Author Topic: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage  (Read 21770 times)

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Offline staehpj1

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2014, 06:27:36 am »
Just curious! How much did your bike and box weigh. My surly is pushing 50# and will be getting ready to head to San Diego to start Southern Tier in September. Looking for options to get it and my gear to there from Iowa.
Be careful, going over 50 lbs may be a show stopper.  Is that with just the bike in the box?  It must be a very heavy bike and/or box.  Worst case put the saddle, pedals, and whatever in another box.  Taking some gear as a carry on might help as well.

I have managed to get my bike and all gear in just a bike bag and still (barely) come in at under 50 lbs.  With just a few pounds in a small carry on (actually small enough to be a "personal item") it was easily under 50 lbs.  Coincidentally that was for my Southern Tier tour.  Granted that was a lighter bike and ultralight gear, but with two checked bags it should be pretty easy for even a heavy bike and pretty heavy gear.

If you can't manage with two checked bags, I'd think long and hard about your packing choices.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2014, 09:32:49 am »
Just curious! How much did your bike and box weigh. My surly is pushing 50# and will be getting ready to head to San Diego to start Southern Tier in September. Looking for options to get it and my gear to there from Iowa.

I recently used bikeflights.com to ship my bike from Philly to Missoula and back. 22 lbs. Crateworks plastic box (46"x11"x30"), 60cm LHT, two racks, MSR Dragonfly stove (I would not risk flying with an expensive stove), empty fuel bottle and packing materials. I wildly overestimated the weight of the entire package at 90 lbs. With the $5 pickup charge from my LBS, I paid $73 for shipping via FedEx through Bikeflights. (My airline, United, wanted $175.) Could have gotten it down lower had I had a scale to get an accurate weight and taken the package to a FedEx store myself. Shipment out took 4 days. There was a delay on the return due to some storms.

I just ran numbers for my bike box with a total weight of 70 lbs from Cedar Rapids to the REI store in San Diego. Got a price of $55 without local pick up. $60 with pickup. Transit time is 3 days.

Check out their website. You can play around with the weight and size to see how it affects price. If you decide to use them, they email you a prepaid label 10 days from your ship date. The label comes in about 10-15 min. if your ship date is less than 10 days from the date of purchase. Good customer service, too. I had a couple of questions before I purchased. They responded promptly to my emails.

As for the rest of my gear, I put everything except two panniers in a duffel bag. $25 to check that. I carried on the other two panniers. One counted as the one free piece of carry on. The other was small enough to count as my "personal item." I was doing a loop, so REI held my bag. Since you are going one way, look for a cheap bag at somewhere like a thrift/Goodwill store and toss it. Or you can mail it back home when you get to the start location.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2014, 09:39:12 am »
Just curious! How much did your bike and box weigh. My surly is pushing 50# and will be getting ready to head to San Diego to start Southern Tier in September. Looking for options to get it and my gear to there from Iowa.

Try putting some things in another bag (second checked bag or carry-on).  Last time I took my coupled bike on a trip, I was just lazy and put the saddle and seat bag in my suitcase instead of packing them into the bike case.  Though I've never pushed 50#, that took the bike case's weight down by about 3-4 pounds (I don't think anybody ever calibrates airport scales, so the same thing will vary by a pound or two from one airport to another).  You might toss some clothing into the bike box to pad the bike and make space in your other bag(s) -- clothes are usually pretty light.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2014, 09:59:05 am »
Be careful, going over 50 lbs may be a show stopper.

It depends on the airline, and the airlines keep changing their policies. The two most bicycle-friendly airlines (Frontier and Southwest) both have different policies on bicycles than they did a year ago. Frontier now charges more than they did ($75) but they also allow the bike box to weight up to 99 pounds without an overweight surcharge.

But even with a 99-pound limit, it might still be advisable to pack your gear separately. That's because the TSA will almost certainly open your bike box to inspect it (since it doesn't fit in the scanner). When I pack only the bike and nothing else in the box, the TSA can inspect it without pulling the bike out of the box. They just open the top and look in. But if your bike box is packed with all your gear, the TSA may need to pull everything out to inspect it. The chances that they will repack everything as carefully as you packed it are small, so it's best not to make them have to do this.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2014, 10:15:23 am »
But even with a 99-pound limit, it might still be advisable to pack your gear separately. That's because the TSA will almost certainly open your bike box to inspect it (since it doesn't fit in the scanner). When I pack only the bike and nothing else in the box, the TSA can inspect it without pulling the bike out of the box. They just open the top and look in.

Good point.  At my local airport (BWI) they seem to open the bike box every time.  When I have flown home from other cities they more often have not.  The TSA has been pretty brutal in their handling of my stuff.   They opened the little tool bag under my saddle, dumped the loose contents in the bottom of the box and ripped the stiff plastic lining out of the bag.  On the same trip they broke off one of the cable adjusters in the braze on.

Funny thing is that the only times in recent memory that they didn't open the bike at BWI were the times that I had all of my gear packed with the bike.  Both times it was in a soft case rather than a box.  Not sure why they didn't open it these times.  Maybe my soft case fits in the xray machine?  If so there may be an advantage to taking off both wheels and packing in a smaller box, bag, or case.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #20 on: July 10, 2014, 02:20:41 pm »
Funny thing is that the only times in recent memory that they didn't open the bike at BWI were the times that I had all of my gear packed with the bike.  Both times it was in a soft case rather than a box.  Not sure why they didn't open it these times.  Maybe my soft case fits in the xray machine?  If so there may be an advantage to taking off both wheels and packing in a smaller box, bag, or case.[/quote]

That's a distinct possibility. When we flew to Venice last year, the TSA opened our boxes (found cards inside saying they had been inspected.) I believe that's because PHL does not have any large scanners. For the return flight home, our bikes went through a large scanner at the Venice airport as we stood and watched. The agent literally gave us a thumbs up and we proceeded on.

Flying back from Portland a few years ago we watched in horror as a grumpy looking TSA agent (It was early a.m.) was trying to close up a bike box by repeatedly forcing the top down. Our bikes were next. Not wanting to see what might happen to our rides, we quickly left the area. Fortunately, there was no damage.

Offline sanuk

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2014, 10:57:18 am »
I've flown in and out of Seattle with my bike, plus panniers, etc in a rather battered cardboard box from a a bike shop. I used the same box over a period of about five years. Cut down to size requirements and taped up all over it made no fewer that four long-haul flights from Europe, where I bought the bike, to SE Asia and from there to Seattle and then back to Asia and finally to Germany where the box was still just about holding together.
Much depends on who you fly with.  Emirates out of Frankfurt to Bangkok didn't care even though I was well over my weight allowance and in my ignorance I hadn't even take off the front wheel and cut the box down to size.  EVA from SE Asia to Seattle and back were also OK so long as you met their size dimensions which were approximately what a 26 inch wheel touring bike could manage with the front wheel strapped to one side of the frame, handlebars off and taped on and saddle also. I put the peddals in my carry-on and got a bit of a hassle, but they let me through. What space in the box was left was stuffed with bubblewrap and panniers.  Whatever you do don't take the derailer off as it's a bitch getting it back on.  Just pad it.  Always check with the airline first.
This summer we're set to fly from Germany to Finland with SAS.  They say no need for a box.  Just pay a small bike fee, take off the peddals, turn the handlebars to the side and wheel it in.  We'll see.  I once met a middle-aged German woman cycling in Thailand.  She said all she did was roll up at the airline check in desk and hand over her bike as is.  Seemed to work for her.

Offline Guppy

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2014, 04:54:15 am »
I've flown with my bike in the airline bike boxes several times with no problem. Remove the front wheel and handlebars and reverse the pedals.  I normally throw one pannier and gear in with the bike and take the other on as hand luggage.  Depending on how busy/big the airport is, you can often get them to hang onto the box for your return. This has always been a "no guarantees" thing for us, but we have been lucky so far.  My guess is that there is no way we'll be able to do that at LAX however.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2014, 12:01:19 pm »
Quote from: Sanuk
Whatever you do don't take the derailer off as it's a bitch getting it back on.
+1 I spent a whole day in the YMCA in Bergen trying to get mine back on without changing the adjustment. In the end I loosened the shifter cable to give me enough slack to mount the beast, then I had to redo the adjustment. Which is a major pain without a bike stand or a mate to hold up the back wheel.

Offline BrianW

Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2014, 09:02:02 am »
^^It's much more of a major pain to have a bent derailleur hanger and destroyed rear derailleur. I always remove mine when traveling and have never had any issues reinstalling. It usually just requires a 5mm Allen wrench to reinstall. If the cable tension is too tight, make sure your shifter is all the way in the bottom cog. Depending on your bike, you can also temporarily remove the cable housing section from the right chainstay to the derailleur (if you have split housing) to get more room to reinstall. Or, if you have cable adjusters somewhere inline, set up your derailleur so that when it's properly adjusted you still have room on the cable adjuster to loosen the cable. Or, finally, if you know you are going to undo the RD cable, put a drop of colored nail polish on the cable where it is attached to the RD to make re-setup easier. (Put it before the RD cable bolt, not after, so it doesn't flake off when you pull out the cable and reinstall.)

Not meaning offense, but if it takes an entire day to install/adjust a RD, then a course at your LBS might be in order to brush up in this necessary skill for touring. They are very vulnerable and valuable pieces of machinery on the bike and knowing them well is an important skill to have when touring. Adjusting a RD is easier to do on the road if you turn the bike upside down so you can roll through the gears.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:04:59 am by briwasson »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2014, 09:32:35 am »
I agree with briwasson.

I have to say that I am baffled by the problems a few folks reported about removing and reinstalling a RD.  I have removed mine for packing a number of times and it never took more than a few minutes to reinstall.  I never even had to touch the adjustment.  Shift the shifter to the loosest position and there is usually enough slack, but if there isn't as you mentioned just pop the end of the cable housing out of the braze-on on the chain stay.  That will allow all of the slack you need.  Then pop it back in once the derailleur in on.

I do think that it is smart to have done the operation before and be familiar with it before relying on doing it on tour.

Oh, and if adjusting a rear deraileur takes more than a couple minutes you should probably bone up on that as well.  The limit screws should not need to be touched once the bike has been set up properly for the first time.  So the only adjustment needed is cable length.  On most of my bikes that is most easily set by shifting the shifter to where the cable is loosest and with the chain on the correct cog adjust the cable so there is just a tiny bit of slack.  Worst case it might still need a 1/4 or 1/2 turn on the cable adjuster if it isn't already perfect.  If you have adjusters on the head tube you can even tweak that while riding.

Offline DaveB

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2014, 10:16:21 am »
  Whatever you do don't take the derailer off as it's a bitch getting it back on. 
I used to have an S&S coupled Co-Motion single bike and I had to unthread  the rear derailleur to make it fit in the travel case.  I used a Wipperman chain with a master link and removed and bagged it separately but just unthreaded the derailleur and padded it without detaching the cable.   

Reattaching the rd required only a 5 mm Allen key and rethreading and connecting the chain.  It only took a couple of minutes and the indexing still worked perfectly with no further adjustment.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2014, 02:45:18 pm »
I am pretty sure I have fewer bike mechanic skills than most people here and even I was able to reinstall my (and my GF's) RDs when we went to Italy last year. Mine required only the most minor of shifting adjustments after reinstallation.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2014, 05:37:03 pm »
I also do not understand the concern with removing the rear derailleur. I've always thought that this is a job you couldn't possibly screw up, since it only goes on one way. I also can't imagine why you would need to adjust anything after putting it back on, because you didn't change any adjustments when you took it off. Maybe those of you that have had trouble with this have a different derailleur than I do.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Cardboard Box for Bike as Checked Baggage
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2014, 09:36:03 pm »
It's all fading into the mists of time now but as I remember it the problem I had was in refitting the cable outer on the chainstay; there wasn't enough slack for it to go back on. How that came about beats me because it came off OK. In the end I had to bite the bullet and loosen the cable. The tip someone had for marking the cable's location at the cable clamp was what I eventually did using a black marker and it worked, pretty much. Ah well I might not be fast but I'm slow.