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Does anyone know what is involved in taking a mountain bike along when flying out of SFO or SJC?

I'd like to take a trip to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City or possibly Vancouver. I would like to take my bike along if it was reasonable.

I prefer to fly United.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!
 

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newless cluebie
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537 Posts
Get a bike box from a bike shop. Take apart bike. Put it in box. Tape it up real good. Take to airport. Pay oversized luggage fee. Get to destination. Take bike out of box. Assemble. Ride.

Repeat on return flight.

I think United is $100 for oversized bags.. each way.

So, it'll cost you $200 and the hassle of taking apart your bike, twice. Depending on the amount of riding you are planning on doing, you might consider just renting/paying for a demo for a day or two.

I typically travel to Montreal and Austin for work, and at both places I've got a shop I've got a decent relationship with where I can call ahead of time and they'll have a bike waiting. All I need to bring then is a helmet, gloves, pedals and shoes.
 

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Forgiven
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I've got an iron case bike box and fly to the east coast. Traveling with a bike is really not that big a deal imo. Just depends on how much you're gonna ride it when you're there. The last time I flew Virgin (this summer) it was 50 bucks each way but, didn't get charged on the return flight.. mistake windfall I guess. Jet blue used to charge the same. Not sure what it is now. This past trip I bought a small folding single bike car rack too. Now I'm really mobile!

If you go with cardboard be careful. TSA has to search everything.. Plastic bike boxes can be rented from various shops and are easily opened and closed. Plus, I've been able to get them in even the smallest of rental cars. Fold down the back seat and you're good to go or rent a 4 door and stuff it in the back seat.

My bike is way to much fun not to have with me on longer trips.. It's worth every penny.
 

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#AINTNOBODYGOTTIMEFERDAT
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Fly Southwest. I've been to Salt Lake and Seattle this year and it's $50 each way for oversized box. Get cardboard bike box from bike shop. If you tape it up real good it'll last a couple trips. They're free, too. Bust out the Tetris skills to get the whole bike in the box.
 

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Costs vary, as do the front counter's folks knowledge of what the appropriate charges should be.

First thing to determine is the max weight for the airline you choose. You can get double dinged for oversize bag + weight. It was $300 one way to fly back from Vancouver this summer on United for a buddy with a DH bike that exceeded the max weight. I believe it was 60 or 65 lbs. Bike was $200. Overweight was $100.

On the other side was Air Canada - a United partner - who we traveled out of SFO with. $50 total for the same bike. If you are going to Vancouver, do the Air Canada thing. You'll go out the international terminal as well which is much less crazy in my opinion.

Can't comment on the other locations and costs for other airlines. I have learned that being nice/respectful can sometimes get you through for less. It's negotiable if you find the right person.

For a box, I've seen the cardboard bike boxes eaten alive on arrival. Then you're there and what? Tap into your network of bike buddies and find someone that at least has a Dakine soft case, if not a full hard case like the Thule - or buy a hard case. Protect your baby - the airlines won't.

Good luck.
 

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Another option is shipping your bike via UPS from your local bike shop to a shop at your destination. This way you know the charges ahead of time and you can have your bike built and ready to roll at your destination. It will probably end up costing a similar amount to flying or renting but it's your bike and there is no TSA agent digging through your stuff and repacking with no regard for the bike's safety.
 

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From experiance I've learned that TSA opens EVERY bike box to inspect it and then does a crappy job closing it back up again. Make sure all your small parts (pedals, etc) are connected to something like the frame so they don't fall out when this happens.
 
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