On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with SAS (you can share your experiences here).
Table of Contents
Amtrak -- Chicago to Kansas City
The only possible draw-back to this, is that you have to make reservations in advance. So that you might be pressed for time if you make a sidetrip.
Air travel to Vienna with Boxed Tandem on Lufthansa United SAS & Austrian
I recently returned from a trip to Austria and Italy with my Tandem from Portland, Oregon. I booked the ticket from United and flew Lufthansa & Austrian to Vienna and then SAS and United on return.
Before I travelled I checked the websites and called all the airlines with which I was flying to make sure that there was a note with my reservation and to confirm policies.
Lufthansa do not charge for the bike as long as it is one of your two pieces of check-in luggage and weighs under 23Kg. If it weighs between 23Kg and 32Kg the extra baggage charge is $50. If you check it as a 3rd piece of baggage as a bike the charge is currently $100 with a 32Kg max. At over 32Kg's the charges are very high.
Despite weighing it at home my bike weighed 34Kg at check-in but fortunately they turned a blind eye to the extra 2kg and charged me $50. The length restriction for checked baggage does not seem to apply to bikes (mine was in a carboard box obtained free from a bike shop that measured 73x11x31 inches)but it is probably 2 meters in any one dimension. Lufthansa do not require that the bike be packaged but the handlebars must be turned. The regulations for SAS and Austrian appear to be the same as Lufthansa. United have stricter rules but the regulations that matter are the ones for the airline that you start your flight with. But I called United anyway and they also said that if the bike was part of your checked baggage that there should be no charge as long as it was less than 23Kg and no single diemension larger than 80". However, a friend that travelled to Europe this summer with a solo bike on United was charged $85 even though it was a one of his 2 checked pieces of baggage. I would advize calling United and getting this settled in advance of your flight and a note put in with your reservation.
On my return I reduced the bike box weight to under 23Kg by removing pedals, wheels, lock, one handlebar and tools and putting them in my second checked in piece (in a cardboard box I found behind a store in Vienna - I took the rest of my baggage as carry-on)and when I checked in with SAS at Vienna I did not have to pay anything.
I would advize checking in at least two and a half hours before your flight leaves to leave time to resolve unexpected problems.
Here are some additional sites (but they do contain some inacurate information):
I don't think it is possible to cycle in to town from Vienna airport. I had to hire a van taxi for E68 to take me to a hotel downtown where I stored the box and stayed after the trip. If you could arrange this in advance it could be cheaper (try Teri at 0650 600-3383). When checking in at Vienna you should go to the check in counter for bulky items which is behind you as you face the Austria airlines check in counters.
I will post my experiences of travel on Austrian and Italian trains in another post.
Austria, France Slovenia, NorwaySouth-west France
Toured in 2002. Easy-going - only problem on ICE trains is that bikes go in a special carriage; nobody at stations knows beforehand where that carriage is which makes it all hectic as French trains don't hang about at stations. And on Fridays, French trains are very crowded.
Toured in 2003. Bike-aware country, no problems taking bikes on trains. You pay (not a lot) but you get service for your money.
Toured in 2003, from Italian border to Postojna via Bled, Lubljana. Not a lot of cycle-track outside Lubljana, but roads aren't too busy and Slovenes are considerate drivers Bikes on trains OK, but if the timetable says 'yes' to bikes, confirm at the local station because in reality some trains do, some don't.
Live here (Stavanger). Trains OK (you pay). Drivers OK: the heirarchy here is pedestrians>cyclists>powered vehicles - driver hits pedestrian, he has big-time problems. Plenty of cycle-tracks in towns, both asphalt and compacted gravel "off-road" suitable for city-bikes and kids. Out in the countryside, tracks and their length relate to the amount of cash the the local 'kommune' can afford.
We use SAS and KLM, from our local (small) airport. Never any problem with bikes - SAS likes a warning that you're bringing one, but generally both airlines regard a bike as 'checked-luggage' (turn the bars and pedals and de-pressurise the tyres, of course)
Only problem we've had was checking them in at Toulouse; KLM in London said no box needed, but young girl 'handling' for KLM mis-read the rules, wouldn't listen to anybody not even her superiors (could here her phone converstion), just being bloody-minded.
Interesting bit of naughtiness. If you're using LHR, you can check -in for some airlines at Paddington; the checkers-in don't question you, don't weigh what you're checking in ... I've transported some incredible items this way, sorts of things it needs two big strong lads to drag across London. gordon large, May 29, 2004
Bikes & Batteries
Flying home to Seattle in July of 2003, we cycled up to the Bergen airport on a great bike path that led to the front door, wheeled our bikes to the SAS counter and they took them very easily with no boxing.
We had to change planes in Copenhagen and that is where the problem started. An airport security person came on board the plane as we sat in our seats and pulled us off saying that our bikes had a problem. We then were walked under the 767 to where one of our bikes was waiting with several men looking at it.
Turns out that our light had its large battery still sitting in the water bottle cage, and everyone thought it could be a bomb. It was removed and destroyed....so don't leave anything on your bike, especially batteries.
Good trip with SAS
In August 2003 I had a round trip from Helsinki to Chicago on SAS. I planned to bring a bike back on the return to Helsinki. I called SAS' Chicago office and they advised that if I had only one "normal" piece of luggage that a boxed bicycle would be treated as a second piece of luggage for no extra charge.
I had a local shop box the bike for me, and I took it to the airport. There were TSA guys inspecting checked baggage right next to the checkin desks, and my friend approached them and asked if the bike was going to be any problem. Airline checkin was no problem, and when we brought the bike to them the TSA guys simply asked "is this the bike?" and didn't need to do anything terribly invasive to the bike. The bike arrived in perfect condition in Helsinki.
No complaints about SAS whatsoever in this case!
Just returned from a trip to the UK from California and everything was fine until I made my Delta Airlines connection in New York headed for San Francisco with my custom touring bike in a box. Virgin had handled its transport up until this time, without charge and without trouble or attitude, but due to unforeseen circumstances I had to switch to Delta.
Check in agent at JFK admitted she really didn't want to charge me to carry the bike in the box but she had no choice...so I put the 80-dollar charge onto my credit card and watched it get carried off for loading. When the Delta baggage guy delivered my bike at Oakland airport there was actually very little of the box left.
Fortunately I did an excellent job of boxing the bike so no parts or accessories were missing. But I was furious that this was how the bike arrived after being handled by Delta for 80-dollars! I tried to get the baggage agent to admit that Delta had screwed up but she was having none of it. She said that despite the fact I had paid more to have the bike on the plane that did not mean it was due any special handling or consideration. She said I could reassemble the bike right there if I wanted to submit any damage claims...but that once I took it from the airport all bets were off when it comes to whether or not the airline would be responsible for damage discovered later.
The Delta baggage office staff at Oakland was not helpful, or understanding of my concerns at all, and just downright rude. If I have a choice in the future I will NOT fly Delta again...and would say you shouldn't either if you're taking a bike you care about.
I recently checked by Trek racing bike as a piece of luggage with SAS airlines from Chicago to Copenhagen. SAS took it as one piece of baggage with no extra charge (just as described when I called to verify their policy).
I removed the pedals, turned the handlebars, and put some protective bubble wrap over the sensitive areas (gear shifters, handlebars, etc.) The bike arrived in perfect condition.
Amtrak -- Kansas City to Jefferson City, MO
This was the Ann Rutledge from KC to Jefferson City, MO.
I had no problems, though I had had a bad experience in the past. The SWB recumbent was easy to fit in the section of the rear car they had removed seats from. The long front boom of the bike was a minor problem getting on the train only once.
Flew Manchester to Copenhagen June 2002. I first phoned ther airline to ask about their bike policy. They told me the bike would be charged as excess baggage but at both Manchester and Copenhagen they took the bike on with no charge and no hassle. No box or bag required - just turn in the handle bars, remove pedals and deflate tyres.Richard Thorpe, July 07, 2002
Bicycle on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
I travelled to the US from Sweden in 2000 and brought my bike in an oversized bag. No problems, no charge. This October I'm doing the same trip. Charges for the bag this time: Sweden-USA, 30 USD. USA-Sweden, 300 USD!!
Of course, I will not bring my bike. Instead I use the money to buy me a bike in the States.
Tandems and airlines
I've gone one better and taken two tandems on commercial flights. Most check in agents do not know their airline's rules for bicycles let alone tandems and tandems do require a bit more space. Its also a lot more difficult to pack and carry it in a bag or box.
My approach is to make sure you have a note put in your booking reference that you are taking a tandem on the flight (even better book direct with the airline) and then write to the airline customer services telling them you are booked on their flight with your tandem and ask for any instructions and for any special handling arrangements to be made.
When you get to check in you can show them a copy of the letter you get back telling them its all been arranged with customer services and its in your booking reference. That will usually instantly remove the I don't know what I'm supposed to do so I'll make something up problem with check in agents
You can't easily pack the tandem without SS couplings so take the pedals off, protect the rear mech and hand it over naked. Its far less likely to get damaged if the handlers can wheel it around than if its a 50lb large box to throw around.
I have flown both SAS and British Airways with tandems. SAS made a small charge but otherwise handled them without problems. BA allocated hold space specifically for the tandems on the flight and made no charge. From other experience I doubt Swissair would be a problem either.
Bikes Fly Free
Your page was recommended to me by a posting on the Biking Across Kansas web site ( http://www.bak.org ), in the message boards area.
While the topic is a little old, I saw a posting on your web site from '97 regarding Adventure Cycling. My wife gave me a one-year membership in Adventure Cycling for Christmas just over a year ago. I was a member all of 1999. And I got nothing out of it.
Adventure Cycling *can* get your bike on a plane for free... but there (of course) a couple of catches:
1) You have to book your flight through one of their travel agencies;
2) The deal only applies when the base price of your round-trip ticket is $300 or more.
I can count on one hand the number of times I bought a plane ticket in the past 10 years (I fly most every year, but it's usually job-related, and paid for by my employer). And I have *never* paid $300 for a plane ticket! Never have, and hopefully never will! When I fly, I look for the cheapest airfare possible--usually this is $150-250. Add the $100 bike charge to it, and then what good has Adventure Cycling done me?
[On a more personal note, I found many other aspects of Adventure Cycling of no use. Some of their bike trips are outrageously expensive, IMHO. They want something like $800 to ride for four days in Wyoming or Montana... and that's after I've provided my own transportation to and from the ride start. In a few weeks, I'll be doing my 3rd BAK. $150 registration, which includes accomodations and some meals. I'll bring along another $200 for the rest of my meals and other travel expenses, and have eight days of cycling with hundreds of great people, seeing this great state... for less than half of most of Adventure Cycling's offerings.]
So make sure you look for hidden strings attached to a club or organization that claims free passage for your bicycle.
Randall Kowalik, May 09, 2000
BAK 2000 -------- _`\<,_
JUNE 10-17 ------ (*)/ (*)
Found on: [email protected]
Shipping bikes ahead by UPS is a practical solution which I've used in the past. If you send them to a local bike shop in Bar Harbor, ME you will have a couple of advantages. Provided you have contacted them in advance, they will be able to receive your bike(s) as a usual delivery item. Hotels (or B&B's) may not be accustomed or prepared for it. For a fee, the shop can assemble the bike for you in advance AND check and repair any shipping damage. More importantly, the return shipping is not likely to go smoothly out of a hotel. Who's going to prepare and pay the UPS charge?
We once shipped our bikes (via 3-day orange label) to a shop in Kansas City, KS to arrive on a Thursday so we could cycle over the weekend. They got lost and never showed until Monday. We told the bike shop to refuse the shipment since we couldn't use them. There was some handling damage which UPS paid for without a hassle. All other pre-shipping experiences went well. Lesson learned: allow extra shipping days.
Be sure you know how to pack a bike (or get your LBS to do it for you). By the time you pay several small charges, you may have the cost of an airline fee.
I don't have the LBS contact info for Bar Harbor, ME. There's at least one shop (was) that rents MT bikes. Shop(s) may be seasonal.
Joe & Carolyn Stafford, February 18, 2000
Joe Stafford Dallastown, PA
Delta has unilaterally decided that trans-atlantic and trans pacific flights will not accept bikes as one piece of luggage the way other airlines do. Sept. of 99 it was $75 to fly my bike to Dublin from Memphis, TN.
Steve Gordon , February 10, 2000
I'm off to Sweden this year on SAS. They still take the bike as one piece of luggage. Best, Steve Gordon
Amtrak -- Chicago to Kansas City
At least since last year, since I used it on my aborted cross plains ride (http://www.netpath.net/~veloman/trip1998.html).
However, be forewarned that the carrying method used on this train is pretty primitive. It's a series of large, flat shelves on which you lay your bike on its side. There didn't appear to be any way to "tie down" the bike, but I guess it didn't slide around too much.
Didn't bother me any, but if you're ultra-sensitive about your bike, you might not like this. Me? I'm just glad they have some sort of roll-on service, and I'll take what I can get.
Amtrak -- Chicago to Kansas City
Don't know when they put this service in place but they now have it on the Ann Rutledge lines between Chicago and Kansas City. You can now ride the KATY Trail and use AMTRAK for return. These are their lines numbered 301-301-104 & 306.
Amtrak -- Mid West
Sara Easler wrote: On Amtrak's Web page (http://www.amtrak.com) several trains are listed as allowing un-boxed bicycles. Does this mean that bicycles can be treated as carry-on baggage on them? Or do they still have to be checked? What are the facilities like?
Just last week they started allowing bikes on the Amtrak train from St. Louis to Kansas City.
1. You must give Amtrak 24 hours notice that you are bringing a bike.
2. It's an extra $10.
3. You must put the bike in the overhead baggage compartment.
I don't know why you must give 24 hours notice unless its to ensure that there will be enough room for the bike. I consider putting the bike in the overhead compartment a very bad idea. Not only could it scratch the paint and bang up components, the baggage compartments will get greasy and tire marked.
Belleville, Illinois, USA
My bicycle is a Trek and my minivan is a Voyager.