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Bikes on planes

Andy Hawes's picture
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Taking your bicycle on a plane is something more and more of us have started to do. Here we provide a few useful steps to follow:
  • Read and print out a copy of your chosen airline's policy on the carriage of cycles (this is normally under 'sporting equipment' on the airline's website).
  • Note their packaging requirements - all airlines now insist on bicycles being packaged for transit. Bags specifically for bikes are available from various retailers. They vary in design, from fabric zip-ups to hard case plastic boxes, and also heavy duty polythene bags (many people prefer these because baggage handlers are more likely to respect a bike if they can see what it is).
  • All airlines will require you to detach the pedals and to turn the handlebars inwards so that they are in line with the frame. Some airlines will also advise you to deflate the tyres either fully or partially.
  • Whichever bag you choose, we recommend that you protect all of the bike's tubing with sponge padding - i.e. the type used to insulate pipes, available in most DIY stores. We also advise you to detach the rear gear mechanism where applicable and tape this to the frame of the cycle, or as a minimum put the bike into its lowest gear, so that it is flush against the wheel and therefore less vulnerable.
  • Packaging your cycle takes time, so allow an extra hour on top of your airline's check-in time to package your cycle.
  • Once you have collected your bicycle, be sure to re-assemble it before heading through customs' control. If the cycle is damaged in any way, report this to airport staff immediately and complete a claim/incident form before heading for customs.
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