Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

General bike chat that does not fit elsewhere
barrybridges
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Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby barrybridges » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:21 am

Hi,

Long story short, I hope someone could help me.

I'm doing the Marmotte over in France next year and I'm going to be flying BA over there.

However, I've heard all sorts of horror stories about how it's quite normal for bikes not to arrive on the same flight.

I've been told by a number of people who have had this happen to them, that where a flight carries quite a few people for the same event (e.g. quite a few people flying on my flight to Lyon that day are likely to be doing the marmotte), there's a disproportionately high number of bikes being checked in as luggage and so it's quite normal for the flight to be over-weight and some of the bikes to be delivered on a later flight.

Basically, this would scupper my trip as I'm not arriving until a few days before (I'm flying in from Gatwick, but prior to that am in Cyprus, so will have had some acclimatising to mountains at least).

Has anyone else had any experience of this? What can I do to guarantee my bike arrives with me and is not off-loaded? Can I get insurance against this?

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sassse
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby sassse » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:37 am

BA take bikes as part of your normal luggae allowance, as long as they do not exceed their maximum dimensions. If your bag is over weight then they may charge you the excess bagage.

Personally, I have never had any trouble flying with my bike, I have been to US and France with BA and all was ok. But the most bikes I have seen on a flight was 5.

I used to work for BA and had a friend who flew her bike to Toulouse for the Etape, and it didn't turn up. I spoke to the baggage guys and the issue was that with a large number of bikes, the time to lood the is longer than normal luggage... so they had a choice to delay the flight and the knock effect of that or chop and go. They took the chop and go option and sent the remaining bikes on the next available flight. My friend got her bike a day later.. delivered to her hotel. The issue is not normally weight but the complexities and time to load the aircraft... you don't wnat your pride and joy on the bottom with a huge weight of bags ontop, load and balance considerations and time all conspire to mean large numbers of bikes or other strange cargo can cause problems.


There is no gurantee that your bike ( or any luggage will arrive)

cougie
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby cougie » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:43 am

I usually race an overseas Ironman each year - there are usually a fair few bikes on the plane but I've never not had the bike fly with me.

If the flight is very popular with cyclists then yes you may have problems - but as you say you're arriving a few days before the event - I don't think it would be an issue ?

mallorcajeff
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby mallorcajeff » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:46 am

I dont think it will be an issue i have done a fair few with mine and never had a problem. Use a nice box/bag if you can. I got a bike box allan after a few trips and got fed up with all the packing so with an allen its packed in then mins.

barrybridges
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby barrybridges » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:46 am

Mmm. Very tricky!

I'm flying on the Wednesday and the Marmotte is the Saturday, so I don't think it should be the busiest time to fly (I would suspect most people come out a few days before I'm due to fly) - but is there anything I can do to improve my chances? Check-in the night before?

The guy I'm riding with did the marmotte this year and his bike didn't turn up for 3 days after he landed, during which time he had to hire a bike, which was a pain (and costly).

binsted
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby binsted » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:00 pm

barrybridges wrote: What can I do to guarantee my bike arrives with me and is not off-loaded? Can I get insurance against this?


Go by car and ferry?

Mr Dog
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby Mr Dog » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:11 pm

Have used both BA and Air France with no problems. On returning from Italy a well known German airline lost my bike. Two days later it turned up by taxi. The kids still mock my anxious pacing the floor and attempts to call the never answering customer services. :D
Why tidy the house when you can clean your bike?

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Monty Dog
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby Monty Dog » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:21 pm

As said the problem is due to the extra time and effort of loading oversize baggage - they have to be loaded manually as they're too big to use the normal conveyor systems and often depends on the airport, time of year and who the local baggage handling agent is. I was once sitting at Toulouse watching some bikes being unloaded - the guy was dropping them from the cargo hatch about 8 feet onto the tarmac below so certainly advise on getting insurance! My insurance is having a travel bike (Ritchey Breakaway clone) that fits in a regular size case - it's within your standard luggage allowance and don't have to pay the sporting goods surcharge. Its made from titanium, so little worries about damage too.
Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..

RC856
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby RC856 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 14:24 pm

A dozen of us flew with BA to Italy earlier this year.
We all phoned BA in advance to book our bike in.
1 bike missed the flight but arrived late that same night.

jouxplan
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby jouxplan » Wed Dec 19, 2012 14:43 pm

I have flown to France, Majorca, Corsica and USA with my bike, using BA for the most part. Never had any problems. However, none of these flights were related to a bike event and I think I was pretty much the only cyclist on the flight.
About 15 years ago I flew to Lanzorote - can't recall the airline - for a training camp. There were about 50 cyclists, all on a smallish plane. The airline knew we were coming, but the luggage handlers didn't. Anyway, on arrival in Lanzorote, there was an epically long wait for the bikes to appear. People were getting frantic and hyperventilating and things :D Then about half the bikes turned up. The rest, we were informed, had not made it onto the flight. There was pandemonium and rioting and much anguish. We were told the bikes 'could not be loaded' and they would be on the next flight. Amazingly, this meant only a few hours delay. When that plane landed, we were all so relieved........only to find that only another 15 bikes had turned up!
"But where are the rest of the bikes?" everyone screamed.
"Er, on Tenerife" they said.
Well, you can imagine the scenes.......
It transpired that 10 bikes had been put on a flight to a different Canarian Island, so as to at least get them 'in the vicinity'
If memory serves, they arrived a couple of days later, having been transported by Ferry!
All but one.
It never made it, and was presumed stolen, or lost at sea......

This is a true story, I am afraid to say :(

This doesn't help you at all - but it reminded me of the story and it's kind of funny.
Trek Project One Series 6 Madone 2010
Trek Madone 5.9 2006
Trek Madone 5.2 2004
Cougar Custom 1995
Viscount Aerospace 1982
Some mountain bikes gathering dust

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sassse
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby sassse » Wed Dec 19, 2012 15:28 pm

To the OP, to be honest I don't think there is much you can do to minimise the chances. You can advise them ahead of time, but that is no guarantee. Checking in the night before doesn't work. BA normally only accept hold baggage a few hours before departure. They do have a door to door baggage service yiou can pay for operated by a partner company.... never used it so no idea if this would improve your chances.

Best solution to the problem as someone has already mentioned is to drive yourself. Take the shuttle, we drive to the alps and it normally only takes about 12 hrs door to door (from SE) in the car with stops along the way at the wine regions for lunch and shopping etc.

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sassse
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby sassse » Wed Dec 19, 2012 15:31 pm

Or go business class, this does seem to improve the chances.... your baggage is normally tagged as a priority....made taking my bike to the US a dream.

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Pickled Pig
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby Pickled Pig » Wed Dec 19, 2012 16:12 pm

binsted wrote:
barrybridges wrote: What can I do to guarantee my bike arrives with me and is not off-loaded? Can I get insurance against this?


Go by car and ferry?



+1
Bet it takes no longer if you measure travel time door to door ...and you can take loads of extra toys.

sunburntknees
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby sunburntknees » Wed Dec 19, 2012 17:29 pm

binsted wrote:
barrybridges wrote: What can I do to guarantee my bike arrives with me and is not off-loaded? Can I get insurance against this?


Go by car and ferry?


+1000

What's the rush? Take your time. Enjoy France. It's a beautiful place to be in July with a bike.

bikeav8or
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby bikeav8or » Wed Dec 19, 2012 18:19 pm

I have expert knowledge of your Airline choice ;-)

I have travelled to the Marmotte on the late Weds eve flight with BA for the last two years and there were no probs.

This year the Etape was on the same weekend close to Grenoble

Loads are light usually on the last flight. The early morning flight is busier due to many transfer passengers from long haul flight in to LHR. Get to airport early and go have a nice meal in T5 (Wagamma).

We had to wait a while in LYS for the bikes to come thru to the carousel tho.
If some some reason your bag is not there it will be on the next flight and they will get it to you.

On the way home there is a small issue. There is usually a large queue to drop off oversize bags as there are a lot of N.African flights that use the same terminal and they can travel with a lot of oversize baggage. So get to the airport early and chk your in your bike asap to avoid extra stress. Also leave any CO2 cartridges in France, the security men check for them by Xray machine and make you wait while they do so.

There are two airport hotels the cheapest of which is about 100 euro/night.

Enjoy the M - it hurts

FatTed
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby FatTed » Wed Dec 19, 2012 21:35 pm

I think all you can do is arrive very early so you are the first bag to be loaded, I assume it works that way, Or go Business class, or go with easy Jet and buy the Flexi Fare. Most certain would be to drive, then no chance of damage to the bike, no bike Box required.

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sassse
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby sassse » Thu Dec 20, 2012 09:23 am

FatTed, it doesn't work like that... first bag checked in is not always first to load. (At some airports extra time just means more chance of your bag being lost ;0) )

Bikes tend to be loaded last... so they are ontop of the heavy bags...as it minimises damage or put in hold 5 at the back, which is the designated loose loading hold if they aren't in ULD containers.

barrybridges
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Re: Overseas sportives - problems flying with your bike?

Postby barrybridges » Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:26 am

Thanks for all your replies. Unfortunately ferry + driving just wasn't an option and I've already booked my flights.

A few years back I did it by Eurostar + TGV then bus from Grenoble, which was a lot easier than it sounds.

I'm flying into Lyon but out of Geneva, so hopefully the return trip won't be so bad.

As others have said, there's a flight that night after mine so hopefully I should have a very good chance of having my bike before the start of the next day. Fingers crossed eh?


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