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I posted this in the Rocky Mountain section, but figured I'd get a better response here.

My family and I are travelling to Colorado the first week of May. My wife will has been out there several times and will be spending a lot of time with her extended family. This is my first trip. I am contemplating spending the extra money for a travel case and trying to get some rides in. Having no experience with the extra baggage cost, travel case cost, Colorado weather in May, or where to ride, any information is appreciated.
 

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I always prefer to find a used cardboard bike box (check some lbs) and ship it UPS/Fedex. Even if you don't know an exact address, just have it held at an office. I have done this in the past, costing only 40-50 dollars for mostly across the US.

Another way I have looked at is just checked baggage. Again pack your bike into a used bicycle box, and check it in as bagage. Depending on airline, fees vary.

Another way, just roll your bike into an airport, and store it as cargo, this costs about $100, and there is no guarantee it will be handeled nicely. I don't recommend this method.

Another way. Pack you bike into a used cardboard bike box. You can go to Greyhound or Megabus and check it in as cargo for a small fee abord one of their busses. Naturally there would need to be a bus route to your destination for this to work.
 

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When we went out to see my wife's Mom in Arizona I shipped my backup road bike in a Trico (tricosports.com) hardcase a few days before arriving. I used FedEx and costs about $75 each way. Worked out great. A day before we left to come back home FedEx came back and picked my bike up and it was home a couple days after we got home.

With that said, if you buy a hard case practice packing your bike in the case a couple times. If the bike is packed correctly they fit great but it takes a bit to learn how to pack it.
 

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Most airlines allow as a checked bag 'one sporting good'. This can usually be skis, golf clubs, or a bike. So unless you have to pay for your first checked bag, it's free. A cardboard box from an LBS works well, or some rent plastic cases.
 

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Most airlines allow as a checked bag 'one sporting good'. This can usually be skis, golf clubs, or a bike. So unless you have to pay for your first checked bag, it's free. A cardboard box from an LBS works well, or some rent plastic cases.
False. Bikes are virtually always an exception and have separate specific fees if they don't conform to standard bag size and weight limitations. Jet Blue, SouthWest, and Virgin all are $50 each way. All other airlines are significantly more AFAIK. It's all on their respective websites, so check before you buy the ticket. Here's a website that summarizes the info:

Airline Baggage Regulations For Bicycles

My wife and I fly with our bikes fairly frequently and use Aerus soft cases. Loaded with CF bike, riding gear and accoutrements, it weights about 35 lb and is much easier to maneuver on shuttle busses, taxis and rental cars than hard cases, which is what we used to use. Here's a somewhat dated review, but mostly still accurate. The new version comes with tube pads so you don't need to make your own out of pipe insulation.

How I travel with my bike | DC Rainmaker
 

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I've got a hard case and depending on the airline fee(s), I'll load it down with all my riding gear. If I'm going to get charged for oversized and overweight, I'll fill the case with gear. I'm heading to AZ in April, I may try fedex this time or book my trip on SW. The downside to flying your bike is TSA, if they open the case, they might not get it right when they close it up. I usually take a picture of the packed bike and tape it to the inside cover so at least they know what it's supposed to look like.
 

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I've seen some people roll into the airport with some rather large bags. How would anyone know that there was a bike inside of your bagage, and not just clothes?
Would it not be possible to wrap a cardboard bike box in cheap fabric and call it luggage?
I rather like the idea of flannel cardboard luggage.
 

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I've seen some people roll into the airport with some rather large bags. How would anyone know that there was a bike inside of your bagage, and not just clothes?
Would it not be possible to wrap a cardboard bike box in cheap fabric and call it luggage?
I rather like the idea of flannel cardboard luggage.
For the size and weight of a bike, the bike fee is often cheaper than if it was charged the oversize and overweight rate for baggage that's not a bike.
 

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For the size and weight of a bike, the bike fee is often cheaper than if it was charged the oversize and overweight rate for baggage that's not a bike.
It looks like the maximum checked size (fee free) is 160cm linear for most international flights (L+W+D).
After measuring my bike for the smallest possible box size, and I ride a 59cm frame, I believe it would be possible to break it down into a box of 100x60x17 cm. I like to think no one would notice those extra few cm of depth. A smaller frame would be no problem I think.
Anyway, this is my plan next time my company flies me to the USA from Georgia :)
Although, I'm not sure how strict things are here, I saw a man board my flight from Georgia to Vienna with what must have been a 50" TV under his arm a few months ago.
 

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It looks like the maximum checked size (fee free) is 160cm linear for most international flights (L+W+D).
After measuring my bike for the smallest possible box size, and I ride a 59cm frame, I believe it would be possible to break it down into a box of 100x60x17 cm. I like to think no one would notice those extra few cm of depth. A smaller frame would be no problem I think.
Anyway, this is my plan next time my company flies me to the USA from Georgia :)
Although, I'm not sure how strict things are here, I saw a man board my flight from Georgia to Vienna with what must have been a 50" TV under his arm a few months ago.
International flights have their own carrier specific rules. I knew some guys who essentially completely disassembled their bikes including taking off the fork and cranks and stuffed them into duffel bags padded with clothes and other stuff. They were able to get through without getting charged for oversize or overweight bags. I looked into that with my 55cm BMC road frame and it wouldn't quite fit in a regulation GI duffel even without any padding. The frame itself is 96x59x18cm=173cm linear. Add a minimum of 2cm padding all around and it's at least 181cm.

It depends on the gate agent. A number of times I checked my bike and wasn't charged anything. Other times they tried to charge me oversize plus overweight fees rather than the bike fee and I had to get a manager to come over and get it corrected. Years ago they were pretty lax and would often let it slide, but the last few years they've become much more diligent about charging fees and measuring and weighing things. Airlines are actively increasing and enforcing baggage fees as a source of added revenue.

You might equivocate, and if they ask what it is, say something like, exercise equipment or massage table or something and try get away with it that way. Let your conscience be your guide on that one.
 
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