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  1. #1
    jcard14
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    Airline travel with a bike

    I have never flown with a bike before but will be doing so a few times in the coming months...what choice of travel bag/box has anyone out there used and what were their postives/negatives?

    Any tips in relation to flying with a bike would be much appreciated...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    "Its All Good"
    Reputation: Whafe's Avatar
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    Are you flying domestic or International? Is it a DH bike or a SS bike?

    I would have flown with my bikes (either AM, DH, SS) some 100 plus flights a year for the past 2 years....

    There is loads of changes taking place at present with many airlines around the globe, loads more are charging for extras etc.... Hence if you give some more information, I can share with you what I have learnt and know.....

    Cheers
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  3. #3
    jcard14
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    I will be traveling both domestic and international.

    It is an AM bike (SJ FSR)...I've checked on the fees...not cheap but I'll just have to suck it up.

    Thanks

  4. #4
    "Its All Good"
    Reputation: Whafe's Avatar
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    Well in general, most airlines will not carry Specialized bikes......LOL, only joking...

    Genrally for domestic flights in the USA, it is around 70 USD per bike...... Each way..

    Going International is generally speaking free, only time I had ever paid was in the USA, but it all changed a month ago. My main route is New Zealand to Europe, with a stop over in LA for work..... With some 19 baggage issues from 20 flights through London Heathrow, I started to only check my bags one flight leg at a time. So when I picked up my bags and bike in London to travel on to Barcelona, they now charge a flat rate for bikes and golf clubs of 150 Euro (250 USD) each way...... So keep away from Iberia Airlines like a bad sexual disease.....

    British Airways, probly the WORST airline in the world are now not accepting surf boards at all, and I hear thoughts that they will also start charging for bikes....

    I flew from Spain to London the other day on EasyJet, that was 50 Euro return for my bike, which was ok...

    See the link attached.... http://www.setteusa.com/show.php/Acc...ags|travel_bag

    I have had a great run with these bags, I can almost get 1 year out of one, keep in mind I am a travel whore..... They are a really reasonable price at PricePoint....

    I have tried hard cases, far more hassle to break the bike down....

    Using the Sette bag, I remove of course the wheels, handlebars from the stem and the rear der....... And the pedals of course......... The straps are what binds all together, the seat and the stem keep everything tight if that makes sense.... I do in the sleeves inside the bag on each side have a cardboard box flattened to give it support....

    The worst I have had is a bent disk rotor, of which I now remove the disks.....

    Hope that helps, the more stopovers with flight changes, the greater the risk is for damage and loss of bike..... So when you can fly direct somewhere, sweet as....
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  5. #5
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    Hey Whafe...

    I have a carbon fiber framed bike, do think the Sette bag would be supportive/protective enough to take my bike on the plane without damaging it? Also, with suspension parts, do you have to take the air out of them for possible changes in pressure while it flight?

    Thanks, I really appreciate the help.

  6. #6
    "Its All Good"
    Reputation: Whafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leprechaun
    I have a carbon fiber framed bike, do think the Sette bag would be supportive/protective enough to take my bike on the plane without damaging it? Also, with suspension parts, do you have to take the air out of them for possible changes in pressure while it flight?

    Thanks, I really appreciate the help.
    Good question Leprechaun - I have taken my road bike which is full carbon. I had no issues.... For me, the most important part is the cardboard cartons that I have flattened and popped in the wheel sleeves inside the bag... For me, this really helps to enclose the bag as like a case....

    Am not to good at explaining in words, but by removing the handle bars, having a flat line if you can imagine with the saddle and head stem, keeps it really square and straight. The straps also really bind it all together, cause the top end strap sort of pulls under the saddle along with under the headstem....

    Back on air, I do release the pressure in my shock and forks, and of course the tires....

    Hope that helps, let me know any other thoughts or questions, and will for sure help out if I can... Cheers
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

  7. #7
    Five is right out
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    I used to travel a lot with my bike (tourer). I always avoided boxing it if at all possible in the belief that baggage monkeys were less likely to stack it under other cargo that way. This worked fine, but it does result in a lot of minor scratches to the paintwork.

    If I were to travel with a bike with more fragile parts (ironically the things that make FS bikes so good for rough terrain- things like suspension and hydro cables) then I'd certainly get a Crateworks case. It's made of corrugated plastic, so it's far tougher than soft bags and it folds down for easier storage than something like a Trico.

    One rarely mentioned tip for flying: Turn up for your flight early and be really pleasant to the check-in people.

  8. #8
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    Smile shipping

    I made a wooden box that fits everything except the wheels. now most airlines on domestic
    routes only allow 1 piece free, I ship the wheels together in a separate box to where I am
    staying via ups. The wooden box is just under the 62 linear inches. they almost always
    measure it. just fill it up with clothes and keep it under 50 pounds. going to make a new
    box out of foam, fiber glass and resin this summer to get weight down a bit and not have to
    find a scale on return flight home.
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  9. #9
    Praise Bob
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    Well done!

    ^^^

    That's the way to do it. I just bought Thule 699 cases only to find out that most airlines wont accept baggage over 62 linear inches/50lbs. If you keep it under that limit you can get it on standard check in baggage. You are allowed to check in oversize baggage of up to 80 linear inches for an additional fee, but my Thule cases are 84inches. Doh! What really sucks is that the cases are awesome. The bikes fit in there really well and you dont have to take much apart. The cases have wheels and handles too. I ended up shipping with UPS and got a suprise bill 2 weeks later for fuel surcharges and oversize package fees.

  10. #10
    is buachail foighneach me
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    i've actually had really good luck with cardboard bike boxes. get a small size, reinforce all the handholds (top bottom and sides) with packing tape, and pack as stated above. best of all they're free from the dumpster behind any bike shop, and only a few dollars for the tape. granted i'm travelling with a steel, rigid ss, so i don't have much to worry about, but it works if you're on a budget.

  11. #11
    Five is right out
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbmitch2
    I made a wooden box that fits everything except the wheels. now most airlines on domestic
    routes only allow 1 piece free, I ship the wheels together in a separate box to where I am
    staying via ups. The wooden box is just under the 62 linear inches. they almost always
    measure it. just fill it up with clothes and keep it under 50 pounds. going to make a new
    box out of foam, fiber glass and resin this summer to get weight down a bit and not have to
    find a scale on return flight home.
    That is a bloody excellent box

  12. #12
    a.k.a. BicycleKicks
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    2 boxes might be the way to go now

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbmitch2
    I made a wooden box that fits everything except the wheels. now most airlines on domestic
    routes only allow 1 piece free, I ship the wheels together in a separate box to where I am
    staying via ups. The wooden box is just under the 62 linear inches. they almost always
    measure it. just fill it up with clothes and keep it under 50 pounds. going to make a new
    box out of foam, fiber glass and resin this summer to get weight down a bit and not have to
    find a scale on return flight home.
    Just last year I bought the smaller of the 2 boxes that Performance sells (the trapezoid shaped "Team" box) and flew with it a couple of times. I once got away with no fee, but usually had to pay about $75. The box works great and I was able to keep the total weight to less than 50lbs.

    Now these jacked up fees are a big problem. I leave on Monday for a week in Wyoming and I'm afraid that I'll get to the airport and get slammed by AA with an oversize + bike fee (if they figure out it's a bike, I sure as h3ll won't tell them). I might not be able to keep it below 50lbs either since I have a new bike that I haven't weight-weenied yet.

    I might try getting a wheel box and cutting down a bike box instead of using my fancy one... not sure. Problem with that is I'd have 2, maybe 3 checked bags... and I'd get hit with big fees for that too.

    Maybe we'll see some smaller "2 piece" bike boxes hit the market soon.
    I read that on the internet.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
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    hello!
    ways to transport you bike:
    1. Bike cases.
    pros - yeah! you travel in style. its like having the louie vitton or gucci of bike bags. good protection.
    cons - bike cases are heavy so most of your baggage allowance goes to it. you pay alot of excess baggage. ouch!
    2. cardboard boxes.
    pros - light and cheap!
    cons -not much protection. bike gets a beating. airline peeps throw boxes around drops them etc. etc. no matter how much fragile stickers you stick on it. usually when transporting luggage, they pile it up putting the bigger boxes underneath smaller ones. so if you can squeeze your bike in a shoe box then maybe your bike won't be under all that heavy suitcases/luggage.
    3. crate it.
    pros - light. good protection. won't stress bike.
    cons - haven't tried it but..... disassembling the bike almost part by part? this is ok i think if you're moving to a diffrent place permanently or at least stay in just one destination for a long time but if your on a tour flying from airport to airport, then for me thats a lot of work.
    4. wrap it. with glad wrap! just kidding....

    high density white foam cut to size, strapped with velcro. easy and reusable. this one's my fave!
    pros - easy, light, roll on/ roll off feature, not part of the piled up luggage, no disassembly/assembly required, can be ridden to and from airport (if you're hard core and if you travel light).
    cons - not much protection(but if they see that it's a bike wrapped in foam they somehow feel that its very fragile probably because there's too much foam on it making them sense how anal the owner is). am not sure about airline baggage size policies outside our country but here in the philippines it's not a problem.

  14. #14
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    pardon my ignorance but what do they mean by linear inches? length PLUS width PLUS height?

  15. #15
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    Yes linear inches is length + width + height.

    I just flew with my bike domestically and it was a $100 on US Airways. I used a case from Serfas and packed it with clothes, cytomax, and a few other things came in weighing 55 lbs.

  16. #16
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    I'll be flying to Europe in 2 weeks and am not sure how to pack the bike, so it won't be too big and bulky. I don't think the trans Atlantic flight will be an issue, but my concern is a flight I have from Duesseldorf to Milan on Air Berlin. Anybody have any experience/advice?

  17. #17
    Surly OG
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    Trico Iron Case. 'nuff said.
    Earn your turns. )'(

  18. #18
    It's carbon dontcha know.
    Reputation: 6thElement's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnBikerDan
    Trico Iron Case. 'nuff said.
    The problem with the Trico and the Thule 699 (which I have) is they're over 80", which the airlines deem the maximum they'll allow now...

  19. #19
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    If you disassemble it anyways, just take a normal hardcase suitcase. They're often offered as a set of two. The wheels will fit in the bigger one, and the frame will fit in the smaller one (if your frame is a full suspension size S or M).
    All you have to do to get it boxed is: Take off the bar and the fork, separate the rear trinagle from the main frame, unmount cranks, pedals and saddle. That will fit in the first suitcase. The wheels with the tires taken off fit in the second one.
    It took me about 35min to package the bike and another 35min to put it back together at the destination. There's still plenty of space left in the suitcases for your other stuff.
    Of course this solution implies no additional charge. If you don't have a set of hardcase suitcases yet- be careful with the size. If there's something like a big handle on the tp or a bulky hinge on the bottom, your bike won't fit.
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  20. #20
    a.k.a. BicycleKicks
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    Got back from Wyoming on Sunday... cost me a lot to bring the bike in my box. The only way to avoid these high fees is to have 2 checked boxes right at the size and weight limit (62", 50lbs). You might still get hit with the checked bag fees, but they're a lot lower than the bike/oversize fee.

    The wooden box above looks great, but what about making one out of sheet plastic (similar material to the Trico case) and plastic angles for the edges? The sheet could be glued and rivited to the angle and a lid could somehow be devised also (maybe using a hinge?).

    Anyhow, does anyone know what kind of plastic the Trico is made of and where you can get sheets of it? And extruded angles? Or, is there a better plastic to use? I stopped by the homeo depot today and didn't see anything suitable.
    I read that on the internet.

  21. #21
    Just hit it with speed
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    How can you possibly get a non FS bike in a box under 62 linear inches? When people say to use a bike box are they assuming then that they will be larger than the 62 linear inches? I'll be traveling to Oregon this August w/ my bike. SS, Front Sus, 29er. I am flying Southwest and they only charge $50 each way. (This is my understanding) Do I have to be under 62 linear inches for it to be considered regular checked luggage? If I do I'll be no where close even with the size small bike box I picked up today at my LBS. I have no problem paying the 50 each way.

    The Sette bag mentioned above is 52 x 9 x 37 =98.75" no where close to 62".

    I'm confused.
    Don't hate on the minivan!!!!!!!

  22. #22
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    You can't fit a non-FS bike in a 62" box. You should carefully read the terms and conditions of your airline to find out if the surcharge is for boxes bigger than 62". There are airlines that charge an extra fee for a bike and an even higher extra fee for a bike in a box larger than 62" :-(

  23. #23
    a.k.a. BicycleKicks
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    Southwest is the way to fly

    Quote Originally Posted by GFisher2001
    How can you possibly get a non FS bike in a box under 62 linear inches? When people say to use a bike box are they assuming then that they will be larger than the 62 linear inches? I'll be traveling to Oregon this August w/ my bike. SS, Front Sus, 29er. I am flying Southwest and they only charge $50 each way. (This is my understanding) Do I have to be under 62 linear inches for it to be considered regular checked luggage? If I do I'll be no where close even with the size small bike box I picked up today at my LBS. I have no problem paying the 50 each way.

    The Sette bag mentioned above is 52 x 9 x 37 =98.75" no where close to 62".

    I'm confused.
    You are lucky! Southwest charges $50 per bike, no matter the size and weight. That's what the agent told me on the phone the other day when I asked. So you don't have to get it within the typical 62" or 50lbs. You should call and confirm though.
    I read that on the internet.

  24. #24
    psu cycling
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    My personal experience:

    I just got back from Italy a few weeks ago after spending 7 weeks there. I flew USAir and contacted them a week before flying out. They told me I could sub a bikebox for a bag if it were under dimensions because I had bought my tickets before they changed their policy. When I arrived at the airport in Philadelphia: $80 charge. They then told me that Alitalia would honor their same policy on the way home ($80). OK, I thought. I took a cut-down cardboard bike box that was around 40lbs with clothes and such stuffed in.

    On the way home:

    At Leonardo da Vinci Aiport, Alitalia made me run to about 5 differert places in the airport, where I was eventually charged 150 E, or $238.50. TSA also decided to search my box, and they ripped it open in multiple places, as well as the plastic bag I had my pedals, tools, and drafting supplies (I was studying Architecture) contained in. I lost one CB pedal and a CB Multi-five tool. I contacted both parties and have received nill compensation. This was after I drove back to the Pittsburgh airport 2 days later to pick my things up since they lost my bags. Very bad experience.

  25. #25
    "Its All Good"
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    That truly sucks, am sorry to hear of your experience....

    So Alitalia has taken on the same policy as Iberia (Spain). 150 Euro is load of money, and even worse converting it to USD...

    My last trip here to Spain I did not fly Iberia, no more business from me. EVER..

    I head back to New Zealand on Thursday of this week. Am flying Lufthansa from Barcelona to Munich, then to LA, then New Zealand, so no charges at this point.....

    It is getting harder and harder. Taking the bike to pieces completely etc doesnt skid my wheels much at all.....

    Do hope that you get some result re your pedal and tool... Not sure though, I never have...

    Best of luck though

    Basically no airline gives a SH!T about customers gear and baggage.... I too think a fragile tag means practice 3 pointers into a hoop...


    Quote Originally Posted by asmxxiv
    My personal experience:

    I just got back from Italy a few weeks ago after spending 7 weeks there. I flew USAir and contacted them a week before flying out. They told me I could sub a bikebox for a bag if it were under dimensions because I had bought my tickets before they changed their policy. When I arrived at the airport in Philadelphia: $80 charge. They then told me that Alitalia would honor their same policy on the way home ($80). OK, I thought. I took a cut-down cardboard bike box that was around 40lbs with clothes and such stuffed in.

    On the way home:

    At Leonardo da Vinci Aiport, Alitalia made me run to about 5 differert places in the airport, where I was eventually charged 150 E, or $238.50. TSA also decided to search my box, and they ripped it open in multiple places, as well as the plastic bag I had my pedals, tools, and drafting supplies (I was studying Architecture) contained in. I lost one CB pedal and a CB Multi-five tool. I contacted both parties and have received nill compensation. This was after I drove back to the Pittsburgh airport 2 days later to pick my things up since they lost my bags. Very bad experience.
    The_Lecht_Rocks: whafe - cheeers - may i offer an official apology for the wagon wheeler "dis-belief"

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