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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    350

    Shipping Bike Fed Ex or take it on the plan

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    I am taking a trip to do a ride in Seattle, my friend is worried that the TSA will open his bike suitcase and then jumble up all the peices and loose things. The way his bike fits in the suitcase, if you distrub it things would be complicated.

    So have any of you had experiences either with Fed Ex or the airlines ore both? Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    California
    Posts
    209
    Quote Originally Posted by ACG View Post
    I am taking a trip to do a ride in Seattle, my friend is worried that the TSA will open his bike suitcase and then jumble up all the peices and loose things. The way his bike fits in the suitcase, if you distrub it things would be complicated.

    So have any of you had experiences either with Fed Ex or the airlines ore both? Thanks

    I have a Bike Friday that fits in a suitcase that I can check in as regular luggage. A few years ago I took it with me on Southwest from California to Maryland. When packing it, I took pictures of each step and a final picture of how it was all packed in at the end. I printed the pictures out and put my name and cell phone number with a note to TSA to contact me in case they had problems getting it all back together. This all went in the suitcase with the bike. The bike made it to Maryland fine and it didn't look like anyone had opened it. When I got back to California, it looked like someone may have looked through it but everything was still fine. No problems..
    Last edited by Sylvia; 08-10-2013 at 11:18 PM.
    Bike Friday Petite Crusoe
    Terry Trixie
    Gary Fisher beater bike

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Puget Sound area, Washington state
    Posts
    765
    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvia View Post
    I have a Bike Friday that fits in a suitcase that I can check in as regular luggage. A few years ago I took it with me on Southwest from California to Maryland. When packing it, I took pictures of each step and a final picture of how it was all packed in at the end. I printed the pictures out and put my name and cell phone number with a note to TSA to contact me in case they had problems getting it all back together. This all went in the suitcase with the bike. The bike made it to Maryland fine and it didn't look like anyone had opened it. When I got back to California, it looked like someone may have looked through it but everything was still fine. No problems..
    I have a bike with couplers and use a case that is 62 sq inches/not oversize/not overweight, so it goes as a checked bag. I use a security net http://www.sandsmachine.com/ac_net.htm and add a note - similar to Sylvia - saying that the "bicycle parts" are packed carefully so as not to damage them and that all can be viewed just by lifting the security net. I include details of my itinerary and contact info too and tape this piece of paper to the top of it all; an envelope contains 4 pics of the tube covers on bikes and the packing process...Might be overkill but, while my bike case has been opened (TSA lock), my packing has never been messed up and so I will continue same to avoid them pulling everything apart!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,984
    I'm intrigued that your suitcase would be opened if checked in. I would have expected that more as carry-on....

    I fly Air Canada. And have not used an U.S. airline for over a decade.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    I've shipped my bike FedEx in its hard case at least ten times. No problems. Even if safety were equal, there's that whole "not having to schlep an enormous 50# suitcase through an airport and having to hire a van instead of a regular taxi" thing.

    Freight haulers may also open containers, though obviously it's less common than it is with the TSA. DH and I have both had situations where our cases have arrived with the fastenings loose - my bike once from FedEx, his camera gear once on the airlines. Thankfully everything was still secure inside, but the lesson there is to pack everything as much as possible so that it won't rattle even if the outer fastenings are loose. After that experience, I sharpie'd arrows on the outside of my case pointing to the straps with the words "Please re-tighten all straps if opened."

    (I also sharpie'd my name, cell # and email address on the inside of all my luggage and shipping cases. A piece of paper with that information is just as likely to get lost as anything else inside. What should go on a piece of paper is your destination information if your permanent contact information won't reach you at your destination - if you won't be able to check email, for instance, or if you'll be out of cell phone range.)

    It isn't only the USA that opens cases, anyway. That's worldwide.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    93
    Quote Originally Posted by shootingstar View Post
    I'm intrigued that your suitcase would be opened if checked in. I would have expected that more as carry-on....

    I fly Air Canada. And have not used an U.S. airline for over a decade.
    All the airlines can and do open luggage, especially when the x-ray shows a jumble of metallic objects. I also put a note in with my Friday, and while I am pretty sure it's been opened from time to time, it's not been damaged. Touch wood.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,984
    Quote Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
    All the airlines can and do open luggage, especially when the x-ray shows a jumble of metallic objects. I also put a note in with my Friday, and while I am pretty sure it's been opened from time to time, it's not been damaged. Touch wood.
    Anyway, I've put my bike in a box. Other times it's been merely in a large plastic bag or soft bag for folding bike.

    My partner has dealt with a more expensive bike $4,000 and in a big box...he's flown well over 10 different plane trips. Bike got derailleur damage...once.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    For those that choose to transport the bike via the airline, do you purchase trip insurance to cover the cost of the bike and any tour/trip that you're taking that might be impacted if the bike is damaged, delayed or lost in transit? I certainly would consider that if I opted to fly with my bike.

    The other concern I'd note is that there is no guarantee--and I say this from personal experience--that checked baggage will arrive on time and on the same plane. I've had several instances where my checked bags didn't make it on time either at my destination or coming home. So, if timing is a concern for you, I'd lean towards Fed Ex and give yourself enough time for a delay on their end as well.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    564
    I prefer FedEx for a few reasons:

    a) reliable tracking
    b) has a better chance of actually getting there (sometimes I wish I could ship *myself* via FedEx)
    c) better insurance in case something does go terribly wrong

    -- gnat!
    Windsor: 2010 S-Works Ruby
    Pantysgawn: 2011 S-Works Stumpjumper 29er
    Whiz!: 2013 S-Works Crux (Singlespeed)
    Boucheron: 2009 S-Works Tricross
    Haloumi: 2013 Tern P7i
    Kraft: 2009 Singlecross
    Gouda: 2005 Electra Betty
    Roquefort: 1974 Stella SX-73

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    93
    I was in Italy this summer, and had a serious debate with myself on whether to take the Friday, or rent a bike from the tour company. I ended up with the rental, which was a pretty clunky hybrid, but it got me from a to b, which was the main point.

    But there again, it took six days for my luggage to show up because of a major airline snafu, so it's just as well I went for the rental. Can you imagine a seven-day bike vacation when you didn't have a bike to ride for the first six of them?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    California
    Posts
    209
    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel View Post
    For those that choose to transport the bike via the airline, do you purchase trip insurance to cover the cost of the bike and any tour/trip that you're taking that might be impacted if the bike is damaged, delayed or lost in transit? I certainly would consider that if I opted to fly with my bike.
    When I took my Bike Friday from California to Maryland, I didn't purchase any insurance. And everything was fine. So I may have been lucky. However, I chose specifically to take Southwest airlines. I had been reading on the internet that some airlines might charge considerably more if I were bringing a bike regardless of what size case it was in. So I decided to go with Southwest since they specifically mentioned Bike Fridays and that as long as the case is within their limits, I would not be charged more. See here. So if you choose to fly a bike, I'd suggest checking the the specific airline's policies on taking bikes.

    I would think for most people, who would fly that distance to do a ride, that renting a bike would make a lot more sense, but in my case, my bike fit is so out of the norm that it really wouldn't make sense.
    Bike Friday Petite Crusoe
    Terry Trixie
    Gary Fisher beater bike

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    I buy trip insurance any time my trip involves a tour of some kind. Otherwise, if either I or my gear are delayed in some way, I have some way to recoup the cost of the tour and/or any out of pockets expenses I might incur because of delayed or damaged baggage.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    350
    UPDATE
    My riding partner was a little paranoid, so he fed exed the bikes from his company to our hotel. He slow boated it. No problem, hotel held onto the suitcases. Bikes were fine and un desterbed. After talking to several other riders doing the same ride (Seattle to Vancouver), we decided to try and take the bikes with us on the plane ride home. We were flying Alaska. From Seattle to Burbank, Ca.

    We got the the airport checked in, the bags were tagged and weighed, we then took the bags to the TSA area where they check in oversize luggage, animals and firearms.
    The people at the Alaska baggage desk said they couldn't guarantee that our bags wouldn't be opened and that going directly to the TSA was the only way to go.
    The TSA was very helpful! Opened our suitcases in front of us, scanned the bags, put a tag in the bags, locked them up and took them to our airplane.

    It was about another 30 minutes but worth it. I didn't pay for an oversize bag because the bag/suitcase weighed under 50lbs.

    I don't know if they would be as helpful as other airlines but this was quite easy.

    My biggest concern was to have missing peices or a cracked frame.

    I hope that this information helps any other TE travelers!!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    2,024
    Be very careful with FedEx GROUND. While FedEx ground is certainly cheaper than UPS or FedEx AIR, we learned the hard way that regardless of the declared value, and how much 'insurance' you purchased, they are only liable for $100 if your bike is lost/stolen (with UPS or Fedex AIR it is really insured for the declared value). We also learned the workers are not employed by the company but by various local depots, and are not as well compensated as UPS or FedEx AIR, so there is more corruption. My husband shipped his Bike to boston to ride to vermont for a scientific meeting. It never arrived. Tracking showed it arrive at one location but not leave. All they told us is that it was lost and we are entitled to $100 even though we paid a surcharge to cover the $2000 it was worth. Turned out a good friend of ours knows someone high up at FedexGround management (their kinds are friends), and sent him all the info. including a pic of my husband riding the bike. Turned out a worker at the depot it went missing from was spotted riding the bike to work by the supervisor that got the pics of the bike. He was arrested, and the case and accesories were all recovered from his apartment. He even had the nerve to wear my husbands helmets and shoes to work! But we were lucky. Never again will I use Fedex ground. Regular Fedex is OK, as is UPS. I have an S/S coupled bike and just take it in the S/S case. So far no problems, but I should probably get one of those TSA nets.
    Last edited by Triskeliongirl; 08-22-2013 at 06:19 PM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,984
    Wow, triskelion. Good advice.

    Just curious: when one ships by FedEx, do you actually have to state that a bike is inside that box/container?

    No, I haven't purchased any travel insurance when travelling by plane or air for lost baggage. I fly at least 2-3 times per yr. All these shipping problems, remind me how worthwhile it is for me to keep a bike locally with another family member, in other cities, where I visit family in Canada annually. We have taken bike trips out from those cities when I visit.

    But then, when I've flown with my bike, my bike is worth ....ie. under $1,200. Ok by me! I'd rather not obsess over a lot more expensive bike. It's worth it for me to fly with a bike for certain situations if the bike touring vacation is long enough, since renting a bike that fits me with the proper gearing and weight is very difficult for my size. This has been true for even bike friendly cities where there are bike shops, more cycling culture. In Europe it's a drag for me to find a bike that fits. It amuses/amazed me in Copenhagen, I kept on seeing bikes that were way too big for me in bike shops there.

    What would be interesting here for TE members, if they are comfortable to leave their bike in a bike train car if ie. they were travelling several hundred km. by train anywhere in Europe. And those train cars aren't necessarily looked after by an train employee during the train ride. People just go and get their bikes, get off the train. Sometimes you can lock up your bike and other times it's not that simple/possible. If you're bike has panniers locked on, of course, it's less of an incentive for anyone to steal an expensive touring bike when it's loaded already with panniers.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 08-25-2013 at 01:20 PM.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

 

 

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