I am hoping to take my Onza 24" Muni with me on holiday to Greece. I would like some advice on the best way to package it for the flight. My current plan is to buy a wheel bag and try and fit the wheel, cranks, frame and saddle inside. I have some spare foam tubes used for pipe lagging which I can use to protect the frame etc… Finally I will put some handle with care stickers on the bag.
I would like to know if any one else who has flown with a unicycle thinks this should be suitable protection.
Flying with your Uni
It is funny my first Muni was an ONZA 24. Good MUni!
I would do what Ivan did when he flew to Fluck. Get a big round sports bag. Disassemble the saddle or frame from the wheel and pack it along with your clothes. Keep in mind that many airlines charge extra for taking a bicycle and they will consider your MUni a bike! Don’t tell anyone that you have a MUni in the bag. Be very vague. Say personal items. There are plenty of sports bags that will let your ONZA fit in.
I have already checked with the airline and they say there will be no additional charge as long as the bag can pass through the regular baggage handling and my total weight allowance of 20Kg is not exceeded.
The wheel bag I was thinking of using (see dhb wheel bag) has padding and additional protection for the hub. I was assuming this would be better than a loose fitting sports bag.
Use a box from your LBS.
I just came to Boson to visit my mom and brought my 24" DX for the second time. The absolute smallest size to clear my disasembled uni is 21X21X8".
The first time I used a box for 26" wheels. Big and awkward to carry. After my return trip the box was a little too messed up to use again, so this time I got one a little smaller and easier to carry.
I also brought my 16" cx in a douffel bag to fool around on. On both unis I cleaned them and used cloths as padding.
I would put the seat, frame and pedals in my suitcase. The wheel goes in a separate box or carrying bag by itself. That way things don’t get knocked around and damaged so much. Don’t forget to pack your tools so you can put the uni back together when you get there.
This may be true but use caution. It may turn out to be not true, for that airline or others.
It would be nice if it were though. Then smaller wheels would probably be fine to travel with. To my knowledge, the big “conventional” luggage bags I use to transport my unicycles seem to fit through the luggage systems these days, though it’s probably close to the limits. I often fly with three unicycles. Start here to see my bag and packing method. Garbage bags for the tires are key, especially if the unicycle is dirty!
My main concern is always to obscure the fact that I have “cycling” wheels in my luggage. A wheel bag may not be the best way to do this, and it’s not really an appropriate shape for a unicycle anyway. A large duffel, or other bag may be better and cheaper, and you can then use your own padding.
As you can see from my pictures, a good-sized bag also allows room for other stuff, like riding shoes, your pads (my helmet rides in my clothes-luggage), tools, Camelbak, etc. Of course you may have to subtract to stay within your 20 kg limit. Our limit for US domestic flights is usually 50 pounds, though I sometimes just pay the overweight fee if I can’t fit everything in. The overweight fee, which is only $25 on Northwest, is much better than a “bicycle surcharge” or similar, as it doesn’t change any of their liability for protecting my bags.
John Foss is correct. I double checked with the travel agent and read the airline contract before flying to FLUCK. Only condition was less than 20kg. Well I packed everything into my KH24 box that I had put wheels on and it weighed only 17kg. Well it lit up red lights. On the way there the airline wanted to charge me an extra $50 for a bicycle surcharge! I showed them their contract and the fax that I got from the travel agent. Nothing helped. They said that a box with only clothes in it was ok but as soon as I but a bicycle wheel in I would have to pay the surcharge. I told the manager that it wasn’t a bike. I used the line can you ride a bike? When he said yes I said I would be willing to pay double the surcharge if he could ride my Muni. At that point he laughed and didn’t charge me the surcharge. He did say that I would be charged on the flight back though. I said ok and checked in.
Well on the flight back when asked what was in the box I just said, my personal items. When they asked me why they were packed in such a box and not a suitcase I said, “Your airline ripped my suitcase on the way here and I did not feel like spending the money to get a new suitcase in such an expensive country.” (Denmark has very steep prices. The cost of living is HIGH!) That shut the check in lady up and she passed it through without further questions. Now Ivan used a round sports bag and he was not asked any questions. I was called over and checked in customs when I got back to Israel. The customs agent was happy because in the Xray machine he thought that he caught me trying to smuggle in a motorcycle wheel. He was disapointed when I opened up the box and took our a muddy scratched up KH24! That made my day because he did not think to check my backpack and therefore missed 3 extra bottles of duty free single malt whiskey!
That’s an awesome little story, and definitely belongs as part of any comprehensive story on packing your unicycles for air travel.
Obviously the check-in agents have a degree of free will in what passes and what gets charged. The same line might have worked on the return trip, or might not have.
Anyway, that’s the second of the two big reasons not to use a cardboard box:
Boxes are a lot weaker than luggage. Your box may be destroyed on the trip out, leaving you having to find/build a new one for the trip home. If the box gets holes in it, smaller items can fall out and be lost.
A box doesn’t look like luggage, and automatically gets extra attention. Especially if it’s a bike box. The bag I pack my unicycles in is usually pretty huge, but it looks like luggage. The foam padding I have in there keeps it from looking like obvious tires, so it’s not obvious what’s in there. It’s just large, possibly overweight luggage. “What’s in there?” “Oh, my athletics equipment and safety gear.” Perfectly accurate description.
i just flew out to Washington with my uni and all i did was take the seat out and pedals off wrap the wheel in a towel put my KH leg armor over the cranks and wrap another towel around them. Then i put it in a green duffel bag and no body questioned me. But strangely it was subject to Homeland Security’s “random” check on the return and non-return journey
I recently did a big trip, starting from London and going to Christchurch, NZ, Melbourne, Wellington, LA, Washington DC and back to London.
Cos I had six months of gear with me including a unicycle, I ended up spending a lot of time talking nicely to baggage people, and managed not to get charged any extra for the unicycle, or to have any hassle with both my bags being a few kilos over the weight limit on most of the flights.
I’d agree that the unicycle being in a bag where it’s not obviously a unicycle saves hassle. Also, be aware that many airlines charge extra for ‘bulky sports equipment’ not just ‘bikes’. I carry my juggling stuff in there too. If anyone asks me what it is, I say it’s a bunch of circus skills stuff. It’s true and I can talk all day about juggling and poi and things if they really want me to.
Generally though, I find you can get away with an awful lot if you look a bit dozy, smile lots and be friendly, and turn up early. Don’t come across as clever, you’ll have a lot less hassle if they think you’re a friendly dumbass than if they think you’re one of those annoying ‘stereotypical American’ arguing lawyer types. I’ve had tons of help from lovely check-in people, in NZ I even turned up for a ticketed flight without the required paper ticket, and the nice check-in person walked me round to the ticket office and spent 15 minutes sorting it all out for me for free.
I am sure I won’t have any trouble on my return journey, the airport in Greece is a military base and only handles a couple of civilian flights each week. In typical Greek fashion they are pretty relaxed and unlikely to give me much stress as long as I don’t start shooting photos or scanning the airfield with binoculars.
I am not keen on the box from my LBS idea. The area of Greece I go to is prone to thunderstorms and the airport baggage truck is a tractor and couple of open trailers. If the box was ruined the odds of sourcing a replacement for the home journey would be slim.
I think I will risk the wheel bag but follow the advice to pack the frame, cranks, pedals and seat in my main suitcase. If challenged I will play dumb, I think I could do that, couldn’t I
Just need to convince the wife to leave all here makeup at home so we don’t blow our weight limit
I have flown several times with my Summit (20-inch trials) in a cardboard box. One time I left the box unsealed until I got to check-in and asked if they wanted to check it before I taped it shut. They inspected it while I stood back and watched. The guy yelled across the counter, “your unicycle is ready to go”.
If you use a cardboard box, take lots of tape so you can do repairs on the box.
I have a fairly large suitcase that will hold an entire disassembled 20-inch Torker LX in addition to a weekend’s worth of clothes.
Next time I fly with a unicycle, I will try putting the frame, seat and pedals in my suitcase. The wheel will go in a duffle bag along with some foam padding.
How on earth did you fit a 24" wheel in a 21" Box?
deflated tire and pythagorean theorem?
by putting it in slantways /
That is how I get a 20-inch wheel inside an 18-inch wide suitcase.
I guess that makes sense. I had to ask, because I thought that we were dealing with a blivit.
I am flying soon too. I was wondering if there was a way to make sure my wheel doesn’t get smashed/bent/or otherwise broken. I am tempted to take it with me in a carry on bag. Any Ideas?
(tsa link on special items)
i wrapped mine in towels and it worked
Flying with a Unicycle
Most check in agents are just normal nice people. Keep in mind that every airline company has different rules and different ways of reviewing performance. Increasing profits by dolling out a lot of surcharges might earn check in agents commisions in some airline companies. If that is the case I find it hard to blame them for trying to make more money. The thing is that boxes and wheelbags do attract attention. Duffel bags, large suitcases and sport bags are inconspicuous. Also not saying Unicycle when asked what is in the bag is not lying. Just saying my personal items is totaly fine. Usually the Check in agents don’t want to work harder by unpacking luggage. Now security is a different story, they will confiscate dangerous weapons and controlled substances and have the owner arrested but they will never charge you a surchage! Customs is also a different story. However used scratched up unicycles are not usually considered trade items to be taxed. If your unicycle is brand shiny new then the customs agent might look it up on the internet and chage that countries VAT and or import tax on it.