Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => Topic started by: mrcharly-YHT on August 20, 2013, 02:48:32 pm

Title: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on August 20, 2013, 02:48:32 pm
We don't seem to have a topic for this (although it has been discussed at various times).

So lets have a collation topic - and add it to the Useful topics sticky.

Someone's bad experience https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=1891.msg27477#msg27477 (https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=1891.msg27477#msg27477)

A hard case rental service
http://www.bikebox-online.co.uk/ (http://www.bikebox-online.co.uk/)


Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: shyumu on August 20, 2013, 02:54:05 pm
I was hoping for something Samuel L. Jackson related here.  Apparently the L. stands for Livid.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: tiermat on August 20, 2013, 02:56:45 pm
OF the two times I have flown with a bike I have had one wheel bent (not past rideable, and as it was a disc braked wheel it mattered less, anyway).

The key to flying with a bike is to READ THE AIRLINE REGS.

Don't try to wing it (no pun intended), what works for one airline doesn't for another, even from the same airport.

The CTC clear bag is usually fine (worked for Ham earlier this year), but I prefer to use the clear construction plastic that you can get in nice big lumps from Homebase, B&Q etc.

I take my panniers and bar bag off the bike, remove the front wheel, pedals and seat post, then wrap it all up in the plsatic (taping and tie wrapping bits to other bits to keep it all safe and secure).

The panniers and barbag go into a holdall along with knife and packing tape.

At the other end the bike gets rebuilt and the holdall, tape and plastic are dropped off at left luggage.

Return trip the same task it repeated, ready for flying home.

The one thing I would ignore on airlaines regs WRT bikes is NOT to let the tyres down.  The risk of the tubes and tyres causing a problem is minimal and the extra rigidity a full blown up tyre gives the wheel can be the difference between a fun tour and a wasted journey.  It also saves a shedlod of time at the other end when you come to rebuild the bike ready for the off.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: hellymedic on August 20, 2013, 03:03:45 pm
There are public bike pumps in Denmark which can come in handy. I would not fancy arguing with airline staff though none ever expected me to deflate the pneumatic tyres on my wheelchair.
Gone are the days when you could carry tools and spares in your hand baggage.
Keep your pedals in the same bag as your pedal spanners if you remove or turn your pedals.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Vince on August 20, 2013, 03:06:05 pm
I've only taken a bike on a plane once 12 years ago; My Moulton Delux from Bristol to Schiphol via KLM.

I did nothing to protect it, just twisted the bars, removed the pedals and let the air out of the tyres. As this was before 9/11, there were no raised eybrows about carrying a pump and tool kit into the cabin.

It arrived safely.

One issue I had was that a change of plane meant I needed to move to a later flight - Fokker 50s can't carry bikes but Fokker 70s can. Not a problem as I had notified the airline that I intended to bring a bike and had documentation to that end.

I probably wouldn't take the same approach with a less robust machine such as my Bianchi.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: LEE on August 20, 2013, 03:15:08 pm
I was hoping for something Samuel L. Jackson related here.  Apparently the L. stands for Livid.

(http://i170.photobucket.com/albums/u249/freddered/Various/YACFBikesonaTrain.jpg)

Taken from the YACF Mythology thread

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=55669.0 (https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=55669.0)
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: ian.r.mcdonald on August 20, 2013, 03:18:27 pm
Ryanair return flight for a bike = £100

Renting a nice bike in Europe= £80

no worrying about the Rourke and a chance to go to some interesting bike shops

my bike box has been used 10 times- and will be used no more!
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: shyumu on August 20, 2013, 03:18:46 pm
Fantastic - I didn't know that thread was there.  Brilliant. :)
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Euan Uzami on August 20, 2013, 03:30:23 pm
My strategy is to use one of these: http://www.bikeboxalan.co.uk/
It's been great for all the times I've used it.
There are three main risks as I see it:
1) Damage from being thrown. Solution: make it too heavy, in the hard case with all luggage padded around it it's near, if not over, 30kg, so it'd be pretty impossible for one person to throw it on their own, the only way to throw it would be for two people to do it between them by swinging it back and forwards, even then they probably wouldn't be able to throw it far. Far easier to wheel it.
2) Damage from being crushed by having things stacked on top of it: bikeboxalan have thought of this and it has a pole in the centre of the box to provide rigidity.
3) Being lost. You can't really avoid this so I just hope it doesn't happen and try to get insurance for it in case it does. I do however always remove the old stickers as I'm paranoid that if I leave them on it might get left at/sent back to the wrong place! I also try to avoid changing planes.

Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on August 20, 2013, 03:33:20 pm
I'll probably be flying Easyjet - you aren't allowed to add anything other than the bike to the bike case/bag.

Pretty much rules out padding with clothes or attempting to get everything into the case.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Ham on August 20, 2013, 03:44:32 pm
As Tiermat said, the CTC clear bag worked for me.

When asked I said that I had let the pressure down, which was true, but just not recently. The additional pressure differential on a  low volume bike tire of, say, 15psi max (which it isn't) does not present a risk at all. On a high volume tire (tractor, truck) it could be lethal.

I did fashion a piece of 1/8" ply into a protector for the rear mech, not sure if it was an advantage.

Remember that BA count sports equipment as part of your 23Kg weight allowance so you are unlikely to have to pay extra for luggage, what with hand luggage coming on top. My experience of the application of the rules is that furrin airports are often more strict than the UK. In the UK, I had no problem checking in bike and pannier as the total was under 23Kg. Returning, I was told it was restricted to 1 piece only, so if I checked in the pannier it would cost me. No problem, it turned into hand luggage. With warning I could have kept it on the bike had I chose. Another similar pernickety incident was returning through Bangkok. There, the check in agent whinged because we had two bags, one slightly over, the other under. Cue a couple of moments shifting stuff around, all fine.



Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mark on August 20, 2013, 03:49:03 pm
On my last tour I did a combination of naked bike and CTC bag on the flights. Handlebars sideways, pedals off and roll the bike up to the check-in counter, with the CTC bag handy in case the airline staff insist on it. This has worked fine with British Airways flights for a number of years.

On the tires inflated/deflated issue, I tried to leave the tires inflated for all four flights last spring. After checking the bike and baggage for the Denver-London flight and going through the security line, I was called back to the BA baggage counter and made to deflate the tires. This meant a second trip through the security screening line (being in a US airport, this was not a trivial process), which could have caused some major problems had I not arrived at the airport with a generous amount of time to spare. BA staff at Gatwick, Pisa and Heathrow asked me to deflate the tires but weren't too upset when I refused.

More on tires: BA allows CO2 cartridges to be carried in baggage, provided they are declared. I'm not sure why inflated tires are dangerous and CO2 cartridges are safe, but it does save time re-inflating the tires when you get off the plane.

One of my rules when flying with a bicycle is to arrive at the airport quite a bit earlier than usual, and allow at least a few hours of layover time if the trip involves a change of aircraft. That way there's time to resolve any issues about whether the bicycle is packed properly, and whether or not the tires need to be deflated. This also improves the odds that the baggage handlers will handle the bike and other luggage carefully, since they won't be under as much pressure to get the aircraft loaded and underway. I also try to do the entire journey on one airline, so that I don't encounter the problem of different airlines having different rules. This also might reduce the risk of baggage getting lost when transferring from one aircraft to another.

Note to Ben T: bags that weigh more than 23 kg frequently attract an extra charge, and some airlines simply will not accept a bag that weighs more than 32 kg.

Removing stickers and labels is an excellent precaution, as well as making sure the name tags on the bag don't have the wrong airline name printed on them.

Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Euan Uzami on August 20, 2013, 03:49:36 pm
I'll probably be flying Easyjet - you aren't allowed to add anything other than the bike to the bike case/bag.

Pretty much rules out padding with clothes or attempting to get everything into the case.

Yes, but if you've got less than 20kg of other hold luggage, or some space free in cabin bag even, then if they get anal you could just take stuff out of the bike box and put it in there.
As long as the total weight of the bike doesn't exceed 32kg, your other hold bag doesn't exceed 20kg and the total doesn't exceed 50kg you're fine.

I know it doesn't give you a guarantee, but I have put other stuff in there on easyjet before and they haven't checked. I suspect because the person at the oversize check in area isn't specific to any particular airline, or knows/remembers the rules for each and checks against your ticket.

Another tip - use cable ties to lock it rather than a padlock, so if a genuine security person decides they really need to open it, they can (and you won't waste a padlock, or worse, they'll fail to open it and have a fit about it) - but if it's just a check in clerk who decides they want to have a peek on a whim, they'll be discouraged and probably won't bother.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on August 20, 2013, 03:53:28 pm
Our bikes fly a few times a year, both big and little wheeled. Both fit into S&S soft bags. I've previously flown with my Brompton in a drop-over cover too.

Don't identify it as a bike, particularly for a low-cost airline. The fact that it is a standard piece of luggage in both size and weight cuts no ice. You'll be charged and have to fight to get the money back later on. I usually take a mobility aid in my luggage. It helps that I naturally limp a little.

Keep inside the weight limit, check in early and smile.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Euan Uzami on August 20, 2013, 04:01:32 pm
Note to Ben T: bags that weigh more than 23 kg frequently attract an extra charge, and some airlines simply will not accept a bag that weighs more than 32 kg.


yeah, I know the absolute limit for any one bag is 32kg due to the rules about what baggage handlers are allowed to lift so you should definitely make sure it's below that.
But i've taken my bike bag on easyjet and ryanair though and never had to pay anything extra* and I'm pretty sure it's normally about 28kg. Might have tipped 30kg when I took the mtb from bristol.

* at the airport that is, not counting the extortionate fee they charge at the time of booking for taking a bike at all...

I'm going on another flight soon and with the bike fee it wasn't that much more expensive to go BA, which seem to just have "one hold bag" included in the fare and don't seem to differentiate whether it's  a bike or just a bag - iirc their rules state that a bike just counts as one hold bag. I rang them up when I booked and asked whether it mattered that it's over 23kg and they said "oh no, you'll be fine".

Ryanair was still cheaper, but as they charge £50 or so for the bike it wasn't cheaper enough to make it worth the (probably) less enjoyable experience... although never been on BA so probably have more of an opinion on whether it's worth the extra when i get back!
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: tiermat on August 20, 2013, 04:05:10 pm
Ryanair return flight for a bike = £100

Renting a nice bike in Europe= £80

no worrying about the Rourke and a chance to go to some interesting bike shops

my bike box has been used 10 times- and will be used no more!

Fair point, and when I went Majorca last year, this is what I did.

However, if you are going on a tour it is no use trying to fit a rack, Brooks and Carradice to a CF Moser, Bianci or the like, so taking your own bike is the only option.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on August 20, 2013, 04:06:14 pm
Easyjet - £10 per kilo for each kilo over weight allowance

£27 per flight for a bike.

That £27 starts to look cheap compared to excess luggage charges.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: JStone on August 20, 2013, 04:13:15 pm
My bike's now flown 3 times with EasyJet with no problems - CTC clear plastic bag, pedals off, bars turned etc. Whether this is useless anecdata, tempting fate or a sign of careful luggage handlers is unknown. Never had to deflate the tyres.

Remember to take a copy of the full booking details as well as the print-your-own boarding pass, as only the former has any mention of bike reservations. And try to sit on the left of the cabin - looking out of a window on the right at bikes being loaded / unloaded just causes unnecessary stress when it's too late to do anything about it  ;)

An advantage of the clear plastic bag approach only became apparent when stopped at the security check last week. We'd forgotten to pack the cable lock with the bikes but, instead of having to bin it, the v helpful security man remembered having just seen two bikes, went off with the lock and just made a small hole to feed it into one of the bags. An advantage of flying from a small airport? (La Rochelle).
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: tiermat on August 20, 2013, 04:14:28 pm
Remember, also that they reserve the right to refuse to carry anything like a bike, golf clubs or other oversized luggage, if not pre-booked (some charlatans even reserve that right for stuff you have booked!)

FWIW, as a reference and comparison, Jet2 charge £30 per trip for a bike upto 22Kg and in a package no bigger than 6' X 3' (no width mentioned).  The reason for this? The OS scanner can only handle that size as a max.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Count St John Fur de Mooshy on August 22, 2013, 10:44:17 pm
Never travelled with a bike on a plane but did put my ICE Adventure trike in a standard bike bag last year for a trip to Austria. Flew Edinburgh to Munich with Easyjet and paid for an extra hold bag, into which went my tools, headrest, lock, tools and pedals as well as clothing. I used some spare PVC waste pipe as spacers for the rear triangle and to protect my bar end shifters.

Slight damage to the rear triangle (my packing to blame) which I think happened on the trolley the baggage guys used to bring it to the baggage hall. It was at the bottom of a pile of 5 bike boxes!

I bought my bike bag early and practiced taking the trike apart and trying different packing combos. Fortunately I could use my 3 wheels to protect the more delicate bits of the trike. 20" trike wheels are pretty strong  ;D. I was asked at check-in if I'd 'taken air' out of the tyres - yes I replied, I'd taken about 10 psi out!
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: marcusjb on September 16, 2013, 10:18:17 am
I rented a bikeboxalan on my recent trip to the Pyrenees.

These were the people - http://www.bikebox-online.co.uk/

It all worked well and the bike was unharmed during the trip.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TigaSefi on October 21, 2015, 10:44:32 am
Are Ryanair taking the piss with their £60 bike bag cost each way????? Easyjet is £70 for return flights. with 3 people that's an extra £360!

Bloody extortionate!
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: tiermat on October 21, 2015, 11:12:49 am
Are Ryanair taking the piss with their £60 bike bag cost each way????? Easyjet is £70 for return flights. with 3 people that's an extra £360!

Bloody extortionate!

I agree, Jet2 only charge £30 each way (unless they have put it up recently)
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TigaSefi on October 21, 2015, 11:15:52 am
Are Ryanair taking the piss with their £60 bike bag cost each way????? Easyjet is £70 for return flights. with 3 people that's an extra £360!

Bloody extortionate!

I agree, Jet2 only charge £30 each way (unless they have put it up recently)

Thing is, I am trapped, we don't want to hire a care for the Pyrenees so we want to fly into Lourdes and then get a taxi to the hotel/accommodation etc and use Lourdes as a base to climb mountains for 4 days. Biarritz and Toulouse are better options in terms of cheaper easyjet bike charges but the money saved will be spent on car hire and petrol costs and crap flight times! Fuming!
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Pickled Onion on October 21, 2015, 11:59:39 am
Are Ryanair taking the piss with their £60 bike bag cost each way????? Easyjet is £70 for return flights. with 3 people that's an extra £360!

Bloody extortionate!

Absolutely taking the piss. Was looking at a trip last night - flights £81, bike an extra £120. That's 50% more to put a bag in the hold than me in a seat. The only other option for the destination is to go all the way to Gatwick for an Easyjet flight, bikes are "large sports" at £30 e/w. Or take the Brompton.

Wizz Air charge £25.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TigaSefi on October 21, 2015, 12:10:08 pm
Are Ryanair taking the piss with their £60 bike bag cost each way????? Easyjet is £70 for return flights. with 3 people that's an extra £360!

Bloody extortionate!

Absolutely taking the piss. Was looking at a trip last night - flights £81, bike an extra £120. That's 50% more to put a bag in the hold than me in a seat. The only other option for the destination is to go all the way to Gatwick for an Easyjet flight, bikes are "large sports" at £30 e/w. Or take the Brompton.

Wizz Air charge £25.

I know!!! it's shit. So we've decided to drive down there and share the petrol/tolls cost instead. Plus we know that the bikes will be safer than being thrown around by baggage handlers!
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: rafletcher on October 21, 2015, 12:30:11 pm
People put themselves in seats, bikes don't put themselves in holds.  Frankly, you should be astounded at the low cost of the flights IMO. I am (and gratefully so).  Going to France for 4 days cycling is an undoubted luxury. You have a first world problem.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TigaSefi on October 21, 2015, 12:38:37 pm
Hardly! There's paying for a decent service and being ripped off/taking the pee. I know what Ryanair are doing (and it not the first one)
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Pickled Onion on October 21, 2015, 12:53:43 pm
People put themselves in seats, bikes don't put themselves in holds.  Frankly, you should be astounded at the low cost of the flights IMO. I am (and gratefully so).  Going to France for 4 days cycling is an undoubted luxury. You have a first world problem.

Well, yes, the cheap cost of flying is incredible, no doubt about that. But if Wizz Air can manage to put a bag in the hold for £25, and they're hardly doing that as a loss leader, then Ryan Air could manage the same. They still make a profit on the seat with or without hold baggage.

Oh, and last time I flew I didn't notice being able to "put myself in a seat" - several people to check my boarding pass, people to put the steps up at the side of the plane, quite a few stewards on board for the whole flight, security between the gate and plane, etc. Quite a few more, and for more time, than the baggage handlers loading the hold.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TimC on October 21, 2015, 05:37:40 pm
British Airways will, I believe, take your bike for free. So, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseilles, Nice and Lyons are available in the southern half of France if you can find a worthwhile cycling destination within range of those airports. Alternatively, get yourself a Ritchey Break-Away or an Airnimal and fit the bike in a normal(ish)-sized hold case with no extra charges. Or hire a bike on arrival?
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Aunt Maud on October 21, 2015, 05:48:39 pm
There is no size restriction on "Large Sports Items" with Ryanair, as long as it goes through the x-ray machine portal thingy you'll be ok. If you can tape two bike boxes together and keep it under 30kg's you'll only pay for 1 bike.

I've taped two bike boxes together and flown with Ryanair out of Stansted without an issue.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: DDCyclist on October 21, 2015, 06:10:36 pm
My only experience of bikes on planes was pre-9/11 so things have probably changed considerably.

I was moving from Munich to the south of Sweden. Most belongings were shipped by road (and were dumped in the hotel car park in heavy rain by the driver, who was supposed to phone me to arrange delivery - but that's a bit OT).

I phoned the airline before deciding my travel arrangements. They assured me that there'd be no problem. No need to pack it. Just take the valves out of the tyres, turn the handlebars and generally make it as compact as possible. I can't remember if there was a fee but I suspect there was.

On checking in for departure I was told that bikes were not permitted on that particular airline's flights but I could leave it at the airport until I returned. Err - no - it's a one way trip. After a little negotiation the bike went on the plane with no further problems.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Kim on October 21, 2015, 07:14:43 pm
No need to pack it. Just take the valves out of the tyres...

Is this a new, more extreme version of the "tyres must be deflated" rule?   ::-)
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: DDCyclist on October 21, 2015, 07:44:22 pm
It was a very high altitude flight.  ;D

I was told to remove them, so that's what I did. I wasn't carrying much hand luggage anyway so a couple of valves didn't tip me over the limit.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: trickedem on October 21, 2015, 09:38:14 pm
I have used BA twice for bike tours. The great thing is that it can work out much cheaper than Ryanair or Easyjet. The simple fact is that Ryanair don't want anyone to check baggage in because it slows down their turn around time, so they price to discourage. They do the same for skis and snowboards.

First trip was from London City to Granada. I cycled up to London City and then put my bike into a CTC bag. I took a little bit of air our of the tyres just in case they asked! No questions asked, all very friendly and the bike arrived undamaged without any delay. On the way back from Malaga, the check in person (who didn't work for BA) said I couldn't take my bike in a plastic bag. I explained that BA hadn't complained on the way out and after phoning someone she said it was ok. To say I was worried was a bit of an understatement, but again everything went very well.

Second trip was to Geneva. This time I pre-packed the bike in a  cardboard box, with lots of extra padding and again no questions asked and everything went very well. Unpacked and reassembled the bike, left the box next to a litter bin and rode home. Simples!

So on this basis I would thoroughly recommend BA for taking bikes. You can also take panniers on as hand luggage, although you might need to strap them together to count as one bag.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TigaSefi on October 22, 2015, 08:36:59 am
I flew home from Italy in May this year on BA and had to pay £25.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: JStone on October 22, 2015, 12:06:04 pm
... I cycled up to London City and then put my bike into a CTC bag ... On the way back from Malaga, the check in person (who didn't work for BA) said I couldn't take my bike in a plastic bag. ...

I flew back from Basel to Heathrow with BA in July. Their website says that bikes are accepted provided that 'they are packed in a recognised bicycle bag' (BA website luggage policy), so I emailed them to check whether a CTC bag was 'recognised'. Got the following reply:

<quote>
Our airport teams are hesitant about accepting bikes within these bags as they obviously offer very little in the way of protection for your bike frame and mechanics, plus they are much more difficult to be securely tagged and handled by the baggage teams.

Because of this you will be asked to sign a document to state that if any damage does occur to your bike whilst it is being handled/transported in one of these plastic bike bags, the damage will not be the responsibility of British Airways or its agents.
</quote>

I took a printout of the email just in case, but wasn't asked to sign anything. Sailed through check-in with no problem, and the bike arrived at Heathrow unscathed.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: ianrauk on October 22, 2015, 08:17:43 pm
I was also with Mr Trickdem on the BA flight to Geneva.
I had deflated the tyres before packing in the box. Next time I wont bother. At no time where we asked to do so or if we had.
BA staff at Heathrow couldn't have been more helpful.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Kim on October 22, 2015, 11:25:32 pm
Tyres don't need deflating, but many of the people who will be involved in the process aren't very good physicists.  Some of them are in a hurry and have access to sharp knives.  I know what I'd do...
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: DDCyclist on October 23, 2015, 07:13:30 am
Tyres don't need deflating, but many of the people who will be involved in the process aren't very good physicists.  Some of them are in a hurry and have access to sharp knives.  I know what I'd do...

Slopey shoulders. If they've told you to deflate them you've got less chance of making a complaint stick if there is a problem with your tyres, even if it has nothing to do with hold pressure. Chances are your bike will be in a pressurised hold anyway (see http://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/8252/are-cargo-holds-pressurised-these-days).
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TimC on October 23, 2015, 12:21:00 pm
Tyres don't need deflating, but many of the people who will be involved in the process aren't very good physicists.  Some of them are in a hurry and have access to sharp knives.  I know what I'd do...

Slopey shoulders. If they've told you to deflate them you've got less chance of making a complaint stick if there is a problem with your tyres, even if it has nothing to do with hold pressure. Chances are your bike will be in a pressurised hold anyway (see http://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/8252/are-cargo-holds-pressurised-these-days).

I have never flown an aircraft where the hold isn't part of the pressurised hull. They do exist - some ancient (1950s) Russian freighters aren't pressurised aft of the flight deck - but I'll bet you'll never fly in one!

Tyres don't need to be deflated, but the numpty who writes each airline's cargo policy may well not appreciate that. Ask them how the 200+psi aircraft tyres survive the flight - outside the pressure hull. Or what the rules are for cars carried in the hold.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: DDCyclist on October 23, 2015, 12:47:42 pm
@TimC

There's probably an element of "can't be bothered to update the rules that might have been written in the 1960s" too, especially if it does nothing to improve flight safety or make the workload of any airline staff or ground crew any easier.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mark on October 23, 2015, 03:10:50 pm
@TimC

There's probably an element of "can't be bothered to update the rules that might have been written in the 1960s" too, especially if it does nothing to improve flight safety or make the workload of any airline staff or ground crew any easier.

Rules do get updated if airline management figures out that they are annoying paying customers for no good reason. Otherwise a point is reached where paying customers take their money elsewhere.

Whenever I've taken a bicycle on BA they've taken good care of my bicycle.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: DDCyclist on October 23, 2015, 03:22:22 pm
How odd. Just received an email from Axminster Tools. The subject? "Take a Ride(r) on a plane."

Unlikely to be targeted advertising. Just coincidence.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mattc on October 23, 2015, 07:37:15 pm
One of the reasons that has kept me off planes is the sheer bewilderment of options/restrictions.

Something noone has mentioned here is how you are getting to the airport. If you're riding there (or on a train) then bike boxes become almost useless. The CTC bike-bag becomes an option;  just turning the bars.letting tyres down and detaching pedals is even more attractive! The whole door-to-door journey is rather complicated.

Are box users getting taxis/f&f-lifts to the airport? Have I missed the bleedin' obvious??  :-\
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: jsabine on October 23, 2015, 07:54:35 pm
One of the reasons that has kept me off planes is the sheer bewilderment of options/restrictions.

Something noone has mentioned here is how you are getting to the airport. If you're riding there (or on a train) then bike boxes become almost useless. The CTC bike-bag becomes an option;  just turning the bars.letting tyres down and detaching pedals is even more attractive! The whole door-to-door journey is rather complicated.

Are box users getting taxis/f&f-lifts to the airport? Have I missed the bleedin' obvious??  :-\

Depends how close you are to a station and how comfortable you are lugging a dead weight around. I did train to Gatwick (with bike in a Halfords cardboard box) last summer: the five or six minute walk to my local station became fifteen, and changing platforms at London Bridge was awkward, but it worked. Going to a different airport or travelling from NotLondon would have been trickier - I'd definitely consider a cab for at least part of the journey, if only to a station that had a direct service.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: DDCyclist on October 23, 2015, 08:07:50 pm
I waved goodbye to all my stuff (except a couple of changes of work clothes and a few valuables I wanted to carry as hand luggage) cycled to the airport (about 20 miles) and that was that. Easy.

It was a long time ago though. Well before 9/11 and the tightening up of just about everything to do with airports and flying.

At the other end it was 84 miles from the airport to my flat so I used a taxi. 20 miles was about my limit for one day.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: zigzag on October 23, 2015, 08:24:22 pm
all three times i carried my bike on the plane i cycled to the airport too; carried the bike in either unpadded bike bag or wrapped in a luggage cling film - luckily no damage.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Morbihan on October 23, 2015, 08:41:55 pm
One thing I'm super leery of when travelling with the bike is having an onward connecting flight
On the recent Raid Pyrenees we did, 3 bikes out of 21 didn't make the connections. (Madrid via States then on to Biarritz)

It seems to happen with bikes more than with reg luggage. Possibly moved separately?

 
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Jurek on October 23, 2015, 08:58:35 pm
One thing I'm super leery of when travelling with the bike is having an onward connecting flight
On the recent Raid Pyrenees we did, 3 bikes out of 21 didn't make the connections. (Madrid via States then on to Biarritz)

It seems to happen with bikes more than with reg luggage. Possibly moved separately?
I think the issue is with 'unusually-shaped-luggage' ie: anything other than a suitcase.
I ship stuff overseas for a living (amongst other things) all the time.
Connecting flights are The Thing I Avoid.
Lots.
Most of the stuff I ship is in postal tubes 1600mm x 180mm x 180mm.
Not exactly a Samsonite...
If I cannot get a direct flight I tend to re-schedule the job.
I have experience of many, many instances of the postal tubes ending up somewhere different to where my fitters are.


Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mark on October 24, 2015, 04:22:28 am
One of the reasons that has kept me off planes is the sheer bewilderment of options/restrictions.

Something noone has mentioned here is how you are getting to the airport. If you're riding there (or on a train) then bike boxes become almost useless. The CTC bike-bag becomes an option;  just turning the bars.letting tyres down and detaching pedals is even more attractive! The whole door-to-door journey is rather complicated.

Are box users getting taxis/f&f-lifts to the airport? Have I missed the bleedin' obvious??  :-\
l

Riding your bike to or from the airport and doing the CTC bag or naked bike routine works really well if you are within a reasonable riding distance from the airport. The times I've done this I've brought a cheap duffel bag and transferred my panniers and gear into the duffel bag at the airport before checking in. Sometimes you can store the duffel bag somewhere until your return trip, other times you carry it with you, other times I've chucked it and bought a new bag for the trip home. I've done a boxed bike on a train to the airport, it's no fun but it's doable. Airports and rail stations frequently have luggage carts/trolleys that you can rent. There have also been times when the cheapest/most sensible option was to drive my own car and pay for parking at one of the long term parking lots. Friends and family can work, but plan on filling their fuel tank and treating them to a lunch or dinner in return, and/or doing them a similar favor at one time or another.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: CrazyEnglishTriathlete on October 24, 2015, 07:43:34 am
I have an Airnimal for this purpose.  The one time I flew to an event with a bike in a bike bag either British Airways or more likely Malpensa airport mangled it.  They must have reversed something heavy into the front end because the handlebars were bent 180 degrees so that the bar ends on the drops were pointing forwards.  I was probably unlucky but once bitten twice shy.

The Airnimal and its Delsey weighs in at 23Kg with shoes helmet winter riding kit bum bag and a water bottle, so gets checked as a normal bag.  I do deflate the tyres, out of habit, but I carry a Lezyne mini track pump which gets the Airnimal tyres up to their happy pressure of 120psi.  It had a quite time for a couple of years but this year it's done two permanents in North Carolina and a sneaky ascent of the Schauinsland climb in the Schwarzald (900m in 15km).  In the past it has also done the French Alps (including Le Semnoz), Barbados, Tenerife (including El Teide), Majorca, and Crete among other less exotic places.

It is the one time I verge on coolness, arriving in a hotel with a suitcase and emerging 30 minutes later on a bicycle.   :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Diver300 on October 24, 2015, 08:59:35 am
Tyres don't need deflating, but many of the people who will be involved in the process aren't very good physicists.  Some of them are in a hurry and have access to sharp knives.  I know what I'd do...

Slopey shoulders. If they've told you to deflate them you've got less chance of making a complaint stick if there is a problem with your tyres, even if it has nothing to do with hold pressure. Chances are your bike will be in a pressurised hold anyway (see http://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/8252/are-cargo-holds-pressurised-these-days).

I have never flown an aircraft where the hold isn't part of the pressurised hull. They do exist - some ancient (1950s) Russian freighters aren't pressurised aft of the flight deck - but I'll bet you'll never fly in one!

Tyres don't need to be deflated, but the numpty who writes each airline's cargo policy may well not appreciate that. Ask them how the 200+psi aircraft tyres survive the flight - outside the pressure hull. Or what the rules are for cars carried in the hold.
I've carried diving cylinders on planes, although it's a long time since I took anything larger than a 3 litre backup cylinder. I take the valves out of them for the flight, mainly so that the staff can see I've nothing to hide, and that the cylinders can't possibly be pressurised.

I guess that taking valves out of bike tyres achieves much the same, but I bet that they never ask for that on wheelchairs or baby buggies posh enough to have pneumatic tyres.


Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mattc on October 24, 2015, 01:10:57 pm
I've just remembered another reason:

the fear of sitting next to a smug Airnimal owner  :o
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Pickled Onion on October 24, 2015, 01:41:24 pm
Something noone has mentioned here is how you are getting to the airport. If you're riding there (or on a train) then bike boxes become almost useless. The CTC bike-bag becomes an option;  just turning the bars.letting tyres down and detaching pedals is even more attractive! The whole door-to-door journey is rather complicated.

Half-way between those options: I use a padded bike bag. It will fold up sufficiently to bungee over the top of the rack and panniers - a bit unwieldy but OK for a few dozen km. At the UK end I either use the train or drive to somewhere near the airport (no need to pay for the long-stay if you don't need the transfer bus). At the other end, there's the possibility of left luggage (but expect it to be closed/broken at small airports used by the budget airlines). Depending on times of flights, I either book somewhere to stay the first and last nights and leave the bag there, or cycle to the nearest motel/guest house, book for the last night and then ask them to store the bag until I return. Never had a problem yet.

Naked bikes are simply not possible nowadays. If you will cry if your paintwork gets chipped then the bike box is the only option.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Pickled Onion on October 24, 2015, 01:51:11 pm
A bit more detail.

Practice bagging & unbagging the bike at home. Then arrive at airport, find a quiet spot and bag up the bike, including tools, pump, lock, etc. in the bag. If you are using a pair of panniers keep the bungees back to tie the panniers together to make them count as a single item. Check in to get a luggage tag then take to the outsize items point. You can get away with a few extra cycle-specific items in the bike bag but don't overdo it or they may object.

On the way back, arrive in plenty of time: you may well be the only time they have EVER seen anyone try to check in a bike.

After the first time it is very straightforward indeed.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Kim on October 24, 2015, 01:58:17 pm
If you will cry if your paintwork gets chipped then the bike box is the only option.

If you will cry when your paintwork gets chipped, use a different bike.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: mattc on October 24, 2015, 02:01:06 pm
<snip>
...
Depending on times of flights, I either book somewhere to stay the first and last nights and leave the bag there, or cycle to the nearest motel/guest house, book for the last night and then ask them to store the bag until I return. Never had a problem yet.

Naked bikes are simply not possible nowadays. If you will cry if your paintwork gets chipped then the bike box is the only option.
Paintwork? Hah! I laugh at you with your cheap PAINTED bikes.

<this may be ONLY chance to be smug on this topic. Ever.>

But seriously, thanks. How much bike disassembly does that bag need? (brand?) As you mention panniers, I'm guessing you're using a rack. Mudguards?
(I'm resigned to binning my beloved 'guards if I have to for this kind of trip ... but if Mark Beaumont got round the world with his attached ... )

I was going to mention the bike box/bag storage issue - your idea of using 1st/last night accomodation solves that.

@jsabine:
You paint a not-TOO-awful picture. I've never travelled with awkward luggage. We've never been those people with a trolley at an airport or a station, it looks like a lot of hassle! But then many people do manage it without nervous breakdowns and/or divorces.   I cannot forget Hutchinson's story about the massive bike-box he had to shove round Heathrow on his own  :P

I may consult with other local cyclists about the experience on our trainline. Taxi to/from our station certainly seems like an affordable extra.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: U.N.Dulates on October 24, 2015, 06:13:12 pm
We've flown many places over the last 10 years or so, always using the CTC poly bag method. Airlines include BA (Heathrow - Delhi), South African (Heathrow - Jo'burg - Cape Town), Emirates (BHX - Dubai - Cochin), Easyjet (Gatwick - Marrakech & Palermo), Thomson (BHX - Pula & Dubrovnik), Monarch (BHX - Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Malaga, Nice, Paphos, Larnaca), Norwegian (Gatwick - Bergen & Oslo, Oslo - Bodo & Alta - Oslo). Probably a few more that escape me too.

Disassembly is just front wheel out and strapped to frame, handlebars turned sideways, pedals off, rear derailleur removed and zip tied to chainstay with some bubble wrap round it. usually some padding or bubble wrap round the main tubes to protect from scratches. Rear wheel stays in, mudguards and rack stay on. Bike goes in poly bag with empty bottles in cages, and pedals + tools in saddle pack. Liberal amounts of duct tape to secure everything. Never had a problem, either with check in staff or baggage handlers and I think the most damage we've ever sustained is a broken mudguard. But then we're riding solid touring machines which will shrug off a bit of careless handling - I certainly wouldn't take this approach with an expensive soot bike.

We're usually touring independently, and very often point to point, so anything that requires left luggage/storage isn;t usually an option as we won't be returning to our arrival airport. The poly bags roll up to about the size of a water bottle and get bungee'd to the rear rack. We've got a couple of lightweight packable holdalls which take the panniers to minimise the number of bags to check in (only one usually needed unless we're camping). Handlebar bags and helmets get taken as hand luggage.

When it comes to airlines, for long haul Middle East & Asian carriers are much easier - standard baggage allowance is generally 30kg with no limit on number of bags and sporting equipment just goes in the normal baggage with no need to pay anything extra. European carriers are more varied ime. Short haul Monarch and Easyjet are our preferred airlines (mostly Monarch as they have a good selection of routes from our local airport BHX) - easy to book bikes online, and £30 is reasonable to me (Eurostar charge that to get a bike to Paris and they can;t even tell you when it'll arrive). I try to avoid Ruinair on principle, even without them charging £60.

Our last trip was back from Nice, with the tandem. A bit more disassembly, mostly to reduce the length but neither check in or the staff at outsize baggage batted an eyelid.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Pickled Onion on October 25, 2015, 08:30:46 am
But seriously, thanks. How much bike disassembly does that bag need? (brand?) As you mention panniers, I'm guessing you're using a rack. Mudguards?

I think mine's the older version of this (http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/chain-reaction-cycles-complete-bike-wheel-bags-crc-logo/rp-prod106851), there are more expensive ones with lots of padding and spacers, but they look like the amount of padding would make it very difficult to transport the bag on the bike.

The bike fits (just) with the rack in place, wheels and pedals off, and bars turned and tucked under the crossbar. Drop the saddle down to the frame or remove it. Front mudguard stays in place, but rear would not fit (I don't usually bother taking the rear, but with the push-in stay connectors it probably wouldn't take long to fit and remove). If you have derailleurs, detach the rear one from the frame. With single speed/hub gears tie up the chain or it will tie itself in a knot.

If you will cry if your paintwork gets chipped then the bike box is the only option.

If you will cry when your paintwork gets chipped, use a different bike.

You are, as usual, correct - I picked up a 2nd hand pompino just for travelling with, which has a cheap dynamo hub, USB charger, and the rear mudguard off, ready to go. Sounds extravagant, but it's cheaper than the cost of dealing with a bike box with airport transfers and storage issues, etc.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: tiermat on October 25, 2015, 08:44:43 am
If the CTC bag is too flimsy for your liking, Visqueen is good and widely available from DIY shops. Once at destination it rolls up small enough to sit on top of the rack (though, obviously, not as small as the CTC bag). Well worth the extra (minor) weight and bulk penalty.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: andrewc on October 25, 2015, 09:25:24 am
The first time I flew with my bike I just took the pedals off, turned the handlebars sideways & a baggage handler wheeled it away  :thumbsup:   

Can't do this nowadays, so my preferred method is the CTC poly bag. Ride to the airport, ride out of the airport.  I've had scrapes & dings though.    However I've frequently had to argue with Easyjet staff that it's allowed to travel like this, and on my last flight back from Nice they refused to accept it, so I had to buy a box at the airport. (see thread on CTC forum http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=96686 (http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=96686))

My Thorn Nomad has S&S couplings which I've used on my 2 USA trips,  but in order to fit in the case I need to remove bars, racks, fork, seatpost & mudguards.  Reassembly isn't quick so I only do this if I'm booked into a hotel to recover from the flight.

It's a nice compact package though & can be worn as a backpack (other luggage goes in a big holdall).   Leave it at the hotel for a circular trip or fold it up & post it ahead otherwise.

(https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8107/8631457525_f04394a706_o.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/e9JtBc)

Packed bike & kit at Manchester airport.

Cass Gilbert's review of Ground Effects Body Bag.

http://www.whileoutriding.com/gear-reviews/bikes/review-ground-effect-body-bag (http://www.whileoutriding.com/gear-reviews/bikes/review-ground-effect-body-bag)
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Morbihan on October 26, 2015, 06:06:13 pm
Somewhat related.
We were on a trip this Summer that involved flying my bike into Turin, then on a few days later by trains to Bolzano and back to Turin.
I have been using a soft bag (Pikapak) which is light enough to throw over the shoulder and walk reasonable distances but can be a bit of a bugga if you have a long walk. (No wheels, just shoulder strap)
On the trains, I was super glad I didn't bring a big hard case. The trains were jammers and we just about piled our luggage aboard. A large hard case would have been a no go.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Man of the Mountains on October 29, 2015, 08:27:51 pm
The instruction to let tyres down has little to do with airlines trying to protect cycling passenger interests or to stop planes falling out of the sky.

If a tyre/tube combo is on the verge of bursting either because it has been over-inflated or it is faulty or has a thorn in it or has been fitted sloppily then the few extra psi it experiences as the external pressure drops may tip it over the edge. An exploding tyre in the hold makes a loud bang and the last thing a pilot or the crew need is a loud bang. Planes have been grounded for less. The GP4000 28s I use at 90psi are unlikely to suffer this but Sod's Law says it will happen to someone sometime, I've had it happen to customers' bikes while topping them up. That's enough reason to issue the instruction.

The hold will indeed be pressurized on all modern planes but that only means to the equivalent of about 6,000ft (roughly 3psi below atmospheric). I would have thought using anything less than 10psi below the tyre max is safe, that may of course be your normal riding pressure. All assuming they are good quality, properly fitted and cared for.

CO2 cylinders hold several times more pressure than a tyre and such a tiny change will not affect them one jot.

+1 for BA, day-before check-in and occasionally works out cheaper too. EasyJet are pretty good. Ryanair are <censored>.

Would love to hire at destination but getting used to a saddle, geometry, bars, brakes on the wrong side etc could ruin the trip.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: LittleWheelsandBig on October 29, 2015, 09:06:13 pm
Hard braking on a long descent will raise tyre pressure more than 10psi. If your tyre is so close to blowing that taking it to altitude fails it, it was going to fail in the very near future anyway. I never deflate my tyres for flights, it is a waste of time.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: TimC on October 29, 2015, 09:12:11 pm
There is absolutely no way, no way ever, I would hear a bicycle tyre explode in the hold.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Man of the Mountains on October 29, 2015, 09:22:02 pm
TimC, but might the crew or passengers? Does it mot depend on the size of the plane? If we can all hear the whirring of the landing gear motor (if that is what I can hear), a sudden explosion of air generates a lot more decibels. I bow to your experience though.

LWB, a waste of time for you and me but maybe not for that one person who's tyres are close to popping. I was trying to explain why the instruction persists.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Tim Hall on October 29, 2015, 09:29:14 pm
TimC, but might the crew or passengers? Does it mot depend on the size of the plane?

TimC drives planes for a living.  Bigguns too.
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: Man of the Mountains on October 29, 2015, 10:37:34 pm
Fair play.

CTC has noted:
In fact: leaving the tyres inflated helps to protect both tyre and rim from damage when the bike is handled. Some airlines (e.g. BA) have realised this and exempted pedal cycle tyres from the usual restriction on the carriage of pressurised gases.

Let us pray that others will follow..
Title: Re: Bikes on Planes
Post by: tiermat on October 31, 2015, 02:24:27 pm
Jet2 don't ask you to, the security staff at LBA might ask you, but whther you tell the truth or a lie, they don't care.

First time I flew with my bike (LBA to BCN) I let the tyres down (even though it didn't say to, on the website), I then spent 30 long minutes, in BCN trying to get my (Big Apple) tyres back up to pressure). I ended up with a large ding in the rim (not fatal, but noticeable)

Second time, I didn't bother, it took me <20 minutes to sort myself out in the luggage hall, then I was on my way.  No ding in wheel, either.