or 100lbs more than me makes no diff at all to them.
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Old 01-09-12, 01:45 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by longhaulblue View Post
Add JetBlue to the your list. They are also bike-friendly. $50 for a bike properly boxed with no linear dimensions limit (unlike Southwest's 80 inches).
Thanks for the tip.
BTW, I questioned Southwest's policy via phone and was told verbally that the 80" limit was not applicable to bicycles. I have flown with by bike on Southwest a number of times, always with boxes larger than 80" (L+W+H), and they have never batted an eye. I also know of many other instances where folks have flown Southwest with boxes over 80" and have never heard of anyone having a problem. That said I try not to go crazy with a huge Amtrak box or something. I figure that would be asking for trouble.
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Old 01-09-12, 01:57 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by freebooter View Post
I also found this similar sized but lighter and less rugged one http://www.probikekit.com/uk/luggage...-bike-bag.html
The TransIt Soft Bike Case might be a similar option.

My problem with any of these is that I tend to start and end my tours in different cities and mailing the case is an extra hassle, enough so that I have thus far resisted them. The notion of having everything in a <50 pound bag that I can carry is very attractive though.
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Old 01-12-12, 11:35 AM
  #48  
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Aren't bicycle boxes still sold at airports? Back in 2002 we just bought them there (DSM & CDG). We could put our mountain bikes in there without taking anything but the pedals off. You had to bring your own tape to close them though.
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Old 01-16-12, 08:12 AM
  #49  
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They sure do. I'd recommend calling their baggage department well ahead of time and reserving a box. Just tell them it's critical that you have a box there when you fly out and to put a note on it with your name and date of flight and hopefully they'd be happy to accomodate. London Heathrow did for me. I'd highly recommend getting there REALLY early so you can deal with boxing issues. With tape in hand, don't forget that, and have all your tools organized and handy. For me I simply underestimated how long it would take to find the luggage department and pack my bike in their box so I was in a real rush in the end. Getting the pedals off with my short wrench was extra fun, but a few taps with a borrowed hammer from the baggage guys did the trick. Keep an eye out for a luggage cart on your way in to move the box over to the baggage checkin, you'll need one!
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Old 01-16-12, 08:31 AM
  #50  
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being told over the phone that there is a box available at the airport would not be something I would be comfortable with doing/believing/etc, thats up to you of course. Here you are, planning a bike vacation centered around having your bike with you, and is it worth having the possibility of a snafu at the airport?

Not my cup of tea thats for sure. It would be wonderful if this were true and one could be assured of a box being there...

If ever you were to do this, be sure to bring one of those plastic things to fit into the front fork when the wheel is off, to help stop your fork blades being squished towards each other (you can get them from any bike store as all bikes are shipped with them)
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