Author Topic: Bikes on Planes  (Read 7603 times)

Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #50 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.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #51 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:
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 170 (metric) 520 (furlongs)  112 (nautical miles)

Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #52 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.


Quote from: Kim
Paging Diver300.  Diver300 to the GSM Trimphone, please...

mattc

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #53 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
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #54 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.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #55 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.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

Kim

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #56 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.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

mattc

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #57 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.
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

U.N.Dulates

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #58 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.

Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #59 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, 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.
Quote from: tiermat
that's not science, it's semantics.

tiermat

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #60 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.
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State

Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #61 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)

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.



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
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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #62 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.
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Man of the Mountains

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #63 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.
Question everything, believe nothing.

LittleWheelsandBig

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #64 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.
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TimC

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #65 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.

Man of the Mountains

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #66 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.
Question everything, believe nothing.

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #67 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.
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Man of the Mountains

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #68 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..
Question everything, believe nothing.

tiermat

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Re: Bikes on Planes
« Reply #69 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.
I feel like Captain Kirk, on a brand new planet every day, a little like King Kong on top of the Empire State