Flying with your bike doesn’t need to be stressful!
Heading out on your first HotChillee event? Below are some tips and advice from ONE PRO Insurance Solutions to ensure that your bike arrives at your destination in one piece and ready to ride and, if the worst should happen, that any damage is covered.
Read the airline policy
Pay close attention to the airline’s bike policy. Make sure you print out confirmation that you’ve booked your bike on just in case of issues at check-in. On some airlines, your bike can be part of your baggage allowance but you still sometimes have to book it onto the flight. Your bike box will also have to be under certain dimensions so, double check this too.
The total allowed weight of your bike, box and any kit in it will vary considerably depending on the airline. Some only give you a meagre 23kg (we’ve seen as little as 20kg!) which, with a hard case and a large frame, can be pretty tight. The most you’ll get is 32kg and, although with this amount it can be tempting to cram your box full of other kit, remember you will need to be able to move your box! Also, some airlines state in their policy that no other kit is permitted in the box so again, double check.
Don’t risk estimating weight or you might end up paying exorbitant excess baggage fees, trying to re-pack at check-in to redistribute weight or not being able to get your bike on at all.
Check-in and reclaim
Once you’ve checked in, you’ll usually have to take your bike to an oversized baggage/sports equipment area. This can sometimes be a bit of a trek so, always try to allow a bit of extra time for checking in if you’re flying with a bike.
Similarly, at the other end, your bike is likely to emerge in an oversized/sports equipment area away from the carousel you collect your regular baggage from – sometimes even on a separate floor. If you’re unfamiliar with the airport finding it can be a bit of a mission, especially if you don’t speak the language. Do a bit of research beforehand and/or find out how to ask “where’s the oversized baggage/sports equipment?”
According to the UK Civil Aviation Authority you may carry up to four 50ml (28g) cartridges of CO2 but this requires airline approval and the reality is, if you try and pack cartridges in with your bike and they get seen on the X-Ray when you check your bike in, you’ll be made to remove them. We’d advise leaving them behind and finding a local bike shop at your destination to stock up when you arrive.
Hard or soft case?
There’s a school of thought that, as they’re lighter and easier to handle, baggage handlers will treat a soft bike bag with a bit more respect. We’re not convinced by this argument and, for real peace of mind, a quality hard case is recommended.
Remove rear mech, pedals and rotors
No matter how solid your box and how securely fixed your bike is within it, your rear mech is still vulnerable and easily damaged. For the sake of one bolt and maybe a bit of re-indexing, it’s a no-brainer to remove it. Securely zip-tie it between the chain-stays. You’ll also need to remove your pedals.
Similarly, disc brake rotors can easily get bent and should be taken off. Remember, if your rotors are centre-lock you’ll need a bottom bracket tool to re-install them.
Disc brake calipers
It’s easy during packing or transit for your brake levers to be accidentally squeezed and, if your wheels aren’t in place, this will push your pads solidly together. It’s simple enough to fix with a flat head screw-driver but can easily be prevented by using plastic disc brake spacers.
Airlines recommend that you deflate your tyres as the unpressurised hold can cause pressure to increase. However, the reality is that any increase in pressure will be minimal and unlikely to cause a blow out. Check out the pressure rating for your rims and tyres and, as long as they’re 10-20% under, they’ll be fine.
The main advantage of having reasonable pressure in your tyres is that it provides additional protection for your wheels. Also, if you’re running tubeless, not lowering the pressure too much will help prevent the bead unseating and a potentially messy sealant leak.
Arguably you can’t protect your bike too much but, unless you want packing and unpacking to be an all day epic affair, you have to draw the line somewhere. Modern hard bike boxes are really good and, as long as they’re properly packed, you shouldn’t need any extra padding or protection. However if there are areas that might rub, such as your handlebars against the frame, a well placed rag or some pipe lagging can be a good idea.
If your bike goes missing in transit, you’ll still want to be able to ride until it can be found and got to you. A bike, helmet and other essentials can usually be hired or borrowed but you should carry your pedals, shoes and one set of cycling kit in your hand luggage.
How can I ensure that my bike is insured for its full value against damage on a flight?
Firstly, check your ONE PRO Insurance Solutions policy and certificate to make sure you have the appropriate cover and, if you have any queries, get in touch with us. Secondly, always follow your airline’s packing requirements when preparing your bicycle for a flight. Once you have collected your bicycle, ensure you reassemble or at least check it before heading through customs, if it is damaged in any way report it to airline staff immediately and complete a claim/incident form before leaving the airport.
If my bike is damaged, is the airport or airline at all liable?
Different airlines will have different rules about travelling with your bicycle, it is best to check your airlines policies before you travel to understand whether they will accept liability or not.
What steps should I take if I find that my bike has been damaged?
If your bicycle is damaged in any way report it to airline staff immediately and complete a claim/incident form before leaving the airport.
If the airline doesn’t confirm they will accept liability for the damage, check your ONE PRO Insurance Solutions policy and certificate to make sure you have the appropriate cover. If you have appropriate cover you must notify them of any claim or any circumstances that may give rise to a claim, which have occurred during the period of insurance within 30 days of the event occurring and supply evidence in support of your claim.
How they will deal with your claim:
They will either;
Pay you the amount of your claim up to the sum insured
Repair or replace the cycle up to the sum insured
At no point will they pay more than the sum insured shown in the schedule.
To find out more about the polices available and to get a quote, go to www.oneproinsurance.com