If you plan to travel internationally with a bicycle, at some point you will be required to put your bike on a plane.
Taking a bike on an airplane as luggage can be a gut wrenching proposition. In addition to the various and variable fees imposed by the different airlines, there is the matter of packing and unpacking your bike for air travel, sourcing packaging materials and protecting your bike during transit.
The first time we combined bike touring and air travel I tediously and meticulously removed and bubble wrapped every single piece of both bikes, right down to water bottle cages. I packed the pieces in re-enforced cardboard bike boxes, marked FRAGILE on every possible surface, crossed my fingers and was generally tense throughout the entire experience. The whole process took about 1.5 hours per bike, on each end of the journey.
Other than the time and labor and stress involved, all went well. We’ve done it few times since… It always works, but it’s expensive, time consuming and stressful.
Isn’t there a better way to fly with a bike?
Pack your bike in a clear plastic bag.
With multiple benefits over packing a bike in a cardboard box, this is now our preferred method for flying with our bikes on an airplane. At first we were skeptical, and honestly if we weren’t forced into using this technique by the lack of bike packing resources at the southern end of our Destination Dubrovnik tour last summer we would have never tried it. It does feel a little like stepping off a cliff, until you realize that your bike will be treated much more carefully when packed in a clear plastic bag.
4 reasons why we like this technique.
- Simple – It’s a plastic bag. Think a big sandwich baggie for your bike, hold the mayo. The CTC Plastic Bike Bags is specifically designed for this purpose. If you order one before your trip, you can carry it in your panniers and it’s reusable. No need to source anything at the last minute. If not you can make your own. In Dubrovnik we used a home-made version by doubling over clear plastic sheeting and duct taping the edges. Slide the bike into the bag, fold down the top and tape it. Natch!
- Quick– Total packaging/unpacking time including removal/reinstallation of pedals etc.. is about 15 minutes on either end of the trip. This is fabulous compared with the one hour minimum build/pack time per bike when using a bike box. With the plastic bag method almost the entire bike remains intact.
- Cheap – If you plan ahead. (Not our strong suit) then use the CTC Plastic Bike Bag or similar. At present it retails for $13.50. Not bad. If you need to make your own, then the price is a little more variable, since you have to run around, find plastic sheeting and duct tape, which depending on your location at the time, may or may not be simple to locate. Still you shouldn’t have a problem. Our homemade bags, sourced and made in Dubrovnik from plastic sheeting from the local garden shop cost us around $35 for two bags, not counting bus tickets running around town to find plastic. Still a bargain when you consider how smooth the whole thing works.
- Your bike is handled more carefully when packed in a plastic bag– First, If bagage handlers can see that there is a bike in the bag they are more likely to handle it with care. When we deposited our bikes at the luggage desk in Dubrovnik two baggage handlers carried our bikes to the loading area. Since there were no easy hand holds on either bike they carried them one bike at a time. Each man taking an end of the bike and lifting it on to the cart. Second, the odd shape of the bike when in a plastic bag makes it unlikely to be stacked underneath the other luggage in the cargo hold or on the luggage carts to and from the plane. Therefore your bike is less likely to be crushed. Our bikes emerged at our destination in almost perfect condition, despite two connections and an overnight lay-over (don’t ask…). The only problem was a slightly damaged fender stay.
How do you pack your bike in a plastic bag?
Surprisingly using a clear plastic bag to transport your bike on an airplane requires only basic disassembly. First, check with your airline as carriers have differing regulations. Most carriers will accept a bike packed in a plastic bag and require only the handlebar be turned parallel, pedals removed and tires partially deflated. That being said, I like to take a bit more precaution adding padding to the front derailleur, removing the rear derailleur from the frame, lowering the saddle and securing the front wheel from flopping about.
1. Remove your pedals and turn the handlebar parallel to the frame.
2. Secure the front wheel from flopping around. I used some spare line that we always carry. You can use just about anything as long as the front wheel is secured before placing your bike in the plastic bag.
3. The rear derailleur is an achilles heel of the bike. Carefully remove it from the frame to prevent any damage to the frame or derailleur. I’ve used duct tape and a ‘disposable’ water bottle to secure and protect the rear derailleur in transit.
4. Once you place your bike in the plastic bag simply fold over the top and secure it with heavy tape, like duct tape or packing tape. I’ve wrapped the bike end on end as well just to secure the bag and prevent snags.
Will my bike survive?
It seems that baggage handlers are actually human beings after all. If they can see there is a bicycle in the bag it is more likely to be treated with respect. Instead of tossing and dropping an anonymous cardboard box and stacking hundreds of pounds of suitcases on top of it, the plastic bag is handled with some amount of care. As I said above there is the knock-on effect of not being able to stack it squarely and no easy hand holds from which to toss it onto a luggage cart. This requires the bike to lifted and placed. Bikes like that. We like that.
While nothing is fool-proof, our experience and the experience of others indicates that flying with your bike packed in a plastic bag is at least as safe as using a box. When you factor in the time and effort put into the box method the plastic bag reigns supreme. Again, always check with your airline as there are differing regulations depending carrier.
Have you ever used the plastic bag method? Would you even consider flying with your bike packed in a plastic bag?
Tell us about your experiences flying with a bike.
Nice post Tyler. We’re planning a trip to France in May. Perhaps we’ll try this technique. I certainly don’t enjoy the last-minute scramble to locate bike boxes the day of the flight home.
I recommend it. Super simple and quick. Where are you headed in France? Maybe we can cross paths… 🙂
Thanks for the kind words.
I recently travelled to the Pyrennes on United / Lufthansa. UA charged me $400 to fly the bike to France and Lufthansa charged $100 to fly it back. I complained to UA, stating that their own policy is to charge $200 and they refused to refund me. I will never travel internationally with my bike on UA again and encourage others to do the same. They are not bike-friendly at all.
I agree that United is definitely not bike friendly – we paid $200/bike per ticket to travel with our bikes from Portland to Colombia. From Colombia to Rome, we flew Lufthansa, and not only did we not have to NOT disassemble or box the bike, but they accepted it as a piece of luggage. Amazing!
I used a Ground Effect Tardis bike bag. It’s great because it packs the bike down small so it is easy to carry around the airport, but ultimately it’s a pain in the rear as you have to totally disassemble the bike to get it to fit correctly and the bag doesn’t offer much protection. I had two buckled wheels after the first flight and it took me a day to re-assemble it and get the wheels fixed. Next time I’ll try the plastic bag method or just buy a good quality folding bike for touring instead.
Sorry to hear your wheels were buckled. That stinks.
Our thinking here is bike bags, like the Tardis, which aren’t transparent, get treated just like the bike boxes + tossed, thrown, dropped. The advantage of the plastic bag, besides being simple, quick and cheap is it transparency. Suddenly the baggage handler sees that there is something fragile inside. Add to the fact that wheels and most other pieces stay in place thereby maintaining the structural integrity of the bike, you’re less likely to end up with damage. Let us know how it works when you use the plastic bag.
A long time ago (it’s been over 20 years), American Airlines used to provide bags instead of boxes when flying with your bike. I did have pretty good luck with this every time I used it. I much preferred it and would select AA in preference to other airlines for just this reason. (Though there was the time my luggage made a connection and I didn’t and they left the bike sitting out for anyone to walk off with, while my panniers were locked up in the (closed, it was late) office. Fortunately, this was on the return trip.)
Hi Chris, thanks for the feedback. It’s interesting to know that AA used to provide bags for bikes. Seems like a good thing to continue, especially since they charge such a high fee now to bring a bike aboard the plane. Surprisingly on this trip the desk agent in Dubrovnik forgot/neglected to charge us the €100 fee per bike. We thought we were lucky until the gate agent at our connecting flight called us on it. :/
I would use this method, however my primary airline Qantas, will only accept bikes of they are presented in a box. Worth looking into if I fly international with other carriers.
does this include Jetstar policy? cheers, Rog
Thanks for this post Tyler, it is very helpful. A group of us will be using your bag method this June. We will be posting our packing materials ahead of us to our destination in the South of France (dont want to carry it for 700miles). I am having trouble assessing what guage plastic to buy. All of my sources seem to be on the internet. Options seem to be 300/500/1000 guage. Any suggestions please?
for anyone else who follows this thread, I have just found the CTC polly-bike-bag spec is 125micron (500Gauge) polythene.
So here is a link to a reasonably priced source :-
Thanks, Collin for your question and your update.
Just like there are two wheels to this blog, there are two thoughts on this approach. Our recent trip to Italy was the best example. T was in charge of packing materials on our way to Italy. He went to our local market and picked up a very, very lightweight plastic, made as a furniture throw for painting. Probably even lighter than the 300 gauge. (Think old GLAD sandwich ‘baggies’) T assured me that the plastic wasn’t really protecting anything–it just ensured people took extra care with the bikes. And he was right. The lightweight plastic didn’t survive very well on the other end, but we had a chance to see the luggage crew carrying our bikes ever so gingerly, two persons for each bike, off the plane. Not a scratch on the bikes, so T was right. But the plastic wasn’t salvagable, so we tossed it.
On the return trip from Italy, we opted for my preferred plastic. We first found it when we searched for some time in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and ended up at landscaping/garden store where they sold heavy-duty plastic on the roll, about 2 meters wide. Probably closer to the 1000 gauge plastic. Certainly more expensive, but more protective from scratches and incidental contact. It just makes me feel better. So in Rome, we found something similar at a neighborhood hardware store quite easily. Now the heavier it is, the less easy it is to carry with you on your bike. But the lighter the weight, the easier it is to tear. (Of course, the 300 gague doesn’t seem as light as our ‘sandwich baggie’– which still worked just great!)
So, in sum, our recommendation is don’t bother sending it by post– you can buy it when you get there!! (I take it from your post you are riding to the south of France and only flying back.) As long as you’ll be somewhere that you can find a hardware store or a landscape/garden store, you’ll be able to find some plastic you can use to make your own bag to bring your bike on the plane home!
What a cool idea, tempting to move my bike from Ottawa, Canada to Frankfurt, Germany…only snag is that it’s a bamboo bike from Ghana, so although care is very much desired, visibility is not. Too much risk of it getting ‘lost’ along the journey I’m afraid. Happy trails!
Hi Jen, Yeah, Id say I agree with your opinion about the bamboo bike. I think this technique works best with sturdy steel touring bikes, Fragile materials and exotics probably should go the box route. Have fun on your journey! 🙂
I use a ‘no bling’ Aerus Biospeed Bag (HumbleOutdoors $320), all but on time the airlines have charged me a excess baggage fee and the crazy bike fee.
What does the airline charge you for checking a bike packed like this? For most, the big expense is what the airline charges you to check it. As much as $200 per bike one way for the bigger airlines in the US.
It depends on the airline. But you’re right. Some charge as much as a couple hundred per flight, yet some are free or close to free. The images in this article were taken before we boarded a Finnish Air flight that charged 100€ total for the 2 bikes. We’ve also flown on El Al to Israel, because they carry bikes for free. I seem to remember some carriers in the US recently lowering baggage fees for bikes, Jet Blue I think, but I can’t find a link right now. You have to check it out with each airline before buying your flight.
Last year we travelled to Malawi from the Netherlands and next week we’ll be leaving for Cambodia. We use special plastic bike-covers. They only provide basic protection, but it’s obvious the bikes are handled with more care. Using plastic bags or covers has the advantage of being able to take them with you on your tour, so you won’t have to look for packing material on your way home ! Another advantage is that we can travel tot the airport by train.
Instead of using tape to secure the covers, I’m now making reinforced holes (rings) so we can loop a thin rope through them and tie everything together. Should be great … 🙂
Sounds great Alan. Have fun on your trip! 🙂
It does sound great. I’m based in Melbourne and Chiangmai Thailand. What are your experiences so far at the Airport check in with the plastic bagged bike? Can it be included in your check in weight, i.e. Thai gives me 30 kilo? Both wheels off and duc tapped together would constitute a s reasonable size?
Some airlines like royal brunei and Malaysia will include a bicycle in your 30 kilo check in weight, acually, when you tell them you have bicycle i think they throw 15kilo in for free….But it depends on the airline..and as I’ve said in another comment, people should contact it, read the oversized luggage policy….It may be that some airlines will not allow bags, due to a perceived lack of protection. I’d hate for people to turn up to the airport and be forced to run round the place trying to find a box at the last minute
Hi! We (mom, dad and the 3 kids) are planning ” bike-and-camping” a trip to Europe and will probably use that method. However, our problem is the part where we have to travel from Paris to Amsterdam . The Thalys train company is asking that the bike is either folded or put in a travel bag with no front wheel. Any suggestion?
Cathie, We hope your kids appreciate how cool their parents are! (Although they rarely do!) Trains and bikes go together pretty well in Europe, but there are still some restrictions. In Western Europe, high speed trains (like Thalys) are not always so bike-friendly. Rest assured they will enforce the rules, too. You might be able to get by with taking off the front wheel, using some zip-ties or something similar to keep it attached to the frame, and re-using your plastic bags to wrap it up good.
The other option is to find a longer train route that will let you roll your bicycle on. When we came back from Naples to Rome, we took the slower regionale rather than the hi-speed so we could roll the bikes on and off.
A quick look at the Dutch train system shows that for a steep ticket price (12 euros!), but you can easily take your bike on the Intercity Brussels train that goes to Amsterdam. (http://www.nshispeed.nl/en/before-you-go/taking-your-bicycle-with-you) It seems you can also pay to take your bike on the TGV line in France (that goes to Brussels), but with at least one change and its not so easy to figure out (http://www.velo.sncf.com/?velo-voyager=tgv).
That being said, it all seems like a lot of extra work when removing the front wheel and keeping it in a bag with the proper dimensions (120cmX 90cm) should satisfy the regulations!
Hope that helps!
A bike is much easier to handle when you can roll it on its wheels. Plastic bag method means you can unpack bike, fit panniers, and ride away with all packing materials in about ten minutes. Much easier than having a heavy bike in box plus seprate panniers. I’ve used it on Singapore Airlines between Christchurch NZ and Paris/London with no problems and no charge ( within free baggage allowance).
You can take an operational bike on some french TGV trains. You need a reservation that seems hard to get from outside france. In my experience the bike spaces are not heavily used. France is a very bike – friendly place. People generally go out of their way to be helpful.
This is a really interesting idea….it would make me a bit nervous though! Questions: do you still get charged the over size fee?? And would you do this with a carbon frame bike? I travel with armored bike bags from Ruster Sports (retail: 600 USD for the pair), one bag for the frame and one for the wheels. Takes up your two free bags, but no extra fees, so that’s awesome (I’ve already made back the money I spent on it!) and the bikes are very well protected. Much more so than a cardboard box, which is what I used to use…
We always get the bike fee, so no savings there. Never tried it with a carbon framed bike, but I imagine it wouldn’t work as well. We have steel framed touring bikes. They’re built for abuse. After doing this on at least 8 flights, the only damage so far has been slightly bent fender stays and some scuffed bar tape.
We’ve used the plastic bike bag method a few times with steel MTB tourers and Al and Ti road bikes. Usually take front wheel off and tape it on drive side of bike, also remove dérailleur and rotate bars. Have one CTC bag and one sheet of polythene picked up on the road side in Corsica. No harm come to bikes so far, but wouldn’t use for a carbon racer.
I’ve used a partial plastic bag arrangement on Air New Zealand (they have since become strict about wanting boxes) and Singapore Airlines. Bag is a single mattress bag. Used cardboard to sit bike on and fold up to about axle height. Handlebars pedals, front derailleur off. Arrange so top tube is visible, make the whole thing easy for one person to carry.
On each of 4 occasions bike arrived undamaged.
Having read this page, I’m thinking of using cardboard only in strategic places.
I have an issue getting bike from baggage pickup to train at CDG airport in Paris, where you cant use baggage trolleys between terminals. May aim to get bike so I can remove it from bag in order to wheel it rather than carry it and panniers.
That’s what I did. Had bike operational within about 10 mins of receiving it. And I took all the packaging with me, so I can use it for the return journey.
Hi All just bought a Mattress Bag , King Size one to Bag My Bike, $10, Cheap and Easy to Find.
hi, would you know if this method would work with a bmx bike.
I think it will work fine with a BMX bike
Thanks! This got me by for my trip from L.A. to London. I flew Virgin Atlantic. No issue in LAX. But my bike almost didn’t come home with me from Heathrow. They did not like clear plastic bag and made me disassemble way more than on my trip to Heathrow.
hi Thomas, not good! We are all helping the environment and potential congestion here. My experience on Thai Airways between Melbourne and Bangkok-Chiangmai are great, they don’t even raise an eyebrow. I feel it can also come down to the assistant at the time and the current mood.
When you succeed in taking a bike in a clear plastic bag, take some photos and have them with you. Showing the photos should help convince staff, esp if its the same airline. For my return trip from London, I had with me photos of the bike on the outward leg, just in case. In fact there was no problem
Hi Tyler, I was wondering whether is it okay to use this method on a folding bike as my folding bike doesn’t fold as compact as Birdy or Bromption etc.? What’s your opinion? Thanks~
I think it would great for a folder. In fact, I wouldn’t even fold it. The idea being: the larger it is, the more gently it should be treated. Let us know how it goes.
Hello: This is terrific but Air Canada has policy that says the following: “The bicycle must be placed – with handlebars fixed sideways and pedals removed – in a rigid and/or hard shell container” Comments?
Fly with another airline? It certainly pays to shop around. Air Canada does not even seem to allow cardboard. You need a very large box for a bike with wheels and handlebar on! When you get a good answer get it in writing and take it with you!
I’m flying Air Canada with my bike very soon – just curious how your experience with them shaped up and if you went with a cardboard box?
Hi travellers, I’ve been flying around many times with bikes mostly to Australia but this was about 20 years ago at that time it was no worries. One time we went with a complete tandem from Beograd no problem and no damages whatsoever. But right now thinks are getting nightmerish, unfortunately. Anyhow, I’m planing flying again quite soon and this article made my day. thank you very much for sharing and happy travels to everyone. tony.
Thanks for this info. Very helpful. We actually spoke to some to works for an airline doing loading/unloading and he recommended using the transparent bike bags. Nice to hear that it may actually work! We are scheduled to go on a bike tour in Europe on less than 3 weeks. Relatively new to touring, but not new to Europe. Unfortunately, I wished I paid closer attention to some important details that Europe that would be useful to us. I have a few questions that I’m not sure you or anyone else can help us out with. Seems you’ve done your fair share of touring in Europe.
We have 5 weeks. Our rough itinerary: Fly from LA to London, ride the train to Dover. Take a ferry to Dunkirk, France. Ride the LF1 through Belgium, The Netherlands, ride part of Germany (from the Wadden Islands to Papenburg to pick up a rental car and drive to Fehmarn where we plan to take the ferry to Denmark). Ride through Denmark and fly out of Copenhagen.
1) Did you do anything special to pack your panniers for your flight? We plan on using a XXL REI duffel bag and saran wrapping the heck out of (on the outside) to help protect it.
2) Have you ever ridden from the DFDS Seaways Port in Dunkirk, France to the the Belgian Border? What’s the best route?
I’d say you’re right about simply wrapping your panniers together with plastic wrap. We’ve also used the big, cheap, zippered shopping bags, but then you have to haul them…
Can I just say I tried this method and the airlines treated my bike poorly. There were many scratches and impacts to my steel frame and even one to my carbon forks 🙁 I flew from Syd to Europe with 2 stopovers (more chance of damage)
Bummer. Sorry to hear that. We’ve nothing but good results. 🙁
Hi. I have taken a bike between Australia and Europe several times plus shorter trips in Europe, to NZ, China to Europe etc- probably 60% of time in a box, 40% in a bag. Only time any serious damage was in a box that had something heavy dumped on top. You can be unlucky.
A single mattress bag is a good size, maybe 1kg? – I then used it as a groundsheet – but after 2 flights pretty well wrecked.
I have a Folding Bike (brand: Citizen Bikes) and I´m planning to travel internationally. I think my bike, when disassembled, fits inside the luggage. It is illegal to do this? And, if so, what is the reason?
Not illegal at all. In fact, Bike Friday folding bikes fit into a regular Samsonite suitcase (that is one of their big selling points). I flew US to Germany with the bike in the suitcase. No problem at all!
I’m thinking about flying British Airways to Scotland and they say they’ll carry your bike for free as part of your checked luggage allowance as long as it’s in a “recognized bike bag.” Any sense whether the plastic bag method is “recognized” enough to pass muster with BA? Thanks!
i am planning to fly with them in a couple of month and was wondering how your experience was using this method.
Thanks so much for all the information here. We’re hoping you have a little more advice. We will be traveling to from Toronto to Northern Italy for the month of June, with our bikes. We arrive in Rome and meet friends – then we will be driving to Lucca in a rental car – 4 adults + luggage for a month so we won’t have room to take our bikes.
Our thought was to pack the bikes in bike boxes and ship from the Rome airport to a bike shop in Lucca. Do you think this will work. Have you ever tried using a courier at the Rome airport? We considered shipping them from toronto but were told that there would be duties ($300-$500 each way) added to the cost of shipping and we risk the chance of a strike at Italian customs during the tourist season.
Do you have any suggestions?
Hey Amy- You might check with your accommodations in Rome. Often they will do luggage transfers. Or even some bike tour operators. They certainly do transfers for their clients. Who knows. They might do it for you, if they have a route near your destination. Also you could check with Top Bikes in Rome – they’re great, and they cater to the bike tourist market (http://www.topbikerental.com/nuovosito/eng/index.html)
Let us know how it goes.
I’ll check it out and if we use them, I’ll report back.
I’ve been flying around Europe with bikes wrapped in chuck away plastic sheet for at least 15 yrs. I get discarded polythene sheet from a builders merchant; the sort that pallet fulls of plasterboard are wrapped in. At the departure, take off pedals, take off front wheel and fasten to side of frame with tape or tiewraps. No need to deflate tyres. Good tip: cut sections from inner tubes to use as rubber bands for pulling brake levers in out of harms way. Tape up the plastic with brown plastic parcel tape. At arrival discard all wrapping and cycle free of rubbish. One day before return, seek out building sites/skips or anywhere to find discarded plastic sheet. If necessary, give it a wash off in your hotel shower( I did this recently in Barcelona) No expense, no extra luggage, no prob
Great post! We’ll definatly try the bags on our next flight: Spain – Japan! We tried the boxes once, and it was indeed a pain in the ass! I’m really looking forward for the bags 🙂 Thanks for sharing this info!
The thing that really angers me and really puts me off going on holidays with my bike is the absolute rip off fees just for taking a “bike”.. I normally always strip the bike down to its basic parts such as frame and loose fork, wheels and chain set then cable tie the handlebars to the top tube. This means I can sometimes get the bike into the standard allowed check in size for the airline and as its a Carbon frame I am normally well under the weight limit but they still insist on the fee due to it being a “bike”???.
Ryan air is really bad for this as they charge something like £120 round trip for a bike which totally offsets the idea of a cheap flight that sometimes cost half what the bike check in fee is?., Easy jet is no better.. I am at the point where if I can not take my bike for free or a small nominal fee (I only ever check the bike in as I travel with a courier bag in the cabin) then I simply will not use the carrier. I know a few international carriers outside of Europe will take bikes for free as long as they come in under 35kg and packed in a cardboard box, Philippines airlines is one and to think of it Asia in general is quite good at taking bikes esp if its the only checked in luggage you are taking. Just a shame that the European carriers do not give any grace to us fit minded folks that want to explore a country or city by bike.
£120 will pay for a cheap B&B or food and drink whilst at my destination there is no way I am paying that just for the privilege of having my bike with me.
Thank you for all the info shared here, I always wanted to travel with my bike, but when I saw how much they charged… well I choose other options: rent one, borrowed, or buying… lol and Ive just bought a foldable one!! wohoo… I will trust and use this technique, will keep you posted on how it goes.. will fly to Mex D.F -or most known as Mex City- (by interjet) use it on the rush of this beautyfull crowded City wich I love… and then to Puerto Escondido!.. so excited!!
I have taken a full sized touring bike in the CTC plastic bike bag on a domestic US flight as well as a flight from US to New Zealand. Both times it was no problem. I bubble wrapped anything that was sharp, or I wanted extra protection. I had disc brakes on the front. I put two pieces of cardboard on each side of the front rack to protect the disc rotor. I took a small cardboard box and taped it around the rear dérailleur.
On a tour in Europe on my folding bike, I had a flight in the middle of the tour (I had flown to Europe with the bike in the suitcase, but didn’t take the suitcase on the tour). I put the bike, folded, into a bag. I couldn’t find bubble wrap, so I used newborn size disposable diapers (easy to find anywhere, and much cheaper than bubble wrap) to protect the bike. They even come with their own adhesive! The diapers did a great job! From now on, I will always use diapers instead of bubble wrap!
Four of us have just returned to Manchester from Geneva.(On Thurs 10/09/2015) with EasyJet. Swiss Airport handlers now only accept a cardboard box which they sell you for 20euros each !!!!!! Don’t fly out of Swiss airports. Expensive
Hi, heading up from Singapore to Seoul, Korea for our ride along the 4 Rivers route. Bought the CTC bag and will be trying it out.
Question: bike has a dual kickstand. Should I use it to keep the bike standing in the bag or fold it away to avoid damage? Thanks v much!
Hi Stephy, out of curiosity did you fly Singapore Airlines or a different carrier? I plan to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo on Singapore and would love to use the CTC bag instead of boxing up.
I have travelled Singapore Airlines with my bike several times NZ to France. I turn front wheel 180 deg and handlebars 90 deg. Put pedals on facing inwards. Plastic tube cut to fit around derailleur to protect it, then all in a mattress bag. Even leave the seat in position! No problems, bike can be made operational in about 10 minutes after receiving it. No need to carry bike box and panniers anywhere! I strongly recommend Singapore Airlines.
More likely to treat it carefully? Here’s what happened to my bike. Dropped and kick!
Lots of great and helpful posts. We have completed several independent bike tours in Europe and though our bikes take much longer to dissemble and reassemble,they are packed into their own suitcase,which is then our checked baggage ,saves a lot of headaches. They are super light road touring Moots bikes with SNS couplings on the frames.
Ann describes one of the difficult and expensive methods. And you still have to think what to do with your suitcase while touring. Nice bikes by the sound of it.
In England they have CTC bike bags available from CTC I think. Clear plastic but printed with CTC logo? If in doubt ask the airline and take a printed copy of the reply to the airport. I’d say be prepared for more trouble flying from North America. There seems to be a culture there of harrassing cyclists. From France I think It’d be easy! Good luck
I’ve flown from Oz to France twice (different airlines) using a cardboard bike box. Bikes have arrived in good shape. 30 minutes to put it back together again and catch the train to Paris. Always arrive on on a weekend so no problems getting around metro with bike. At Rome we got our bikes wrapped in packaging plastic by the blokes operating the machine that wraps suitcases etc in film. We hadn’t found a place to get a box. It cost 25 euros from memory. and sailed through the checkin to oversize luggage. I find i can fill a pannier bag and put that in the box too and keep below the 30kg limit. Take the other pannier as my carry on luggage.
Hi, thanks for your post!
I’m planning on a bike trip from Belgium to …who knows 😉 The main idea is to end in Belgrade.
From there I was thinking to fly back home but had some practical problems since I never flew with my bike. Helpful post, thanks!
Just for contrast: In 1979, I flew British Air Detroit to London and spent 3 months bike touring. It was cardboard-boxed on the way over. While on the road, I constructed a balsa sailplane kit: roughly 1-meter wingspan and length. Yes, I carried it on my rack between hostels! Returning to Heathrow a couple of hours before my flight home, I wheeled the bike, panniers, plane, and all, up to the counter, said “Here it is!”, and that was that. I have no idea how they handled everything, but on the other end I received everything back with absolutely no damage! And you can imagine the fragility of a balsa plane.
Would I even consider doing this today? No way!