Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Bringing a bike on a plane trip



Should we -- or can we -- really bring our bikes when we go on a foreign trip via plane?

I thought it was plain madness that would bring unnecessary hassles when my friend insisted that we bring our folding bikes on our trip to Seoul.

As a frequent traveler, I know that I’m bound to try my luck (again!) on getting away with exceeding on my baggage space on my flight back home as I figure out how to fit my accumulated nick-knacks in a standard 20-kilo baggage allowance. What more with a 14-kilo bicycle?

And knowing South Korea as a progressive country especially when it comes to the use of bikes as alternative mode of transportation, I was pretty sure renting a bike would be a cinch -- and a better option at that.

But my friend stood her ground: “whether you’re bringing your bike or not, I’ll bring mine.”

She won. I succumbed to peer pressure.

So if your friends are gonna do the same to you or if you’re simply curious if it’s indeed possible to bring a bike in a plane (YES IT IS POSSIBLE!), here’s what I did:

1. Before packing my bags, I made sure that I’m not paying for excess baggage by calling up my airline to inquire about buying additional baggage space. Frequent travelers can surely relate to that horrendous sight of that digital weighing scale indicating that your baggage has exceeded a kilo, and next, the rip-off rates for excess baggage that can go from P200 to P600 per kilo (about $5 to $14), and thousands of pesos elsewhere (say, in Italy, where RyanAir charged me 40 euros for excess baggage!). The per kilo rate is much more expensive compared to buying additional luggage space beforehand. Additional five kilos of baggage allowance can cost about P1,000. If you fail to buy additional baggage allowance while booking your ticket, this can be arranged by calling your airline at least four hours before your flight. Just prepare your credit card for faster transaction.

Some airlines say sports equipment are charged differently. But since my bike is foldable and not used for competition, it’s not really necessary to declare it as a sports equipment where airlines charge higher rates. When the ground attendants ask you what’s inside that oversize bag, be honest and tell them that it’s a folding bike.
Just so you have an idea, that's how big my folding bike is when put inside a bike bag. The stroller was destroyed upon arrival in Seoul. Photo by Sharon Bancoro.
2. Pack your bike in a proper bike bag. I borrowed a bike bag from a fellow biker, where my Enda Leo folding bike fit perfectly. In order to reduce scratches on your bike during the course of the plane ride, buy some bubble wrap from the hardware store (about P30 or less than $1 per meter in Manila). If you have extra budget, buy some foam so that your bike won’t rip the bag. Ask the check in guys to put “fragile” mark on your bike bag. Well, I don’t really think the baggage handlers take the fragile mark seriously, but hey, my bike came out fine except that I lost one of the wheels of my stroller.

That's my bike with the bubble wrap and the bike bag ready for check in!

3. Don’t forget to bring your helmet and other gears like air pump, lights and blinkers, and some ropes to tie your stuff with if you have a bike rack, and of course a chain with a lock so you can leave your bike in peace while you’re checking out the tourist attractions.

In full battle gear: biking in Bukcheon in Seoul with my helmet and a backpack-full of gears! Photo by Sharon Bancoro.

4. Pack light! Make sure the luggage that contains your clothes and other personal effects is light enough as it can be difficult going out of the airport, taking the bus or train to your hotel while dragging a heavy luggage and a big bike bag.

My friend's luggage including the bike inside the Brompton bag. If you just have this and a small knapsack, you'll be fine. Photo by Sharon Bancoro.
Was bringing my own bike worth the excess baggage fee and the hassle of having to lug an oversize bag? Hell yeah, and I'm gonna do it again for my next trip!


3 comments:

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Saibog said...

No wonder your friend was persistant in bringing her bike. She's a Bromptonaut ;)