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How to travel with your bike - A Guest post from Bikebox Online

27 September 2016

Bikebox Online_Cycology_Travel

‘Is that a Windsurf board?’, ‘A Double Bass?’…..

It wasn’t that long ago that this question was the norm every time I flew with my bike. None of the check in desks knew what to do with bikes, and most of the airlines didn’t even have sports equipment policies.

These days it’s loads easier, luckily!

Before you book your flight it’s best to check the Sports Equipment policies of the airline you’re flying with. These can be found on their websites quite easily.

The Ryan air fare might seem a bargain at first glance, but with their current sporting equipment charges it’s often cheaper to fly easyJet with less charges, or even BA with no bike charges if you use the bag/box as your checked in baggage. Be very aware of all the American airlines as these are the worst for charging for bikes, especially for internal flights!

Don’t go over weight on packing. The airlines will charge you by the Kg over your allowed weight. This is often about £30/kg, so 5kg over weight is an extra £150, and that’s each way! Weigh your bike box or bag at home and move stuff between bags in-line with the airlines policies. Arrive early and use the unpacking area to move gear accordingly if you have to.

Once I wore all my cycling kit and spare clothes, and put all non metal and liquid items in my cycling jersey pockets to avoid paying the 4 Kg that I was over weight! I got funny looks as I walked through security, but I put it all back in the hand luggage in the departure lounge. Some airlines don’t weigh hand luggage, so there’s no hard and fast rule.

Try to check your bikebox all the way to your destination if you’re changing flights. The staff should be able to do this, even if you bought the later flights on a different booking.

Don’t abuse the staff at the check in desks, as this never helps. Light banter and being friendly might get you off a couple of Kg extra weight. Your bike should have the air in the tyres and shocks deflated (remember a pump for the other end), and also you shouldn’t carry Co2 canisters, these will be destroyed if found.

Plan your trip to your departing airport and from your destination airport. One or two people and a Bike box will fit in most Hatchback cars fine. Even 2 bike boxes and some luggage will fit in the back of a Golf or similar with the back seats down.

A third person makes things problematic unless the hire car has split seats, and 4 or 5 passengers means a large Estate car at least. These cost more to rent so bear this in mind.

Most Taxi’s use Saloon cars and very often these can’t fit a bikebox in at all. Tell your taxi company you need an estate car or people carrier when you book.

Many Bike bags and boxes won’t come out on the conveyor belt with other luggage, so take a walk around and look for ‘Oversize luggage’ or else they will just be pushed through a door into the luggage reclaim area.

If your bike doesn’t arrive, you can see the handling agent for the airline you travelled on. In any doubt, or if you’ve been waiting a while, go and see them and ask them to check the baggage tags on your boarding card. You will then know if it was loaded on to the airplane in the first place (in which case keep waiting) or whether to give your Hotel details and the handling agent will arrange for the bike to be delivered when it arrives on the next flight.

One very useful reference site is www.bikeboxonline.com . They have details of how many bikes fit in each model of car, the airlines charging policies and problems faced at individual airports (such as long walks to hire cars, small security scanners that won’t fit boxes, etc). Bikebox Online also rent out bike boxes for your trip, and can arrange packing and delivery if needed.

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