Sunday, October 16, 2011

Travelling and Some Crazy Costs

I find the various airlines baggage policy to be quite interesting. It seems as if there is no rhyme or reason for some of the ways that situations are handled.

This coming week I will be racing in the Tour of Hainan on an island off the southeast coast of mainland China. It is going to be my first time in Asia so I am pretty stoked! For this race, I need to be travelling with my bike and naturally, there is a very large fee associated with checking it coming from the airline. This is a situation I have encountered numerous times this year and luckily I purchased a "Pika  Packworks" bag and it has saved me A LOT of money due to its discreet and relatively small nature. Unfortunately saving the money doesn't happen without telling a small lie. Checking in for my flight today to China was no exception.

I walked up to the counter, said hello and asked the man behind the counter how his evening was going. He smiled, seemingly happy that I was going to be friendly and not cause him any stress. Some small talk was exchanged and eventually I told him that I would be checking two bags (fully expecting to pay a small fee of around $50 for the extra bag). I put my first bag on the scale, determined it was plenty underweight and then it was on it's way to Hainan. When I put my bike up there, the scale read 18lbs. Almost 1/3 of the maximum allowed weight. It was tagged and I thought I was home free. It didn't seem like the check-in guy was even going to question if it was a bike or not. Then the bomb dropped.

He slid over to his computer and started dictating what he was doing.
"Ok, so two bags (click), sporting equipment (click), bicycle (click)"

As he was doing this I was paying only half attention since my mind was occupied thinking about the upcoming trip and various things involved with it. When I heard him say "bicycle", my attention snapped back with the realization that I was likely going be stuck paying $200 for my fairly small and very lightweight bag. So I looked at him and said, "Actually sir, it's only artwork."

Suddenly there was no fee to travel with the bike. This exact situation has happened to me countless times this year and it is one that blows my mind! How is it that a bag that can carry a bike, artwork or anything else, that has the same weight and dimensions and looks identical, can vary so much in cost? How is it any different to the people loading the plane if I have a fragile bike or fragile piece of art? I totally understand being charged if I have a massive bag that weighs a ton, but I don't. I never do. It doesn't seem right that my bike, when packed, weighs no more than 25lbs and isn't excessively large, is the same prices as someones bike that is packed full of everything and in a hard-case weighing upwards of 70lbs.

There is the idea that you should never tell a lie, no matter how small, because inevitably it will hurt someone. In this situation I don't see how that is the case. In fact, not telling the small fib only hurts my bank account. The airlines really need to make some policy changes so cyclists can avoid this situation. It doesn't seem right to me...


  1. Rad. San Diego will miss you, but i hope you'll have fun. Kick some ass. Artfully of course.

  2. It may be that they expect a bicycle would need more care in where it is stowed in the hold than would artwork (though I'd normally expect it to be the other way around)... FWIW, when I was in uni I had to sign waivers every time I had to fly with my fencing equipment. (Then again, I had the standard soft fencing bag and no more than 3 weapons, not the hard-shell weapons case, and it would have been all too easy for a blade to snap if improperly stowed.)

  3. Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent.
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