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Airport procedure???????(16 posts)

Airport procedure???????ridenc
Nov 10, 2003 10:45 AM
I am going on a trip and want to carry my bike with me. I have never carried it while traveling by air. What is the procedure for transporting a bike by commercial air? Do the airlines box it for you, or do you have to come with it already boxed and protected? I assume there is an additional charge? If so, how much does it usually cost? Any feedback is appreciated.
re: Airport procedure???????russw19
Nov 10, 2003 10:50 AM
Check online with your specific airline. Most have simaler rules, but you can look them up on the airlines webpage.

They will not box if for you. You will have to do it. And most consider a bicycle as a non-piece of luggage and charge extra for it. They don't charge extra for golf clubs and other sporting equippment, but for some reason do so with a bike.

most sporting equipmentSteve_0
Nov 10, 2003 11:15 AM
gets a surcharge.

Another thing to be careful of...sporting equipment is not insured against damage as is luggage.

I have two broken surfboards with two different airlines despite excellent padding and "Fragile - Please Handle with care/Muy Fragil - Dirija Con Cuidudo Por Favor" plastered all over the bag. Since this happened twice, I concluded handlers dont give a darned.

Get a hard case; and still expect the worse.
Nov 10, 2003 12:19 PM
After I saw how airport security handles bikes I wouldn't trust your good bike. If you traveling domestic you'd be better off UPSing bike, and cheaper too.

On international flights use Euro carriers: they don't charge for bikes and have some insurance (Brits pay ~600$).

Pack it well in new bike cardbox from LBS dumpster, wrap chain/seatstays and fork in pipe foam, put spacer in fork, reinforce handles and corners, good luck
It varies a lot...Lon Norder
Nov 10, 2003 10:59 AM
You sometimes can get boxes at the airport, but I wouldn't count on it. Even if you call them and they say they have boxes, often they don't. I usually go to my local bike shop and dumpster dive for a box. Then I remove the handlebars, pedals, front wheel, and saddle and seatpost, stick everything in the box, then tape it up. Don't use too much tape because they've opened the boxes since 9/11.

Charging for bikes varies too. I've been charged when I didn't think I would be (overseas flight), and not charged when I thought I would (domestic flight). American Airlines charged me $110 on a trip to France. Ouch.
or you could as your LBS for the boxwitcomb
Nov 10, 2003 11:55 AM
In fact, you can get them to pack it for you as well. They might do a better job as they do it on a regular basis, depending on the shop.
make it easy to 'repack'..joe friday
Nov 10, 2003 12:14 PM
these days you know it will get searched, so make it
easy to repack properly. Also, the added cost varies
alot, i've heard Continental it's free/nominal and i've
heard others say $80-100, sometimes you can luck out and
get just the 'oversized' cost--$20~$40
The cheapest way to pack is a cardboard box-costing nothing
but providing no protection either.
Some triathalon shops will rent good quality containers.
I'd recommend going to the expense of a hardshell e.g.
Trico, Serfas, Tri All 3, etc..

Finally, any method will require removing the stem, seat, fork
"make it easy to repack" was best info on this thread!GeoCyclist
Nov 11, 2003 4:38 AM
I travelled with my bike last summer from Japan to the USA, and then to several different destinations within the USA and back to Japan. Every time I checked my bike (in the USA) the case was opened by security, and something was damaged. I even had notes inside the case explaining how to repack the bike. The bottom line is the Security people could care less about damaging your property, and probably get a real kick out of doing intentionally. Your best bet is pack it good and send it by UPS, FEDEX, USPS, or some other carrier that hires people who can READ!

Best of luck!!!
re: Airport procedure???????wooglin
Nov 10, 2003 11:39 AM
If you can afford the downtime you're probably better off shipping the bike to and from your destination via UPS or FedEx Ground. If you don't have anywhere to ship it to, contact an lbs. They can usually recieve it (and will even put it together for your arrival if you pay for the privilege).

Also, your lbs might rent out hardshell shipping cases. If so, take advantage of it. Your bike will be far better protected.
Pack it yourselt, the rest varies . . .ms
Nov 10, 2003 12:14 PM
You have to pack the bike yourself before you get to the airport. I would recommend that you buy or rent a case for your bike. A box may not survive the trip and the unpacking on the other end. Also, when I flew with my bike in March from LAX, the TSA unpacked the bike at the check-in counter and examined every part of it because it would not fit through the x-ray machine.

You usually have to pay a fee each way on domestic flights. (I have paid from $40 on Southwest to $80 on Northwest; the usual fee is around $60-75). You usually do not have to pay a fee on international flights. The gate personnel vary in their familiarity with the rules -- you should study them for your airline in advance. Only once did I get a bike through for free when there was supposed to be a charge (the counter attendant could not figure out what the fee should be and the line behind me was very long -- she made the decision that it was better to forego the fee to move the line). I had to argue with and show the baggage rules (which I had downloaded from USAirways website and printed) to two agents before they let my bike fly for free on a transatlantic flight on USAirways this summer. DO NOT LIE ABOUT WHAT IS IN THE BOX. Prior to 9/11/01, a lot of people used to say that they were carrying convention supplies or have some other explanation for the large box that they were checking. Given that the TSA checks checked bags at the check-in counter at most airports in the US, lying will not work (and I don't know that the feds will do to you if they catch you lying, even if you are not a terrorist with contraband).

If you can ship your bike by UPS or FedEx in advance of your trip, I would recommend it. Taking a bike with you on the plane is an expensive hassle (try getting your bike box and your luggage on a full rental car shuttle). But, if you can't be without your bike for a week or so, don't have a secure place to send it, etc., take your bike on the plane. Even if you spend $100-200 on fees for the trip, you will be much happier with your own bike than a rental at the other end.
So where you headed...c'mon give us the goods...biknben
Nov 10, 2003 12:54 PM
I've done 3 cycling vacations with my bike. I only used the Airline once (actually only in one direction). Each other time, I used FedEx or UPS. Depending on shipping costs, the prices could be the same. For two of the trips, I used a standard bike box. If packed well, they are more than sufficient. FWIW, I used a hard case for the last trip and a spoke broke during the return leg.

I packed it myself or had the LBS pack it. Then, I shipped it from the store to my hotel at the destination. Call your hotel to ask them if this is OK. Then call again to let them know it's coming.

I'd recommend you let the LBS pack it BUT watch them do it. They have the expertise to reduce damage. You will have to be able to unpack and repack it on the road so pay attention. Be sure to bring the tools you need to do this.

My rationale for using FedEx was that they offer garanteed delivery. That doesn't mean too much in reality but it offered a little more assurance that my bike would be there waiting for me when I arrived. It also makes air travel much easier. The airlines offer no garrantees and regularly "misplace" luggage. When on a bike trip, you can't wait a day or two for them to locate your bike.
If you don't know how to pack and unpack the bike . . .ms
Nov 10, 2003 1:27 PM
I agree with watching the LBS pack your bike if you don't know how to do it. The first time that I had my bike packed, I took photos of the procedure. At the time, everyone (but me) thought that I was being excessive. But, when I was trying to pack the bike for the return trip, did not have too much time to spare and couldn't remember exactly how some thingd fit together in the case (Trico Iron case), the photos saved the day. Now, I always take the photos with me.
Never ride on runwaysFree2Pedal
Nov 10, 2003 1:55 PM
But if you find you must, then stay to the left and be sure to signal before taking the lane. Oh, wait...what was the question? No, you must check your bike. If you want to travel with it in the cabin, you will be required to purchase 3 additional seats. Of course, when traveling with family, you may check wife and children and bring the bike aboard.
Buy a hard plastic case.lyleseven
Nov 10, 2003 6:43 PM
You can get these at Performance, Nashbar, etc. if you do a lot of traveling with your bike as I do. These boxes, if less than 65 or 70 lbs. qualify as luggage and no extra charge, at least on the international flights. If you put it in a bike box (cardboard) you will likely get charged extra and also run a much higher risk of damage to the bike. I have shipped bikes this way at least 20 or 30 times and finally got wise and paid the $200-250 for a hard plastic carrier and no damage in many trips, and cheaper to ship. You can also use these carriers to shipUPS or Fed Ex. Cross country they charge about $35 each way.
re: Airport procedure???????dickruthlynn
Nov 11, 2003 2:27 PM
Several times I have shipped my bike in a hard plastic case and used UPS. Never a problem. I ship mine to the hotel under my name and call the hotel in advance.
FedEx or UPS is the way to go...DERICK
Nov 11, 2003 5:59 PM
Heres why:
*You get insurance
*Nobody opens and repacks it
*Less luggage to fit into a car on both ends of the trip
*Have it waiting for you at your hotel or an LBS
*It's cheaper

You can even have your LBS box and ship it for you if you aren't sure how to handle it. You could even have it shipped to a bike shop and assembled so it would be ready when you arrived.