If you love cycling and prefer to have your own bicycle with you even when you travel, flying with a bike is an option. However, just like flying with kids, having the extra luggage of a bike requires preparation. It is not as costly as you think neither is it as hectic if you follow a few guidelines to get you through the airport without any hassles. Below are tips you can utilize when flying with a bike to have peace of mind before, during, and after your flight.
Of course, no matter how loaded with cash you are, you would not mind saving a dollar by finding the best deal. So as you book your ticket, be sure that the airline you chose has a reasonable price for your bike. While some charge a set fee for taking the extra bike luggage, others do not charge a dime. For instance, according to Two-Wheeled Wanderer, Alaska Airlines consider bike bags as regular luggage thus does not charge extra for them regardless of how big the bags are. On the other hand, American Airlines will check how heavy your bike bag is, and if it exceeds 50 pounds, you will fork out an extra $150.
Making a Reservation
Do not book your seat and show up on the day of your flight with your bike. You might miss your flight wondering where to take your bike because some airlines require you to make a reservation; some need 48 hours’ notice. Registering your bike ensures that the crew knows how many bikes will be on the flight to prevent exceeding the weight limit. Therefore, if you fail to make your reservation and find that the maximum weight has been reached at the check-in point, you might be forced to change your flight, and change fees will be applicable.
Pack as Per the Guideline of the Flight
According to Flight Centre, sports equipment bags should not be used to carry personal items. They are supposed to carry the equipment they were designed for; therefore, only use rigid or hard shell containers designed for shipping when packing your bike. The custom boxes are expensive, with a price tag of $300, but you can get a cardboard box from your local bike shop. It guarantees extra space to store extra gear such as helmets and the tool kit. However, before throwing in all your extra gear, remember to check the weight limit lest you are charged additional fees when you exceed the maximum allowed. Although some airlines offer specific guidelines for packing your bike when flying, others do not. Therefore, the general rule is deflating the tires, removing the pedals, and turning around the handlebars. Since most people complain of finding their rear derailleurs in poor working condition or bent, removing them and separately packing them is advisable. Remember to carry your tool kit; you do not want to be stuck with a bike with deflated tires when you need it most.
Arranging for Transport To and From the Airport
If you do not plan to cycle from the airport, you have to arrange for transport before you leave to get a vehicle large enough to accommodate your luggage, including the bike case. You could have a cab pick it up from the airport but ensure it has enough space, so maybe a van taxi will do. You can, however, avoid all the hassle by using a service like Luggage Forward, which helps you ship your bike from one destination to another. They offer a door-to-door service all-inclusive cost, and you get to calculate the charges to expect from an instant calculator. They will come to your doorstep, take your bike and haul it to wherever you please then, you can fly with the peace of mind that you will find your bike when you arrive wherever you will be staying.
Always Be Prepared
This is the scouts’ motto, but you don’t have to be a scout to be ready for anything. For instance, when traveling, some security officials could be tempted to peek through the box instead of passing it through the x-ray. This means that you need to carry duct tape to close the box; cutting can be done with improvised tools like using your car key. Once you arrive, you need to check your bike for any damages it might have suffered during the flight, and if there is any significant one, you should alert the airline. According to Veloinsurance, it was once hectic filing a claim with the airline, and it was the only option to be compensated for any damages. However, as per the insurance provider, you can now buy insurance policies covering your bike from damage for 12 months. Such policies even compensate you if your bike is lost.
Lost or Delayed Luggage
If you are informed that your bike has been delayed, you can leave the contacts of where you will be staying at the airline’s front desk so they can reach you when the luggage arrives. Delayed luggage does not cause as much panic as lost luggage. In some cases, you might be told your bike has been delayed but later, the story changes. In such instances, travel insurance steps in to save the day. According to ASG The Store, when an airline loses luggage, it should reimburse you but up to a certain amount which might not be enough to cover the cost of your bike. Therefore, the article advocates for travel insurance but recommends reading the fine print because even the luggage is covered up to a carrying limit. To be on the safe side, you should report whenever you do not find your luggage as soon as possible. Most airline policies require missing items to be reported within 24 hours upon landing.