On this page we attempt to make available the experience of individual bicycle tourists who have travelled with Swissair (you can share your experiences here).
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.
Swiss Rail, SwissAir, Trico Sports
Good experience with Swiss Rail/SwissAir/Trico Sports hard bike luggage on a recent vacation.
We left Boston on SwissAir for a six day cycling trip to lakes Maggiore, Varese, Como, and Lugano (Ticino Switzerland, and north Lombardy Italy) starting in Locarno and ending in Lugano. We used Zurich airport for our gateway.
Upon landing at Zurich airport which contains a train station on the premises, we bought our train tickets to Locarno, and then checked the bikes at the train station in the airport through to Locarno. The cost of transporting two bikes (packed in TricoSports hardsided cases) and one large suitcase (containing bike racks, panniers, helmets) was 30 SFr.
The bikes arrived in Locarno about three hours after we did. Since the trip to Locarno involved three separate trains, we were quite pleased. We assembled the bikes at the Locarno station and then sent on the empty cases and the empty suitcase to Lugano which was our destinaton at the end of the bicycling portion of the trip. Cost of shipping the empty cases from Locarno to Lugano was again 30 SFr. We did not need to buy a train ticket from Locarno to Lugano (we rode the bikes).
After six days we picked up the bike boxes and suitcase at the Lugano train station. There were no charges for the six days of storage.
We retrieved the boxes and packed up everything at the station. Tearing down the two bikes and wrapping everything up took about 1.5 hours.
We then checked in at the Lugano train station for our flight to Boston, that is we got our airline boarding passes and checked our two bike boxes and one suitcase all the way through to Boston.
We then traveled by rail to Zurich, where we spent our last night, with only a couple of half empty panniers as hand luggage. Turns out that the bikes were loaded on the same train as the train by which we traveled to Zurich. There was no charge for transporting the bikes from Lugano to Zurich airport because it was part of the SwissAir checkin.
Everything arrived at Logan airport in Boston in great shape. All in all, minimum hassle and great service by SwissRail and SwissAir.
Swissair did not charge us for transporting the bikes.
We have packed bikes in flimsy airline boxes for many trips in the past, so we can't say enough good things about the Trico cases. Among their virtues is that two of them fit in the rear seat of a medium sized car (Maxima. Camry) making getting to and from the airport in the US less complex.
Unlike cardboard boxes which disolve in the rain, the Trico boxes stand up quite well to the weather, and don't require lots of reinforcing duct tape to keep them from bursting.
Stanley N. Lapidus, July 15, 2000