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United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay.
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Damage: Two broken wheels (carbon fairings have punctured holes and cracks), a broken bike stem, broken front brake housing on the frame, impacted front brakes, broken bearings, and sliced front brake cable.

Caution to those flying with your bikes... I flew United who damaged it on two different flights and refuse to pay for any bike damages what-so-ever. I wanted to share my experience flying with my bike from Houston to Boulder this past weekend just in case you may be in a position to make a less costly decision in the future.

First and foremost racing the Boulder 70.3 was an amazingly beautiful experience and I highly recommend the race to anyone. Unfortunately Ironman selected a local bike support company, Colorado Multisport, for all bike services. Because Ironman selected them, no other bike transport company was allowed to take your bike up to the race. I checked with 4 different companies who said they would trailer my bike up to the race but couldn't do so because they wouldn’t go against Ironman's wishes. Since Colorado Multisport doesn't transport bikes (just assemble/disassemble/maintenance), this left me with two options. Either I ship the bike or carry it with me on the plane. Since I did not have a bike box, I opted to ship the bike months before the race. Approximately 8 days before the race, I went to Houston’s Bike Barn store off of Wesleyan who was going to disassemble the bike and package it for $50 (very good price). But I had to pay for shipping. UPS wanted $450 for round trip which included leaving me without a bike for 7-10 days after the trip. After going through heart failure, the manager at Bike barn talked some sense into me and suggested that I may as well buy a bike bag for the same price, fly with it, and break even this trip but walk away with a bike bag versus nothing. I was happier with that decision. He highly recommended the Evoc soft shell bike bag because the owner of Bike Barn flew with it multiple times. After his suggestion, I went home to research the bag - I couldn't find one bad review on it and there were an enormous amount of great reviews on the award winning bike bag. The bike bag allows you to keep most of your bike intact, removing just your headset, wheels, and pedals. The wheels had two very padded sections on both sides of the bag with supportive bars. Before flying, I super padded the bike frame inside and added 7 very large labels all over the bag that said "fragile" and "please do not stack items on this bag."

I flew United - $100 for the bike bag (each way). The bike went through a special luggage department to deal specifically for bikes. When I landed in Colorado, the bike bag went straight to Colorado Multisport for assembly ($115). I picked up the bike the next day (day before race). That evening, I noticed that the carbon fairings in both wheels were punctured and damaged. This meant that the bike bag had to be heavily impacted on both sides of the bag. After an emergency call to my bike guy, James McCowen at Houston Cycling Centres, I stuck electrical tape over the holes and cracks in the carbon and raced the next morning (hitting speeds over 40mph).

After the race, I repackaged the bike back in the bike bag, making sure it was overly-padded. After picking up the bag from United in Houston, I rechecked the bag and discovered that TSA inspected my bag, moved items around, and did not repackage and pad the bike correctly. I found loose bike parts in the bottom of the bag and I didn't know where they were from - I later discovered that my stem was cracked, brakes were compacted, bearings broken, and front brake housing on the frame broken off. I went straight to the United baggage claim department where I was informed (and re-verified by a manager) that United does not pay for ANY damage done to bikes what-so-ever. They consider the bikes delicate items and it's up to the customer to get their own insurance. Well luckily I did. So I thought?!? I have USAA and I have been extremely happy with them in the past. I thought my bike was completely covered at all times. Well there is a clause that if the bike is in the custody of an American Government air carrier then the liability and responsibility falls on the air carrier. I don't blame them - it is United's fault but here I am in a position where I can't buy insurance to cover my bike when it's on a plane.

So the bottom line is that if you fly with your bike - any damage done will come out if your own pocket. I contacted Bike Barn and I have to say the manager was extremely professional, felt horrible, contacted the bike bag company Evoc and refunded me the money for the bag. Evoc (German company) was very interested in seeing the pictures of damage and hearing the story but I don't think I am going to be seeing any offers to offset the costs of repairing my bike. I have a 2013 Trek Speed Concept 9.5 and this is going to be costly. Parts are on the way but I am not sure what can be done to repair the carbon on the wheels without basically paying for new wheels. James McCowen from Houston Cycling Centres is doing an amazing job on repairing my bike expediently. He has been taking care of me for years. I just hope that someone can learn from this experience and hopefully avoid this heartburn.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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obviously, we need a new solution, sportwide, industry-wide. i think we ought to look into this, editorially. i know we have in the past, jordan has, but, maybe we need to update what it is we're saying to our readers.

i think i'll ask the folks at markel insurance what it is they have to say about this. maybe have them post here.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Dan

I like a lot of folks I'm sure fly A LOT with my bike - would really like some articles/advice on.....

Review of cases

Proper packing

How to deal with damage cases as described above

Potential to insure a bike - kinda like a car - including during travel

thx


http://www.clevetriclub.com

rob reddy
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Reddy] [ In reply to ]
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Maybe this is stupid but it has been my experience that United takes public criticism semi seriously. I had a terrible experience with their customer service, put it on twitter with a post similar to "done with @united customer service, going back to @southwest forever" tweet generated responses from both airlines. United asked me to fill out the claim and the more I publicly voiced my displeasure the more they got involved in the conversation. Ultimately, they didn't do much other than apologize, but there wasn't a lot they could do. (I was trying to check in and the girl managing the check in counter wouldn't help me because she was on her iPhone...). Just a thought, maybe if enough people publicly voice their unhappiness they will look into a change.

Superfly Coaching
http://www.superflycoaching.com/eric

IL PIRATA VI GUARDA
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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Sorry to hear about this.

What's frustrating is that you pay the extra, $100, or whatever it is, in the hope that your bike will get a bit of extra care, and then this happens. Of course, if you look in the fine print on a receipt they gave you or on the United's web site on the baggage page, it will probably say that passengers are ultimately responsible for their own possessions when traveling. Although, I've never understood that. It's not me that dropped the bike 6 feet off the conveyer belt to the concrete floor, or drove over it with a lift truck - that was the responsibility of a United Employee!


Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Reddy] [ In reply to ]
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A case will only protect your bike if it is packed correctly. You yourself may pack it perfectly, but I seriously doubt that TSA is going to take that same care when repacking after an inspection. I opened my TriAll3 case last year at Florida 70.3 after flying with United from Newark to find that none of the straps had been fastened around my bike. I basically had a big box full of loose bike parts...I just got lucky that nothing was broken. For that trip I decided to send it home via UPS...more expensive, but much safer. I've decided that it's TriBike Transport or races that I can drive to only for me. Definitely not worth the risk.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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This is interesting to me as I had somewhat of a similar situation. I came from NY to race in Boulder as well. I went through the process of contacting bike transport companies but ran into the same issues as you. In the end, when faced with the same decision of ship or fly, I shipped mine via FedEx. It is also a SC 9.5. When I got my bike in Boulder I also took it to Colorado Multisport to have it reassembled. And when I picked it up on Friday morning...a broken fairing. It had totally cracked in half. The guys there glued it and made it functional for the race, but I will need to replace it. I'm back in NY now and awaiting the return of my bike (probably tomorrow) and I'm sitting on pins and needles hoping nothing else happens on the way home. Now I have to go through the process of trying to submit a claim with FedEx to get them to cover the costs. I paid for insurance covering $9000 to cover the bike and wheels, so hopefully having done that will help my cause.

It is frustrating that such little care is taken when bikes are shipped or flown with. I don't think I'll ever do a race again that isn't supported by TBT because every time I've used them the service has been great and my bike had been well cared for. I loved racing in Boulder and am glad I did. It was one of, if not the best venue I've gotten to race in. I just hope enough people will use TBT in the future so it is worth their time to serve the race and not take a financial loss.

Good luck with getting your bike back together and hopefully not eating too much of the cost.

____________________________________________________

Instagram | Team Kiwami North America | Nuun
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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That's why I refuse to fly anywhere.....

On the slight chance of qualifying for Hawaii I would turn it down.

There are plenty of great races within driving distance, screw the airlines if they all went out of business tomorrow I could care less.

Trigirl, look at it this way, the creatin that ran over your bike would be out of work, serve him right.

Ron W.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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I thought airlines could be liable up to 3400 or so per bag? Or is that only if they lose it rather than damage it?
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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Wow, a triple screwing. IM for denying competition and therefore there isn't any way to get your bike there through regular means. United for deliberately putting your bike on the bottom of a bunch of crap. And your insurance Company for having a convenient loophole. Oh and I forgot #4 - TSA for having a bunch of incompetents not replacing your bike.

Sounds like you would have better off just putting it in a large plastic bag the way we used decades ago.

BC Don
Pain is temporary, not giving it your all lasts all Winter.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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I always fly United, but I feel like the noise and complaints are getting louder and louder.

I've made two trips with my road bike and was lucky. I didn't use a hardshell case, but TJ's Hen House. I was worried, as I saw them just throwing them on the belt to the plane.

I did ask for fragile stickers, and completely covered the bag, but doubt it mattered.

Hope some kind of great resolution comes out for this.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [KP-NJ] [ In reply to ]
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I bought one of the scicon aerotech cases. One of the best investments for traveling I've ever made. There is no way they could screw up the packing in Tsa and it could handle getting dumped off a cliff and would still be fine

-----------------------------------------------------------
De Soto Sport Athlete
Formerly Draketriathlon
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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IIRC, when I flew with my bike in the past, I was handed a damage waiver to sign by the airline desk agent stating that I acknowledged that the airline was not responsible for damages to my bike. The last time I flew, I rented a hard-sided case from a LBS. Then, after TSA opened the case, I had to help them rearrange everything to get the bike back in the case properly (which technically was aginst the rules.)

I guess my advice would be to invest in a hard-sided case. Or, if I was only going from Houston to Boulder, I might drive instead of fly.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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A soft shell bag has its limitations. You get one ramper who throws that thing like crazy into the belly of a 737 and its all over. I have flown many times with a hard shell case and never had a problem.

My 2 cents.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Grant.Reuter] [ In reply to ]
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Grant.Reuter wrote:
I bought one of the scicon aerotech cases. One of the best investments for traveling I've ever made. There is no way they could screw up the packing in Tsa and it could handle getting dumped off a cliff and would still be fine

Oh, TSA would find a way.

To the OP, this SUCKS. This is the tiniest silver lining in history, but it's good that the real bike damage occurred on the way back and not the way there. I'm glad you got to race.

I also have USAA and think they're great, so it's good to know this is not covered (although I would expect that same loophole to be used by all of the insurance carriers).
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [rjsurfer] [ In reply to ]
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rjsurfer wrote:
That's why I refuse to fly anywhere.....

On the slight chance of qualifying for Hawaii I would turn it down.

There are plenty of great races within driving distance, screw the airlines if they all went out of business tomorrow I could care less.

Trigirl, look at it this way, the creatin that ran over your bike would be out of work, serve him right.

Ron W.

If you qualify for Hawaii, Tri Bike Transport really is awesome.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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That is a bum deal.

When you get your Evoc refund, look at a Bikeboxalan. I can't recommend mine enough. Wheels, pedals, stem and seat post off and that's it. 10 mins assembly tops. Ally strapped into place during transit.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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Seriously I do not understand why people buy a soft case for their tri bikes. This is what happens. We have all seen how our luggage is handled and we need to pack appropriately.

I use a hard case (TRICO). I try to pack it in a way that TSA will have a hard time screwing it up. I don't put in loose parts that will move and damage my bike. I wrap everything in extra foam pipe insulating stuff. I still worry, but my bike has survived about 10 flights.

I used UPS once. Bad idea. Thousands of miles of vibration on a truck causes pointy parts to rub through layers of padding and I got a decent gouge in my trispoke. (No major problem as I think you could put a bullet hole in one of those and it would still retain its structural integrity.)

Southwest did lose my bike a few days before IMCDA but it showed up later that day. FYI airlines do not track luggage. They scan it when you give it to them and maybe when you get it back, but if they lose it in the middle you better hope your name is on it.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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http://www.shipbikes.com is an inexpensive option. It works through FedEx, though somehow prices are less than FedEx. Drop off or pick up is easy. It would have cost you $40-$100 each way insured.

Bike Barn also sold you a soft bag,instead of renting you a hard case. Your loss would have been more expensive if damage blew your race. Soft cases might not be a risk worth taking.

Does your home-owners insurance cover your bike?
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [DamonHenry] [ In reply to ]
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DamonHenry wrote:

http://www.shipbikes.com is an inexpensive option. It works through FedEx, though somehow prices are less than FedEx. Drop off or pick up is easy. It would have cost you $40-$100 each way insured.

Bike Barn also sold you a soft bag,instead of renting you a hard case. Your loss would have been more expensive if damage blew your race. Soft cases might not be a risk worth taking.

Does your home-owners insurance cover your bike?

She answered this, see her comments about USAA.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [DamonHenry] [ In reply to ]
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Surfers have been battling airlines forever. Lots of broken, buckled, and dinged boards.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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Damn tough break. Soft bags/packaging are a big risk.

I have always used the hard TriAll3Sports box and becuase of the way it is constructed and holds your bike in an upright position, it is really easy for TSA to open it up, look all around without moving anything and then reattach the lid. The hard Trico box requires the layers to be pulled out to see everything. Soft bags or bike boxes require even more disassembly.

I always have a TSA card inside my TriAll3Sports box so you know they are going to open it no matter what.

Sorry to hear about your loss. Not surprised they are not stepping up.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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In my opinion United Airlines has become quite horrible. I am not surprised they are being so awful about this. The last 2-3 times I flew with them the service was sub par as were the amenities. In essence you have to pay for everything! It is ridiculous.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [DamonHenry] [ In reply to ]
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Wow.

Be damn sure to file a report with the better business bureau. It's easy to do online. I did this against Delta who gave away our seats because we were not at the gate 30 minutes prior to flight. We checked in, but we were eating. The CEO of Delta called me, sent me free vouchers for my next trip. The gate attendant also sent me a letter of apology and was sent to customer service training (because there is no rule saying you have to be at the gate 30 mintues before flight and he was an asshole about it). I bet he got a real ass chewing.

The problem with bikes is that everybody (airlines, insurance, etc) say everything will be okay until there is a claim then it's pointing fingers. The consumer left with a broken bike. TSA shredded my Xterra wetsuit. Literally shredded the thing, then used TSA tape to cover the rips and holes. I'm convinced the TSA look for people who dropped out of elementary school and then offer them a job. I had a check within 10 days so at least I was paid (via the airline).

I really hope your situation works out.

_________________________________
The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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I traveled with mine from CA to MPLS for Lifetime fitness. In years previous (some) I've rented a road bike from GearWest.

It's cheaper and less worries, but, it's not my bike. But, renting might be worth considering. (I flew with my race wheels, as luggage, no charge)

just an idea

I saw this on a white board in a window box at my daughters middle school...
List of what life owes you:
1. __________
2. __________
3. __________
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