How to Take Your Bike on an International Flight
Going on a long vacation to another country is always a major event in the year but there are certain things you might not want to leave behind. Your trusty bicycle is one such essential item especially if you intend to take some bike tours/trips on vacation. Just 10 years ago, it was always extremely expensive to take your bike with you on an international flight. US airlines would charge around $500 to check a bike in for an international flight! Thankfully, it has become much cheaper to bring your bike with you. There are still a few things you need to keep in mind when it comes to checking your bike in, so let’s go through them.
Identifying the Best Airline
It is normal to pick the airline with the most convenient flight time at the lowest price but when we factor the bicycle into the equation, things get difficult. Airlines have different prices and policies when it comes to bike check-ins. Most airlines have flat rates for bicycles these range from $75 to $300 per direction but some airlines charge according to excess baggage rates which also stack up very quickly. You will soon find that your bike check-in costs as much as your own ticket! Therefore, it is very important to choose an airline that is affordable and easy to deal with. Almost all airlines do not allow bicycles with more than one seat or any kind of motor. Airlines also have a maximum weight and a maximum size, so keep that in mind before deciding on your flight. It is advisable to contact the airline before booking the flight to confirm their price and policy and even reserve the check-in ahead of flight.
Packing the Bicycle
Since size constraints are a big issue for airlines, you will need to pack your bike into a box or case. At the very least, it is common for airline policy to specify that pedals, handlebars and/or seats need to be removed before transportation, which doesn’t leave you with any other option but get a storage case. It is very common for most people to get a cardboard box to pack their bikes away. Most bike shops will give you a cardboard bike box for free but there are significant downsides to this. Firstly, you cannot purchase insurance for bikes in cardboard boxes and secondly, they do not offer suitable protection for many scenarios. It is highly recommended that you purchase a bicycle case/transport bag and we have plenty to choose from. Here are some handy packing tips to keep in mind:
1. You'll need some tools to take apart and reassemble to bike. Keep any tools you use to take it apart in the bag as well cause you’ll it to put the bike back together!
2. Before removing the seat, measure the seat height as you normally have it. This will save you time when you want to put the bike back together
3.Remove the handlebars and wheels and tie them to the frame, most bike transport bags have attachments for this but if they do not, go with something robust.
4.Many airlines ask that you deflate the tyres as well, as cabin pressure can cause tyres to over-inflate. It is up to you to deflate them or reduce the air pressure, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.
5. Use plastic bags to wrap around messy parts such as the chain.
6.You can use extra padding like bubble wrap, especially if you're using a softshell bike bag. Ask your airline if you can pack clothes or other items in your bike bag to save room in your hold luggage, as some, like easyJet, don't allow this for health and safety reasons.
If you really want to take your bike but simply can’t afford the bike check-in fees, consider using a logistics service.
If you are flying first-class or business, ask the airline beforehand if they will check-in your bag for free as many airlines allow this for preferred customers.