Author Topic: airline initial journey with 4 racks and panniers - how is this done?  (Read 4707 times)

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Offline damselfli

Consider this a "newbie" question.

I have a bicycle that will fit in an airline size suitcase, and I know I can cram my shoes and a certain amount of clothing around it.  But I am baffled now about how people carry their racks, fenders, and 4 panniers (presumably filled with tent, bag, and remainder of clothing and tools) to get to the destination of choice (for a long self-supported tour).

Please offer some advice on this.

Also spent considerable amount of time searching for insurance (mostly for the bike)... no longer a homeowner, so how is this possible?

Thanks!

You might have to check two bags if you're going with an airline size suitcase.  When I pack up my Surly LHT with front and rear racks, panniers in fenders, I'm relegated to a full size bike box, and even then it gets a bit cramped.  You will also want to make sure you pay attention to the weight of the suitcase.  You'll get hit hard with extra fees if it's over 50 pounds.  When possible, use clothing to pad the bike, and take as much as you can with carry-on luggage.

I'm sure you've checked already, but take a look at the allowed baggage dimensions for different airlines, as well as charges for bike boxes.  Right now it seems as though smaller airlines, such as Allegiant Air, Mesa, and Alaska Airlines, are still around $50 each way for bike boxes.  The major airlines (Continental, Delta, United, etc) can charge up to $150 each way.  

If you decide to take the bike box option, here's a link that might help that process go smoothly: http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/boxingbike.cfm

As far as insurance goes, I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you, but you can take precautions by putting 'fragile' tape on the bags before checking.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2009, 01:58:14 pm by Successor to the Professor »

Offline damselfli

I'm sure you've checked already, but take a look at the allowed baggage dimensions...

Thanks for reply. My bike has couplers, so the boxs is within the standard 62 inch limit (I did check my airline). The weight limit is one I will have to watch; and why I figure clothing goes in the bike box and heavy stuff in the other smaller bags.
But -- are you saying that you have a bike that comes apart and you end up boxing in a full size single bike box, in order to get it all into one check-on piece of luggage?

Does anyone use a duffel bag and pack panniers and fenders into that as second checked bag? I will also look into shipping costs, but dread the idea...

Offline waynemyer

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When I traveled with my folding bicycle (BF New World Tourist), I would fit as much as I could into the suitcase with the bicycle and still remain below the airline 50 pound limit.  I would put everything else in another suitcase, also remaining below 50 pounds.  Yes, this means checking two bags, but it provided the least frustration in trying to get everything to fit. 

As far as insurance, that's a tricky one.  The TSA bent the forks on my bicycle the first time I flew with it.  Fortunately, an LBS at my destination was able to straighten them out perfectly and on the cheap.  I take copious pictures and carefully document the inventory of all my cases.  Beyond that one fork instance, I have not had any issues with flying.  Inside the case with my bicycle, I put a few full-page notes (one under everything, one on top of the bike, and one taped to the inside lid of the suitcase) warning that this was a folding bicycle and to call me on my cell phone if there is any issue fitting the bicycle back in the case.  I look at it as kind of an "ounce of prevention" issue.

I suppose if you are now a renter, you could use your renter's insurance.
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Offline damselfli

Thanks - I am thinking a box for 2nd checked item, then wouldn't have to lug it around (my flights to/from home are not from same airport). And then maybe that box can hold the racks, fenders and possibly pair of nested panniers with clothing/tent stuffed in as cushion, might just work out. Would carry on 2nd set of nested panniers. This is definitely a new experience. LOL

Offline tsteven4

We pack a bit in the boxes as shown in the pictures including the front panniers, and carry on the back panniers with the sleeping bags, tent, and other stuff inside.  We snap the back panniers together to pretend they are one object, but it is necessary to separate them to get them in the overhead bins.  We usually have a small box inside the bike box with stuff that you are not allowed to carry on (knife, clean stove, NO fuel).  In the photos you can see a wooden spreader we make to help prevent the front wheel from being crushed.  The plywood pieces on the end prevent it from punching through the box.  The front fender is tied on top of the front wheel.  The rear rack is upside down over the rear wheel.  There is a wooden spreader to prevent the rear rack from being crushed as well.  Also get a front fork spreader from a bike shop to prevent the front fork from being bent or poking through the bottom of the box.  We also remove the rear derailleur and tie it behind the rear rack to prevent the derailleur hanger from being bent.  You need to be careful when you reattach it not to strip the threads in the derailleur hanger.  It is best to remove the chain so the chain doesn't try to twist the derailleur as you are threading or unthreading the bolt into the derailleur hanger.  Chain removal/installation is easier these days with a master link, e.g. sram powerlink.  Also shown is a trick to open a master link on a dirty chain.








« Last Edit: June 25, 2009, 10:04:27 pm by tsteven4 »

Offline damselfli

Wow -- thanks for the photos, really shows how much room you have to work with in a standard box!  Tomorrow I am going to work on several packing sessions with different approaches in the square box I own (26"x26"x10") and see what I can come up with, but I think I can make this work. 

I will try to take some photos as I go, in case I discover anything that would be useful to someone else using the box size I have.


Offline Janie

I haven't been on the forum in awhile so am sure you have this problem solved.  Would love to hear what you did.  We have the same type of bikes and we put the racks/panniers etc. in a big duffle.  Haven't been over the 50# limit yet but it is always close.  One time we looped and came back to our cases, one time we sent them ahead to a hotel with the duffle inside.  It's a lot of logistics but lots of fun!  Thanks to the writer for the tip about putting cellphone number in the case.  One bike was inspected once but no harm done.

Offline briwasson

Re: airline initial journey with 4 racks and panniers - how is this done?
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2009, 12:35:51 am »
An old thread, but maybe someone will read it down the road. If you have an S&S bike (which it sounds like you do), I highly recommend the soft backpack style case. We have both the hard and soft cases, and have used both styles when flying with our touring tandem internationally. Hands-down the soft case is much easier to work with, and you can fit a LOT of extra stuff (clothing and other soft things) in the outside pockets, which then serve as very good padding. Even though we've flown with two soft cases each way (it's a tandem) on multiple trips, we've never had any issues. I think the extra padding provided by the clothing really helps cushion the interior contents. It's an additional cost, but you could also consider getting an extra S&S soft case (assuming you already have a hard case) and pack your extra stuff in that. It's easy to put the soft case inside the hard case for storage at the start of your tour, leaving you only one suitcase to store (nice if you are storing at an airport that charges you per day, per bag). Our hard case has been gathering dust for a while, as the soft cases are also lighter.

On a tour last year with my S&S single bike I was able to fit the bike, racks, tent, sleeping bag, and other items all in the S&S soft bag. I carried on my rear panniers (clipped together as others have suggested so they were officially "one piece") with my clothes and other stuff. Nowadays staying within the 50 pound weight limit is the real challenge, and it's even less on many intra-European flights.

Offline DaveB

Re: airline initial journey with 4 racks and panniers - how is this done?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2009, 09:10:52 am »
One option that wasn't mentioned.  UPS or Fed EX the bulky items such as the tent, sleeping bag, ground pad, cooking gear, extra clothing and even the paniers themselves.  Ship them a few days in advance to your destination if you have a friend, family member, bike shop, etc you can use as a delivery point.

Offline mikedirectory2

Re: airline initial journey with 4 racks and panniers - how is this done?
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2009, 07:13:09 pm »
One option that wasn't mentioned.  UPS or Fed EX the bulky items such as the tent, sleeping bag, ground pad, cooking gear, extra clothing and even the paniers themselves.  Ship them a few days in advance to your destination if you have a friend, family member, bike shop, etc you can use as a delivery point.

This is what I usually do.  My friend and I did that last year when we went camping.  It was much easier than carrying everything with us. 
May the skies be blue and the road be flat... Happy Riding.

Offline indyfabz

Re: airline initial journey with 4 racks and panniers - how is this done?
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2009, 02:11:56 pm »
I have a Crateworks box that can hold my rather large LHT, my racks and a few other things like my sleeping bag and tent.  I went to Spain that way, put two panniers in a checked duffle bag and carried on the other two panniers.

But a note about cooking gear.....After 9/11 I would never fly with a stove even sans fuel.  According to a TSA employee I spoke with at FCA/Glacier, a stove, if found, would be confiscated and you could be in trouble because a used stove has burn residue and possibly fuel residue on it.  I know.  It's crazy, especially since you may again carry matches into the cabin with you.  Just relating what I was told.

During my trip out west this summer I packed my MSR Dragon Fly and empty fuel bottle in a stiff sack and had my LBS pack it securely in my bike box which I shipped UPS to the LBS in Whitefish.  That worked fine, but the TSA did confiscate my small cup of pineapple when I checked in for the flight home.  It had a very small amount of liquid at the bottom of the cup--clearly less than 3 oz.  But the TSA employee couldn't grasp the concept that the cup held a net wt. of 8 o.z. and did not hold 8 fl. o.z.