One of biggest advantages of owning a folding bike like a Bike Friday is the fact that the bike can fold down and fit inside a suitcase – thus enabling you to save a significant amount of money when traveling by plane.
As you may or may not know, most airlines charge approximately $80 per direction to fly a full size bicycle on an airplane. And even at this price, you still have to box the bike up, somehow get it to the airport, hope it passes inspection, and arrives all in one piece.
But with a folding bike, you can avoid all of these hassles.
I just recently returned from a short trip to Aruba where I took my Bike Friday folding bike with me for the very first time. I was excited to use the bike upon my arrival, but was nervous about flying with the bike. What would airport officials have to say about the bike? And if they found out there was a bike inside my suitcase, would they slap me with an extra fee anyway?
Today, I’m going to tell you about my personal experiences flying with my Bike Friday New World Tourist folding bike.
Before leaving home, I packed the bike up inside the suitcase and then took a shuttle to the airport. Checking a full size bicycle onto a plane can sometimes turn into a big deal, but in this case, the woman checking me in didn’t say a thing. I simply lifted the suitcase containing my bike and trailer onto the scale and checked in like normal. I had weighed the bike before leaving home and knew that it weighed exactly 49.8 pounds. At the airport, the scale read exactly 50 pounds (the limit for a suitcase on domestic flights).
Overall, check in was no problem. After going through security myself, I headed to my terminal and took a nap as I waited for my plane to leave
Upon arrival in Aruba, I was fearful that my bike wouldn’t be there. I had heard horror stories of people arriving on their bike trips only to find that their bikes had not made it through security and were now thousands of miles away. Fortunately for me, the suitcase containing my bicycle spilled out onto the baggage claim carousel with everyone else’s luggage and I quickly made my way past customs and out into the hot Aruba sun.
This is one of the most challenging moments in any bike trip: Where can you set up your bicycle?
The airport was crowded and people were rushing about, renting cars, hailing taxis, and generally bustling from one place to the next. But I was on my bicycle and the first thing I needed to do was find a place where I could sit down for a half hour and put my bike together.
Generally, it’s not a good idea to put your bike together in the airport or in front of the doors directly outside the airport. This is a recipe for disaster! The last thing you want to do is take your bike out of the box, start putting it together, and then have police or security come and tell you that you need to quickly move out of the area. With your bike in pieces, this can be terribly difficult to do.
Instead, you need to look for a place slightly outside of the airport… or at least in an area where you are out of the way.
In my case, I walked across 2 lanes of traffic and found a small island filled with parked cars. Under a small tree, I opened my suitcase, found that my bicycle was still in one piece inside of its case… and now all I had to do was put I together. Half an hour later, the bike and trailer were assembled and I was on my way to the hotel.
All in all, my experiences flying with the Bike Friday were absolutely fantastic. Airport officials didn’t harass me about the contents of my suitcase; my luggage was not overweight or oversized and I didn’t have to pay any extra fees to bring my bicycle with me; and transportation to and from the airport with the bike and trailer was easier than any other trip I’ve made in the past.