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.

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