Shipping the bike by plane

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Shipping the bike by plane

Postby serbring » Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:30 pm

Hi all,

I'm gonna go to Norway and I'm gonna ship my bike by plane. I'm not experienced at all, so I'm searching for some suggestions. Since I'm travelling by bus, by train and by plane because the airport is not close where I live I would prefer to not carry the bike through a box but I'd prefer using a bag like the CTC one. My concern is about mudguard protection. The flight company writes in its website about bike shipping:
Code: Select all
Limited capacity per flight.

We recommend for all bikes to be packed in protective packaging suitable for the transport of bicycles. Flights departing from London-Gatwick (LGW) and Bangkok (BKK) 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.

For bikes not packed in a hardshell bike suitcase, the handles must be turned around, pedals must be taken off, other additional parts must be removed or covered and the tyres must be deflated.

NOTE: You must book your bike at least 25 hours before departure. We recommend for you to book your ticket and bike at the same time to ensure available space.


I don't flight through London or Bangkok, so it seems possibile to keep the tyres connected with the bike. Unfortunately I cannot disassemble the mudguards because they're mounted through cable ties. What do you think? Any suggestion is appreciated.
Last edited by serbring on Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby Vorpal » Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:49 pm

There have been a few threads about these and related issues previously.

This one about Norwegian airlines... viewtopic.php?f=16&t=53378

The CTC website has this information about transporting by plane...
http://www.ctc.org.uk/cyclists-library/ ... /bikes-air

I've taken my bike in a CTC polythene bag (which you may not be able to do; see the thread about Norwegian linked above). I removed the pedals, unscrewed the hanger for the rear derraileur & cable tied it to the frame, loosened & turned the handlebars (hooked one drop around the top tube, with the front wheel still straight), put some bubble wrap round the shifters, then wheeled it into the bag & taped it up. I got tape at Wickes that was for greenhouses and polythene, and it worked really well. The polythene bag is small enough to carry in a pannier, if necessary, as well.

Another option is to use cardboard boxes from bike shops. You can use one that they have received a new bike in. Or you can scavenge some boxes from skips and build your own box around your bike. This should satisfy the requirement for a hard case or box. Then you can stick it in recycling when you get to your destination, and not have anything to carry. If you need another, you can get one at a local bike shop wherever you are.

There is also some advice on the 'to good to lose' thread about bikes on planes... viewtopic.php?f=16&t=67410
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby serbring » Tue Jul 08, 2014 5:19 pm

Vorpal wrote:There have been a few threads about these and related issues previously.

This one about Norwegian airlines... viewtopic.php?f=16&t=53378

The CTC website has this information about transporting by plane...
http://www.ctc.org.uk/cyclists-library/ ... /bikes-air

I've taken my bike in a CTC polythene bag (which you may not be able to do; see the thread about Norwegian linked above). I removed the pedals, unscrewed the hanger for the rear derraileur & cable tied it to the frame, loosened & turned the handlebars (hooked one drop around the top tube, with the front wheel still straight), put some bubble wrap round the shifters, then wheeled it into the bag & taped it up. I got tape at Wickes that was for greenhouses and polythene, and it worked really well. The polythene bag is small enough to carry in a pannier, if necessary, as well.

Another option is to use cardboard boxes from bike shops. You can use one that they have received a new bike in. Or you can scavenge some boxes from skips and build your own box around your bike. This should satisfy the requirement for a hard case or box. Then you can stick it in recycling when you get to your destination, and not have anything to carry. If you need another, you can get one at a local bike shop wherever you are.

There is also some advice on the 'to good to lose' thread about bikes on planes... viewtopic.php?f=16&t=67410


Hi Vorpal,
thanks for your reply.
You gave some interesting tips. I'll use the bag and I'm gonna make an hole so I'll be able to carry the packed bike like a bag. Where do you put the panniers? Do you pack them with the bike?
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby Vorpal » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:41 pm

Most airlines require the panniers to be separate from the bike, though I know some people on this forum have left them on the bike.

I have sometimes checked one pannier & used the other as carry on. I have also put both panniers into a large duffel bag, or strapped them together and checked them in as one piece of luggage.
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby simonhill » Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:52 am

If you are using the CTC plastic bag method then it's best to keep everything still attached to the bike (eg the mudguards you are worried about). Hopefully the bike will be treated with a bit of care and you should have no damage. A bit of bubble wrap here and there may help.

Re panniers, it will depend on your weight limit. If bike is part of your limit, then you will probably only be able to check one in, the other will have to go as hand luggage. Remember nothing 'danderous' eg tools, knife in the carry on one.
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby Vorpal » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:26 am

It's possible to protect mudguards by jamming a piece of folded cardboard (or anything else handy that is the right size) between the mudguard & tyre, then using a cable tie through the spokes and over the mudguard to hold it in place.

Of course, then you can't wheel the bike, but maybe just place the cable tie(s) as you pack, and cut them as you unpack? Do you need to protect anything except the back of the rear mudguard? That one is probably the most vulnerable.
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby BeeKeeper » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:09 am

This was my bike earlier this year before sliding it into the CTC bag. The blue stuff was a stiff foam which was used to protect the edges of a worktop which we had had delivered. I guess you might be able to blag some off a builders merchant or buy the foam insulation you get for wrapping round pipes. It is not essential, stiff cardboard does equally as good a job of protecting the vulnerable bits. The only bits I removed apart from one pedal (the other was reversed, see picture) were the bottle racks which fit on the front forks. These were stowed in the frame bag. My panniers travelled in an 80 litre Bergan liner with a webbing luggage strap around them. The Bergan liner is very light and folds up small for stowing in the bottom of a pannier. It is useful as the airline charged per item of luggage so the two panniers in a bag only counted as one. My bar bag was my carry on luggage. Note tyres were deflated as per the airline's rules although no one checked them at Bristol when I checked it in.

I only needed the CTC bag for a one way flight as we came back by ferry but if you need a bag for the return journey I would recommend buying a second one and leave it unopened. It will take up a lot less room on your bike than if you try and fold up the bag used on the outward journey.

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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby MrsHJ » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:36 pm

The writer is taking the right approach by reading the requirements of the airline. They can be a bit more flexible when you turn up ( I caught a flight from Madrid once with BA maybe an hour after arriving at the airport with no ticket and certainly no wrapping etc for the bike) but generally the be prepared approach is the one to take. The restrictions for Gatwick were interesting to read as once , many years ago, I remember watching my bike head up the baggage roller thingie and I could definitely see the advantages of having a box!

On the mudguard thing I'd use an old camping mat plus parcel tape as they have the right sort of give to give some protection, otherwise bubble wrap is good. I've also taken more fragile bits off before and strapped with zip ties alongside the more solid protection of the frame.
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby iviehoff » Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:32 am

I made several flights with Norwegian (not through LGW) and they were fine about a bike in a plastic bag, about the least fuss I've ever had. At Oslo Gardemoen a lot of people were transporting bicycles and it seemed normal. But they have been adamant about the LGW situation for several years now and have not given anyone a cogent reason for it.
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby serbring » Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:20 pm

so for your experience with Norwegian I may keep the tire on, right?
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby serbring » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:23 pm

BeeKeeper wrote:This was my bike earlier this year before sliding it into the CTC bag. The blue stuff was a stiff foam which was used to protect the edges of a worktop which we had had delivered. I guess you might be able to blag some off a builders merchant or buy the foam insulation you get for wrapping round pipes. It is not essential, stiff cardboard does equally as good a job of protecting the vulnerable bits. The only bits I removed apart from one pedal (the other was reversed, see picture) were the bottle racks which fit on the front forks. These were stowed in the frame bag. My panniers travelled in an 80 litre Bergan liner with a webbing luggage strap around them. The Bergan liner is very light and folds up small for stowing in the bottom of a pannier. It is useful as the airline charged per item of luggage so the two panniers in a bag only counted as one. My bar bag was my carry on luggage. Note tyres were deflated as per the airline's rules although no one checked them at Bristol when I checked it in.

I only needed the CTC bag for a one way flight as we came back by ferry but if you need a bag for the return journey I would recommend buying a second one and leave it unopened. It will take up a lot less room on your bike than if you try and fold up the bag used on the outward journey.


Was it robust enought that protection of the light? I'm afraid that the bracket might bend.
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby Farawayvisions » Wed Jul 23, 2014 11:07 am

I've just come back from a flight with my bike to Holland from London Gatwick with Easyjet. Here's what happened at Gatwick when I arrived with bike in a CTC bag.

Easyyjet’s check in assistant at Gatwick stared at out bikes with a look of horror and confusion.
‘We cannot take bikes like this. They must be in a box.’
Calmly, I explained that I had read the policy and it says that the bikes must be in a bike box or bag.
‘This is a CTC Bike Bag. Cycle Touring Club bike bag specifically for flying.’
‘No, that’s not a bag, it’s just a piece of plastic.’
The assistant phoned her manager at the check in row opposite, telling her to lean over the counter to see the plastic bags we were insisting were bike bags.
‘Go around the corner to the luggage shop and get them wrapped in bubble wrap.’

I was hungry. Up since 5am and it was my birthday. I was beginning to feel a bit pissed off. The shrink wrap packing company refused to wrap the bikes saying they weren’t allowed, so we joined the queue where the Easyjet manager was. She was having a bad morning and decided to talk to us from behind her desk while we were still shuffling along in the queue. A young man with tattooed long socks, dressed like Jean Paul Gaultier’s ‘Le Male’ Eau de Toilette joined the queue behind us.
‘Get some bubble wrap from the luggage shop,’ the manager said
‘We tried. They refused to do it.’
‘Why?’
‘They said they are not allowed.’

I think she saw the perfume bottle man behind us and mellowed. Those tiny navy shorts made my mouth curl into a smile.

‘Alright, but you’ll have to sign a disclaimer.’
At last the bikes were accepted and we had enough time to grab a croissant and coffee.

When we showed up in Schipol at the Easyjet counter, there were smiles, bikes weighed and put on the check in belt immediately.
There are pictures and instructions in the link below.

http://www.farawayvisions.com/flying-with-a-bicycle/
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby jamesgilbert » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:08 pm

@Farawayvisions Why remove the front wheel?
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby Farawayvisions » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:31 pm

jamesgilbert wrote:@Farawayvisions Why remove the front wheel?


Several reasons James, but mainly so that the size fits on the belts and in the crates at the airport.
Removing the front wheel and dropping the seat means that 2 bikes can fit easily inside our car and if you need to transport the bike somewhere after your flight.
Also it's easy to lift the bike and carry it by the seat over short distances when your 160cm tall.
If using a luggage trolley at the airport, I have encountered difficulty manoevering the trolley through gaps when the bike is carried horizontally. Packed with the front wheel removed means that I can move the bike around with back wheel on the trolley and forks in the air. I can just about see over the bike and can fit in lifts, get through revolving doors and passengers ankles are safe.

I guess you don't remove the wheel?
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Re: Shipping the bike by plane

Postby jamesgilbert » Wed Jul 23, 2014 12:58 pm

I don't, although I generally avoid flying. The times I have flown, i've cycled or taken the train to the airport and bagged the bike just before check-in.

Looking at your photos, I would be a bit concerned about the fork getting damaged, although it makes sense if you need to transport the packaged bike around the airport.
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