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How do you travel (fly) with your bike?

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View Poll Results: which method do you use when travelling?
use a bike suitcase/bag (they almost never charge me)
2
10.53%
use a bike suitcase/bag (they charged me, b@$^@rds!)
5
26.32%
ship my bike via carrier
3
15.79%
s/s coupler or breakaway (not really worth it for me personally)
6
31.58%
combination/variation of the above (explain)
3
15.79%
Voters: 19. You may not vote on this poll

How do you travel (fly) with your bike?

Old 12-27-14, 08:12 PM
  #1  
spectastic
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How do you travel (fly) with your bike?

I've asked this question before, but would like to see what others do when they're flying. I am, forever and always will be a cheapskate, so I'm on a mission to find out the cheapest and easiest way to take your bike around the world.

I've done some search, and found that sometimes, people don't get charged the oversized fee. In fact, apparently British Airway will charge for oversized baggage, but will drop them when you tell them that you're traveling with a bike. On the other hand, others say it's better to tell them that you're carrying "exercise equipment" or something obscure, which is confusing, because it all goes through the xray. I've also read about people bringing their bikes with them, and getting their bikes damaged by the airlines, who claim no responsibility. This makes me me want to bring my cheap steel fixie, as opposed to anything worth any money.

I was planning to dissemble everything and put it in this box, and check the wheels in a separate checked bag, but I feel like I've wasted my time building this, trying to make it as small as possible. BUT if you measure its total height, and width at the base, it's under 62" L+H+W! ... But if you measure the entire width, that bumps the total dimension up to 68.5"


anyway what's your experience been like?




I also found that american and united are the worst for travelling with a bike .

Last edited by spectastic; 12-27-14 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 12-28-14, 04:47 AM
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I most often pack my bike in a cardboard box and check it as baggage on the way to my tour. I typically fly Southwest and the cost has been fairly reasonable (was $50, but went up to $75 with no other baggage charges).

On my way home I usually prefer to drop the bike at a bike shop and have them box it and ship it home for me. At that point I am usually happy to not have to deal with packing and shipping in a strange town. I typically have paid $40-60 to the bike shop and another $40-60 for the shipper. The bike shop typically gets a better rate than when I deal directly with UPS or FedEx.

I have also used a soft case and when packing ultralight have managed to fit my bike and all my clothing and gear for cooking and camping while still keeping it under 50 pounds.

When not using the soft case I have packed my gear in a thrift store suitcase ($6-7) and disposed of it at the airport at the start of the tour. On the way home I have sometimes bought cheap collapsible duffel bags from Walmart.
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Old 12-28-14, 05:02 AM
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1. Read this: Airline Baggage Regulations For Bicycles

2. Do your research. Look at the baggage information on your flight options. If you read the above article, you'll know that some airlines charge for bicycles and some don't.

3. After you've picked your flight(s) ... keep checking the baggage information. It changes. It may change right before your flight and the new policy is the one they will go with.

4. Arrive at the airport early. Be there when the check-in opens. Be the first in line or close to it ... while the check-in people are still fresh.

5. Be the most friendly, helpful, nice, kind person you can possibly be. Put a smile on your face. Talk in a friendly and polite manner. Occasionally, if you're there early and if you're really nice, the check-in person can reduce the rate a little bit.

On the other hand, if you arrive late and you're crabby and grouchy and you treat the check-in people badly ... they can charge you for everything possible.

6. Also note that the airport itself may have additional restrictions and charges. For example, some airports only allow people to depart with one piece of carry-on luggage. You might fly in from an airport, and on an airline, that allows you two pieces of good-sized carry-on ... and your connecting flight or airport might restrict you to one small piece of carry-on. Check the information on the airlines and airports before you go.


And Rowan and I have travelled around the world with our bicycles ... as well as numerous other flights ... with several airlines. Sometimes we pay the fee ... sometimes there is no fee ... and occasionally, the fee has been dropped or reduced. It was after our 2012 round-the-world trip that we decided to get folders.

Prior to the folders, most of the time we have use cardboard boxes which we have acquired at the airport or at a bicycle shop. Whenever possible, we've tried to store that box, or fold the box and carry it with us, so that it is still available for our flight onward. I have rented a case on a couple occasions.

Last edited by Machka; 12-28-14 at 05:41 AM.
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Old 12-28-14, 05:13 AM
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Have a read through these threads as well ...

http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/97...-airlines.html

http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/84...kes-plane.html

http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/81...ggage-fee.html

http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/69...rope-what.html

http://www.bikeforums.net/touring/69...seas-help.html


Of course ... there are heaps of sites, I could keep going, but you can find these yourself.
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Old 12-28-14, 05:37 AM
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I'll also add that at least one airline has just recently dropped their allowable size from 62 inches (157.5 cm) to 55 inches (140 cm):
Checked baggage allowance | Virgin Australia


And at least one airline is in the process of changing their carry-on policies:
Carry-on Baggage | Jetstar


It is possible that other airlines may do similar things over the next year or so. Check, check, and check again before you fly.
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Old 12-29-14, 12:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I'll also add that at least one airline has just recently dropped their allowable size from 62 inches (157.5 cm) to 55 inches (140 cm):
Checked baggage allowance | Virgin Australia


And at least one airline is in the process of changing their carry-on policies:
Carry-on Baggage | Jetstar


It is possible that other airlines may do similar things over the next year or so. Check, check, and check again before you fly.
I noted today qantas have also dropped the allowable dimensions of checked baggage to 55inches or 140cm.
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Old 12-29-14, 12:33 AM
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Old 12-29-14, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
On the other hand, others say it's better to tell them that you're carrying "exercise equipment" or something obscure, which is confusing, because it all goes through the xray. I've also read about people bringing their bikes with them, and getting their bikes damaged by the airlines, who claim no responsibility. This makes me me want to bring my cheap steel fixie, as opposed to anything worth any money.
1. Not that I would lie, but not everything goes through x-ray. It can depend on the airport. When I flew with my bike to Venice, Italy last year, our airport did not have an x-ray machine large enough to accommodate the bike box, so it was opened and searched. When I flew home, Venice had such a machine. The box was passed through as I stood there and the screener literally gave me a thumbs up.

2. One of my friends on the aforementioned trip had his CF framed cracked by what appeared to have been a forklift. The airline, U.S. Airways, replaced it at no cost to him. Perhaps it depends on the airline.
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Old 12-29-14, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
1. Not that I would lie, but not everything goes through x-ray. It can depend on the airport. When I flew with my bike to Venice, Italy last year, our airport did not have an x-ray machine large enough to accommodate the bike box, so it was opened and searched. When I flew home, Venice had such a machine. The box was passed through as I stood there and the screener literally gave me a thumbs up.

2. One of my friends on the aforementioned trip had his CF framed cracked by what appeared to have been a forklift. The airline, U.S. Airways, replaced it at no cost to him. Perhaps it depends on the airline.
My observations mostly agree except on the x-ray thing.

There is often mention of x-raying boxes as if that mattered to the airline one way or another in what the airline might charge you. I have flown out of a lot of domestic airports and never seen any x-ray machine where I checked my bags. My assumption is that if my bags get x-rayed it is done by the TSA after the airline already accepted my baggage. I have often had my bike box opened by the TSA, but always out of my sight and after the airline accepted my baggage. I don't see how in that situation the x-raying and/or inspection would have any direct impact on what the airline charges me.

Were the instances where folks mention seeing their boxes x-rayed domestic US flights, international flights from US airports, or non US flights?

BTW, I pick an airline that is reasonably bike friendly and tell them it is a bike if they ask. For me that almost always means that I fly Southwest. I have not flown international flights with my bike though, so I have no experience with that.
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Old 12-29-14, 12:08 PM
  #10  
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I bring a Dahon folder which has been "blinged" up with better handlebars, tires, etc. I have dragged it everywhere, even Africa. great conversation piece, as folders aren't seen much is lesser developed countries.

It fits in a 62 linear inch Samsonite F'lite 32". If the airlines all switch to 55 linear inches, luggage makers will have to re-vamp their offerings. So far I have never been charged.

The bike is now scuffed up from travel, but I am willing to compromise when traveling, as I am rarely using it for more than 2-3 weeks; and assembly is quick and simple. If it gets stolen...time to go shopping!
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Old 12-29-14, 12:13 PM
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None of the above:


Past Tense : Did.. Used the airline's Box , Recycled Amtrak Box , United Airlines.. Out bound, SFO .

KLM return, AMS.. or A 2 box Tape Together . when needed .. No special Couplings 700c wheel Touring Bike .

I now Own a Bike Friday also, But Havent gone away with it.


Plenty of Cardboard around the world to Use.

Last edited by fietsbob; 02-21-15 at 04:02 PM.
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Old 12-29-14, 01:31 PM
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I have a breakaway style bike. I packed it in a cardboard wheel box (26x26x10) for a couple of trips this summer, and switched to a chloroplast box. The chance of cardboard breaking down on the tarmac in a rainstorm made me nervous. Airlines also don't take any responsibility for damage to cardboard boxed items, and often make you sign off on that fact when you're checking a cardboard box.
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Old 12-29-14, 01:37 PM
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How do you travel (fly) with your bike?

I've had my bike box scanned and inspected at check in at various european airports. I take some packing tape with me to tape it all up afterwards. Hang around while they're doing the inspection, there ain't no way they'd get it all back in the box correctly.
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Old 12-29-14, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Were the instances where folks mention seeing their boxes x-rayed domestic US flights, international flights from US airports, or non US flights?
International flights ... not from the US. It has happened to me at the Sydney Airport and the Winnipeg Airport, and happened to both of us at Heathrow, and it seems to me it has happened at one or two other places as well.

What happens is that we go to the check-in desk, the person sees the bicycle box and signals for a person in a hi-vis vest to come over and take it to X-ray. The check-in person prepares the tickets and gets the baggage tags ready and we tag our other bags and chat about travel in general. Then the person in the hi-vis vest returns with the bicycle boxes and says to the check-in person, "they are bicycles". The check-in person looks all apologetic ... and charges us the bicycle fee.

On my second time out of Sydney, after all of the above took place, I had to leave my bicycle box in what seemed to me to be a very public area, walk the full length of the terminal to a customer service spot to pay the bicycle fee, then return to the check-in desk and show the person the receipt before she would give me my tickets.


At Winnipeg it was a little bit different. I started the check-in process, then was told to take my bicycle to the X-ray spot, it was scanned and the X-ray tech showed me my bicycle on the screen and asked questions about a few other things in the box, then gave me a little print-out indicating it was a bicycle which I took back to the check-in desk and was charged the bicycle fee before they gave me my tickets.


But it doesn't happen like that every time ... and if you go to an airport one year, the next time you're there, it could be different. The process at Heathrow, for example, seems to change every time I've been there.
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Old 12-29-14, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by vidger56 View Post
It fits in a 62 linear inch Samsonite F'lite 32". If the airlines all switch to 55 linear inches, luggage makers will have to re-vamp their offerings.
They are. We are finding it incredibly difficult to locate suitcases for our Bike Fridays. We hunted through stores in both Canada and Australia and were unable to come up with any big enough ... the biggest ones we could find would probably just fit within that 55 linear inch limitation. We talked to the shop staff in several places who told us that they don't stock the really big suitcases anymore ... but they might be able to special order one for us.

We ended up picking up a couple at one of the local tip shops.
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Old 12-29-14, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
International flights ... not from the US.
Thanks for the clarification.
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Old 12-29-14, 02:29 PM
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If you are under 6 ft go with a folder. 6 to 6'2 a folder may or may not work. I use an SnS and typically split the bike between two cases. If they ask I say there is half a bike in one and half in the other. Never been charged extra but i have a stack of TSA cards from all my inspections.

The best place for disposable suitcases, charity/thrift stores.

Last edited by escii_35; 12-29-14 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 12-29-14, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Thanks for the clarification.
I should further my clarification by saying that my experience at the Winnipeg airport, where they let me see my bicycle on the screen, happened several times ... for both international and domestic flights. In all those cases, I arrived at the airport very early and was the first person in line when the check-in area opened ... and there was hardly anyone else around. So everyone was very friendly and helpful.

If I had arrived later when there was a long line of people getting their stuff X-ray'd the situation may have been different. Speed and efficiency may be higher priorities then ... rather than chatting with the customers.


I'm pretty sure this same situation happened at the Calgary airport as well because I have in my mind that the X-ray attendant showed my bicycle inside its box to me and my father. My father would have been dropping me off for a flight. Again, we would have arrived very early when there were hardly any other people about.
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Old 02-20-15, 05:09 PM
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i have a 2008 jetstream D8 …do u know if that model will fit in the samsonite suitcase? thanks
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Old 02-20-15, 08:38 PM
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I don't get how they can charge a bike fee if it fits in a case that others are taking for "free". Is that what is happening. That is seemingly a really bad thing for one of the biggest transportation polluters to do. It is one thing to not give a sweet deal to bike boxes, one could see that as preference to one class of travellers, but to charge people a special higher fee for a suitcase seems like something they should get called out on.
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Old 02-20-15, 09:03 PM
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We flew British Airways Denver to Paris 2013. No charge for two bikes in boxes. Be sure you book all the way on BA, tho, some of their partners are not so kind to cyclists. In 2010 Delta charged us $800 round trip for two bikes in boxes.
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Old 02-20-15, 09:18 PM
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Last year I traveled with bike in a soft shell bike case and paid the extra ($25 for the checked luggage, plus $50 for the bicycle). In previous years I've traveled with a Bike Friday in a big Samsonite hard shell case and I just check it in and don't say anything. Never been charged for that one beyond any regular checked luggage fee.
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Old 02-21-15, 12:49 PM
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Depends on the airline and my schedule.

If I can fly Southwest, I'll bring my bike on the plane in a bike box (or bike bag, the last time I did this); at $75 each way, and not needing to worry about shipping, it worked out.

My most recent trip involved getting from Philadelphia to Seattle with an airline that wanted $175 each way. At that point, I investigated shipping my bike. And since the Cascade Bike Club folks who put on the "Ride Around Washington" were happy to receive my shipped bike, reassemble it, carry my bike box with the riders as we went on our weeklong ride, disassemble it and hold it for pick up by the shipping company all for a contribution to the tip jar -- yeah, I shipped it.
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Old 02-21-15, 01:20 PM
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Standard size Samsonite luggage(bought on sale at Macy's US$120) with Tobukaeru folding bike from Craigslist US$175.
Delta Air from US to China; no charge for 1st checked in luggage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUQN...6zPoymgKaIoDLA

Standard sized Samsonite luggage(bought on sale at Macy's US$120) with Citizen Tokyo folding bike from Craigslist US$160.
Jetblue air from US to Aruba, no charge for 1st checked in luggage:

2013 Citizen Tokyo in a suitcase by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

Cardboard box (no charge from Brompton store) with folding bike from Brompton US$2500.
Jetblue Air from New York City to California, no charge for 1st checked in luggage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNuu...6zPoymgKaIoDLA
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