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Parklands Railton Road Guildford GU2 9JX

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On transatlantic travel, both Continental & American Airlines will now only permit economy passengers one piece of baggage of up to 23kg free of charge, with a second piece chargeable at US$50 on all transatlantic travel American Airlines policy change comes into effect from 14 September 09, Continental Airlines, from 15th September 09. Virgin Atlantic have seized on a marketing opportunity and have now changed their policy with regard to luggage allowance. Up until now their allowance has been 23kg in total. They will now accept one item of sporting goods free up to a maximum weight of 32kg.

Copyright CTC Cyclists Touring Club. This information is supplied for personal use of members only. Reproduction in any form, in whole or in part, for commercial purposes is expressly forbidden unless licensing terms have been agreed with the club.


STOP PRESS dated 10 September 2009 From 7th October British Airways are changing their Economy Class (World Traveller) baggage allowances on transatlantic flights to USA, Canada, Caribbean, Bermuda, Mexico and Argentina. World Traveller customers will be permitted to check in one piece of baggage of up to 23kg, a reduction from the two pieces previously permitted on these routes. Also effective immediately, British Airways will no longer accept sporting equipment free of charge in addition to the free allowance, in all cabins on all routes. See.. It's not just BA. American Airlines & Continental have followed suit. ******* A follow-up to the information on BA charging for bikes they are also charging per sector, which means that if you have to change planes, you pay for each flight. So if your trip involves two flights each way you pay four times for the bikes. *******

INTRODUCTION TO THIS INFORMATION SHEET In recent times, taking your bike with you as you fly off to foreign lands has become increasingly frought with problems. Frankly, many airlines consider you to be a nuisance if you have a bike with you and very few are going to make it easy for you to fly with your bike. Many are now charging a fee (or if not a fee, then they may well apply an excess baggage charge, particularly the budget airlines which have lower weight allowances). A lot of people are posting reports about their experiences, to us, to various newsgroups and specialist websites, so there is no shortage of information; however the picture you get after reading these reports is very blurred. Every story is different and even after reading just a few, if youre not put off the whole idea, one thing becomes very clear its going to be a headache at best, but more likely it will be a nightmare! If you set out expecting this, then you can only be pleasantly surprised when it all goes smoothly.

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So whats the answer? First and foremost equip yourself with the facts by reading this advice sheet and dont leave anything to chance. Going to the airport with your bike thinking youre going to blag your way on to the aircraft with it is not an option unless you are a very brave person who doesnt mind ending up going on holiday minus bike!

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How this information sheet is laid out

Much of what you read on this information sheet is standard information that has been around for some time. Weve not deleted it because it is still relevant. But please be aware that information about specific airlines can go out of date overnight. You MUST ensure you obtain the LATEST information and this is only likely to be available from the airline itself. CTC cannot be held responsible if information on this sheet is out of date. The first few sections of this information sheet were written quite recently (2005) and provide details of the current situation, so do read this section first, then go to the later sections for further information. Much information will be repeated; sorry about this but its all there for the sake of completeness.

1. Find out which airlines fly to the destination of your choice. 2. Visit the websites of the airlines and check out the information they have on baggage, specifically the carriage of cycles. 3. Decide which airline you are going to fly with, based on cost, ticket availability and luggage carrying factors. 4. Print out their information on carriage of cycles for your records. (If you do not have access to the internet, you will need to find this out by telephoning the airline and asking. You will of course have no written record of what they say, which could be to your disadvantage should the person you deal with at the check-in stage offer information which differs to that which you have previously been given believe me it happens all the time!) 5. Prior to going to the airport, check their instructions implicitly as far as packing up your bike goes and ensure you have what they insist on. Now is the time to decide in what manner you intend to transport your bike. You basically have three choices: (a) put the bike into a plastic bag with minimum dismantling; (b) use a soft padded (or unpadded) zip up bag with the bike moderately dismantled; (c) fit your bike into a hard shell case. See below for much more information. 6. Do also read the rules below about carrying tools etc in your hand luggage. If in doubt, be prepared to stow it in your hold luggage. Picnic knives and anything else that might conceivably be used as a weapon, such as a screwdriver, pump or even an allen key its wise to stash the whole toolkit in your hold baggage. What you can and cannot take on will be directly linked to how recently there has been a terrorist scare. Just be aware of the following points:

Follow these directions which are recommended to ensure a smooth passage from ticket purchase, through check in to seeing you cycle arrive safely at its destination.

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(a) Security staff will not be accustomed to finding pedals, tools or other bicycle related items in hand luggage. You will be treated with mild suspicion at best. So any tools you might use to dismantle the bike at the airport would be best put in your hold luggage. (b) Once you have waved goodbye to your bike and main luggage at the check-in desk, its going to be impossible to pack anything into it that might be refused on board in your hand luggage. You will have to leave it behind and you will lose it forever. Note also that gas cylinders for camping stoves and liquid fuel may not be carried at all.

3. Unless you have used a clear plastic bag, in which case it is probably light enough to carry with you on your travels (and cheap enough to stash under a bush ready to retrieve on your return), you will have to find somewhere to store your bag or box. Try left luggage (if there is one) or your first hotel.


1. Repeat the same procedure as on the flight out. Be ready to wave your receipt around confirming that you have already paid for your bike to be transported back to the UK. And do have that photocopy of the companys instructions regarding carriage of cycles to hand also. 2. Although not quite as vital as on the journey out, do re-assemble your cycle before exiting the baggage claim area to ensure it is undamaged. PACKING UP YOUR BIKE READY FOR TRAVELLING All airlines require that handlebars are fixed sideways and pedals are removed or fixed inwards (screwed into backs of crank arms). Check that these operations can be accomplished well before departure date in case they are corroded in. Although it is unnecessary, most airlines still ask for tyres to be deflated. British Airways Safety Services have nevertheless determined that (quote from website): "It is not necessary from a safety perspective to deflate typical tyres found on bikes and wheelchairs. However, to eliminate the small risk of them being damaged by bursting, you may wish to deflate the tyres. Understandably this decision may be influenced by how easily the tyres could be inflated upon arrival." Quite apart from the inconvenience, CTC has found that a flat tyre is more likely to be torn and does not protect the rim during rough handling of the bicycle. We have heard of inflated tyres bursting only during handling, never in flight.
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1. At the check-in desk, be ready to wave a copy of the airlines rules about carriage of cycles in the officials face if there are any queries. Generally speaking, provided you have followed the instructions laid down, you should have no problems. 2. If you have to pay a charge for the carriage of your cycle, try to pay now for the return flight as well. Keep the receipt carefully.


1. Depending on the airport, your bike will either appear on the baggage carousel or be passed through an adjacent door. Keep your eyes open and be ready to take it quickly off the carousel or from the baggage handler. 2. Unless your bike is in a hard shell bike box, do put your bike back together in the baggage collection hall. Why? Because once you are through immigration and customs, you will not be able to return to that area, which is the only place where you can make a damage claim.

A wise precaution on derailleur-geared bicycles is to detach the rear gear mech from the frame hanger. The mech and chain dangle untidily, but this avoids the all-too-common handling damage of a bent mech and/or hanger. Other tips: secure bottles in cages and pump to frame with tape. Masking tape is the easiest to remove. For further information on packing up your bike ready for loading on to an aircraft, see the section below entitled: How do I prepare my bike for air travel? Packed size Airlines increasingly charge for bicycles, either simply because they are bicycles, or on account of their size and the special manual handling they may accordingly require. It is even possible that a bicycle may be delayed to a later flight if, for example, its packed size exceeds the capacity of the airport X-ray machine so it has to be examined manually. These fees and the risk of delay may be eliminated if the bicycle is packed small enough. Length doesn't matter: the key dimension is the second-biggest one, i.e. the height of the packed bicycle. Try to find out the maximum admissible dimensions of the handling equipment at the airports you are using. In the absence of such information (which is very difficult to obtain) it may be assumed that most luggage conveyors will accept items up to 0.8m. A dimension of 1m has been quoted for one airport X-ray machine and most bicycles can pass that if the saddle is lowered or removed, so you are advised to ensure that this height is not exceeded, in order minimise the risk of delay. Notwithstanding these precautions, bicycles are always vulnerable to delay and you are urged to check in at the earliest possible opportunity, usually two hours before flight time.

Boxes and bags Most airlines are now demanding that individuals or parties travelling with bikes should contain them in either boxes or bags. This is to protect other baggage and also the bikes themselves. The containment options comprise: (a) a large cardboard box; (b) a purpose-made bikebox, usually rigid plastic; (c) a purpose-made fabric bike-bag, usually padded nylon; (d) a big, heavy-gauge polythene bag, folded over and secured with parcel tape; (e) ad hoc wrapping in plastic sheeting etc. and lots of parcel tape. This requirement poses a logistical problem if a tour does not start and finish at the same point, where the packaging can be left, or include luggage transport. And since the left luggage facilities were removed from most airports: that "same point" must nowadays be a hotel etc. that is prepared to store the bike bags and boxes. And a smaller problem remains of transporting this material between the airport and that first and last night hotel. (a) Cardboard Boxes Most cycle shops will supply boxes from which new cycles have been delivered. Some of these boxes are large enough to contain a touring bicycle with wheels in-situ, but most require some dismantling of the bicycle for it to fit the box. Participants must do this at home, since any packing problems are unlikely to be solvable at the airport. (b and c) Purpose-made bike-bags and cases The ideal sort of bicycle for most CTC tours, i.e. a touring bicycle, has a problem with options (b) and (c). This is because purpose-made bike containers are invariably made with the purpose of transporting the common kind of racing or mountain-bike, unencumbered by such accoutrements as mudguards, luggage carriers and integral lighting. All
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these things will need to be removed or disconnected (in addition to both wheels) in order to fit the bike in the bag or case, which will not have any particular places to accommodate them. Participants should be advised to verify that their bike can be made to fit the bag or case not just before the day of travel but before buying it. (d) and (e) Polythene bags and sheeting etc. These options are cheap or free and contain any sort of bike with as little dismantling as may be necessary. They also solve the logistical problem, since it is possible to carry such minimal packaging material rolled up and somehow secured on the bike, at least as far as the first night's hotel. It's even small enough to stash under a rock a few miles from the airport and cheap enough to risk losing. Or on a camping tour the polythene might be worth carrying as a groundsheet. Although it may be supposed that a simple polythene bag provides less protection to the bicycle than a purpose-made fabric bag or a cardboard box, reports of post-flight damage to CTC do not support that hypothesis. On the contrary it would appear that the more protected, more like a parcel and less like a bicycle your bike becomes, the more like a parcel it is treated. And whilst padding and cardboard may prevent scratches, they provide little protection from the major crushing, impact and tearing damage that can ruin both bike and holiday. Only rigid cases (substantially more rigid than cardboard) can be assumed to provide structural protection. Failing that, it seems that the fragile bicycle's best defence is to look like a fragile bicycle. But nothing is guaranteed! SOURCES OF POLYTHENE BIKE BAGS

CTC These bags are big enough to contain any usual touring bicycle (use two for a tandem) are made from the thickest gauge of polythene we could have made into a bag and weigh 0.8kg. Some parcel tape (not included) will also be required to secure the opening and excess amounts of bag. (Dont forget to have some for the return journey!) A new stock of bags is now available. Please note that the size has been modified slightly to make them longer, but less tall. Contact CTC National Office on 0844 736 8450. British Airways cycle bags at Gatwick North Terminal Note: BA are in the process of changing their rules and carrying your cycle in this fashion is about to run contrary to their new rules. It is quite likely that their polythene bags are (or will soon be) a thing of the past. The idea of simply wheeling a bike into a big polythene bag and taping it up probably originates with British Airways, who used to supply "Type SB32 bike bags", free of charge, to any cyclist turning up with a naked bike. This practice has fallen into abeyance, but the bags remain available (and free) at Gatwick North Terminal. The procedures for obtaining them are as follows:

To collect bags in advance: Go to the BA Customer Service desk in Check-in Zone E. Ask for the required number of type SB32 bike bags. It is not necessary to produce documentation proving that a BA flight booking exists. At any time a stock of some tens of bags is held, To collect bags on the day of flight:

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Go to the Out-Of Gauge hand-over point at the right-hand end of Check-in Zone F. This is also where the bagged bikes are taken after check-in and labelling. Ask the duty staff for type SB32 bike bags. The staff will ask to see a flight ticket. Other provincial airports No bags appear to be available at any provincial airport. If any member finds them available at any airport, please be kind enough to inform CTC HQ. PROCEDURE FOR CONVEYING CYCLES On arrival at the Departures area of the airport, check that your cycle is ready for transportation. Once checked in you may have to take your bike to an Out-Of-Gauge reception area. Once aboard the aircraft ask a member of the crew to check that the cycle is aboard. (This is more relevant when there is a group of you.) On arrival at your destination see the airline's agent to ensure that the cycles are unloaded onto a separate trolley to avoid damage (ditto as above paragraph). Use the same procedure for your return journey. On most occasions, bikes will be the last items to appear in the Baggage Hall. Damage to cycles You are advised to take the precaution of re-building your bike in the arrivals bay rather than outside in the fresh air. Once outside the

baggage handling area you cannot get back to register your claim of damage. The extent of the airlines liability is published on the air ticket. Cover is likely to be similar for all airlines.

The Packing of Cycles Here is a google of various random airlines' bicycle packing requirements, which as you can see vary from actual requirements (use of the word "must") to mere advice (use of the word "recommended") by way of something that's arguable either way (use of the word "should")! British Airways: "The bike must be contained in a protective box or bag." RyanAir: "The bike should be contained in a protective box or bag." British Midland: "Phone for information" Flybe: "The bicycle should then be bagged or boxed if possible." KLM: " A bicycle being transported as baggage should be packed in a container or cardboard box." Lufthansa: "Bicycle boxes are not required by Lufthansa, but are recommended to help protect your property while travelling." Estonian Air: "bicycle must be backed in special fortified bag or carton box." Finnair: "All sharp points on the bicycle must be covered with thick plastic or cardboard." Slovak Airlines: " and the bicycle packaged in a suitable manner."

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Air Canada: "Place the bicycle in a rigid and / or hard shell container specifically designed for shipping. If not packaged in a container, Air Canada will provide a plastic bicycle bag and will accept the item with a limited release form (to be signed at check-in), releasing Air Canada of liability." Icelandair: "Bicycles can be accepted as checked baggage if bicycle is in bag or personal box." Aeroflot: "recommends you to carry bicycles knocked-down (front wheel dismantled) in a soft cover or tough packing (box)." VLM: "It is also recommended that the bicycle is packed (special plastic bag or box) to protect the bicycle and prevent it from damaging other luggage." Please note that this is not something special to low-cost airlines or land-only tours. There's as much variance and as many problems posed for the cycling customer by the traditional carriers. We are currently negotiating with airlines to ensure that most of them will NOT require anything more onerous than a BA/CTC poly bag. Clearly though, we've already lost that argument with the likes of KLM and AirCanada, or half-lost in the case of the latter. Easyjet The bicycle must be packaged in a bicycle box or bag. There is a useful page on their website about carriage of cycles: go to Contact Us and type bicycles into the Search Text box. You will find an extended page of information about cycle carriage, including a picture of a bike in a CTC plastic bag. Print this off and present it at the check in desk if there is a problem.

Will my bike travel with me?

Yes, most airlines will book your bike on to a flight and it will usually travel with you. On the rare occasion when a bike does not travel with its owner, the airline usually conveys it on the next available flight and has even been known to deliver it to the hotel at which the cyclist is staying. Charter flight companies will not guarantee to carry your cycle on the same flight as you it is booked subject to there being space available. In practice we have heard of few, if any problems. Some of the aircraft used for short distance flights may be small and have a small luggage hold which may not be able to accommodate your cycle at all. Check alternative flights or alternative transport options.

How do I find out about flights?

Your local travel agent will be able to tell you which airlines offer flights to your chosen destination. You can find out about flight times and prices from your travel agent, or you can contact the airline(s) directly yourself. (You can usually obtain the telephone number for an airline from your local travel agent).

Booking Your Cycle on a Plane

When you ask your travel agent or airline about flight availability, always inform the reservations staff that you intend to bring a cycle with you. Airlines will not appreciate you turning up at the airport with an unbooked cycle, expecting it to be carried! The weight and distribution of baggage on a flight is carefully controlled and for this reason airlines ask that cycles are booked in advance.

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Once you have decided which flight you would like to travel on, ask whether there is space for your bike. Once you have received confirmation that a cycle can be carried on a particular flight then it may be helpful to ask the following questions before paying for your ticket: 1. Does the airline require my cycle to be prepared in any particular way (e.g. pedals removed, handlebars turned sideways) 2. Will there be a charge for my cycle? Please see later pages of this booklet for details about these two issues and much more... Different airlines may give you different answers to these questions, so it is worth shopping around before you go ahead and pay for a flight. Whether you book your flight with a travel agent or directly with an airline, it is often best to check the details of cycle carriage directly with the airline, since travel agents are often not familiar with booking cycles on board.

20kg/44lb). This weight allowance applies to hold baggage the items which you check-in at the airline desk and which are handled by the airline staff. A bike with luggage racks and lights typically weighs about 15kg/33lbs. It is advisable to carry heavier items (e.g. tool kit) in your hand luggage if your 'total hold baggage' is approaching the 20kg weight limit. Hand luggage which you carry on to the plane with you is not normally weighed, but must be small enough to fit in the cabinet above the passenger seat or underneath the seat in front of you. Airline passenger tickets often indicate the maximum size for hand luggage. Many airlines will only permit one item of hand luggage in the aircraft cabin with a maximum weight of 5kg. If your hold baggage (the baggage which you check-in) weighs more than the free weight allowance then you may have to pay 'excess baggage charges' (charges per extra kilogram over 20kg). It is usually cheaper to send large amounts of excess baggage as freight, although this may not travel on the same plane as you. Notes by a CTC member on options available for air-freighting a bike to the USA are available from CTC with an SAE. On Trans-Atlantic flights and flights within North America, one or two free pieces of luggage are normally permitted and there is a charge for each extra piece of luggage. This fee increases with distance and can be quite expensive, e.g. 50 or 60. If you travel 'light' you may be able to include your bike as part of one of the free 'pieces' of luggage. If more than one airline operates flights to your destination it is worth checking to see what each of them offer. Airlines often require or suggest, that all of your hold luggage (panniers/bags etc.) are strapped together, or else put into a large
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Large Cycles
If you have a tandem or tricycle, you should always check and receive confirmation that there will be sufficient space for it. Weigh the cycle and measure its length, width and height, as the airline may ask for these dimensions. These machines should be carried on flights using Boeing 747 or McDonnell Douglas DC10 and similar 'long haul' type of aircraft. Where smaller aircraft are used, these machines may have to be transported on a different (larger) plane and arrive slightly after you.

Weight of cycle and baggage allowance

Most airlines (although there are exceptions - see later) will carry a bike (tandem or tricycle) free of charge, because bike, plus panniers etc, usually fall within each person's total baggage allowance (normally

plastic bag so that they become in effect one 'piece' of luggage. You will need to bring with you to the airport any straps or packaging.

Ambassador, Airtours, Ansett, Britannia, Excalibur, Jersey European, Lauda Air (Austria), Meridiana (Italy/Sicily), Sky Shuttle.

Charges for Cycle Carriage

On the majority of flights from the U.K. bikes can be carried free of charge, (provided that bike + panniers fall within the free weight allowance). Some airlines however, have recently begun to make a charge for the carriage of cycles e.g. 20-30 per single journey. This charge is made even when total baggage (including bike) falls within the free passenger weight allowance. Those airlines who charge for cycles indicate that the charge is made for 'special handling' and that a charge is also made for items such as skis and surfboards. It is therefore curious that cycles are carried in exactly the same way as they were carried before a charge was levied and certainly brings into question the notion of any special handling'. Always check before booking whether there is a charge for your cycle. It is worth shopping around between the airlines to try and get the best deal. You may like to seek confirmation in writing about any bike charges in order to avoid subsequent confusion. The situation is confusing in that some cyclists have been confronted with a charge at the airport check-in desk despite being assured when booking, that bikes were carried free of charge. The converse is also true that airlines who say they make a charge sometimes do not collect the fee at the check-in desk..

Charges on Scheduled Flights

The following airlines have made charges for the carriage of a cycle:Air Canada charge $65CAN per cycle on all international flights. Aer Lingus will carry bicycles and tandem bicycles as checked baggage: A maximum of 1 Bicycle per person. For flights between Ireland and North America bicycles are part of the free allowance, normal excess baggage rates apply if the passenger carries excess to the free allowance. For ALL other flights there is a fee of 40 or equivalent payable at the airport on the day of departure. This fee is charged on an each-way basis for outbound and return journeys. There is no charge for bicycles for passengers traveling in Business Class. Aer Lingus permits passengers to travel with bicycles where there is space available. A maximum of 6 bicycles can be booked on any aircraft. Bicycles cannot be booked online. To book the bicycle the passenger must contact their local reservations office. To pack bicycles passengers are advised to remove the front wheel and secure it to the frame, lower the handlebars and saddle and place in line with the frame and invert the pedals. From Amsterdam boxes will be provided at a fee of 20.00. Austrian Airlines approx 62 per bike per single journey
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Charges on Charter Flights (you will need to check for

current charges) The following companies have been known to charge for the carriage of a cycle:-

British Airways charge between 28 & 40 per additional bag over the standard allowance. There is no extra baggage allowance for sporting equipment like there used to be. Easyjet charge 18.50 per flight for a cycle (& 18 per normal luggage item). 50kgs maximum weight including other luggage. 32kg max single item. Lufthansa charge 40 each way for bikes carried on flights between Germany and European destinations and 80 on flights between Germany and destinations outside Europe. Manx Airlines charge 5 for a bike each way. Ryan Air make a charge of 40 / 50 each way for the carriage of bikes. SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) charge 30 per bike each way Swiss Air 30 on European flights 60 on intercontinental flights Transavia (Britain - Netherlands) charge 40 (approx 28) each way for the carriage of bikes. Virgin Atlantic Free if part of luggage allowance.

How do I prepare my bike for air travel?

Sadly it is no longer the case that most airlines simply require that luggage is removed, handlebars are turned parallel to the frame and pedals are removed to make the cycle as compact as possible.

1) Removing Pedals
Most, if not all airlines request that you remove your pedals, because projecting pedals can do a lot of damage to other passengers' luggage not to mention baggage handlers' ankles! Pedals also wreak havoc with the paint-work and spokes of any other bikes they're stacked against (or on top of!), so it's well worth taking the precaution of removing them whenever two or more cyclists entrust their bicycles to the same carrier. Ensure that your pedals will unscrew before leaving home! A washer placed between crank and pedal can help. Be careful when putting pedals back into the crank arms, so as not to cross-thread them.

2) Protecting Gears Changing Plane

If your journey involves changing plane, find out whether or not you need to unload/reload the bike and luggage yourself at each destination, otherwise you risk yourself, bike and luggage all ending up at different final destinations! If you arrive at an airport following an international flight and you are travelling onwards by air to another airport in the same country, you are normally expected to reclaim all of your baggage, take it through Customs and Immigration checks and then check it in again for your onward connection. Always ensure that your bike is correctly labelled with your name, address, flight number and destination. In all cases where someone else will be transporting your bike, e.g. at the airport, leave the chain on the largest chainring to protect the teeth, and also on the largest cog to keep the rear gear mechanism as far as possible out of harm's way. This delicate component is easily damaged by careless handling, or the weight of other luggage etc. may easily bend the gear hanger too (the part of the frame to which it is attached). Derailleur guards (as fitted on cheaper bicycles) are available but are not much stronger than the part they are intended to protect. An original and so far successful piece of advice is to undo the bolt which secures the derailleur to the frame: leaving it hanging by its cable and the chain. With mechanism and hanger thus separated, neither are
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likely to be bent. A cable tie can be used to lightly secure the derailleur to the frame.

rarely stocked by shops) it is possible to make your own axle substitutes out of old solid axles and a few nuts. If you have quick release wheels, a neat idea is to take the quick release unit from the removed wheel and use it to secure a length of metal tubing cut to fit between the drop-outs. If you don't have a local hardware shop that sells reasonably stout half inch (12 mm) or larger alloy tubing (saves weight), the steel tubing sold for making D.I.Y. wardrobe rails will do fine. Copper water-piping is too light and soft to remain secure.

3) Loose Items
It is a good idea to remove all loose items: pump, lights, detachable light brackets, waterbottle, etc rather than risk losing them. Bottle cages are rather vulnerable too, and when removed take up little extra space if the water bottle is put inside. Some people choose to strap loose items into place with PVC insulating tape, which is tough and doesn't damage the paintwork. This not only prevents items from falling off, but also saves you having to make room in your luggage for them. It is also much harder to bend the waterbottle cage with the waterbottle in place. True, there's some chance of theft, but the risk seems to be higher for completely unsecured items. Some dynamo lamps are in vulnerable positions and may be easily damaged. Fit a miniature plug and socket in the cable for easier removal.

5) Tyres
A well inflated tyre cushions and protects the whole wheel from damage due to rough handling, particularly the rim, and prevents the weight of the bike pinching the inner tube, thus causing a puncture. It is unfortunate therefore that many carriers insist that tyres have to be deflated when carried by air, because of the danger of a sudden blowoff. The reduction in atmospheric pressure with altitude has the same effect upon a tyre as increasing the pressure inside it by anything up to 15psi; and although the vast majority of aircraft holds are pressurised this cannot be relied upon. Such an increase might easily unseat a large, low-pressure truck tyre, which could then do considerable damage. A high-pressure cycle tyre, on the other hand, can generally stand another 15psi and even if it couldnt it would only harm itself. A few, more enlightened airlines such as British Airways have been known to relax this rule in the case of cycles. In any event, the most that needs to be done is to reduce tyre pressure by 15psi; so try to leave as much pressure in your tyres as will nevertheless convince the check-in staff that you have deflated them.

4) Wheels
Wherever possible wheels should be left in the frame rather than removed. Frame, forks, chainwheels and gear mechanisms become more exposed and easily damaged when wheels are removed. Keeping the wheels in place also means that baggage handlers can move your bike around more easily. Occasionally airlines require that either one (the front) or both wheels are removed, and trying to persuade them otherwise, doesn't always work. It's worth trying at least to have the rear wheel left in. If a wheel is removed it is advisable to replace it with a "travel axle" to stop the weight of other luggage pressing the forks together. In case you cannot find a proprietary travel axle (such things have been made but are

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6) Handlebars
Airlines usually require handlebars to be turned parallel to the frame. If the front wheel and mudguard are also to be removed, there is no need to loosen the handlebars. You can just turn them parallel to the frame and leave the forks pointing to the side. Where both wheels are left in the frame and it is required that handlebars are loosened and turned through 90 degrees, parallel to the frame, it is advisable not to fully retighten the expander bolt in the handlebar stem. Only tighten it enough to stop it coming loose in transit. This way the steering will 'give', if anything really heavy is propped against the front wheel and thus prevent the wheel from buckling. Use a toe-strap to bind the bars to the frame. Drop handlebars should be rotated in the stem so that the brake levers are downwards rather than projecting out to one side of the bicycle. The curve of the handlebar can usually be hooked under the top-tube. Any bar-end gear shifters now project upwards of course, but experience indicates that they are less likely to be damaged in this position. A length of plastic piping could be used to enclose bar-end levers as added protection.

8) Protection/Bike Bags/Bike Boxes

Many airlines now insist on the use of bike bags or boxes. Few, however, actually provide boxes or bags themselves. Check any requirements directly with the airline. Most baggage handlers prefer bicycle wheels to remain in the frame. This means that the bike can be wheeled along and doesn't become an unwieldy object which is awkward to lift - and likely to be thrown about.... Sadly the views of baggage handlers seem to count for less these days. A bike bag or box (except for a rigid, expensive box), may protect your paintwork but will offer little, if any, extra protection against damage to your bike. If you chose to use a bike box it is not recommended to use the box for the carriage of smaller items as well as the bike as these items might drop out and be lost whilst in transit. The box might also be opened and searched by check-in staff and delay check-in. A bagged or boxed bike can encourage baggage handlers to stack the bike on its side and to place other luggage on top. A bike in this position is liable to damage - it's far better to keep the bike vertical. It may also be helpful if the bike can be recognised as a bike. Strips of cardboard, newspaper, foam padding (plumbers pipe lagging) and old inner tubes make good frame padding. They are light (if bulky) and can sometimes be left at airline desks or in the 'Left Luggage' lockers at airports for a fee (sometimes expensive), and then collected for your return flight. Where
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7) Mudguards
In the (rare) event of both wheel and mudguard having to be removed, strap them together. Suggested arrangement of cycle as opposite. By strapping the wheel and mudguard to the right hand side of the cycle, it will help protect both front and rear gear mechanisms. It is advisable not to bind the front wheel too tightly, as you may bend it.

to leave packing is likely to be one of your main headaches. Someone you pay money to is the most likely to help and this is probably going to be your first hotel.

Cardboard cloaks and cases are sometimes used by those who can find some way of transporting and storing them. They enable the cycle to be wheeled along and can be obtained from bike shops. However, they offer relatively little protection to your cycle (see above). Fabric bike bags may prevent any loose items on your bike from getting lost but again, only provide a modicum of protection - mainly to the finish of your cycle. Proprietary bags are generally designed for racing cycles without mudguards or racks, so do some measuring before you buy! Larger bags will allow you, if you prefer, to protect the more delicate parts of your cycle with extra padding. Sewing instructions for making your own are available from CTC Touring Dept with an SAE. Carradice (Tel 01282 615886) manufacture a padded, heavy-duty fabric bike bag costing about 70. Polythene: either a bag or a large sheet wrapped and taped around the bike, provides some protection to paintwork and (if transparent polythene is used) prevents your cycle becoming just another anonymous parcel. Good hardware stores often sell heavy gauge polythene off a roll. 2m x 2m is sufficient, with good quality PVC insulating tape to secure all edges. (Inferior brands of PVC tape won't stick to polythene). Or you can sometimes re-use the large bags in which domestic appliances & furniture are delivered. British Airways can provide a perfectly sized (2m x lm) stout polythene bag into which you can wheel your cycle, plus tape with which to secure it. [See earlier section for further information on polythene bags still

our preferred method of packaging. Contact the airline, with whom you are flying, well in advance to ascertain whether they can supply bags. Most will not, but its worth trying. We know that bags were available in one terminal at Heathrow, but this may no longer be the case. Were not even sure they can be obtained at Gatwick see earlier section any more.] Rigid/Plastic bike boxes are a more expensive option and, again, are intended to fit completely stripped-down racing and mountain-bikes. The VK International bike box (Tel 01206 212507) costs around 190. Hire of bike bags and boxes is possible from some bike shops / cycle hire centres. The best place to look for companies offering bike bag hire is in the back pages of Cycling Weekly magazine.

9) Tools
Carry tools (except puncture repair kit see below), spares and heavy items in your hand luggage on flights to avoid incurring any excess baggage charges. If your bicycle comes through first, this also enables you to start reassembling it whilst waiting for the rest of your luggage. It is a good idea to allow extra time at the baggage check/ X-ray machine, in case your tool kit is investigated! On flights to Northern Ireland and other 'sensitive' destinations, the carriage of tools as hand luggage is prohibited. Do be aware that since 9-11 the carriage of the most unlikely objects may be prohibited in hand luggage. Best to stow it all in your hold luggage.

10) Rubber Solution

Airlines have become more concerned over the carriage of potentially dangerous substances - including rubber solution. We suggest that only new tubes of rubber solution where the seal is unbroken are used, and that rubber solution is carried in a puncture repair kit box/tin which is
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then sealed with sellotape/PVC tape and placed in the hold luggage. For further details contact the airline with whom you plan to fly.

Carefully examine the cycle on completing the journey. Any damage to your cycle or loss of luggage must be immediately reported. A claims form (baggage irregularity form), must be filled in, before leaving the baggage reclaim area of the airport or railway station in order to claim compensation. The occasional bit of bending back into place and minor wheel trueing are not taken seriously; and don't expect a re-spray because of a few scratches. If worrying about your immaculate machine will spoil your holiday, leave it at home. Regard a few knocks in transit as part of the wear and tear of touring and take steps to minimise their effect.

13) Mud and Oil

It is a good idea to make sure that your bike is clean before you set off. Baggage handlers won't be impressed with dirty/oily chains etc. Customs personnel in some countries e.g. New Zealand, may hosedown your bike to eradicate any 'foreign bodies' present in mud, etc, before you are allowed through.

What to do if you receive conflicting advice about how to prepare you cycle for air travel
Any problems? The best people to talk to are those who will actually deal with your bike, i.e. the baggage handling company for your flight. Your airline or travel agent can tell you who they are, or if you have already bought a ticket, their details may be on this. Always check requirements before you buy your ticket.

We recommend that you take out insurance to cover your cycle whilst it is in transit on planes. This is because if your cycle does suffer serious damage, the airlines compensation is limited to around 200 - 300 per cycle (depending on the weight allowance). The cost of repairing damage to an expensive cycle may not be covered by the airline, so if you dont have separate insurance you could find yourself out of pocket. The CTC can offer cycle insurance - please contact us for details.

At the Airport
Get to the airport in plenty of time to prepare your cycle for travel. Go to the check-in area and locate a quiet spot where you can prepare your bike without being in the way of other passengers. When you check your bike and luggage in, ensure that all items (including your bike) are labelled with your name, flight number and destination. At your destination, your cycle will usually be brought into the baggage reclaim area by some means other than the standard luggage conveyor belt system. It may be brought in through a side door, or on a trolley, or delivered via a special conveyor belt for larger items. Ask an airport attendant for details. Your panniers etc. will arrive in the usual way with other passengers' luggage from your flight.

Disclaimers/damage waivers
Some airlines view bicycles as fragile items and refuse to accept any liability for their loss, damage etc. Passengers are required to sign a 'disclaimer' form before cycles are accepted onto such flights. Examples of airlines to which this applies are: Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines (flights to the USA), Air 2000, Air Atlantis (flights to Portugal) and Ukraine International Airlines. Anyone travelling with such airlines

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is strongly advised to take out adequate insurance to cover their cycle whilst in transit, (eg CTC Insurance) .

Airlines - requirements of the more popular ones

You will need to check the current situation with the airline of your choice. British Airways (updated 07/07/2010) If you are travelling cattle class (known as World Traveller) you are restricted to one item of luggage weighing a maximum of 23kgs and measuring no more than 90cm x 75cm x 43cm (35.5ins x 29.5ins x 16ins) including the handle, pockets and wheels. BA raise this to 190cm x 75cm x 65cm (75in x 29.5in x 25.5in) including the handle, pockets and wheels but state that items of this size will be returned to you at your destination airport separately to the normal carousel. This is therefore the maximum size your cycle can be. The weight allowance is the same at 23kgs. This allowance is increased to two bags if travelling to the Americas, the Caribbean, Nigeria, Ghana or Kenya, OR if you are travelling World Traveller Plus. You may also carry on one item of hand luggage. Whilst this item is seldom weighed, there is a strict size limit, which is 56x45x25cm ~ (22x18x10in). You may also carry a laptop and a briefcase. So, if you are carrying four panniers, you will need to find a way of forming them into a single item measuring no more than 90cm x 75cm x 43cm (35.5ins x 29.5ins x 16ins). B.A. require that pedals be removed, handlebars turned through 90 degrees. British Airways state that it is not necessary for tyres to be deflated on their flights.

Easyjet Bicycles will be carried free of charge and will only be accepted for carriage provided that the following conditions are met: The bicycle must be packaged in a bicycle box or bag Only one bicycle per bicycle box or bag will be permitted No other items can be carried in the bicycle box (i.e. clothing) The handlebars must be flush with the frame The pedals must be flush against the frame or removed Passengers travelling with bicycles are recommended to check-in 2 hours prior to departure. For further information go to, then to Contact Us and type bicycles into the Search Text box. KLM Bike boxes or fully enclosed bags are required on KLM flights. KLM bike boxes are required and available from Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester Airports only in the U.K and are also required and available for flights from or via Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. These are provided by KLM for 10. each and measure 175 x 21.5 x 105 cms. Take parcel tape with you - as the boxes need strengthening. Boxes may be available in the Netherlands if requested in advance. Iberia Bikes are carried free of charge if they fall within passenger's weight allowance. No packaging is required, it is up to you if you want to package the bike. Deflate tyres, turn handlebars, remove pedals. It is NOT necessary to remove front wheel (despite what Reservations Dept may say). Tandems etc are usually carried subject to space. When you make a reservation, make sure that you have the dimensions of your tandem etc handy. If you encounter any problems ring the Cargo Department Tel 0181 897 3445. Viva Air is a part of the Iberia group and use 737 planes. The Iberia carriage conditions apply to Viva Air flights. Air France Cycles are carried free of charge if baggage falls within weight allowance of 20kg. Long distance flights may use the criteria of
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baggage size to levy a charge - check in advance of travel. Preparation of bikes as for British Airways, but bike bags are not available. Virgin Atlantic (updated 18/11/07) Passengers can take one piece of sporting equipment free of charge, in addition to their free baggage allowance. The sporting equipment can weigh no more than 32kg. If the sports equipment weighs more than 32kg, the item will be treated as two pieces of checked baggage, excess baggage charges will then apply. Please note: no single piece of baggage weighing more than 32kg will be accepted for carriage without prior consent. Protective box or bag required.

0870 850 2825 from outside the UK: +44 121 410 5228 Fax: 0121 410 5037 from outside the UK: +44 121 410 5037 Email:

General Airport Parking Comparison Web Sites

Hand Baggage
Just to repeat an earlier warning: in the light of recent terrorist activities, security at airports continues to be so stringent that it could be described as having reached paranoia level understandable, but irritating when a security guard looks at your pedals and calls them a lethal weapon! Do bear this in mind and pack everything that, in your wildest imaginings, could be used as a weapon in your panniers in the hold of the aircraft. Items confiscated are now retained until you return to your original departure airport; ie, you dont get them back when you arrive at your holiday destination.

Call CTC on 0844 736 8450 if you need further assistance finding contact details for car parks.

Other information from CTC which you may find helpful

1) 2) Getting to Heathrow Airport with a Cycle Getting to Gatwick Airport with a Cycle The above two booklets provide advice and information about access by cycle/train/bus/London Underground to each airport. Maps of the airports are included and there are details of left luggage facilities for cycles. Taking a cycle by train in Britain a list of the train operating companies and their policies for cycle carriage. Information about making cycle reservations on trains. Cycles on Buses a list of buses and coaches in Britain which carry cycles. Transport for groups of cyclists a list of private companies who have vehicles / cycle trailers available for hire which can accommodate groups of people/cycles. Cycles on Cars.

3) 4) 5) 6)

Airport Car-Parking
Heathrow & Gatwick : Parking Express If you have any questions or difficulties, the contact details are: Telephone:

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7) 8)


European Bike Express (details of the specialist coach and cycle trailer service which takes cyclists to and from popular cycling destinations in Europe. Sending cycles as unaccompanied baggage. A list of companies who will accept cycles as baggage and offer a forwarding service for cycles from one address to another. Cycles on the London Underground. A map showing the lines open to cyclists and at what times.

All of the above booklets are available free of charge to CTC members please send a large SAE, quoting your membership number.

Links to discussion forums and websites which discuss taking cycles on planes (ongoing forum discussion)

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