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No bicycle left behind
How to get your bike a cheap, safe seat next to your underpants
By Jennifer Sherry
If your vacation destination is best arrived at by plane, and you want to bring your bike along for the ride, you may end up burning through your spending money before you get there. Baggage-weight and -size restrictions (a bag must not exceed 50 pounds and must fit into a 62-linear-inch box) and additional fees, which can run as much as $175 one way, as well as careless handling, might tempt you to step out of line at the ticket counter. But with these consumer tips, culled from forums, blogs and other online resources, you might just reach point B with extra cash in your pocket and a bike to ride.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK "Check airlines for bike tariffs before booking your flight. Because of the extremely inconsistent information regarding air travel with your bike, the IBF [International Bicycle Fund; ibike.org]maintains an extensive and frequently updated list of rules and tariffs regarding each airline's bike policy. If you're planning on doing any flying with your bike, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars by shopping carefully. As always, make sure to contact the airline directly to confirm."--Jason Fitzpatrick, Air Travel Tip on lifehacker.com
CALL IT BY ANOTHER NAME "One handy way around [paying the additional bike fee] is to procure a bike that can be taken apart and fit into a standard-looking suitcase. Now your bike is treated as just another piece of luggage (as long as the [packed] case weighs less than 50 pounds). Except that some airlines are so eager to collect bike fees that they may ask you what's in the case, then charge you the bike fee if you make the mistake of answering 'bicycle.' One experienced traveler-with- bike recommends answering 'bike parts.'"--Gary Koenig, Denver Cycling Examiner, examiner.com
"When flying, bikes are always referred to as 'camping gear.' Always."--August Peterelaos, theconsumerist.com,on how to answer when asked, "What's in the case?"
TAKE PRECAUTIONS "You can have it packed to perfection only to have the folks at TSA take it out and carelessly cram it all back in. I've heard of people taking photos of how it should look packed, and placing them with the bike."--Paul Schmidt, crazyguyonabike.com/forum
"I zip-tie the major components together so they [the TSA workers] can remove and replace them intact." --Mike Rachelson, crazyguyonabike.com/forum
"It's not a good idea to put your bike together in the airport or in front of the doors directly outside the airport. The last thing you want to do is start putting [your bike] together, and then have security tell you to quickly move out of the area. With your bike in pieces, this can be terribly difficult to do."--Darren Alff, bicycle touringpro.com,on traveling to Aruba with his Bike Friday
CASE STUDIES "Flight cases are expensive. I go to a local shop and ask for an old bike box. I take off my seat, bar, pedals and wheels, and pack them inside with tons of bubble wrap, then check it as luggage. No problem."--Terrible_one49, velospace.org/forums
"I'm a baggage handler, so listen up. Go with the used-bike-box idea. Pack it well, but don't load it up with all your other junk, 30 pounds max. Any heavier than that and I'm going to curse and swear and kick the sh*t out of your box. Cheers. Happy flying."-- Roadie, velospace.org/forums
START OUT ON THE RIGHT FOOT "Show up an hour earlier than requested (two to three hours before your flight). Because airlines and their employees are graded for getting planes dispatched on schedule, showing up late (especially with luggage that can't go through the conveyor) may cause check-in agents to find a way to delay you or your bike until the following flight--which may not leave until the next day."--Bill McCready, Santana founder, santanatandem.com