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How do airlines calculate what to charge for a Brompton in a bag as checked luggage?

I’m flying on Iberia and from their website it looks like they will charge me US$75 to take it from BOS to BCN, but the text is not completely clear.

I wrote to them asking, providing weight and measurement, but they did not respond.

Do they charge based on the weight and size of the bag — as with other types of luggage? Or is the fee based on my declaring it to be a “bicycle” regardless of whether it might be small and light enough to be regular luggage?


Notes:

I will have it in a Radical Design Chubby, which is slightly bigger than the B-bag.

NOTE: This is about costs, NOT about protecting the bike.

closed as off-topic by zenbike Jan 10 '18 at 21:19

  • This question does not appear to be about bicycles within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    A Brompton in a Chubby just looks like oversized luggage and should just cost you what the oversized luggage fee is -- or no fee at all if you can keep the weight down (hint, put the saddle and pedals in another bag). Don't declare it as a bicycle - if asked, say it's "sports equipment." – RoboKaren Dec 28 '17 at 7:44
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    "BOS and BCN" suggest this might be better on travel.stackexchange.com because its about costs of travel. – Criggie Dec 28 '17 at 11:51
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    @RoboKaren 's suggestion is good - as far as the luggage goes, its just a big suitcase. If you were moving a full-sized bike outside of a bag then the airline might charge you fees for it, but an oversize/weight suitcase is just that and should be under the airline's normal carriage charges. – Criggie Dec 28 '17 at 23:57
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    It’s unclear what the question is. If it’s about the cost to fly with a bike on Iberia, an answer of $75 doesn’t really help anyone. At the very least, it needs to be edited to be more generic and about how to reduce the cost to fly or something like that. – RoboKaren Jan 1 '18 at 8:29
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is too specific to particular case, and point in time, which is unlikely to be of use to a broad user base. In addition it is impossible to answer with clarity, since only Iberia airline staff could do so, and even if they did, it would still be subject to counter staff having a different interpretation of the rules on check-in. – zenbike Jan 10 '18 at 21:19
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This is a hard question to answer. Not only does each airline have its own rules as to handle bicycles or what they consider oversized luggage — the airline counter staff at check-in have “discretion” which usually boils down to a degree of capriciousness. The checkin counter staff may or may not follow their own airline’s posted guidelines in terms of overweight, size, contents, or how much they charge. Usually this discretion is in your favor (ie they will waive the charge or lower it) but not always, especially if you come in with an attitude. In other words, there’s no consistency in what you’ll be charged unless you are obviously under weight, under size, and have non-surchargable contents.

That all being said, it’s still helpful to know the rules ahead of checking in so you know how much they charge for overweight and oversized luggage, versus how much they charge for a bicycle.

A bare brompton in a light bag (like the b-bag) will usually be underweight and just under the nominal size. Many hard cases will push it to oversize and some will push it overweight.

However, if you know the bicycle charge versus the overweight or oversize charge, you can go in with the following algorithm:

  1. Approach counter and attempt to check in bicycle without any specific declaration. If the checkin clerk allows it without comment or extra charge, success!

  2. If clerk attempts to assess oversize fee and it’s in excess of the bicycle fee, then state it’s a bicycle and get the lower bicycle fee.

  3. If clerk asks what’s inside, ask first how much the oversize / weight fee is. If it is less than the bicycle fee, then declare the bike as “circus equipment” or “spare parts for a mobility device” (many places calling it “sports equipment” carries a special fee too) and pay the lower fee.

Note that I’ve found the brompton in a bag is very close to the 64 linear inches and with case can be close to the overweight limit. In those cases, it’s helpful to remove the saddle and pedals and put them in your other luggage. This will reduce both the weight and the overall dimensions as well as making it harder to break. You also want to remove all of the hinge locking bolts as those tend to snap.

  • Declaring the bike as "sports equipment", or even as a "transportation device", might be fine, but declaring it as something that it's not sounds like fraud. If you try to defraud an airline, and they discover the fraud, I suspect they might cancel your ticket (without refunding your money) or even ban you from future flights for a decade or so. Are you sure it's a good idea to advise the public to take such risks? – unforgettableid Jan 15 '18 at 17:03
  • I declare my folding bike as circus equipment because: tibco.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/… – RoboKaren Jan 15 '18 at 17:06
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Iberia

From https://www.iberiaexpress.com/en/general-info/passenger-information/before-you-go/baggage/checked-baggage/special-baggage

Please remember that safety considerations determine the ability for the aircraft hold to carry items of special baggage. Therefore, in some cases it may not be possible to check in these items.

Space reservation: In order for special baggage to be carried on the flight, it must be accepted beforehand and a space reserved at least 24 hours prior to check-in.

Checking-in at the airport: The passenger must arrive at the airport with sufficient time for their luggage to be checked in, transported to the plane and loaded in the hold.

Loading of equipment: Due to their size or shape, special baggage normally cannot be transported on airport conveyor belts. The use of an alternate system to make transporting such items from the check-in area to the aircraft easier is at the discretion of company staff. The passenger will bear any costs that may arise from transporting the equipment.

Luggage that must be checked-in: A charge of 45 euros* will be applied, irrespective of luggage allowance, to sporting goods and musical equipment.Payment for these items must be made at the check-in desk. *Except firearms and at London Heathrow Airport) **Different taxes, charges and fees may apply, in accordance with the relevant legislation in each country. Exception: For Iberia Singular, Iberia Plus Infinite, Platinum, Gold and Silver cardholders, these items shall always be considered as part of the luggage allowance. This advantage is not extended to oneworld holders.

Bicycle A non-motorized single-saddle bicycle. Must be checked in with pedals removed, tyres deflated and must be perfectly packaged. Price: 45 Euro

http://i2cmsmediaprod.blob.core.windows.net/media/1968/08ibex_bicicleta.png


From http://www.iberia.com/web/program.do?menuId=EQUIEE&isPopup=true&AAA=true

Bicycles Please fold down the handlebars, remove the pedals, take the air out of the wheels and pack it in one of the special boxes we will provide you with.

Carriage requirements

Single-seat and no motor.

It must be checked-in folded, with the handlebars against the sides, the pedals removed, the wheels with the air taken out and correctly packed.

Iberia has a packing container measuring 131+72+21 cm in many airports. The price of this container is 20 Euros per unit. This container will be issued at the customer's request or at the requirement of the agents in cases of irregularities (except, e.g., in Berlin and Dusseldorf airports). If the bicycle being checked in is bigger than the container provided by IBERIA, the passenger will be responsible for finding another one that is the right size.

Iberia reserves the right to reject bulky sporting equipment and to pass it to Iberia Cargo with conditions and tariffs that are different from those indicated above.

Allowance

For long-haul flights (America, Asia and South Africa), it is considered an item that can be carried within the passenger's allowance. If you add other items, exceeding the permitted number of free items, it will be considered excess baggage.

For short-haul and medium-haul flights, a single fee of 45 Euro applies, regardless of the luggage allowance.

The maximum weight allowed shall be 23 kg with an overweight fee for weights of up to 32 kg. The fee must be paid at the airport.

  • Today, google tells me that 45 Euro is $54.28 USD on 20180103. This will vary over time. Could be your $75 is some other kind of dollars, or includes some taxes, or is an older number. – Criggie Jan 3 '18 at 1:09
  • Amusing. Question trying to get clarification of Iberia's vague description gets edited into an unanswerable generic question, which gets "answered" by a quote of Iberia's vague description. – WGroleau Jan 5 '18 at 14:51
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    @WGroleau the only people who can give you an accurate answer would be Iberia themselves. Please telephone their contact line and ask. It will be highly interesting to see how that compares to their published statement. – Criggie Jan 5 '18 at 22:03
  • They did not answer my e-mail, and currently the time zone difference, the cost of minutes on hold, and the difficulty of understanding Spanish on the phone make me reluctant to try that route. – WGroleau Jan 7 '18 at 7:29
  • Finally got someone I could talk to who confirmed “within the passenger’s allowance” and emphasized no extra charge. Nevertheless, even showing them that web page at check-in, they were adamant that I had to pay US$55 more. I don’t know why you say $75. The page said 45 euro, but it doesn’t apply because I flew BOC to BCN. – WGroleau Mar 29 '18 at 11:35
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Totally dependent on the airline's rules, and how generous/busy the check-in desk is at the time you arrive.

You're doing the right thing by organising first.

tl;dr

  • if you can fold down to regular luggage size and weight then it can go as one of your checked bags

  • You can pay an excess weight fee to get a bit more weight, but not generally size.

  • Your ticket will say how many bags you're allowed.

If it can't fit those requirements, then you're shipping a regular bicycle or sports equipment.


Here's what Air New Zealand do, as of Jan 2018.

  1. Bikes MUST be packaged in a bike box, a bike bag, or regular luggage.
  2. To be regular luggage, the maximum packaged weight is 23 kilos (50 pounds) and the "combined dimensions" must sum to no more than 158cm (62 inches)

You can buy an "excess baggage charge" to go to 32 kilos (70 pounds) and no one dimension may be more than 1 metre. Pricing starts at $60+GST for bag1, plus $100+GST for bag2, then plus $150+GST for bag3 for national flights, or $150/$200/$300 for flights to/from the USA. These costs are "per leg" so any stopover generates a fresh charge for the second leg.

Also a bike counts as a Sporting Item so

Sporting items less than 2M (78.7") long and weighing up to 23kg count as a standard bag. Otherwise, excess baggage charges apply. The maximum allowed weight is 32kg and the maximum oversize length on jet aircraft is 2.5M (98.4")

Regional services may have smaller limits.

If your package is still too big, its possible to send by cargo, but it likely won't go on the same aircraft as your seat, and you may have to go pick it up at a hanger elsewhere on the airport site.

Number of checked bags permitted varies with the ticket purchased. Some tickets include 0 checked bags and are carry-on only, right through to 3 checked bags.


Their Bike Packing requirements say

Packing bikes

Apart from children's bikes with no chain, all bicycles must be correctly packed in a bike box or bike bag. Bike boxes are sold at New Zealand airports for NZD $25.00, subject to availability.

You don't have to deflate the tyres, but packed bicycles can only be accepted as checked-in luggage if:

Handle bars are removed or turned sideways Pedals are removed or turned in The pressure of any nitrogen gas in mountain bike struts is no more than 200kPa (kilopascal) or 29PSI (pounds per square inch) Any cartridges for inflating tyres are small (less than 50 mL) and contain a non-flammable gas

Remember to:

  • Place any loose accessories into a bag then place in the box
  • Seal the box and label with your name and phone number
  • Ensure no part of the bike is protruding from the box

from https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/oversized-items

  • The question specifically said Brompton; thus all of this is completely irrelevant. – WGroleau Mar 29 '18 at 11:38
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Depends on the airline. Some charge more if they know it’s a bike; some waive oversize or overweight fees if they know. Some, like WestJet, will treat it more gently and make good any damage if they know. Some, like StarPeru, may do severe damage and “By telling us it was a bicycle, you absolved us of any responsibility.” I don’t (yet) have any experience with Iberia, other than noting their rules description makes it obvious they haven’t considered folding bikes.

UPDATE: The original question was (hopefully) answerable, about a specific airline. As edited, it impossibly asks for all the policies and practices of all airlines (more than 125 of them). I did finally get someone I could understand from Iberia on the phone. She said there will be NO extra charge, but I am not confident she fully understood my repeated statements of the dimensions and weight. Oh, well, I've got the ticket and if I get charged extra, C’est la vie.

  • Consider slapping some shock-watch stickers on the outside if you anticipate damage. – Criggie Jan 2 '18 at 20:11
  • I said this is about costs, not about protection. Besides those stickers can neither prevent nor inform. I'll know whether it's damaged, no matter what the stickers say or don't say. – WGroleau Mar 24 '18 at 19:54
  • "I know/knew" is not evidence that can be submitted in a legal claim for damage. Consider photographing your bike every time you pack it, as proof of "not damaged before flight" – Criggie Mar 24 '18 at 21:22
  • A shock sticker is not evidence of damage either. It indicates rough handling, which may or may not cause damage. And damage can occur by pressure without shock. (Which is apparently how Star-Peru did it) – WGroleau Mar 24 '18 at 23:53

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