Author Topic: Flying With Touring Gear  (Read 4833 times)

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Offline Tallahassee

Flying With Touring Gear
« on: May 26, 2015, 05:33:09 am »
Will be flying out to British Columbia from Florida. Have the bike covered for shipping; however, I am a bit worried about how to get everything else out there.  One thought is to get a big duffle bag and put my panniers, clothes, etc. and send it as checked luggage. However, I am afraid of thief by the baggage handlers. Heard stories :) Anyway, just wanted to see what others did for getting their stuff safety from Point A to point B via air travel. Thanks

Offline staehpj1

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2015, 07:42:47 am »
I always take the bike and gear as checked luggage on the way to a tour.   I have sometimes used a cheap duffel, but a used thrift store suitcase is my preferred choice when carrying enough to need it.  I generally find them for $6-7 at Goodwill and then discard them at the airport.  Be sure to ask where you can leave it and leave it open so it is obvious it is empty to avoid creating a bomb scare.

I have also used cardboard boxes, but the airlines usually specifically do not accept responsibility for damage to stuff in cardboard boxes.

Recently I have been packing much lighter and find that I can fit my bike and all my gear in a soft case and still keep it under 50 pounds, especially if I have a few pounds of my gear in a carry on.

Theft by the baggage handlers?  That seems like a VERY long shot to me.  A bit of used clothing and some used camping gear doesn't sound that tempting to a theif.  I personally wouldn't even consider that as a risk.  Loss can occur, but that is true of just about any method of shipping and the risk isn't that high IME.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2015, 08:09:42 am »
I always use a cardboard box. I've never had any trouble.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2015, 09:44:20 am »
You've heard stories of people stealing touring gear from duffel bags?  I have flown 9 round trips with touring gear in duffel bags and never had anything go missing. Most U.S. airlines allow one free carry on bag and a second "personal item," up to a certain size. One Ortlieb rear pannier is my free carry on and the smaller front pannier is my personal item. If you have things that might have some practical resale value (e.g., laptop, camera), carry them with you. I wouldn't worry about things like a tent, sleeping bag and bike shorts.

BTW...If you will be brining a stove you might consider shipping it in the bike box because of residue. My stove and empty fuel bottle fit easily inside my bike box.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2015, 10:49:37 am »
BTW...If you will be brining a stove you might consider shipping it in the bike box because of residue. My stove and empty fuel bottle fit easily inside my bike box.

Another option is a home made pop can stove.  I have never had one get taken even when I took it in my carry on by mistake and they swabbed everything in my bag, but you could take a brand new one since they are essentially free.  Also in a pinch you could make one on site.  I have found that alcohol is easier to find when on tour than gas cartridges too.  I typically use yellow Heet.

Offline Tallahassee

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2015, 12:30:29 pm »
Thanks all.  Sounds like no one has had gear disappear (my main concern).  So I will go with Plan A; gear in the duffel (or a Goodwill suitcase).

Offline pmac

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2015, 03:20:58 pm »
If you are shipping your bike, you can generally get a bunch of stuff in with your bike in the shipping container.  Generally, weight is not as big an issue when shipping the bike.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2015, 05:03:39 pm »
Since somehow flying with a stove crept its way into this thread, I'll add my thoughts. As Pete says, alcohol is typically easier to find in remote places than gas canisters. Alcohol has one other advantage for flying. Within about an hour, alcohol residue evaporates completely from your stove and you cannot tell it was ever there. That should make flying with an alcohol stove less problematic. The TSA does not allow fluids with greater than 70% alcohol in packed luggage, and most alcohol stove fuel is going to be greater than 70%. So take the stove, but buy the fuel when you get there.

One other note about packing other stuff in your bike box. The TSA is virtually certain to open and inspect your bike box, but less likely to open and inspect your gear box. So if you have something that you are worried they might object to, packing it in your bike box is risky. Also, I like to keep my bike box clear so that they can inspect it without removing the bike from the box. If they take the bike out of the box, the odds are not good that they'll get it repacked as carefully as you packed it.

If you plan to ship your bike rather than fly with it, then everything I said about the TSA does not apply.

Offline AlbertoC

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2015, 12:30:17 am »
We´ve never had anything broken/stolen in quite a few years of travelling with bikes, and we always pack lots of stuff in the bike boxes. In the US it is true that TSA tend to inspect the boxes, but always they do a good job at re-sealing them. Make sure fuel bottles aren´t at all smelly. Never heard of any thefts from airport staff either.

Offline PeteJack

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2015, 08:30:31 am »
Never heard of airport theft either. Was once late for a plane in Leeds UK and couldn't get my bike checked "that's OK we'll ship it on a later plane" they said. "Bye bye bike" thought I. Two days after getting home they delivered it to my house. I find Goodwill charges $10-15 for a suitcase these days. TSA did once lose my pedals on a flight to LHR. Easy if not cheap to replace. Not expensive enough to go to the hassle of making a claim mind.

Offline jamawani

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2015, 09:30:05 am »
Generally speaking, I do not go as fast with my bike loaded with panniers as I do without -
But there have been times when I was almost "flying" even with all my touring gear.
Nevada comes to mind with all the mountain passes and airport runway, straight-shots down.
Just let 'em rip.

Offline rickpaulos

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2015, 11:42:39 pm »
Baggage theft at airports is far too common in the USA.  As a result of all those thefts, airlines have very restrictive policies on values on claims for "lost luggage".  The thieves are airport workers, airline workers and people just walking in off the street and taking bags from the carousels.  Airport baggage handlers have been arrested removing items from bags or swapping tags to reroute baggage.  The USA average theft reports is about 200 items per airport per year.  Considering how many people fly each day, it is a very small number of items stolen.  It could be far higher but the logistics of hauling away a semi load of bags every day would overwhelm most thieves.

One of my former bosses racing bikes was "lost" by the airlines.

Do a web search on baggage theft to find countless news reports on the topic. Some defy all belief.



 

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Flying With Touring Gear
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2015, 12:24:24 pm »
I have shipped a bike and gear from Detroit to Portland (Oregon) several times.  I just put my panniers in two trash suitcases and that worked fine.  My wife and flew Southwest, and I only had to pay to ship the bike ($75).  I had no issues other than the bike case and extra suitcases was overwhelming to move about.

My last trip, I shipped everything FedEx ground for about $160 to a local bike store (arrangements previously made).  I had no issues, and it was worth the extra money to not have to deal with the bike and gear at the airport.  TSA thoroughness varies from airport to airport.  The staff at PDX opens (and sometime closes) everything, and they will seize "inappropriate items" like pepper spray (and leave you a note saying that they did).  I am going the FedEx ground route wherever possible.
Danno