Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

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Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby hoogerbooger » Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:54 am

IF you are flying with Norwegian BEWARE. Despite what their website says, you need to bag or box for your bike as Gatwick (& heathrow apparently) will now not handle any unpacked bikes. Seem not to need packaging for flights within Norway - BUT double check.

It seems the Gatwick rule is very new. We met two others who were confronted with the same shock horror response that they had to be packed. Like them, we were sent to the left luggage desk who may sometimes have discarded bike boxes - they didn't - not that we had time to pack them in boxes . I am very glad the last thing I did packing was think I''ll throw in some CTC poly bike bags. So after a frantic 10 mile cycle & totally a unprotected pack we and the poly bags did get a holiday + some damage on the return flight.

I wonder if CTC could lobby Gatwick & Heathrow to have a supply of CTC bike bags available for such unexpected emergencies. I'll right to Norwegian about getting their website amended.

Lofoten/Vesterallen was luvly
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby iviehoff » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:04 am

I have in the past been able to buy large plastic bags, not specifically intended for bicycles, but adequate, from luggage forwarding companies on-site at Gatwick, when "must be in a bag" rules have been sprung on me. But really it is best not to rely on being able to do this.

This isn't particularly new. I flew with Norwegian several years ago, when they operated out of Stansted, and found that bicycle check-in requirements were driven by the airport rather than the airline. Within Norway, things seemed much more relaxed, and flying with the bike was no big deal.

I hope Norwegian have sorted out their bike fee administration. I ended up paying twice on on one of the flights segments I did with them owing to their chaotic booking procedures, at least in those days.
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby TonyR » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:18 am

A search of the Gatwick Airport site with the term bicycle has no hits. The Heathrow site come up with a section on cycles and cycling to the airport which says the following:

"Cycles on flights

Most airlines will carry bicycles on flights. Please check with your airline about packing requirements and weight restrictions."

The Norwegian site itself says:

"*For flights departing from London-Gatwick (LGW) it is a requirement that all bicycles are packed in a hard case/box, a bag is not acceptable. Bicycles that are not packaged in a hard case will be rejected. Norwegian does not have hard cases/boxes available for purchase at the airport."

Other than Gatwick though it just says bars turned, pedals off, tyres deflated but nothing about bags/boxes.

A quick check also shows that BA and Virgin both now require bike bags or boxes which they never used to do. Not sure what you do about tandems now as there are no bags/cases big enough for a tandem unless it has S&S couplings to split it in two.

It looks like it would be worth CTC lobbying for acceptable bags/boxes at all airports given these policies. Its no problem bringing one with you if you drive to the airport but if you cycle there you're stuffed. Maybe the Excess Baggage Company that seems to have left luggage operations at most airports could be persuaded to sell them.
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby MartinBrice » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:27 am

I went with Norwegian about four years ago and used the plastic bag a mattress had come in, turn handlebars, take off pedals. All went fine, although Norwegian did have a chaotic bike booking system that involved lots of queues. The "hard box" rule is a complete pain. I am thinking of the Harwich ferry overnight to The Hook, and then another ferry to Kristiansand. And one tip is to take a roll of clingfilm and wrap the bike in that. Finally, the extra cost of taking a bike on a plane are so high now that using the train and taking the bike in a dismantled state is looking the better option.
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby hoogerbooger » Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:18 am

just repeated Tony R's search with similar results. Norwegian have as far as I can work out updated their web site since I booked ( last Septeber/Oct )and possibly since I flew out on 23 June - as I checked on 22nd ( but I notice when I first googled Norwegian and Bicycles you get to a different page without the Gatwick advice ( ... t-or-bike/) So could be I just got that page and may not have searched thoroughly enough.

However there is a mis-match between what Norwegian are currently saving with the information ( or lack off) on the Gatwick Airport site.

Heathrow airport site also seems to say nothing about a requirement from the airport to box or bag bikes.

Seems like Norwegian may have done more or less enough for new customer, but have failed to make a pro-active effort to inform those who had already booked bikes on planes of the changes.

Booking bikes with Norwegian is disconcerting as you have to phone and get no written confirmation. Would be helpful if they could sort their online booking so bikes and payments could be done at booking - or subsequently online - with email conirmation.

However main issues for cyclists may be:

1)the apparent ? move towards requirement for a box
2) clarity about whether it's the airline that sets the rules or whether one must always check airline and airport rules.

It's getting more and more difficult to do flight based trips, particularly moving on with different airlines/airports.

At least with the CTC style poly bike bags it's bearable to role them up and cycle on with them - and much quicker to cycle to the airport and bag up the bikes.

I'll send this thread to CTC requesting investigation of Heathrow and Gatwick Policy & asking whether they would have another push on the airports & airlines accepting CTC style bags and airports keeping bags and boxes/packaging materials in stock.
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Gatwick Airport Policy on unpacked bikes

Postby hufty » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:49 pm

Original question was sent to, on 8 Aug 2011, all replies 9 Aug 2011. If you get bored, just read the last paragraph.

Where can I find written details of the restrictions on hold luggage you at Gatwick impose above and beyond those declared by individual airlines with respect to larger items of sports equipment?

Dear [Hufty]
Sports equipment can be carried in hand baggage provided it fits within the bag size restrictions and complies with the rules on sharp objects. Fishing rods are not allowed in the cabin – and scuba diving tanks cannot be carried anywhere on the aircraft. You can find this information on our website at the following url:
Customer Service Team

Dear [P.O.]
You didn't read my question properly - I'm on about HOLD luggage not HAND luggage.

Dear [Hufty]
Most sporting items can be carried in the hold - go to the Department of Transport url: ... /DG_176922 where you will find a list.
Customer Service Team

Thank you for the link, unfortunately it quickly refers the question back to the departure airport, which is, unfortunately for you, you: "Other restrictions may be in place, so contact your airline or departure airport directly if you have any questions about what you can take." So just to confirm are there any additional conditions imposed by Gatwick Airport on the carriage of sports equipment as hold luggage above and beyond those set by the Department of Transport and the carrying airline? If so, please send me the link. Examples of larger item of sports equipment that I might want transported as hold luggage are a bicycle or a two section kayak.

Dear [Hufty]
Gatwick Airport does not have any additional conditions on the carriage of sports equipment as hold luggage above and beyond those set out by the Department of Transport and the carrying airline - including a bicycle or kayak - this is entirely up to the individual airline.
Customer Service Team

(Edited to remove the customer service rep's name - seemed unfair given I'm going round calling myself Hufty)
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby hufty » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:18 pm

And a response from Norwegian Air Shuttle:
It is correct that London Gatwick is the only airport were it is required to pack the bike in a box/suitcase. I am not sure who you talked to at the airport, but it is them who have given us these instructions. We do not have any desire of refusing our passengers to travel with bikes as on our other routes.
In our ground handling manual, regarding bicycles it states: * At London Gatwick LGW (due to local airport restrictions) the bicycles must be packed in either a fiberboard box or in a bicycle suitcase.

Med vennlig hilsen / Best regards
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby knapster » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:04 pm

I wish I had seen this thread before I flew.

I had exactly the same issue. Last year I flew without even a bag. This year I was told I needed a box at the Terminal!

It was a complete nightmare as the bike and flight bag were over 40kg together and the boxes were kept at the North Terminal. I then had to take a train with this lot, buy a box, take my bike apart (all the wheels off). I forgot to take the tyres down and worried they'd explode for half the flight. It really was truly awful.

I ended up complaining to their customer services (do this in writing) and got remunerated fro the box. Aside from the box, the bike reservation is atrocious. If you have to pay, why pay for a 'bike' - isn't it now better to just put the bike in the hold as luggage and pay an excess?

I found I could put extra items in the box and carry my panniers on board (if I had wanted to).

I've just written to Gatwick as well, as Norwegian gave the same answer about local rules. My point is, if it's not specially hand carried, the bike fee is not warranted - it's no more than hold luggage.
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby hoogerbooger » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:41 pm

V sorry to hear you got caught out as well.
When did you book your ticket ?

As a paid up CTC member for many years I previously passed on the thread to CTC & got this reply:

"Hi Stuart,

I’d say this one’s a case for Dave Holladay to look further into for sure, hence I’ve copied Dave in and sent a courtesy copy to Roger. Considering that up until a couple of years ago, BA flights, specifically those out of Heathrow/Gatwick would supply those arriving with unpackaged bikes a bike bag very comparable to our own!! Ok, so that’s just one airline, but the idea of all of the airlines providing this service is truly commendable, and in my opinion, a worth while campaign!
Hope all’s well?
All the best
Andy Hawes
Touring/Information Officer
01483 238306 (direct)"

Haven't heard a dicky from Dave Holliday so far. Hopefully he's been investigating for us . I'll resend the thread. Probably the main reason I pay my subs is to sort this sort of thing out.
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If the airline checks it in, the ground crew will take it

Postby hufty » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:16 pm

Since my last posting I have again been in contact with Gatwick, and their response is one that needs printing and laminating for your next flight. Basically it's up to the airline, it's not up to the ground crew. If the airline checks it in, the ground crew will take it.

Dear Gatwick Customer Services
I ask you for a third time to check whether your responses are in accordance with Gatwick Airport policy, maybe you should check with your supervisor.
Forget about the kayak for a minute: if I check in a bicycle with British Airways for example, the airline requirement is that the bicycle is packaged in a protective case or bag. So if I subsequently present the bicycle in a bag at the oversized luggage conveyor, will the operator let the bike through?
Yours [Hufty]

Dear [Hufty]
...I have made enquiries from our Terminal Duty Managers who inform me that as previously mentioned any item checked in with an airline becomes their responsibility. The airline will advise you on how your particular sporting item should be packaged. Once your item has been accepted by the airline they may ask you to take this item to oversize baggage where it will be accepted by the member of staff on duty.
Yours B.G.
Gatwick Customer Services Team

That's good enough for me - my bike is on that plane and it's up to the highly-trained operative at the oversized baggage point how much of a huftying he wants. I've also written to Norwegian Air, pointing out that as the majority of other airlines don't have a hard packaging requirement for bicycles on flights out of Gatwick, and as Norwegian don't even want this policy, surely there's a mix up somewhere? Watch this space.
I get the impression by the way that this is mainly down to cultural misunderstanding - I bet there isn't the concept of "petty officialdom" in Norwegian, and I bet they don't realise how truly appalling British customer service usually is.
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby knapster » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:56 pm

Thanks Hoogerbooger, I booked in February I think. Flew 25th July.

I'll post information I get from Gatwick also - I sent them quite an extensive email - aside from the Bike issue, the idea of people moving great distances between terminals with lots of stuff has got to be bad for the running of the airport. It just reeks of a lack of integration and organisation. Not good.

Thanks for the info Hufty - I think there is some petty officialdom in Norway, although in some senses it's also quite informal, almost home-made. There can be very set ways of doing things, however, the fact you can pay for your bike at the check in desk (in Bergen) without having to leave the queue has got to be something they could also do at Gatwick.

Personally I think money has something to do with this - perhaps they had excessive insurance claims? I thought maybe Norwegian's new planes meant they didn't have a dedicated area for them. I was told the box would just go on top of other luggage.

On the way back I arrived at Bergen with a box - they immediately said 'oh a bike' and pulled out the credit card machine. Nothing was said about 'not needing a box' at their end. Actually last year I didn't get charged for a bike and they didn't even check. Perhaps they've just tightened everything up and prevented bikes sneaking through?

On a happier note, here's some pictures from the tour
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby The Mechanic » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:00 am

Great pics Knapster. What an adventure
Cancer changes your outlook on life. Change yours before it changes you.
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby knapster » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:48 pm

Cheers Mechanic - good times :-)
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby dave holladay » Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:52 pm

I've current contact with BA to make sure all keeps stable - big benefit at LHR is that Terminal 5 is all in house operation, and we did know that at one stage of checking selectivly reduced samples of the baggage bikes won't fit the scanning system. However they have a protocol to by-pass that stage and put the bike through the next level of security checking as the default.

Good result from Liverpool JL, through direct contact with Servisair who are main ground handling contractor

Remember that a limited release waiver is you signing that the airline's liabilities for you luggage (under Montreal/Warsaw conventions et seq on Passengers Rights) are waived in respect of the value or fragility of its contents. Worth remembering that detail , although EU legislation can trump this for some flights and conditions, I believe. The Limited detail applies in that they cannot wriggle out of every liability - eg damage to passengers and getting them patched up & home.

If anyone does have contacts with some of the key players (eg Menzies, Servisair etc) I'd welcome the leads.

Meantime in the UK, and across Europe rail passengers have a luggage allowance of 2 big suitcases and 1 small case, and if you can dismantle your bike to fit a package 120cm x 90cm x 30cm or close to this, and wrap it up in a CTC sack or similar then it becomes part of that luggage allowance which you can take on the train - free. Given that you'd also need to reassemble the bike if flying, it is no greater hassle, and if you are travelling in on a local train to catch Eurostar, you can do the preparation on the local train. On the basis of 9 points of the law, you'll probably get away with assembling the bike on the international express as you approach your destination - after all, the main option the train manager has is to throw you off and you want to leave the train there anyway.

If you can nip through Paris quickly or manage a fast platform & station change (on same site but separated places) at Brussels and London, you can cut an hour out of many international journeys, but equally the overlap gives a nice option to eat an stretch your legs, and with a travelling time of under 6 hours London to South of France it is not far off the queueing and checking in farrago of flying.

The CTC bag measures 2.5m x 1.25m - so a tandem will fit and 2 bags over each end will certainly do so. Tandems can go on Eurostar as booked items as long as the overall length can be reduced to 2.0m (front wheel out often sufficient).
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Re: Beware Gatwick / Norwegian airline & unpacked bikes

Postby Vorpal » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:30 am

An update on this thread... I was planning to fly Norwegian from Gatwick, but their website now says:

Flights departing from London-Gatwick (LGW) require that all bicycles are packed in a hard case/box, a bag is not acceptable. Bicycles that are not packaged in a hard case will be rejected. Norwegian does not have hard cases/boxes available for purchase at the airport

So, I think I will be flying on another airline and from another airport....
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