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PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:52 am
Posts: 240
What is the best way to get a very nice bike that lives in the USA to Europe and back for racing?

I've heard some very bad stories about USA TSA inspecting bikes and disc wheels. The idea of taking them as airplane baggage is not so appealing.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:32 pm 
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Location: Toronto
In a bike case, as checked baggage. You need to check individual airlines costs and weight limits.

From Toronto I can get to the UK with a bike for $30 surcharge each way. And it's a fairly generous weight limit too, about 60lbs I think.

Going to Cuba I just paid $30 for the round trip, but there was a 20Kg limit for the box, which is doable but you need to consider box weight when buying.

Airports usually have X-ray machines and separate handling for oversize items.

I can't think of any other way.

Never had a problem and have been doing it for about 10 years.

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There's sometimes a buggy.
How many drivers does a buggy have?

One.

So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM


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Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:32 pm 


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:36 pm 
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Location: The Taint of the USA!
I wish US airlines were as generous in pricing. Check with your specific airline. I can tell you that United charges $100 each way, and American charges $150 (Southwest charges $50, but good luck finding an SWA plane in the EU). Now, that being said, the "proper" way of doing it is to pack it in a specific bike bag, declare it to be a bicycle, and take your lumps like a man. On the other hand, you can take it to the airport as before, and declare it to be "sports equipment". Golf equipment is usually charged as a regular checked bag (go figure), and many attendants will not know the difference, and will pass it along as such. Be aware that if you do that, and the bike is damaged, you are on your own, as the airline will probably say that you failed to properly disclose the contents, and thus, they're off the hook.

I can tell you that the airlines treat bike bags no differently than any other bag. THEY WILL TOSS YOUR BIKE AROUND, LAY IT ON ITS SIDE, AND OTHERWISE MAKE EVERY POSSIBLE ATTEMPT TO DAMAGE THE CONTENTS.

TSA inspects every bag through a scanner. Some airports (even big ones) are not equipped to handle bike bags, and the bag will be opened and manually inspected, it just depends on the airport. I can tell you that every time if fly into a South Florida airport, I find a small "Inspected by TSA" flyer inside my bag. It's no big deal, they just can't fit it into a machine, and have to open it up to look inside. I've had much more go missing from UPS opening my bike box than TSA.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:58 am 
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Location: Toronto
OP just has to move to Canada, and problems solved :D

The friend I usually travel with has a soft bike bag, and so far his bikes have survived. Personally I'm not happy having my bike in a soft bag in the hands of the throwers.

_________________
There's sometimes a buggy.
How many drivers does a buggy have?

One.

So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:54 am 
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bikerjulio wrote:
In a bike case, as checked baggage. You need to check individual airlines costs and weight limits.

From Toronto I can get to the UK with a bike for $30 surcharge each way. And it's a fairly generous weight limit too, about 60lbs I think.

Going to Cuba I just paid $30 for the round trip, but there was a 20Kg limit for the box, which is doable but you need to consider box weight when buying.

Airports usually have X-ray machines and separate handling for oversize items.

I can't think of any other way.

Never had a problem and have been doing it for about 10 years.
You don't have our TSA.
This is a TSA thing - not a cost thing (I care about cost, I care more about the bike).
Talked to a dad that said last year TSA punctured a disc of his kid racing for the US team to make sure it wasn't a bomb!

Other examples is they dump out hardware bags and little parts get lost. In the USA - TSA will often open luggage and if you lock it - they really will open luggage.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:56 am 
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bikerjulio wrote:
OP just has to move to Canada, and problems solved :D

You actually have a very good point.
I can leave FROM Canada.

Any Shippers anyone has used?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:20 am 
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Location: Toronto
My experience is with Air Transat from Toronto to the UK (Gatwick). They also fly into a lot of european cities.

http://www.airtransat.ca/en/Europe?ID=EU1&type=destination&tmpl=GEN#vancouver

This is the relevant section of the baggage policy:

Quote:
In preparation for travel, handlebars must be turned sideways and secured, the tires deflated, and the pedals removed. A bicycle helmet is accepted free of charge.

The bicycle must be placed in a sturdy bag or box.

Maximum weight 32 kg (including bicycle bag/box). Oversized plastic bags are available at all Air Transat check-in counters. The bag is included in the $30 CA charge (local foreign currency equivalent).

For groups of 10 passengers or more travelling with bicycles, please contact us in advance as special arrangements may be required (additional charges may apply).
Email: request@airtransat.com


http://www.airtransat.ca/en/Information-for-travellers/Before-you-go/Baggage/What-you-can-bring-weight-and-size?ID=25&type=voyageur&tmpl=GEN

32Kg = about 72lbs, so quite generous. The only checks I have had at either end have been putting the bike box through an x-ray scanner. And the English run a pretty tight security system.

_________________
There's sometimes a buggy.
How many drivers does a buggy have?

One.

So let's just say I'm drivin' this buggy...
and if you fix your attitude you can ride along with me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GekiIMh4ZkM


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:40 am 
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For what it's worth I travel often with a bike. I have taken a bike as baggage on a plane to/from almost every continent. I'm not a big fan of TSA in general but I have found that, when I am polite and ask nicely, they will allow me to open my bike box and assist them in their inspection, then allow me to repack everything (if necessary) myself. I generally arrive at the airport an extra 30-45 minutes earlier than is necessary to allow this. This ensures there is no rush and the agents generally appreciate my willingness to wait a few minutes. (They deal with irate people in a hurry all day long.) I've never had a TSA agent tell me "no". On several occasions they told me it wasn't necessary as they were satisfied with the x-ray alone.

IMPORTANT - Don't put anything in the bike box that will be suspicious (CO2 cannisters especially, flammable fluids like chain lube or degreaser, etc.). I have had no problems with my bike, wheels, shoes, helmet, pump, and some essential tools all in the box.

Get a good quality hard bike case that uses multiple locks. My case (SERFAS) has taken a beating but I have never suffered any damage or theft/loss of parts. I have used it for over 10 years. Get the best box you can afford. It is a worthwhile investment.

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San Diego, CA
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:54 pm 
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Good insurance. It's the best piece of mind you can get

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:06 pm 
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Location: Wherever there's a mountain beckoning to be climbed
xnavalav8r wrote:
For what it's worth I travel often with a bike. I have taken a bike as baggage on a plane to/from almost every continent. I'm not a big fan of TSA in general but I have found that, when I am polite and ask nicely, they will allow me to open my bike box and assist them in their inspection, then allow me to repack everything (if necessary) myself. I generally arrive at the airport an extra 30-45 minutes earlier than is necessary to allow this. This ensures there is no rush and the agents generally appreciate my willingness to wait a few minutes. (They deal with irate people in a hurry all day long.) I've never had a TSA agent tell me "no". On several occasions they told me it wasn't necessary as they were satisfied with the x-ray alone.

IMPORTANT - Don't put anything in the bike box that will be suspicious (CO2 cannisters especially, flammable fluids like chain lube or degreaser, etc.). I have had no problems with my bike, wheels, shoes, helmet, pump, and some essential tools all in the box.
Within the United States, that may depend on the airport you use, staffing and equipment availability at the time, etc. You may not be able to be present for any inspection, which may occur out of your sight. When my bike case was inspected in my presence, and I was being very nice and friendly, I was able to provide verbal guidance to TSA employees, but not allowed to touch anything during the bike case opening, inspection, and repacking. On other (most) occasions, I have provided my bike box to the airline agent, and never had the opportunity to see it again until it arrived at the other airport.

Your warning is good advice, as anything you can do which limits the probability that TSA will open your bike case is a good thing. So, it's best if the TSA can be satisified by the scan and not feel the need to open the case.

Fortunately (so to speak) for me, every time my bike has been damaged in transit (always due to improper repacking by TSA !!!!!!!), it's been on the return leg of my trip, so my cycling vacation wasn't affected.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:54 pm 
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Location: Austin, TX
HammerTime2 wrote:
Fortunately (so to speak) for me, every time my bike has been damaged in transit (always due to improper repacking by TSA !!!!!!!), it's been on the return leg of my trip, so my cycling vacation wasn't affected.


My biggest fear is it not showing up at the luggage pickup at all! Showing up early and giving the over-size TSA guy/gal PLENTY of time to inspect it is very good advice. It's helpful to politely advise them while they are repacking/locking the case if at all possible. I've had one guy get perturbed with me once in SFO but all the other TSA agents have been very nice.

While coming back from the Cayman Islands with the bike case I just checked in at the kiosk and chose the two bags option. The ticket agent, not wanting to do any "extra work" just stuck the bag tags on and voila, no extra charges. It's always worth a shot...

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:08 pm 
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If you're traveling from, say Spain, you'd be hard pressed to find any security personnel really interested in your bike box though.. Sometimes they'll react on co2 canisters but generally they don't care as long as the box fits through the x-ray machine, they hardly look at the x-ray though :-)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:02 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
I flew in to SF via LA and out of LA last September. Bike box was opened both ways with the TSA leaflet mentioning this left in the case .

On the way in I just left the box and was super happy to see it in SF after my flight was cancelled and was squeezed onto a flight 6 hours later! Leaving LA I stayed to watch since I arrived super early and sat a short distance away from the oversized luggage area. They were quite reasonable and only gently felt in the box including a swab they then tested. Whilst watching though I saw another bag opened – I recommend you use a TSA padlock like I did as they will have no qualms using the bolt cutters!

As per damage whilst in transit – always a risk. Mine was packed in a Polaris Bike Pod and was unmarked inside and out, but coincidentally the sending coil on my SRM was damaged somehow in 10 places on the return journey!?

In regards to internal flights and baggage allowances, confirm with your carrier if the international allowance covers all legs when booked on the one ticket. I booked with Qantas who used American for my LA to SF flight and my 2 * 23kg international allowance was accepted for this stretch too.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:41 am 
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Some PM extracts from before and after Dalai landedf in the United States. I had warned him abiut the TSA.

Anyhow, his wish was granted, as per the immeidaltey preceding post, the TSA waited until the return flight to damage his bike, as I only now have learned.

HammerTime2 wrote:
Subject: Climbs USA

Dalai wrote:
Hopefully TSA are kind and repack the case properly!
Ha. ha, you're a funny man, I always hope that if my bike gets wrecked, it's on the return trip so that at least I get my riding in on the trip. On the plus side, the Palo Alto area has a lot of high end bike shops, so you have some chance of getting replacement parts/bike fixed if it gets damaged in transit.

Seriously, good luck, and hope your bike makes it through unscathed. What happens with the TSA largely comes down to luck.
Dalai wrote:
Thanks for the vote of confidence! :shock:

As much as I don't want my bike damaged, definitely would rather it on the return...
HammerTime2 wrote:
...Good to hear about your bike making it through unscathed. But then again, my bike has only been damaged on the return trip - and clearly as a result of improper repacking by TSA.

Dalai wrote:
No need for me to worry about the bike in the end, bag was perfectly! If not for the slip of paper, I would be none the wiser that they had opened it. ...


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:59 am 
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I will be flying home to the states from Italy with my bike in a cardboard box, unable to find a hard case out here in Italy. After some internet research it seems some people prefer to fly with the cardboard box because it "needs" to be upright, and baggage handlers are less likely to stack things on top of it… lets hope thats true! Wish me luck…

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Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 10:59 am 


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