Bikes on planes

Andywear
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Bikes on planes

Postby Andywear » Sun Aug 14, 2016 4:31 pm

Hi all,

My wife and I are traveling Cathay pacific with our bikes. It's an absolute nightmare trying to get a straight answer out of them regarding packing, size, weight, anything...

We've purchased a TARDIS bike bag but might need to also pack it into a cardboard bike box (based on the Cathay pacific info only). So confusing!

Has anyone got any generally comforting stories about either this airline or others...tips, advice on how to circumvent specific or common airline issues?

I'm happy to be more specific as required. This is our first tour overseas so we are possibly panicking unnecessarily.

Cheers,

Andy and Josephine.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Derny Driver » Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:36 pm

Ive taken a lot of bikes on a lot of planes over the years. Never been with Cathay pacific though. I looked at their website - I think the Tardis will be fine. My last trip saw 20 bike bags on the one plane and 18 of them were SciCon (soft). Hard shells are too heavy and are out of favour with everyone and the airlines would be seeing very few hard ones these days. So I would not stress about using a soft case.

What we usually do:

1. No excess option: for short trips and races we put the bike and towels and sheets, clothes, tools, etc in with the bike. Put your clothes in plastic bags and use the bags as packing. Use your kitchen scales to weigh the bike. You have a limit of 20kg so you can get a fair bit in. Then take a large hand luggage and whatever won't go in the bike bag in there. You can take a laptop bag too and put some stuff in that. Put bike shoes in the hand luggage. If you bike goes missing you can borrow one, but you cant borrow bike shoes.

2. Extra bag option: Prepay for an extra bag. then you can have hand luggage, suitcase, and the bike. This is good for longer trips where you need more clothes.

Cardboard boxes are the lightest option, you can fit a lot of stuff in there including spare wheelsets. The downside is that you have to dismantle the bike a lot more to get it in the box.
Hardshells are heavy and you still need to do a fair bit of disassembling. Good if you have a 30kg limit.
Soft cases are the best in my opinion.
Go option 2.

Andywear
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Andywear » Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:47 am

Thanks so much! Greatly appreciate your reply. Feel a lot more relaxed about our options. BTW, do you recommend any particular airline as being bike friendly?

Cheers,

Andy

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Derny Driver
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Derny Driver » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:25 am

Andywear wrote:Thanks so much! Greatly appreciate your reply. Feel a lot more relaxed about our options. BTW, do you recommend any particular airline as being bike friendly?

Cheers,

Andy

They are all the same as far as I can see. Air New Zealand has a little loophole where you are allowed to package a bike in 2 boxes and call it ONE bike. So you can take a box with the bike in it and another box for the "wheels". But both boxes cannot combined weigh more than the 23kg limit. Plus you need to have that website information printed out or on your phone as the check in people don't come across people using the loophole much.
Apart from that, they are all pretty similar I think.

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RonK
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby RonK » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:39 am

Recalling previous threads on the subject, I think Emirates usually gets a pretty good wrap for bikes as baggage.

It's a common mistake to buy tickets based on price without consideration of the airline's luggage policy vis bikes as baggage. The cheapest ticket price may not ultimately be so cheap when you arrive at the check-in and are slugged with punitive excess baggage fees.

It's important to research carefully before buying tickets.

I have used a soft bag on many flights, and have never had any objection from the airlines. I'll be using a Tardis later this year for a flight to NZ as it is much lighter than my internally-framed bag.

For peace of mind buy I another bag allowance in advance if I'm scratching to stay under the allowance (which is usually the case with my internally-framed bag).
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Leaf T
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Leaf T » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:26 am

Andywear wrote:Thanks so much! Greatly appreciate your reply. Feel a lot more relaxed about our options. BTW, do you recommend any particular airline as being bike friendly?

Cheers,

Andy

Malaysian Airlines have been good for me on two occasions. Thai were good too although I nearly got stung for 1-2kg excess when leaving Vietnam. Probably depends on who checks you in at the time though.

Greentourer
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Greentourer » Mon Aug 15, 2016 12:05 pm

I'm about to fly to Europe with China Southern Airlines, who've provided a luggage allowance of two items, each up to 23 kg. Bicycles are accepted, boxed with dimensions not exceeding 140 by 80 by 30.
Boxed in cardboard, my touring bicycle will hopefully survive unscathed.

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ft_critical
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby ft_critical » Mon Aug 15, 2016 12:17 pm

I travelled Cathay either AU-HK or HK-UK with an EVOC bag (big) no issues. But it was business.

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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby dalai47 » Mon Aug 15, 2016 3:33 pm

RonK wrote:Recalling previous threads on the subject, I think Emirates usually gets a pretty good wrap for bikes as baggage.


Emirates fan here. Flown international a few times with their 30kg allowance to Europe. Since partnered with Qantas the later has also upped their Europe luggage allowance to 30kg too. I haven't used them for Europe, but Qantas were fine for the USA with 2*23kg.

brizmatt
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby brizmatt » Mon Aug 15, 2016 7:40 pm

The family, four of us, just flew to Europe and back with our bikes on Singapore Airlines. Packed bikes in boxes and had no issues at all. 30kg limit helped too as two of the bikes were heavy and we had camping gear.

avolve
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby avolve » Tue Aug 16, 2016 1:59 pm

I have flown with Air Canada a few times, and had a positive expereince each trip:

No overweight or oversize charges apply to bicycles, provided they are within the maximum weight and size limits indicated above.


It seems they have changed their policies, and that bikes are now count towards the noraml number of bags allowance (sporting goods, in the past, did not count). There is a $50 handling fee for bicycles, and they can weight up to 32kg.

http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/ ... l#bicycles

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cancan64
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby cancan64 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:13 pm

I am lucky I have a 50kg allowance with emirates.... bought 2 bikes back last flight.... I use a soft bag...i can leave the back wheel on and I have a fork spacer that comes with new bikes to support the forks.. block in the disc brakes incase the lever is accidentally pressed...I also bag my cycling kit and tape it to the frame and seat post as padding and hook the helmet through the frame and rest it on top of the rear wheel.... I bag the front wheel and put that on the derailleur side..also have a sticker on the derailleur side so I put it on the oversized belt that side up...let air out of the tyres...bike pump goes in the bag first and all tools used to dismantle go directly in the bag after use.... international flights I really clean the bike although only ever had the mtb bike checked... and the cyclocross bike sees more mud and travels a lot... pedals bagged and secured so they are not flying about...wasnt impressed with the Jetstar bag handler the other week and have had a qantas checkin person complain about all the bikes after an event otherwise have had no problems....I did have a flight earlier this year and I knew I was just over weight...I gave them the bike bag first and the suit case last and had to remove 2 kg of stuff fromthe suit casewhich I handed to my partner behind me who put it in the already weighed bike bag.... had no issues when I dropped it off at over sized
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cancan64
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby cancan64 » Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:40 pm

Also I have a drop sheet that I take so I dont make a mess in the hotel room.... plus check that the room is big enough to work on the bike... I did have trouble cleaning the bike in between cyclocross races the other weekend in Wellington... but that was a cheap hotel

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juzzle
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby juzzle » Fri Aug 19, 2016 5:32 pm

I've flown with my bike several times - each time in a bike box. I've never actually tried getting my bike on with a bag because airlines don't seem to understand the concept of a hard bag/case vs a floppy bag (which would be suicide for your bike - have you seen the way baggage handlers treat luggage?!).

Generally, any size bike box will be accepted, though read the fine print carefully about weight. Turkish Airlines are dirt bags when it comes to carriage - $160 cross continent, but airlines like Virgin and Emirates are very accommodating. The only real trick is finding another box at the return end of your trip.

tmac100
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby tmac100 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:00 am

I have flown with my touring bicycle between Canada and Australia with the big diamond tourer in a bike box (Qantas supplies the BEST one IMHO) and also a Bob Ibex in another box. After several trips across the Pacific, I have ditched the BOB and now travel with panniers. Qantas and Aeroflot (to the middle east) have been good as have Sri Lankan and Air Asia. Just be prepared to pay some $$ and follow their rules. :wink:

ITMT, my diamond frame is sitting in a shed in Gippsland waiting for me to return to cycle Cape York to Cairns in July. Maybe my bucket list will be getting shorter after all - BUT it seems the older I get, the longer the bucket list gets :roll:

That said, I may be bringing my Greenspeed GTO back to Gippsland because someone can possibly use it there as compared to me using it in the MENA. That will be easily done with Sri Lankan to KUL (in business class) and Air Asia KUL-MEL. Doable - but not free.

That said, bicycling and carting the bicycles by air is certainly less expensive than hiring a car for a few weeks in Australia :shock:

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outnabike
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby outnabike » Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:30 pm

I have not done much traveling, but I went to Europe last year with Etihad airlines.
We had to change flights at Adu-dhaby for a connecting flight. We only had two suitcases and on arrival in Germany found they had lost one of them.
"There is the cue for lost luggage" they said. Honestly 50 couples all lost a bag on this one flight.

From what I saw and the way the handle luggage, just throwing cases around, I would be very worried for a bike in just a soft bag. I saw some stuff being transferred and the bike bag was the first into the huge trolley 2 metres deep and a tone of suitcases on top of it.

It took me 5 hours of waiting and paperwork to get out of the German air port, as I had spent so much time prior to getting into that cue.

On the bright side we had the bag delivered to us in Holland the next day or so and on a Sunday.
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Chris249
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Chris249 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 9:09 pm

juzzle wrote:I've never actually tried getting my bike on with a bag because airlines don't seem to understand the concept of a hard bag/case vs a floppy bag (which would be suicide for your bike - have you seen the way baggage handlers treat luggage?!).



We've done the trip to Europe with bikes in soft bags several times, plus several flights inside Europe. One cracked plastic cap that Shimano put on a brifter for appearance's sake was the only damage.

As some others have said, a cardboard box isn't very impact resistant, and some (including an airport baggage handler/cyclist interviewed on Cycling Tips) say that if bikes are in boxes then other baggage is placed on them, which allegedly happens much less with bags. The British touring cyclist club apparently recommends clear plastic bags, I think.
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Chris249
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby Chris249 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 9:12 pm

Chris249 wrote:
juzzle wrote:I've never actually tried getting my bike on with a bag because airlines don't seem to understand the concept of a hard bag/case vs a floppy bag (which would be suicide for your bike - have you seen the way baggage handlers treat luggage?!).



Plenty of us in this thread have used soft bags without having our bikes killed. We've done the trip to Europe with bikes in soft bags several times, plus several flights inside Europe. One cracked plastic cap that Shimano put on a brifter for appearance's sake was the only damage.

As some others have said, a cardboard box isn't very impact resistant, and some (including an airport baggage handler/cyclist interviewed on Cycling Tips) say that if bikes are in boxes then other baggage is placed on them, which allegedly happens much less with bags. The British touring cyclist club apparently recommends clear plastic bags, I think.
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il padrone
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby il padrone » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:30 am

A good guide for advice
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scirocco
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby scirocco » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:34 pm

Even a lightweight carbon road frame and wheels are incredibly, unbelievably strong if you prevent point loads from hitting them. Foam rubber round all the tubes and bubble-wrap everywhere will do that for you. The soft bag or cardboard box keeps the scratches off. Clear bags are for people who don't want to spend the time packing and probably work quite well.
I've done nearly 20 medium and long haul flights in the last five or six years with the bike packed properly in a cardboard box. The boxes often come out looking like they've been in a train crash but never a scratch on the bike.
Sure, it takes me 2 hours to pack it but I'm 5 kg lighter than people with soft bags and 10 kg lighter than the hard cases.

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il padrone
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby il padrone » Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:39 pm

scirocco wrote:Sure, it takes me 2 hours to pack it but I'm 5 kg lighter than people with soft bags and 10 kg lighter than the hard cases.

Not quite sure how you reckon a cardboard box is 5kg lighter than a soft bag ???

My GE Bodybag weighs in at about 1.5kgs. I've done several OS trips using the Bodybag (no extra padding) with zero damage to our bikes - steel frames though. The cardboard box (eg. Qantas box, or LBS bike box) will weigh about 4-5kgs. Cardboard is actually heavy.
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scirocco
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby scirocco » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:06 am

My bad wording. I was referring to the softshell type bags like Scicon Aerocomfort that have wheels and stand up on their own.
Not the floppy type foldaway bags like the Ground Effect Tardis. I meet up with a lot of people travelling with nice road bikes and I never see that sort of bag used. Even I would be a bit nervous using one and I subscribe to the "put enough padding on it and the bag doesn't matter" theory.

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il padrone
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby il padrone » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:15 pm

Yup, OK.

I tour with a sturdy steel expedition bike that easily handles a bit of bumping (well, not too much). I read that this was in the 'Touring forums'. I don't see too many people touring on light road bikes or carbonium wunderbikes ;)
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RonK
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby RonK » Tue Oct 11, 2016 7:20 pm

scirocco wrote:Not the floppy type foldaway bags like the Ground Effect Tardis. I meet up with a lot of people travelling with nice road bikes and I never see that sort of bag used. Even I would be a bit nervous using one and I subscribe to the "put enough padding on it and the bag doesn't matter" theory.

Tardis works just fine for me.

However Air New Zealand managed to bend a rack stay when my bike was in a Scicon type internally framed bag.

But I was well pleased that it was in that bag while it was sitting on the luggage trailer in the rain waiting to be loaded into the aircraft hold.

I could almost see the cardboard bike boxes disintegrating before my eyes. And when I collected my bike from the oversize baggage conveyor at my destination the cardboard bike boxes were in a real mess. I didn't hang around to see the damage but clearly some boxes had stuff falling out of them.

Under certain circumstances I would consider using a cardboard box, but after that experience, if I did I think I would get it glad-wrapped before checking in.
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Re: Bikes on planes

Postby BenGr » Wed Oct 12, 2016 12:42 pm

RonK wrote:Under certain circumstances I would consider using a cardboard box, but after that experience, if I did I think I would get it glad-wrapped before checking in.

Don't bother in the States though. As soon as I dropped my box off it was opened. Not even an xray first... (the plastic would still provide some protection I guess).

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