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Flying with a bike as luggage - your experiences please :-)

Afternoon all,

At some point in the next 12 months I need to travel to Mauritius with a road bike.

I assume it goes as oversize luggage, and the airline is more than likely to be BA, although Air Mauritius \ Air France \ Emirates are not out of the question.

I've never flown with oversize luggage or a bicycle anywhere, so was after some advice.

It won't be my pride and joy - it's a Specialized Allez Elite, and it's a one way journey, it's going there to live, so no return aspect to worry about.

I'm aware of the hard cases to transport them in, but as I am not bringing it back, it would mean I need to pay for oversize luggage twice (As in theory I could borrow or hire a box I suspect) to get it home again empty, which seems a bit off a waste.

However, if taking it over in a bag, or fully built, but bubble wrapped \ pipe insulation is not viable, or too risky, I may have no choice.
What about removing the rear derailleur and strapping it inside the frame, or even putting it in my hold luggage, that seems to be the most likely casualty of careless handling?

I suppose flying only one way is fairly unusual, but what are your collective experiences \ methods \ horror stories of flying with a bike?

And which airlines were involved?

Thanks

Dan
Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
Scott CR1 SL 12
Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
Scott Foil 18

Posts

  • john80john80 Posts: 958
    We flew into las vegas and out of new york with bikes. We used cardboard bike boxes from shops local to departure and discarded them at the other end. Smaller bikes just take front wheel off, seat post out and handlebars off. Bigger bikes need rear wheel removal. Derailler off in both cases and taped to frame.

    Both trips no damage but not our high end carbon bikes on this trip.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 11,385
    As a one way, one off move I’d be looking at a courier.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,564
    pblakeney said:

    As a one way, one off move I’d be looking at a courier.

    I don't think this will be an option, as I think my parents would get hit for import duty, where as if I travel with it, it's simply my bike.
    I also suspect an 8000 mile trip would be pretty pricey - sending one to Italy is about £40.
    Depending on the cost of oversize luggage I guess of course.
    john80 said:

    We flew into las vegas and out of new york with bikes. We used cardboard bike boxes from shops local to departure and discarded them at the other end. Smaller bikes just take front wheel off, seat post out and handlebars off. Bigger bikes need rear wheel removal. Derailler off in both cases and taped to frame.

    Both trips no damage but not our high end carbon bikes on this trip.

    That's interesting - I'm buying from an LBS, so could easily ask them to keep a sturdy box for me when it comes time to travel.

    I had heard of some people travelling with a bike in a clear bag, so people can see what it is, but presumably it should be pretty obvious from a cardboard box as well, but with a little bit more protection.

    Either way, sounds like derailleur off is a definite - assume stem turned, bars rotated round and secured to the frame as well, plus copious amounts of pipe lagging and bubblewrap.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,292
    Yes flown many times. Pack the bike so you're happy to lob it down the stairs. If you're not happy then pad it out some more.

    Can't you buy a bike locally ?
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,365
    edited November 2019
    I’ve flown Ryanair to and from Italy for the Maratona with my best bike in a cheap Planet X soft padded bag with no issues. I slackened the stem, rotated and turned bars and secured them to top tube, and took off pedals and rear mech. I taped pipe lagging around the frame and chainrings and put wooden spacers between fork legs and rear dropouts. I put the wheels inside padded wheel bags and then inside the Planet X bag’s own wheel compartments. The PX bag will fold small enough to go inside a regular hard suitcase if you are doing a trip without the bike. It’s big enough that you don’t need to take saddle and post off.

    I’ve also flown EasyJet and Flybe many times with a Bike Friday packable performance road bike. It fits into a standard sized Samsonite hard suitcase as part of my ordinary baggage allowance. The only time I had an issue was when I told the baggage handling desk there was a bike inside. They insisted I opened the case and let the air out of my tyres. Since then, I just handed over the case as normal without volunteering information about what was in it.
  • I don't fly with it often, and has always been in Europe, but always choose BA. They take it as normal luggage, so no extra fees to pay as long as it comes under 23kg - if you have more than that it might be cheaper to pay for an extra normal bag rather than an oversize.
    Chain off, rear derailleur off, saddle out, handlebars turned and lots of bubble wrap, and spacers where the wheels were
    and then the next thing you know
  • I took my bike to Parga in Greece in July.
    I bought an EVA bike box off eBay and padded it out with t shirts, shorts, Calvins and beach towels. I had to pay £45 each way to take it in a Thomas Cook flight and I paid a few quid to insure it. We had to get a Merc Vito taxi to get to Gatwick which cost a bit more than a Prius and the Greek coach driver treated it with kid gloves whilst loading it onto to the coach.

    All in all,it was a pain free experience.



  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,564
    edited November 2019
    Thanks all (Darrell and Mercia man especially)

    I hadn't considered trying to pack it in a bike bag, and not having ot pay anything extra for it - not a bad call.

    At the end of the day, when travelling to Mauritius, clothes tend to be just t-shirts and shorts, so no need for trousers, or bulky jumpers etc, so entirely plausible that I could dissaemble the bike, and pack it out with a ton of clothes, and then just put it in as normal hold luggage.

    I see on Wiggle \ CRC they have a quite well rated Lifeline bag currently going for £55.
    Wouldn't take up a lot of space to store at home in the loft or garage, and a possibility it 'might' come in handy at some point in the future:

    https://chainreactioncycles.com/lifeline-complete-bike-wheel-bags/rp-prod155453

    There are also sometimes some cheap flights in the spring time......
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 11,385
    My experience of taking my bike as “normal” luggage with KLM was good but only because I was prepared.
    No trouble flying to Toulouse via Amsterdam but the check in lady in Toulouse got shirty and insisted that I’d have to pay an excess for a bike. Until I produced a confirmation email from KLM that my bike case was considered as “normal” luggage.
    Just a warning to be prepared.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • w12_ladw12_lad Posts: 165
    I took a bike on a one way trip to Malaga using Easyjet about 4 or 5 years ago.
    I got a large cardboard bike box from Evans as there were no size restrictions for bike boxes, only weight.
    The bike fit in the box without removing the wheels. I just had to turn the bars. I can't remember if I removed the pedals. I used lots of bubble wrap and gaffer taped the box well.
    When I got to Luton, it was clear the box was too big to fit through the oversize baggage Xray machine so I had to unpack the bike, which was really annoying as I had (in my mind) packed it so well and would have no way of resealing the box. It was also unclear if I would need to remove the wheels so it was a bit stressful.
    Luckily, the complete bike did fit through the machine without having to undo the bubble wrap to remove the wheels and the staff found some sellotape to tape the box back up, obviously not nearly as secure but I had no choice.
    The bike arrived with no damage.
  • navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,519
    I brought a bike out with me to Bahrain in the Middle East with BA. No issues. I used a proper padded bike bag and used the spare weight allowance and space for lots of other belongings and all my cycling gear (clothing, tools, spare tyres and tubes). Basically the bag was stuffed and I doubt the fame could come to any harm with all that was packed around it. (I also took the turbo trainer in an ordinary suitcase.)

    I don't expect to bring the bike home in 3 or 4 years time but will simply use the bike bag for transporting any extra belongings I accumulate and don't want to sell before returning.

    I've taken bikes to Europe 5 or 6 times using EasyFret and CryingAir. So far no issues although, the bag is no longer pristine on the outside there is no physical damage.
  • Have done numerous trips around Europe with both carbon and alloy bikes - mostly Aurigny and BA, as it counts as your normal luggage allowance, but also paid Flybe & easyJet.

    Normally take a proper bike bag for a return trip, but have done a one way trip when I did LEJOG. Blagged a cardboard bike box from a local bike shop, wrapped everything I could in bubble wrap/pipe lagging, stuck in frame spacers at the bottom of the fork and rear drop out to prevent them being crushed under other luggage. Took a spare rear mech hanger just in case, but can't recall removing it from the bike. Usual pedals off, bars turned sideways, and wheels wedged in the sides. Stuck a couple of fragile stickers on the side of the box and it survived intact.
  • Am off to Medellin, Colombia in 2 weeks. Air Europa have said 75 Euros each way to ship bike but have given some restrictive dimensions, either 160x100x25 or 175x100x20 for bag/box (no weight limit). Does anyone have experience of flying with them - I have an EVOC bag which because of the wheels is bigger. In practice on EasyJet, Avianca and BA I have never been refused. Views or experiences please.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 1,871
    I always mention on these threads that in my experience using anything other than a hard shell box is a risk. Just seen this tweet, which proves the point that with a soft case you have to be lucky every time

    https://mobile.twitter.com/Francis_Cade/status/1219924284065361925

    PP
  • topcattimtopcattim Posts: 764

    I always mention on these threads that in my experience using anything other than a hard shell box is a risk. Just seen this tweet, which proves the point that with a soft case you have to be lucky every time

    https://mobile.twitter.com/Francis_Cade/status/1219924284065361925

    PP

    I used soft bags a few times, successfully as it happens. But I swapped to a hard bike box when I looked out of the window of my plane and saw my bike bag on the luggage trolley, underneath a pile of five suitcases. Didn't want to take that risk again.
  • andyrrandyrr Posts: 1,491
    I had a soft bag that had a metal frame on the base to hold the fork dropouts plus it had a plastic stiffener on the base too. Being paranoid I used pipe lagging on the frame and also added thin sheets of hardboard down the sides to prevent damage- this worked pretty well. 1 trip I used sheets of polystyrene in place of the hardboard which did break up a bit but lasted the return trip and had the advantage of adding pretty much no weight. For you you could use a cheap or disposable outer with reinforcing as a shell-type case is the best to try and guarantee a safe journey.
  • ibr17xviiibr17xvii Posts: 324

    I always mention on these threads that in my experience using anything other than a hard shell box is a risk. Just seen this tweet, which proves the point that with a soft case you have to be lucky every time

    https://mobile.twitter.com/Francis_Cade/status/1219924284065361925

    PP

  • parmosparmos Posts: 66
    edited 27 January
    i went to the french alps back in 99'' couldn't get a direct flight to geneva so ended up going to schipol then onto geneva but there was a dutch airline strike and we never got our MTB's till 4 days into the weeks holiday obvs we rented bikes after the 1st day.

    we all bought bike bikes planetX ones back then and jsut padded them out with our clothing i remember it costing lots more than it should have.

    never any issues since with direct flights
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,373
    Pain in the censored . Like flying with skis. Another pain in the censored .
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