The Tour de France is over. Inspired by Froome, Bardet and Mollema, you’ve booked a trip to France to conquer some peaks yourself. And of course you want to beat those big boys on your own bike. But how exactly do you bring your bike on board? This blog has all the answers.
Follow the leader…uhm, rules!
Taking a bike on board requires some preparation. Your bike, folding bike or tandem should not weigh more than 23 kilos. If your bike is too heavy, you’ll be charged a hefty fee. And you probably have better things to spend your money on. Like a KLM-blue cycling outfit, for example. ;-) You need to register your bike with KLM via social media or phone. And don’t forget that some aircraft have smaller holds. This goes for the Fokker 70 and Embraer 190, which can only take along a maximum of three bikes per flight. If your ticket includes a trip with the KLM bus, you won’t be able to take your bike along, because there isn’t room on the bus. We also don’t take electronic bikes or tandems along, because the batteries aren’t allowed on board. But you probably don’t need or want any electronic assistance when you’re chewing up the asphalt.
Wrap your bike like a baby
Bikes are pretty fragile, so it’s really important to package it properly to avoid any damage. What does that entail?
- Pack your bike in a suitable cardboard container, hard case or bike box.
- Give the handlebars a quarter turn, so that they’re parallel with the frame.
- Remove the pedals and any other protruding parts and wrap them carefully.
- Remove the front wheel and attach it to the frame.
- Reduce the air pressure in the tires. No one wants a blowout.
- Make sure that the total dimensions (L+B+H) are less than 300cm.
- Maybe put a “fragile” sticker on the box? Might be handy!
If you’re looking for a last-minute solution, you can get a KLM Bike Box for EUR 23 at the baggage depot under Departure Hall 1 and 2 at Schiphol Airport. These boxes measure 176.5 x 23.0 x 101.5cm and weigh 4.5kg.
Booking for the beast
Now that you’ve packed your bike and know its dimensions and weight, it’s time to book for your beast! You can do this via social media or by phone. You’ll be asked to give the packaged dimensions and weight, as well as the name of passenger the bike belongs to. If it’s a folding bike or tandem, you’ll need to report this, too. Our Special Reservations department will then check if there’s space on board. You can check the status of your request via My Trip on KLM.com. We’ll try let you know whether carriage has been approved within 24 hours. You can make a reservation up to 48 hours before your flight, but our advice is: the earlier, the better. You don’t want to pedal like crazy on the final stretch…
If you’re flying KLM, Air France or Hop out of Amsterdam, you can usually pay for your bike via Facebook or Twitter using online banking or your credit card. A so-called electronic miscellaneous document (EMD) will be issued, which is like a receipt of payment for service. This money can be refunded, should you decide that you’d rather conquer the peaks by car. Please bear in mind that payment does not imply that your bike will be allowed on board. The final decision rests with the staff at the airport. Poorly packaged bikes may be turned away, for instance. If you’re not flying with one of the above airlines, or if you’d rather not pay online or by phone, you can pay at the airport. Although this may cost you critical seconds during the final time trial…
So, what will it cost? You’ll always be charged an excess baggage fee, which varies from destination to destination. You can check the costs via this link to our baggage calculator. You’ll be charged EUR 55 one-way on most European flights, EUR 125 one-way on flights to the USA and Canada, and EUR 100 one-way for flights to the rest of the world. But this may vary.
The Schiphol Sprint
Is there a short-cut to the gate? Not really, but if you race over to Desk Row 16, you’ll be issued a special label for your bike. Then you’ll be directed to the “odd-shaped baggage” desk, where you’ll drop off your labelled bike. After the flight, you’ll be reunited in the baggage reclaim area, at the odd-shaped baggage carrousel. The location varies from airport to airport, so check the screens. You can pick up your other, lycra-stuffed baggage at the regular belt.
Ready to go?
Water bottle, bib shorts, cycling shoes? Helmet and loads of lycra? Legs of steel? You’re almost ready to take on the titans. But before you do all that, book a flight and don’t forget to book a spot for your bike. Here’s hoping you make it to the top more than once! Don’t forget to enjoy the view!