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Bagging your bike for air travel??

Old 01-15-18, 07:38 AM
  #1  
Tandem Tom
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Bagging your bike for air travel??

I have a FB thread I have been watching and some have mentioned using a heavy duty clear plastic bag instead of boxing.
Would like to hear from anyone who has used this idea.
Thanks!
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Old 01-15-18, 09:03 AM
  #2  
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I have never done it but I have seen a few discussion on this. There is a theroy floating around that bags are actually better because the baggage handler can see it is a bike and therefore treats it better.

I am not so sure I buy that theroy. I would go with a box. Even better a dedicated case if your itinerary allows it.

And you need to check with the airline. Some only allow boxes.
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Old 01-15-18, 09:13 AM
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As I have previous reported on this forum, Western Airlines (later bought by Delta) used to give out thick polyethylene bags for bikes. Western Airlines pretzeled one of my wheels when it was checked in one of their bags.

I suspect that people like the idea of a bag because it is so easy. A bag sure as hell isn't protective of a bike, however.
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Old 01-15-18, 09:16 AM
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Your challenge Tom will be to find an airline that flys to your desired destination that still allows bikes to be bagged.

Back in the day ('80s) I used to fly to Europe regularly on Air Canada from Montreal. At that time they provided a large plastic bike bag at most terminals and it worked great. Now AC says that a rigid box is required.

As Spinnaker says it keeps the item visible as a bicycle to the baggage handler thus may discourage abuse. Easier for both passenger and handler to carry by top tube and I never had any damage. I believe some non-US airlines airlines still allow the bag, British Airways for example along with others. American Airlines may also allow bags without liability coverage.

Last edited by BobG; 01-15-18 at 10:32 AM. Reason: delete dated link
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Old 01-15-18, 11:00 AM
  #5  
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When I travel by air I look for airlines that accept bikes in plastic bags. In my case the huge advantage is the ability to ride to and from the airport with ease. Last summer when I arrived in Venice, once I had retrieved my bike, it was a grant total of 5 minutes before I was on the road. Another advantage of a plastic bag, especially if the airline provides the bag, is the ability to arrive and depart from different airports. Two summers ago I arrived in Glasgow and departed from Nice without a worry in world. I've been in situations where I've had to hunt down cardboard boxes overseas, partially dismantle the bike etc, it's a PITA that I can do without.
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Old 01-15-18, 12:11 PM
  #6  
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I have used bags mostly and a box once and most recently I could only find sheets of plastic, tape and sheets of bubble wrap so I constructed my own bag.

Shortly after receiving my immaculate new touring bike in England (In a well-packed box) I flew back to Canada with the bike in a clear plastic bag. The baggage handlers either at Gatwick airport in the UK or Vancouver international in Canada dented the top tube and the airline refused to pay for the repair because they said while a bag is accepted as sufficient for transport it is not deemed properly protected and so they accept no responsibility for the negligence.

So now I have a new dented touring bike which, fortunately, has held up with little more than surface rust.

I've since flown twice, once with a cardboard box and once with he aforementioned sheets of plastic/bubble wrap.

The box was a stressful ordeal, I ad to hunt one down the day before the flight and almost couldn't find one at all. The next day I had to ride to the airport at 2 am with the giant box under one arm in the rain and heavy winds. When I got to the airport it took hours to disassemble and box the bike and then, because the box is not see-through, security took it all out again once inside the terminal and it all had to be repacked in in a rush. The box was wet and weak at this point but I made it safely to Bogota with no damage.

One month later I flew out of Santa Marta Colombia with the bike plastic and bubble wrapped and it was treated fairly well..no damage but the big chainwheel cut the plastic so next time I'll cover it with a piece of cardboard.

Bottom line is you can't guarantee anything. Boxes are often a logistical nightmare unless you are starting and ending at the same location and can store your box somewhere. If you're like me and have a bike bigger than most people good luck finding a box that fits in most of the third world or even Europe. I could barely find one in Canada and people there are relatively large.

In the future I will use my plastic sheet/bubble wrap and tape method because it offered the best of both worlds. It's still clearly a bicycle but it's padded a bit so it's less likely to suffer. If I were really clever I could incorporate a derailleur protector into the process but I think it's probably fine. I've flown with a bicycle five times now and 4 out of 5 times were with a bag or similar and only one time was there damage. Take from that what you will I guess.

It's also worthy of mention that with a bag or bubble wrap you can pick up the necessary materials days in advance (shop at your leisure) and carry them with you whereas with a cardboard box you can't really go anywhere with it, you have to store it somewhere or transport it so it's nowhere near as convenient IMO.
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Old 01-15-18, 01:49 PM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by TallTourist View Post
...
If I were really clever I could incorporate a derailleur protector into the process but I think it's probably fine. I've flown with a bicycle five times now and 4 out of 5 times were with a bag or similar and only one time was there damage. Take from that what you will I guess.
....
I have never flown with a dérailleur bike, but I would be very nervous about leaving a rear dérailleur attached to the frame. Aluminum frames often have a breakable derailleur hanger that attaches to the dropout, the hanger is designed to break if enough force is applied to damage a frame. Steel frame, that should not be an issue but it could still get bent out of alignment or the dérailleur itself could suffer damage.

My expedition bike goes into an S&S backpack case, that is the only bike I have flown with.
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Old 01-15-18, 01:54 PM
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At My LBS a number of bike tours end here, there is a box and ship service... the RD is removed and wrapped & Zip tied to the spokes.

So as to not lever the hanger bent while in transit..



Have seen plastic bags draped over bikes shipped on European Rail , in overnight trains..

we left the group's bikes in Paris, met them a couple days later, after taking the train connections

TGV to Lyon, and a normal speed train to Bern CH.




..

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Old 01-15-18, 08:17 PM
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I have, on WOW Air. Turned fork backwards, took pedals off, put handlebars sideway, and zip tied it all in place. As you can see, I forgot to even put the seatpost down and left a pannier of random spares/tools on.

Only issue was getting it through the airport like that, boxed sits on luggage carts far easier. Struggled a bit going through the X-ray too, but we got it. That all said, I'd do it again in a heartbeat if allowed.

Bag was either a full or queen mattress bag for $4 from Uhaul. Rolled it up and ziptied it under the rack while on the road.

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Old 01-15-18, 08:20 PM
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Oh and Tourist mentioned, I did unscrew the rear derailleur and just ziptied it to the frame in some cardboard scraps.
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Old 01-16-18, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by BobG View Post
Your challenge Tom will be to find an airline that flys to your desired destination that still allows bikes to be bagged.
+1. I flew from Sevilla to Philly. Three different flights with the bike in a plastic bag supplied by Iberia Airlines. Bike checked through to British Airways after two flights originating in Spain. But that was back in 2000. I do think it's harder to pull off these days.
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Old 01-16-18, 03:03 PM
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Thinking of using Icelandic Air. They have written to me ,from Denmark, that bagging the Bike is ok.
Waiting to hear from the US office.
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Old 01-16-18, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Thinking of using Icelandic Air. They have written to me ,from Denmark, that bagging the Bike is ok.
Waiting to hear from the US office.
Be ready to punt. It has been my experience that one hand rarely know what the other hand is doing at the airlines.

It might be prudent to take a copy of your emails with you if you get the OK from both.

Are you taking the tandem? Or just two bikes?
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Old 01-16-18, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Thinking of using Icelandic Air. They have written to me ,from Denmark, that bagging the Bike is ok.
Waiting to hear from the US office.
You should be fine, but always good to check for sure. When I was planning my Iceland trip last year, they still took them in bags, although I didn't end up flying with them for other reasons. Reykjavik Airport used to sell them at the airport until early last year, they were the listed method for both Iceland Air and WOW until that point.
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Old 01-23-18, 12:45 PM
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Tsa

I bought a Bike Friday which packs into a suitcase (a not-so-easy task). I flew from CA to Minnesota last year. When I assembled the bike the front shifting wasn't so hot and the chain was rubbing the derailleur. Turns out it was bent a little bit. My guess is that TSA messed it up.
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