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Carrying bike on "no frills airline"

topcattimtopcattim Posts: 766
edited November 2010 in Road beginners
I'm planning a cycling holiday starting in Geneva next summer and am looking at the flight options to get there. Cheapest is from Gatwick, via "No frills airline". I can't find any details about the airline (is this a generic name, perhaps, for flybe, easyjet etc) about what the deal would be for transporting a bike bag.

The alternative is to go from Heathrow, at about £30 more, with BA who appear to let me put a bike bag in the hold at no extra charge. Gatwick and Heathrow are roughly equidistant from me.

I'm figuring that if there was a charge for carrying the bike bag each way and for checking my other baggage in the hold, this could easily add up to the £30 difference between the two costs.

Does anybody have any advice about the arrangements with "no frills airline"?

Posts

  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    topcattim wrote:
    I'm planning a cycling holiday starting in Geneva next summer and am looking at the flight options to get there. Cheapest is from Gatwick, via "No frills airline". I can't find any details about the airline (is this a generic name, perhaps, for flybe, easyjet etc) about what the deal would be for transporting a bike bag.

    The alternative is to go from Heathrow, at about £30 more, with BA who appear to let me put a bike bag in the hold at no extra charge. Gatwick and Heathrow are roughly equidistant from me.

    I'm figuring that if there was a charge for carrying the bike bag each way and for checking my other baggage in the hold, this could easily add up to the £30 difference between the two costs.

    For Geneva, it's probably Easyjet, who are very good about taking a bike, but they will charge you more than the 30quid difference. So it's almost certainly a simple choice, take BA - your bike bag does have a strict 23kg limit though other wise they charge you.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,163
    What kind of bike bags do people recommend? A quick look on Wiggle suggests a vast range of types, from £5 simple bags to £250 cases with wheels.

    Any recommendations?
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    BA's regulations are here:

    http://www.britishairways.com/travel/ba ... blic/en_gb

    It gives specific sizes for bags but then in the cycling section it says that it will accept all recognised bike bags which are used for carry disassembled bikes. That would worry me slightly as most bike bags are basically wheels removed only with the bars turned jobs so do they conform to their notions of what compact bike bag should be.

    Also they do say that it may be subject to a fee. Now how do they decide if one is going to be imposed or not?

    Perhaps best to email or phone them just to confirm your bike bag sizes and if any charges will apply and take that with you if they say it is suitable and no charge is to be made for the bag.
  • Thanks jibberjim, that sort of confirms my view.
    doyler78 wrote:
    Also they do say that it may be subject to a fee. Now how do they decide if one is going to be imposed or not?

    Perhaps best to email or phone them just to confirm your bike bag sizes and if any charges will apply and take that with you if they say it is suitable and no charge is to be made for the bag.

    That's a good spot - I'd looked through BA's stuff and hadn't spotted the bit about "subject to extra fee" but had spotted the bit about willing to transport a bag for no extra cost. A bit contradictory, so I will call them.
    What kind of bike bags do people recommend? A quick look on Wiggle suggests a vast range of types, from £5 simple bags to £250 cases with wheels.

    Any recommendations?

    As for what type of bike bag, I'm going to be interested in answers to that,

    I've read on here very contrary advice; if you bring a soft bag, the handlers see it as such, and treat it better than a full hard box. On the other hand, the hard box gives better protection. My view from looking on this site a while ago was that most people recommended soft bags with good padding - Last time I travelled with my bike, I found some good advice on the internet about how to pack my bag, and made sure I bought lots of pipe lagging and bubble wrap!
  • mozwyn69mozwyn69 Posts: 170
    I flew with BA a a few years ago and had no probs with the bike. Have flown with Easy jet 3 times and flying with them again this summer to Geneva. They charge 16 pounds each way for the bike, they also allow you a 32kg weight limit. I would rather pay up front for the bike and have peace of mind knowing it's going to be hassle free at the check in.
    Sometimes you have to lose yourself
    before you can find anything.
  • nferrarnferrar Posts: 2,511
    I've traveled with a soft bag before and been OK 2 out of 3 times, the other I had a bent rear mech. Next time I go (March) I'm borrowing a mate's hard shell bike case and I'll certainly be less worried about it, the downside being the cases themselves weigh a lot so getting everything under the weight limit could be a challenge. Oh and they cost a fortune (and rental prices are stupid) so unless you're going abroad a few times it's difficult to justify buying one.
  • BodhbhBodhbh Posts: 117
    Looking into flying a bike with BA myself atm. Phoning them up doesn't seem so helpful - usual thing of some spotty 17yr old only reading off the same info you can see yourself on the website.

    The main problem is the pretty tight dimension requirement, which is fairly new afaik. However, searching these forums it seems in practice they turn a blind eye as long as it's in a proper bike bag. Would really like to travel using a 5 pound CTC bag I can stick in a pannier, but judging from the pictures this would not cut it unless they're feeling very blind indeed.
  • Steve928Steve928 Posts: 314
    phreak wrote:
    What kind of bike bags do people recommend? A quick look on Wiggle suggests a vast range of types, from £5 simple bags to £250 cases with wheels.

    Any recommendations?

    I use a home made box: 6mm ply on a softwood frame. Weighs c.8kg and cost £12 to make over 5 years ago IIRC.. Far more rigid than an ABS suitcase-type case too.

    So far it's been twice round the world (multi-stops) and to Spain/Balearics and back 5 times and looks as good as new.
  • DoomDoom Posts: 133
    I have flown EasyJet to Geneva a few times and settled on paying the 15quid each way for the knowledge that the bike was pre booked and would get on the plane.

    I will say though I had the horror of watching them load (read destroy) the bike box on the plane in Geneva by throwing a hard shell case clearly labelled as fragile from the trolley to the luggage ramp. The bike was fine but my 200quid box was a mess and it took over 4 months to get insurance to pay out.

    I dont think I could ever fly without a hard case having been through so many airports and seen how people handle luggage.
    FCN: 4
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,163
    I'll be flying Alitalia, they charge 20 euros to take a bike. Suppose that's not too bad. Anyone flown with them?
  • bicebice Posts: 772
    Can't you just buy a large second hand suitcase and line it, padded out a bit with your clothes? The £150 hard case on wiggle is just a narrow hard suitcase to me.
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    bice wrote:
    Can't you just buy a large second hand suitcase and line it, padded out a bit with your clothes? The £150 hard case on wiggle is just a narrow hard suitcase to me.

    Their may be restrictions to the extent that only bikes can placed in a bike bag ie no clothing so this may not be an option. I think that Easyjet have such a restriction. Whether they enforce it is another matter.
  • andy_wrxandy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    My understanding is that EasyJet's hold baggage allowance is 20kg.
    You paid extra for the bike (or surfboard, golf clubs, etc - all class as 'sports equipment') and that gives you another 12kg.
    Thus you can take 32kg total without paying excess baggage weight charges.

    They're not bothered about the bike weighing 12kg and the hold bag weighing 20kg, the whole lot has to be 32kg or less.
    This means you can put some of your clothes in your bike bag as extra padding or put some of your bike stuff in your normal hold luggage, mix it up anyhow.

    Some other airlines allow a bike to fly free but mean 'a bike' - they open your bike bag and check it does just contain a bike and you haven't put anything else in and you could end-up arguing whether e.g. tools or lights or panniers or your bike helmet, etc is part of your bike or should be in your hold luggage.



    Personally, I'd put a day-or-two's worth of bike clothing, plus shoes, etc in with your bike or carry it as hand luggage.
    If the airline loses/delays your hold bag and all your kit is in it but the bike arrives OK, how will you ride the bike without shoes, jersey, shorts, etc ?
    If your hold bag arrives but the bike doesn't, well you're bu$$ered anyway and the problem doesn't apply !
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    I thought I would just check this as I have my bike booked on an Easyjet flight so was pretty certain that I seen this restriction on clothes, or anything else for that matter, being carried in bike bag.

    Here's a link to the Easyjet webpage on baggage:

    http://www.easyjet.com/en/planning/baggage.html

    and here's the relevant section:
    (1) Carriage of bicycles:


    The bicycle must be packaged in a bicycle box or bag
    Only one bicycle per bicycle box or bag will be permitted
    No other items can be carried in the bicycle box (e.g. clothing)
    The handlebars must be flush with the frame
    The pedals must be flush against the frame or removed

    Passengers travelling with bicycles are strongly recommended to check-in 2 hours prior to departure in order to guarantee carriage.

    As I said before I don't know how strictly they apply the rule.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    I will be putting easyjet to the test in April, flying to Pisa from Bristol, two bikes, CTC plastic bags....we'll see :?
  • Reading this with interest as I've just been trying to sort out bike carriage to Cyprus in April with Thomson.

    We booked a holiday with Portland Direct last July, but I did'nt book the bike at that time, thought I'd wait to see how fitness & health was up to 6 weeks before departure. Called the operator today & was quoted £60. That's quite outrageous when the original charge was £30 (£15 each way). Thomson have'nt got a clue. They've changed our outbound flight from Thomson to First Choice without us being informed, so they are now saying that this is 2 separate airlines & each airline has a one way/return charge of £30. (First Choice & Thomson are the same company!!). When you call them, there is a message saying that they are one company called Thomson Airways. Confused..??

    £60 for bike carriage is ridiculous. I was charged £15 return in december for ski carriage, whats the difference apart from bikes being much lighter..??

    Was hoping to have a go at climbing up Mount Olympus. Don't think there are any bike hire places near where I'm staying &n anyway it's always better on your own bike. Anyone planning to use Thomson's for bike carriage beware.

    After countless phone calls, finally got through to someone with common sense who is trying to get me done for the original £30.
  • andy_wrxandy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    Easyjet Liverpool to Nice return
    - at Liverpool going-out, they weighed my hold bag and bike bag, told me I had this 20kg + 12kg = 32kg total and checked I hadn't exceeded it, didn't look in the bike bag to check there was just a bike in it, sent the hold bag off down the conveyor and stuck a label on the bike bag, sent me to Oversized Baggage where some bored guys X-rayed it through
    - on arrival at Nice, my bike bag and another guy's clear plastic bagged bike came out first on the carousel a couple of minutes before all the bags from the hold, no problems
    - at Nice coming back, they didn't have anything about the bike on the computer so I had to produce the paperwork from the internet to prove I'd paid for it, then they didn't weigh it, didn't look inside, just sent me to Oversized Baggage with it
    - on arrival in Liverpool it came out on the carousel amongst all the other hold luggage, covered in muck and dust, all scratched-up...

    LyinAir East Mids to Rimini, return
    - at East Mids going out, they didn't weigh it, didn't look inside, just sent me to Oversized Baggage with it
    - at Rimini it wasn't on the conveyor, but after all the other bags had gonem a cheerful Italian baggage handler bloke brought it out on a trolley and as we were the only people left he brought it over straight to us
    - coming back, they didn't weigh it, didn't look inside, just sent me to Oversized Baggage with it
    - on arrival at East Mids it came out on the carousel amongst all the other hold luggage, covered in muck and dust again, with other bags on top of it. Some fat pink woman, displaying amounts of flesh I'd rather not have seen, started heaving and shoving at it to get her bag from behind it, too far away for me to intervene but then looking at the state of her and her husband it would have been wasted breath anyway...

    I've heard several horror stories about Stansted, as though baggage handling (not LyinAir themseleves, they outsource to ground agents) have a competition amongst themselves to see how much damage they can do to fragile items, or how just how much effort it takes to wreck a rigid bike box.

    We're going to Rimini again in April, but flying via Schipol.
    I couldn't bear the idea of a two-stop flight each way and what they'd do to my bike so we're hiring when we get there.
    I'm taking my own pedals and saddle, have decided that for the hire fee of £90 compared to LyinAir and Easyjet's £60+ or so of bike fees, check-in-fees, hold-bag fees, it's not worth the messing about and the risk to my bike...
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    I'm flying into Standsted :shock: :shock:
  • Won't it depend on which baggage hander the airline contracts to?

    I've flown SAS, who I think have their own handlers in the UK, and had no problems at Heathrow - delivered safely to the Oversize Luggage flag in Terminal 3.

    That may be a problem for "no frills" airlines (especially cheapskate Ryanair) - they probably pay bottom-dollar rates for their handling contract, so you get bottom-dollar handling.
  • I have flown over 10 times, using easyjet and soft bike bag, my advise would be
    1/dont take to good a bike, I have had lots of minor damage
    2/ fit frame spacers in both forks available free fromm local bike shops
    3/ remove rear duralier, as they get damaged, but tape chain carefully, as theres nothing worse than a tangled chain
    4/ remove wheel spindles
    5/ take a spare spoke
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,163
    heron8888 wrote:
    I have flown over 10 times, using easyjet and soft bike bag, my advise would be
    1/dont take to good a bike, I have had lots of minor damage
    2/ fit frame spacers in both forks available free fromm local bike shops
    3/ remove rear duralier, as they get damaged, but tape chain carefully, as theres nothing worse than a tangled chain
    4/ remove wheel spindles
    5/ take a spare spoke

    Would it not be easier to buy a sturdier bike case? My local club rent them out, maybe your one would/could do something similar.
  • I travelled through Geneva for a cycling holiday in the Alps and used BA from Heathrow -pricewise they were about £20 more expensive than Easy jet but it was worth it for the ease of check-in alone.
    Heathrow was self check-in and then bag drop no hassle, at Geneva when I came home they must have had only two Easyjet desks open and the queues were horrendous, BA on the other hand was simple and done in 3 minutes - made it a far better experience.
    Ciao Marco
  • I do Geneva and Easyjet for work regularly. It's always chaos at Geneva airport as check-in is only (in theory) using the automatic kiosks, then queuing for bag drop-off. As most people aren't used to the kiosks, you get loads of people milling around in a semi-confused state, all mixed up with the queues. It's all very un-Swiss ...
  • Ive traveled all over the world with hard shell bike boxes and the bike jas always (touchwood) made it in one piece, only requiring bars wheels and pedals to be re attached at the other end (and saddle+seatpost).

    But ALL box damage has occured at Gatwick!!
    Not sure id be comfotable witha soft bag but they seem to work and are mush easier if youre travelling by train
  • nickwillnickwill Posts: 2,735
    andy_wrx wrote:
    My understanding is that EasyJet's hold baggage allowance is 20kg.
    You paid extra for the bike (or surfboard, golf clubs, etc - all class as 'sports equipment') and that gives you another 12kg.
    Thus you can take 32kg total without paying excess baggage weight charges.

    I know this is resurrecting an old thread, but I thought I would pass on an update on Easyjet's bike carriage policy. Basically the main site states the case as above. Terms and conditions say that the weight of the bicycle does not count towards excess baggage charges. I emailed Easyjet in order to get clarification. This is the reply:

    Thank you for contacting us.

    I am sorry that you have been disappointed with our baggage policy for sports equipment and I can appreciate your frustration.

    As you know, all passengers are entitled to 20kg of hold baggage weight allowance. In addition, a manual handling fee of £26.00 per flight (or £18.50 per flight if pre booked online) is charged for bikes, skis, golf clubs, windsurfers, surfboards, hang-gliders and firearms, which allows passengers to carry a further 12kg. If the hold baggage and sports equipment combined weigh more than 32kg, then passengers are charged excess baggage fees of £10 per additional kilo.

    Bicycles, however, are subject to the sports equipment fee but exempt from any excess baggage charges relating to the weight of the bicycle. If hold bag and bicycle weigh more than 32 kg, passengers will not have to pay excess baggage but hold bag cannot weigh more than 20 kg and a bicycle cannot weigh more than 32 kg. Please remember that total weight of the baggae cannot exceed 50 kg.


    Our full baggage policies can be found in our 'Carriers' Regulations' for which I have included a link below:-

    http://www.easyjet.com/EN/Book/regulations.html#baggage


    I thought this might be of some help to other bemused travellers. I will be taking this paperwork with me when I fly, in order to save any confusion.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    It's a question of physics - big heavy bike box and bike hits the ground a lot harder that a well-padded, but lightweight bike bag + bike from a given height. I saw a plane being unloaded at Toulouse where they lifted the bike bags onto the trolleys, but dropped the heavy boxes on the tarmac from the hold door!
    I had a hardshell case, it was trashed first time it was used (BA). Since then I've stuck to the well-padded soft bag. Re Easyjets rule on bike only in bag, I managed to get a bottle of wine unscathed back from Italy in my bike bag through judicious use of bubble wrap and cable ties! If you really want to make life easier, get a Ritchey Breakaway or similar - I have one of those too which I use frequently - the fact that it's a steel frame also means that impacts aren't likely to be catastrophic.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
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