Airlines and Oversize Bike Luggage- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Airlines and Oversize Bike Luggage

    I recently started a thread asking about fitting an S&S equipped 29er into a 26"X 26"X10" case. If I didn't go the S&S route, there are standard bike cases typically 47x 30"x11"....

    Would almost all airlines accept hauling oversize bicycle luggage without any hassles, or is it a case by case (pun intended) decision on their part)? Sending a bike by UPS is fine, but the Customs Service here in Italy can be a nightmare. If the airlines can get the bike back and forth, it would be a lot easier to "navigate" through customs, which even charges fees for books sent by Amazon -- books and educational materials are supposed to be free of customs' fees...

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drdan
    I recently started a thread asking about fitting an S&S equipped 29er into a 26"X 26"X10" case. If I didn't go the S&S route, there are standard bike cases typically 47x 30"x11"....

    Would almost all airlines accept hauling oversize bicycle luggage without any hassles, or is it a case by case (pun intended) decision on their part)? Sending a bike by UPS is fine, but the Customs Service here in Italy can be a nightmare. If the airlines can get the bike back and forth, it would be a lot easier to "navigate" through customs, which even charges fees for books sent by Amazon -- books and educational materials are supposed to be free of customs' fees...

    Thanks!
    Check with your airline and be ready to pony up the $$$.

    http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm

    http://www.luggageforward.com/

    http://www.bikeaccess.net/bikeaccess/

  3. #3
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    Most airlines will take the bike, but also most airlines will charge you a lot (or not). 2 years back I was flying from Duesseldorf, Germany to Milano on Air Berlin and I believe I paid about 30 Euros for a Pricepoint soft travel case. Delta charged $150 (now $200 I believe) going to Duesseldorf and back to Atlanta from Milano.

    2-3 month ago I was flying to Duesseldorf from Atlanta and the gate agent didn't charge me anything for the bike. It really depends who you get at check-in.

  4. #4
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    It's been well over 10 years since I've flown with a bike. Back then, before all these new luggage fees, if you told them it was art supplies, or golf clubs or something, it checked in for free. If you told them it was a bike, you had to pay a fee.

  5. #5
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    What kills me is that in recent years, in addition to paying a large fee, I've also been asked to sign a damage waiver, even when using a hard case.

    Let's see: so you are charging me an enormous special handling fee, and you still want the right to break it without having to pay for it?

  6. #6
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    Be aware of customs.
    In some countries they will give you trouble for a bike. S&S usually goes under the radar.

  7. #7
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    I'm always bringing goodies back from the U.S., and am never asked to open my bags when I arrive in Italy. If I have an oversized piece of luggage, I'm a bit concerned the bag will be inspected. I'm thinking of getting a very nice maxed out Ti bike built in the U.S., and bringing it back to Italy. If I'm stopped at Customs, it will certainly be one very expensive trip. Perhaps if I ride it during a rainstorm and pack it in a used case with old rags, etc., I can fool the Customs guys here.

  8. #8
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    I had a custom built S&S coupled bike built for me while living in west africa, and the customs guys were notorious for giving you a hard time about just about anything that looked vaguely new. When I brought the S&S frame back after Christmas vacation in the states, I made sure to cover it in mud and dirt. did the trick.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by D_Man
    I had a custom built S&S coupled bike built for me while living in west africa, and the customs guys were notorious for giving you a hard time about just about anything that looked vaguely new. When I brought the S&S frame back after Christmas vacation in the states, I made sure to cover it in mud and dirt. did the trick.
    Mud and dirt certainly help, but if you pack your bike properly in an S&S case, the frame will be masked with tube covers.
    I guess you should keep your wheels and tires mud-crusted and sprinkle some sand around for a good measure...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drdan
    I recently started a thread asking about fitting an S&S equipped 29er into a 26"X 26"X10" case. If I didn't go the S&S route, there are standard bike cases typically 47x 30"x11"....

    Would almost all airlines accept hauling oversize bicycle luggage without any hassles, or is it a case by case (pun intended) decision on their part)? Sending a bike by UPS is fine, but the Customs Service here in Italy can be a nightmare. If the airlines can get the bike back and forth, it would be a lot easier to "navigate" through customs, which even charges fees for books sent by Amazon -- books and educational materials are supposed to be free of customs' fees...

    Thanks!
    Should be no worries with customs, if it is not new merchandise. The airlines will vary on what they charge for taking a bike. You used to be able to get a bike on by checking in at the curb and flashing a $20 tip. The baggage guy tags and puts the "baggage" on the belt, and takes your $20 with a smile. That probably doesn't work anymore.

    Each airline will have complete baggage regulations posted on their websites. What also may come into play is if you have codeshare flights. if you fly on KLM plane, but bought the ticket through United (and thus is nominally a United flght), does it go by KLM or United baggage regulations? Here, it may not be 100% clear. But, my best advice is to make a note of whatever you are told, and WHO told it to you and when.

    In one instance, i booked a flight through United. It flew on a United flight domestically to Los Angeles, and then on Asiana airlines from Los Angeles to Guangzhou. Before I bought my ticket, I asked about regulations about baggage. I was told by Asiana and United that the baggage regulations for the entire flight in this instance would follow Asiana, since they were the international carrier. Asiana still carries bikes for free, as do many non-US-based airlines. Upon arriving at the counter to check in, however, we were told that United WOULD NOT take the bikes unless we paid $175 each. I said, "But we were informed specifically by a United employee that the baggage regulations for this flight would follow Asiana baggage regulations for the entire flight." The guys said, "Which agent did you talk to. We have no note of that in our computer." Of course, he had no note of it in his computer because I confirmed this with United BEFORE purchasing a ticket, and thus any notes anybody might have made would not have been connected with my particular ticket. So, we had to pay the $$$. Standing around and insisting did not work in this case because the oversized-luggage agents in Denver are trained to ignore any customer complaining, and levy a charge for the bike, skis, whatever, no matter WHAT. We were stuck, because we had to make the flight. We eventually checked the bikes, paid the fee, then complained to United customer service after going through security. They gave use United flight credits in excess of the amount of the fee, as turns out.

    At any rate-
    Know the policy of the airline. Check it on the website. Double-check it it verbally before you buy your ticket. Get it verbally AFTER you buy your ticket and have them note that information in their computer, connected with your particular ticket. Get the agent's name. Do those last few things especially diligently if their is any potential confusion. They have a set policy, but the application of that policy can indeed vary on a case-by-case basis.

  11. #11
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    There is lots of stuff on this on the tandem listserve. "Basically, even though the airlines have rules, many gate agents don;t know them and try to make up stuff as they go along. Almost everyone that flies with a tandem carries a printed copy of the regulations of the airline they are flying on so when some gate agent arbitrarily says: $300 and in reality the airline charge is $50, you can show them the rules. Also, it is almost always important to keep every package under 50 lbs because most airlines do charge heavy "pun intended" fees for going over 50 lbs.

    As far as the bike being used, if you ride it before returning to Italy, it is technically a used bike. Whether you bought it before you left Italy and are returning with it could be an issue. Just make sure that the tires you have mounted are very well worn and a brand that is generally only distributed in Europe would help. You can get the tires from the garbage bin at a local shop in Italy before you leave, just make sure they are the correct size. It seems to help if the cases look like they have made a few trips too in this regard. Buying used cases might be an advantage too. As an aside; you could have it built now and ship it to my house and I will ride the dog piss out of it until you get here.

  12. #12
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    You've shared more,good input; thanks. I've already thought about getting a used case and using the bike for a week, especially in rainy weather before packing it. If I were sure that's all it would take, my fears are allayed. In many respects though, Italy functions like a third world country, where Customs officials interpret any laws arbitrarily...

  13. #13
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    We had the EXACT situation happen to us when we moved to South Korea. I mean exact. On top of that, when we booked the flight, we opted for a 24 hour layover in Denver so we could see family one last time. The airline then decided to charge us the $175 for EACH leg of the journey. St. Louis to Denver, then Denver to SF. Nothing for SF to Incheon. I now have 29er wheels in a few places I frequent and simply fold up my Ventana El Ray into a small case which is undersized. Because of it's size they don't ask me to sign a waiver or even ask what's inside.


    Quote Originally Posted by John_Biker
    Should be no worries with customs, if it is not new merchandise. The airlines will vary on what they charge for taking a bike. You used to be able to get a bike on by checking in at the curb and flashing a $20 tip. The baggage guy tags and puts the "baggage" on the belt, and takes your $20 with a smile. That probably doesn't work anymore.

    Each airline will have complete baggage regulations posted on their websites. What also may come into play is if you have codeshare flights. if you fly on KLM plane, but bought the ticket through United (and thus is nominally a United flght), does it go by KLM or United baggage regulations? Here, it may not be 100% clear. But, my best advice is to make a note of whatever you are told, and WHO told it to you and when.

    In one instance, i booked a flight through United. It flew on a United flight domestically to Los Angeles, and then on Asiana airlines from Los Angeles to Guangzhou. Before I bought my ticket, I asked about regulations about baggage. I was told by Asiana and United that the baggage regulations for the entire flight in this instance would follow Asiana, since they were the international carrier. Asiana still carries bikes for free, as do many non-US-based airlines. Upon arriving at the counter to check in, however, we were told that United WOULD NOT take the bikes unless we paid $175 each. I said, "But we were informed specifically by a United employee that the baggage regulations for this flight would follow Asiana baggage regulations for the entire flight." The guys said, "Which agent did you talk to. We have no note of that in our computer." Of course, he had no note of it in his computer because I confirmed this with United BEFORE purchasing a ticket, and thus any notes anybody might have made would not have been connected with my particular ticket. So, we had to pay the $$$. Standing around and insisting did not work in this case because the oversized-luggage agents in Denver are trained to ignore any customer complaining, and levy a charge for the bike, skis, whatever, no matter WHAT. We were stuck, because we had to make the flight. We eventually checked the bikes, paid the fee, then complained to United customer service after going through security. They gave use United flight credits in excess of the amount of the fee, as turns out.

    At any rate-
    Know the policy of the airline. Check it on the website. Double-check it it verbally before you buy your ticket. Get it verbally AFTER you buy your ticket and have them note that information in their computer, connected with your particular ticket. Get the agent's name. Do those last few things especially diligently if their is any potential confusion. They have a set policy, but the application of that policy can indeed vary on a case-by-case basis.

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