How do you travel with your uni(s)?

How do you travel with your uni(s) when flying? i usually just bring it to the airport and get them to throw it in a bag or something(and give them a great demonstration).

How do you do it?

Before I got my uni-bag, I just used a cardboard box.

This past weekend I had the ultimate solution: find someone who’s driving to where you’re flying, and give the unicycles to them. And some gas money. That’s as good as it gets, but can’t work every time!

Search the forums for many other threads on this subject. I won’t go into the same detail here that I’ve done before. But here are some things to think about.

If you travel with one loose unicycle, often you can just slip it into a box and be fine. But sometimes we want to fly with two or more, and depending what we’re going to do with them, we also have helmets, pads, spares, tools, pump, etc. In other words, another piece of luggage.

Some airlines are stricter than others when it comes to “things with spoked wheels.” Ryan Atkins had a big hassle yesterday when he went to fly home on Northwest. I’m not entirely sure of the exact sequence, but it went something like this:

  1. Sir, your bag is overweight. You’ll have to pay $25 for the extra weight. – Ryan offers to remove a heavy textbook from the bag, which is just a little bit over the limit. He opens the bag…

  2. Sir, you appear to have a bicycle in there. Okay, it’s not exactly a bicycle, but it’s got two wheels and my interpretation is that it has to count as one. Now it’s going to cost you $80 for our bicycle fee. – Ryan counters that it isn’t a bike. Were it me I might suggest that if anyone at the Northwest counter could ride the “bike” I’d gladly pay the $80.

  3. Well, sir, your bag is also oversize (a gigantic Bauer bag for sports equipment; one of the biggest I’ve seen). If you can squish it down and tape it into a smaller size, then it’ll be okay.

In fact, the lady was incredibly helpful. She doesn’t make Northwest’s stupid rules. Ryan took up what seemed like 15-20 minutes of counter time before he was all done. The final solution? A $10 cardboard box, into which he put all the smaller items from his monster bag. He took the seats off the unicycles (kind of a pain as one had a hydraulic brake), and then taped the bag into a smaller shape. I helped.

So what do we learn from this?

  1. These days, most airlines have limits of around 50 pounds per bag. Overweight is going to cost you about $50, based on my experience. So much for my cool Samsonite hard-sided suitcase with the 5 wheels and other heavy hardware. Too much weight in just the suitcase! Weigh your bags and consolidate items from the heavier to the lighter ones.

  2. Airlines have size limits. If you can make your bag look more “normal,” there is less chance of it being noticed and measured. A large cardboard box will attract the tape measure every time.

  3. Many airlines have rules about bikes. Over the years, I’ve had to sign a release of liability, making them not responsible for damages to my cycles. There has often been the potential for me to be charged the dreaded “bike fee,” but I always managed to duck that one.

  4. Don’t put pedals in your carry-on bags. Pedals could be a deadly weapon! Somehow, the TSA can figure out how pedals can hurt you. We know from reading this forum. Also never bring tools, even if they have no sharp edges. Best yet, avoid anything metal in your carry-on. It will make your life easier, and your bag lighter!

  5. Try to pack your unicycles so they look like ordinary luggage. Mine are contained in a piece of expandable, soft-sided luggage that has a flat bottom with wheels. Get something with wheels if possible, they make life much easier. I often surround the unicycles with pieces of foam, to protect them and to obscure their identity from outside the bag. Before I found the foam rubber camping mats, I used an old blanket.

  6. If you end up in a situation where you have to open the bag, like Ryan did, try not to do it where the airline employee will see tires and spokes inside.

  7. When asked what is in the bag, don’t use any words containing “cycle” and avoid the word “wheel.” Circus equipment, stage props, sporting goods, are all truthful. NOTE: these instructions are for airlines employees. If you are talking to a customs or security person, always tell the accurate truth! They are not going to charge you for having unicycles.

  8. Yes, if you’re on a US flight your bags are going to be X-rayed no matter what. That’s fine. The X-ray is run by the TSA (or airport security) and not the airline. If your bags already have their bar-code stickers on them, they’re good to go!

Thanks for all the info John! I sure hope I don’t get caught in a situation like Ryan did.

Last summer, on my way home from Vancouver (flying WestJet), the airline guy asked me what was in the bag, I simply told him a couple of unicycles. He made me open it, (I was a little worried at this point, worried of a bike fee) then he had a look. He asked if I made sure the tires were deflated, I assured him there were. Then he said something like “Are you one of those crazy guys that rides these in the mountains?”. “Yep!” “Wow, good for you; that’s amazing. Have a nice flight!” “Thanks”

-no troubles at all, boy was I glad.

westjet is an awesome airline with super nice people.

are you guys takin ur uni(s) carry on? cuz its suprising how they put you through all this trouble.

when i flew to Italy with my uni i just put it in a cardboard box and had no hassle at all. when i went to TOque i just took it as is and westjet put it in a “bicycle bag” and taped it up.


when i went to Nj Muni weekend, i tried to get on an amtrak train with my muni. the conductor said “no bikes!” and that there wasnt enough room. i conjectured that it wasnt a bike, and he said"i dont care, it looks like a bike". then i went upstairs to the office, where they gave me a copy of the rules and said i could take it as a carry on because the rules clearly state" something with two wheels" heck, according to the rules, you can take a fold up bike on board, as long as its folded. im pretty sure that unis are smaller than folded bikes, but thats not the point. i took it on, got some odd stares, and threw it in the upperhead compartment. i had a blast!