Tandems are great to get from A to B – as long as you’re willing and able to put in the muscle power. But how do you get your tandem to A in the first place, if A does not equal “Home”? That’s by far not as straightforward as I had considered.
When I had booked my plane ticket, I checked how the tandem transport might work. KLM states on their website:
You can take your (foldable) bicycle or tandem (non-electric) with you in suitable packaging or a bike box:
- The handlebars should be turned lengthways along the frame, pedals and other protruding parts should be removed, and tire pressures should be reduced.
Please reserve the transportation of your bicycle or tandem at least 48 hours before departure via KLM Customer Contact Centre. You must always pay an excess baggage fee for a bicycle or tandem.
More useful information is on the KLM Blog here: https://blog.klm.com/time-for-your-own-cycling-tour-how-do-you-bring-your-bike-along/ , which goes in much more detail. The potential stumble blocks here are 1) the weight of 23 kg (how do you weigh a tandem in a huge box?) and 2) the total dimensions (L+B+H) of less than 300cm (215+85+30=330)
There’s only one way to find out – ring the Customer Contact Centre and give them the weight and dimensions as you know them. The response: “Thank you, I have filed the request for you. Please check in 24-48 hours if it has been approved. The price for this will be £49.”
Slightly nervous, I checked my ticket details the next day and – *PHEW!* – the website now reads
London ( LHR ) – Amsterdam ( AMS ) Bicycle in hold Request confirmed
Amsterdam ( AMS ) – Kristiansand ( KRS ) Bicycle in hold Request confirmed
Ok, that’s the flight (hopefully) sorted. So how do I get the bike to the airport? Cheapskate, sorry: “environmentally conscious traveller” that I am, I booked myself on a National Express coach from Plymouth to Heathrow Airport in the early morning. Hey, the luggage compartment of a coach is enormous, right? Well, the T&Cs see that differently:
“You may take your bicycle on your journey, as long as it is designed to fold in half by means of a special link in the main frame or dismantled by yourself and is carried in an appropriately padded bag or hard case, suitable for the purpose.”
Oops! So I’d better ask if there are exceptions to that rule. The answer was a resounding and definite “Maybe”.
“Allowing a larger package will be at the discretion of the driver on the day as he has to agree to lift the heavier luggage in and out of the hold and it also depends on available space. The luggage policy does state – We shall have no obligation to carry luggage in excess of the permitted amount or size but additional pieces of hold luggage, or ‘outsized’ items, will be permitted, subject to space being available, and on payment of a charge for each extra piece. “
So here’s hoping for a happy driver in a generous mood at 04:10 in the morning, and not very many people in the queue.
Alternatively, my wonderful Anne has agreed to drive me all the way to Heathrow in our van. Fingers crossed that won’t be necessary!
PS: Yes, we had considered shipping the tandem directly to Norway, and our first hotel had agreed that we could send it there. However, the Norwegian Customs and Excise have very clear rules on what you can bring into the country. There is normally no problem bringing a bicycle – as long as you will take it out of the country again! If you don’t, and they find out, then the excise duty is a hefty 25% – not a risk we were happy to take.