With Unicon coming up I was wondering what peoples experiences with
flying with unicycles have been post September 11, internationally and
within the US. It sounds like Customs are a lot more thorough than
they used to be. What are people’s experiences?
I think John Foss had the most comprehensive discussion on flying with
unicycles, might be time for a re-post if he still has that info
Last Feb. when Jesse(15) and Megan(17) flew from Seattle to Minne. Jesse had a
Miyata wrench in his carry on. They were taken aside, waited for a security
superisor before the bag was searched. Apparently minors traveling alone, when
searched need more people to do it. The kids explained what it was for and were
allowed to keep the wrench and went on their way. The wrench was in a bag, in
his shoe, at the bottom of his bag. The unicycles were in their suitcases, no
I’ve been flying everywhere with my Unicycle tucked into a Ground Effect cycling bag folded in half, stiffened with cardboard. I’ve stuck all my tools in with it, which seems to be no problem since its not in your handluggage. Dunno about flying in the US though. I’d deflate the tubes (in case they blow up in mid-flight). Also I keep my helmet in as handluggage, so it doesn’t get banged to pieces.
I don’t know if this applies for all airlines or situations, but this is the info I got from my mom, who works for the airline and arranged my tickets.
Please double check before taking my word on this
I get two pieces of checked luggage - one can be a box. It can’t be more than 70 pounds and the dimensions, when added must be no more than 63 inches (don’t ask me, I don’t know what the story is with this formula).
Also, there is a bicycle fee for carrying a bike. The way she tells it, if I told the airline I was transporting a unicycle, I would have to pay the bicycle fee. But, if I just pack this box and stay within those parameters and don’t report that I have a uni, I’m OK. I think if they ask questions, I’m supposed to tell them I’m carrying unicycle parts.
The hard part is, when taken apart and packed right, my Muni is roughly 27x27x7 inches (61 in. total). So, I have to pretty much find a box that is exactly that size or I’m screwed.
The luggage area is pressurized (they keep pets down there), but even if
it weren’t, the difference in air pressure between sea level and 35K feet
is, well, something less than 1 bar. Your tires can handle that much
If you have to you can make your own cardboard box. Get a large box (like a bike box from a bike shop) and cut it down to size and use lots of strapping tape to hold it together. If you go this route use lots of tape and remember to bring extra tape with you so you can repack it when it is time to fly back home. Get in contact with a local bike shop now and have them save you a box. They may charge you for the box.
I haven’t flown with a uni, but I did bring my TREK with me when I moved over here from the States. I basically did what John Childs recommends above. I used a bike box that I got for free from my friendly neighborhood bike shop, and I did deflate the tires, just to be on the safe side. I also padded every place that looked too exposed or likely to get dinged with ethafoam. Ethafoam is a type of closed-cell plastic foam that is indestructible, flexible, shock-absorbing, and it doesn’t tear or break or crush… I can’t sing its praises enough! Then I used about 3 rolls of really strong thread-reinforced packing tape to close the box up real good. The airline accepted it as a second piece of checked luggage (this was JAL in 1991).
I happened to see the luggage handlers “handling” my bike in its box at the San Francisco airport. Let me assure you, that old Samsonite commercial with the gorilla “testing” the suitcase was an entirely realistic depiction of what happens to your checked luggage. So pack it for survival if you want it to survive.
I’ve flown into the US a couple of times post 9/11 with a unicycle and the
unicycle itself is no more problem that it used to be (which is none at
all). The new problem is that all tools and metal items are considered
potential weapons and must be checked in. I got nabbed going up to Vancouver
last month with a deadly PEDAL in my carry-on luggage. It’s funny to think
of trying to hold up a plane wielding just a pedal, but rules are rules. The
rules define a pedal as a “tool” and tools are not allowed. Maybe I’ll try
sneaking a spoke wrench on next time, but then again, maybe not.
Canadian customs was still the same as pre 9/11: they always ask me one
weird question from left field - just to gauge my reaction I guess. US
customs was no problem: “It’s a unicycle sir.” When checking in baggage
though, “It’s sporting equipment.”
Oh, one other thing NOT to do is to bring an electronic device that doesn’t
work. A lady behind me was denied and sent back out to buy batteries for her
Check everything metal and travel light. And as always, be polite, patient
“Peter Bier” <peter_Bier@usa.net> wrote in message news:firstname.lastname@example.org…
> With Unicon coming up I was wondering what peoples experiences with
> flying with unicycles have been post September 11, internationally and
> within the US. It sounds like Customs are a lot more thorough than
> they used to be. What are people’s experiences?
> I think John Foss had the most comprehensive discussion on flying with
> unicycles, might be time for a re-post if he still has that info
> floating around.
You don’t have to worry about tires blowing up anymore - certainly it’s no
problem with big fat 24x3s - I’ve done dozens of flights without deflating.
The baggage compartment is pressurized. Think about shampoo and pets.
If you have a high-pressure skinny tired racing uni though, you might want
to let a little out.
I wouldn’t recommend using UPS to ship your unicycles. It would be taking
advantage of the School district. The warehouse to where things are shipped is
only open m-thurs. Those of us running the convention won’t have time to make
arrangements to pick the unicycles. If you fly with it you are more apt to have
it when you need it.
>You don’t have to worry about tires blowing up anymore ->certainly it’s no problem with big fat 24x3s
That’s good to know…I remember when I was travelling with my bike- it developed snakebite punctures after letting out all the air, on both wheels! Presumably this was from all the rough handling and subsequent rim pinching of the tube. Since then I’d always kept about 10-15psi in the tyres when flying, but I guess I could keep them at near normal inflation.
On Monday 15 July 2002 07:42 pm, Barb wrote:
> I wouldn’t recommend using UPS to ship your unicycles. It would be taking
> advantage of the School district. The warehouse to where things are shipped
> is only open m-thurs. Those of us running the convention won’t have time to
> make arrangements to pick the unicycles. If you fly with it you are more
> apt to have it when you need it.
You can have UPS leave it at the UPS facility if you don’t mind picking it up
there. I did this at the Monrovia convention with the post office and it
worked out, although after sending the packages I learned the post office
really doesn’t like doing it. With UPS, though, you can send the package
“Hold for Pickup” and they will happily leave it at the terminal.
The closest UPS Center would be the one in Redmond
UPS CUSTOMER COUNTER
18001 NE UNION HILL RD
REDMOND, WA 98052
Sat, Sun: Closed
The MapQuest directions to this address are accurate. About 31 miles driving from North Bend. Probably about 40 minutes drive time if you avoid rush hour. Note that they are not open Saturday or Sunday.
It would be handy if there was a UPS center closer that could hold a package for pickup. Maybe a call to UPS customer service would be able to find a closer pickup option??? Redmond is the only local center that I know of.
I worked at a UPS distribution center back when I was in school (I seem to remember Jagur saying he worked at one, too…), and so I just want to say, the same caveats apply as for packing for a plane! It’s been said before somewhere in this forum; the individual route delivery drivers handle stuff well, but in the distribution center, there’s a manager barking to get those trailers unloaded, so, gentle, they ain’t.
I came back from a trip the other week and when I was waiting for my luggage at the carousel I saw a mountain bike going past. All that had been done to prepare the bike for travel was the pedals were taken off and the handlebars turned sideways, nothing else (that I could see). The bike was even coated with mud from wherever it had been, so you could see that it hadn’t been too roughly treated or it would have been knocked off. The owner picked it up, straightened the bars, screwed on the pedals and rode off.
So maybe there’s something to be said for making it obvious what it is so it doesn’t get bashed about. Sometimes I get the impression that the better packed things are, the bigger the challenge it is for baggage handlers to see how badly they can treat it. Having said that, I don’t think I’d have the confidence to do what that guy had done.
I’m inclined to think it’s more a matter of the relative number of gorillas employed at small landing fields like in the village of Scotland (12 people in kilts, how many gorillas?) compared to those working at HUGE tracts of land like San Francisco International Airport and Municipal Zoo Work-Release Facility. Also, I’ve heard that gorillas don’t like touching muddy, icky things. That is, your mileage, Boxed or Un, may vary.
Or… Wait a minute! How do you know the mud was on there when the owner checked the bike? For all you know, the mud was accumulated in the luggage sorting area. Are you sure it was mud?