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Getting Our Bikes To Turkey

These days with the majority of airlines limiting baggage to 23kg for international travel and charging huge amounts for the extra weight making the logistics of cycle touring can get expensive very quickly.

Take my mate Dave Collett (DC on a Bike) for example. He just left flew from New Zealand to Spain and got charged $800 NZD ($650 USD) for his packed up bike which weighed 20kg. So what can you do to make sure the flight doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg? Here are a few tips that I do when choosing an airline and the process we decided to fly Qatar Airways.


1. Take Your Time and Research
Buying the cheapest ticket or most direct route may end up costing you more in the long run. Take your time, read others experiences and research your options before buying your tickets. A great place to start is ibike.org’s table of airlines baggage policies or airline-baggage-fees.com.

2. Airlines Default Baggage Limit
Most airlines only allow 1-2 pieces of checked 20-23kg which doesn’t leave you much room to work with, especially when a touring bike with racks and panniers can weigh about that much. There are however airlines out there that offer up to 32kg depending on the travel route you take. An axample of this is when I flew from London to South Korea with Emirates Airlines. They gave me 32kg’s and their policy stated that a bike counted as checked baggage.

3. Airlines Special Baggage Policies
This is how we chose to fly Qatar Airways to Turkey. While they were not the cheapest tickets, under their sports equipment section Qatar Airways has an extra allowance of 10kgs for a bike. This was a new rule and took quite a few phone calls to confirm, but in the long run will save us money. Some airlines also have a fixed fee for an extra piece of baggage or bike. I would always recommend the fix fee option over per kg anyday. Read more about how we picked Qatar Airways

4. Oversized Baggage Rules
Even though you are under the limit weight wise, there may still be a charge for oversized baggage. Both Katie and are using Ground Effect Bike Bags for taveling.

I currently use their Body Bag which unfortunately is still classed as oversized. Katie’s Tardis manages to sneak under the size restrictions.

5. Multiple Carriers
On multi section (code sharing) flights you may end up charged halfway through your flight due to the carriers different rules. While I have no personal experience of this, it’s worth looking in to.

6. Fly Via the USA
Generally speaking flying via the USA ups your baggage limit considerably. Times are changing though, as Katie found out when she recently flew Delta home from South Korea, only to be slapped with an extra baggage charge. Turns out they changed their rules late in 2011.

7. Take Advantage of Carry-On
I always max out my cabin limit. (generally 7-10kg) Wearing as many of your clothes as you can also cuts down on checked baggage weight and you can always take them off once on board. Also take advantage of the one extra piece rule (i.e a laptop or purse). I often carry as much of my electronics gear as I can fit into another backpack claiming it as my laptop and have yet to run into any issues.


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