Dodge Those Excess Bike Baggage Charges
A few months ago I did a post on different methods to pack your bike for air-travel. Now I’ll talk about the different ways to get past the ridiculous excess baggage fees that the airlines charge on discretion.
The Check-in Agent
Take a good hard look at the different check-in agents while you’ve been waiting in line for an hour. You always have a choice here. Pick the one you want to deal with and let the travelers in line behind you go ahead of it doesn’t work out. The check-in agent has 100% power on whether or not you’ll save $100 on this leg of your flight. Here are a few examples of the check-in agent types:
Old Union Lady Agent: This is the #1 check-in agent you want to negotiate with. She’s been in the airline union for 25 years and is waiting out her time. She’s heard it all so there’s no use getting angry or trying to lie your way out of this one. Kill her with kindness and she’ll waive those bike charges.
Angry Lesbian Agent: Stay away from this check-in agent at all costs. There’s no getting around paying excess luggage charges for your bike. You’ll probably pay double.
Middle Aged Woman Agent: This check-in agent loves gossiping to her friend agent sitting next to her. She’s been there for quite a few years and is starting to get jaded. Engage in conversation with both her and her colleague when you walk up to the counter and gain both of their affection. If done right you’ll brighten up their day and they’ll let you through. Eye contact and a smile is key while she’s typing away on that computer.
Beautiful Young Woman Agent: This is a tough one. If she likes you, you’re upgraded to business class. If you mess it up, you’re in the back of the plane and your bike won’t make it off the flight in one piece. Your success with this agent depends on many variables – mostly pointing to you and your ability to sweet talk. For those of you who don’t have the looks of Tom Boonen, you’d better be good with the compliments. The trick is to not sound too cheesy.
Flamboyant Agent: This species of agent very often has his guard up before you’ve been called up to the counter. He’s already had some gay bashing cowboy tear a strip off of him for not letting his belt buckle through for free. This type of agent is also very unpredictable, but if you’re willing to swallow your pride for a minute and act a tiny bit homosexual , you might just save yourself $100.
If you’re hopeless at the check-in counter and have never dodged those excess charges, here are a couple suggestions on getting you bike through.
1. Pack your bike in an oddly shaped box (that doesn’t say Giant on it) and tell them it’s a wheelchair for your sick mother. This will cost your 10 Karma points and you’ll probably go straight to hell, but apparently it works.
2. Get a Ritchey Break Away for a travel bike if you’re on the road a lot. I know what you’re thinking, but this thing kicks ass. You probably wouldn’t race on it, but if you travel a lot for work or if you are touring around Europe, this would be perfect. It folds up into a case the size of a suitcased and they’ll never suspect that it’s a bike inside.
3. My favorite option to dodge the excess fees is this Pickapack Works EEP bicycle case. It was created by a pro cyclist who hated those excess charges and wanted a case that stood up to the abuse. It’s been designed for inconspicuously getting past the check-in agent. It doesn’t look like a problem, so it’s not treated like a problem. They have no idea that it’s a bike inside. It weighs next to nothing and is nearly bombproof. Many PRO teams use this bike case now and it’s proving to be very popular.
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