Monday, 16 August 2010

How to fly with a bike

Black Beauty - my bicycle
Flying with a bike is always a big hassle, but it is becoming more and more difficult!
I encountered the first serious problem last year in Korea when I was flying back to Germany. In order to save weight, I had put heavy bike parts like my bike lock and the saddle into my hand luggage. I had done that before on other flights and never had a problem. But for whatever reason the Koreans did not like it. Security sent me back to check in the bike saddle and the air pump. Maybe they assumed I could hit the pilot with the saddle?

Yesterday I flew from Darwin to Adelaide at the very friendly time of 2.40 am in the morning. I cycled to the airport and wanted to buy a bike box which is offered by various airlines - unfortunately not by Jetstar, the airline I was using. I tried Qantas first only to find out that they sell bike boxes only to Qantas customers. Jetstar and Qantas are codesharing their flights, but that did not impress them.

I then tried to convince Qantas passengers to buy a bike box for me (of course I would give them the money), but they reacted as if I had asked them to smuggle drugs for me! I started to get a bit nervous, because it is difficult to get a bike box at midnight anywhere else and airlines will not accept a bike as baggage without a box.

Would you trust this person?
Because nobody wanted to buy a box for me I tried another airline myself. I was lucky at the Virginblue counter. The attendant asked me whether I flew Virginblue but still sold me the box when I had denied. I left happily with my box and thought all was good. Big mistake! After two minutes she came running after me and told me that she had made a mistake and could only sell bike boxes to their own customers! It took me a lot of persuasion (I had already folded up the box) and talking to her manager so that they would let me keep the box.

I put everything that even looked remotely dangerous into the bike box and that I would have no problems now with hand luggage. I was wrong againg. Security confiscated and destroyed a roll of packaging tape! Even in my wildest dreams I cannot imagine how I could use a roll of packaging tape as a weapon on a flight and it is still a mystery to me why I was not allowed to bring it onto the plane.
But just for the record: After all that hassle everything went well and me and my bike made it to Adelaide.

1 comment:

Doc Simon said...

Gosh ... I recall major hassles with Turkish Airlines flying from Hong Kong a couple years ago - the only time that my bike had been damaged because they forced me utting it into a makeshift box - since then I always box the bike unless I know I wouldn't have to.

On the other hand you can find plenty airlines that will accept your bike as it is, or just wrapped in foil to protect other people's luggage, such holiday carriers or flying domestic within China (not sure if this is still the case).

But I agree, bike travel is becoming increasingly difficult, also as local busses with roof racks aren't be found anymore in rural areas, which means you had to pray for sufficient space in their lower luggage compartments.

It seriously puts me off these days and I was thinking of buying a local bike instead and leaving it behind if over going through the hassle and bringing my own I ever did a bike trip abroad anytime soon.