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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 could break the course record - theoretically, Bishop Pickering - from the movie "Caddyshack"
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [3Aims] [ In reply to ]
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I use a Trico case, but I don't pack my race wheels in the box with the bike. I find that when TSA re-packs things, the part they don't take care with is whether the wheels are pressing against the bike frame. So removing the wheels keeps it simple for TSA. All you have to worry about then is that they are re-attached the box straps.

For the wheels, I use a hard wheel case which is virtually indestructible.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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That does suck, I would keep on pushing them on refund talk to their PR department, maybe you can get some discounted air fair.

That said, its always a hard case or bike box for me. Most of the time unless I can borrow a hard case bike box I will pick up a shipping box from the bike store and ultra pad everything.

Seat and post comes out and is bubble wrapped, handle bars the same and anything that could possibly compress has something wedged in it. And this is just for my Alu beater bike! My tri bike you could drop off a clif or run it over with a jeep(which might happen at the airport)

---------------------------
http://www.nunnsontherun.com
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Here is the problem - TSA basically has carte blanche to do whatever the heck they want. I don't think this is an insurance question, a bike case problem, or an airline problem (although all may be important). It is a TSA problem. I have been very lucky I suppose - I tell them to please open and inspect my case, but please allow me to be present and make sure it gets packed back properly.

Our civil rights are under severe attack and our bikes are taking the brunt of it!

David
* Ironman for Life! (Blog) * IM Everyday Hero Video * Daggett Shuler Law *
Disclaimer: I have personal and professional relationships with many athletes, vendors, and organizations in the triathlon world.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [nightfend] [ In reply to ]
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Have any of you thought of packing a starter pistol or flare gun? I have a photographer friend that does it so you HAVE to be present when they open/search the bag.

http://lifehacker.com/...irline-theft-or-loss
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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Trigirl357 wrote:
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).

I'm confused on this part. Did the people at Multisport not notice the damage, call you up, and give you advice on what to do? From you description it sounds like they didn't say a thing which strikes me as pretty negligent.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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You should write a song about it and put it on Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [kcb203] [ In reply to ]
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Speaking of TSA and bikes, I had the worst TSA guy I've ever seen at the Austin airport when flying to Ottawa yesterday. He literally took 20 minutes digging through the box, actually took the insoles out of each of four shoes (bike+run), took every piece out of my tools/parts bag. Thank God he didn't fee the need to remove the wheels attached to the top of the case (scion case).

The icing on the top was he had to borrow my TSA standard key to unlock and relock the case. Glad I waited around to watch him go through the bike.

Every other time I've flown they just did a quick visual inspection and ran the sniffer wand over the inside of the case.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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I'm going through the same thing right now with United. My Project One SC frame was damaged on my way back from Buffalo Springs. At first I couldn't get anyone from baggage services to talk to me and when I did nobody seemed to know what to do about damage claims. They took my bike and held it for inspection for a week at the airport. 5+ weeks later and 2 calls into United baggage service later and I am still unclear of what will come of the claim. Its really unfortunate to see all the posts of similar situations. Something needs to change.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [manofthewoods] [ In reply to ]
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Definitely do what person said and get on facebook. A lot of companies now have dedicated staff to solve problems from complaints on social media. I use this as opposed to phone calls because you get to talk to someone with more power and they generally contact you and give you a direct number. You also can file a claim against TSA for not repacking it properly. I have received a monetary payment from them in the past for damage. Good luck.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trizomb1e] [ In reply to ]
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That is a great idea! I am so sorry I haven't thought of that!

David
* Ironman for Life! (Blog) * IM Everyday Hero Video * Daggett Shuler Law *
Disclaimer: I have personal and professional relationships with many athletes, vendors, and organizations in the triathlon world.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Dan,

I have to say that I am absolutely honored that you have responded to this post and interested in helping make a change. For some reason - that alone has started to make me feel better. As you can see from the feedback of other triathletes, a lot of us share the same concerns regarding flying with their tribikes. I know so many of us think the same ... someone negligently damaging our bikes and not taking responsibility not only hurts our wallets but our hearts too. I love being a triathlete and I most certainly love my tribike. It's sad for me to read that so many triathletes choose not to race in triathlons that are beyond driving distance just because they do not want to trust their beloved bikes in the hands of the airlines. I want to be able to race outside of my comfortable driving distance - to include internationally. I used TriBike Transport for IMAZ last year and loved them - affordable - worry-free - quick - reliable - and they didn't touch your fit. I literally begged them twice to take my bike to Boulder but they were stuck. In this one awful experience I feel like I have learned 20 lessons the hard way. I am afraid to say that choosing my next races most likely will be effected by the selection of bike transport options. Thank Gawd I am driving my bike to IMFL this year. If possible, I would like to be a part of changing these problems in our industry.... because we really are a great triathlon community.

~Karen
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [BlackStumpGumby] [ In reply to ]
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Hey BlackStumpGumby - The folks at Colorado Multisport did not notice the punctures and cracks when they put the bike together. When I picked it up at the shop I looked the bike over but was mostly looking at the headset, gears, brakes and never saw any problem with the wheels at the time. Later when I was in my hotel, I noticed a crack on one wheel which triggered me to do a really close look. If you had the bike positioned right - you wouldn't have seen the larger than one inch triangular crack that created a hole. I am not sure why they didn't catch it - but they were insanely busy putting bikes together for racers. I informed Colorado Multisport the next morning while in transition. It was the same guys from the shop the day before. They told me they never saw the cracks and hole but thought the electrical tape would hold up through the race.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [kcb203] [ In reply to ]
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kcb203 wrote:
You should write a song about it and put it on Youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo


This.

I was going to write and post the exact same thing, but then I thought to read through the thread first.

There's also a book out about it now http://www.davecarrollmusic.com/book/
Last edited by: AlanShearer: Aug 8, 13 14:53
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
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.

Are you sure you are interpreting this correctly? Doesn't an American Government air carrier mean if the Army, Navy, etc carries your bike? I'd think USAA has a lot of folks in the military and they can't insure the military flights, but they should insure the commercial carrier flights. Please explain to us why this isn't covered by USAA?????

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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [david] [ In reply to ]
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This is the problem. TSA, moreso than the airlines.

It does not matter what kind of case you put your bike in, if TSA is going to open every case and take the bike out and not put it back. On a recent trip I know TSA took my bike out both ways -- the first because there was a huge paint chip out of my frame, in a place where I had carefully padded and the padding was removed and the large chip was no where to be found -- because it was probably on the concrete wherever they took my bike out. The return trip there was one of those little TSA flyers under my wheels which can only be accessed by removing the entire bike, straps, divider etc.

I got off lucky reading the above posts. I wrote a letter to TSA and of course got a form letter in return. I will be shipping my bike next time no matter what the cost.

If they are going to open every case (almost everyone I have spoken to has received a TSA notice in their bike box that it was inspected lately), they should have a mechanism where you could be there and assist or at least repack after they inspect it.
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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 the damage.
Boulder is close enough to me that I drove up, but I've flown with my bikes (variously road and TT) to a number of different races. I also have an EVOC bike bag, which was recommended to me.
On all of the flights (domestic and entering/exiting the US) TSA have opened my bag and inspected it. I'm fine with that. The problem is that TSA also undo at least some of the straps and move some of the packaging. I usually use a little extra bubble wrap. Fortunately I've had no problems - even after TSA have effectively left the bike "loose" inside the case. That's with both carbon frame and alu frame/carbon fork. The wheels I usually travel with are pre-Firecrest 404s, but the carbon fairing hasn't ever sustained any damage.
I've seen my bike bag come on through the regular luggage carousel (that surprised me). I've seen it under other luggage on the car while being unloaded from the plane. In my experience the EVOC bag is very protective, even when the bike is improperly packed (say, after TSA look at it), and even being handled with less care than the airline should take.


Keep on at United. I'm not a fan of theirs at the best of times, but please give them hell over this. Perhaps the claims folks at your insurance company can send you something to confirm why the buck is being passed to United. That'll give you something concrete to talk to them about.

I'm not connected with EVOC, but I think their bag has proven itself to give awesome protection and damaging the bike through it shows utter negligence on the part of United's baggage handlers. The damage you list also seems like more than just the case being crushed under something. Perhaps a hard-case is the way to go now (for your peace of mind), but avoiding United seems to be warranted too.

Like one of the posters above, I'm confused about the fact that Colorado Multisport didn't notice any damage. I had a tiny bit of work done there before last year's race and the mechanics were good. As I was in there shopping after the race I saw Mirinda Carfrae come in and chat to the mechanic. Did you contact Colorado Multisport about the damage? It really doesn't sound like you should have to just suck up the cost of the damage here.

Final word to anyone with renters insurance rather than homeowners... your renters insurance will more than likely NOT cover your bike. So it's worth thinking about separate bike insurance.

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http://ironvision.blogspot.com ; @drSteve1663
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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It seems USGA has gotten with Southwest airlines and now even golf bags fly free. Maybe USAT can do the same. I love flying Southwest and feel like they are always nice when I check in the bike. Granted, I fly so much I am on a first name basis with them but I've never had any issue with my bike when traveling. Seems like a good deal for Southwest if a bunch of triathletes start buying tickets so their bikes fly free...

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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [turneej] [ In reply to ]
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Southwest is the greyhound bus of airlines.

Post your story on their Facebook Page

All I Wanted Was A Pepsi, Just One Pepsi

https://www.teamrwb.org/
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trizomb1e] [ In reply to ]
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Trizomb1e wrote:
Have any of you thought of packing a starter pistol or flare gun? I have a photographer friend that does it so you HAVE to be present when they open/search the bag.

http://lifehacker.com/...irline-theft-or-loss

This idea intrigues me. I live in a mid-sized Midwest town and fly out of small airports most of the time unless it's on the flight home. Whenever I've flown with the bike I bring it to the check-in counter, never declare it as a bike (instead as exercise gear parts or metabolic test equipment in the case of having a powermeter in my bike bag), the agent weighs it, realizes it's well under 50 pounds, tags it, charges me $25-35 for the checked bag fee, and sends me on my way. I know TSA opens it since I've always had the TSA tag somewhere in the bag, but I have no idea where they're looking at it. I have noticed that it's not packed up as well as I've packed it, which concerns me and did cause a down tube dent on my travel bike (I use a Caad 10 aluminum rather than a carbon frame when I travel simply for peace of mind). If I were to put a starter or flare gun in my case for travel from here on out, would I just be whisked away to a different area with a TSA agent for the inspection? I'd rather avoid having the bag opened in front of the airline agent and then charged $100-$150 each way for the bike, especially since I can get it to pack down to just over the upper limit of the baggage size and well under the upper limit of the 50lb overweight charge. I'd love to know more about this, as being present for the inspection could resolve all of my concerns.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [turneej] [ In reply to ]
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turneej wrote:
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.

In my experience, United doesn't care what their customers think. My buddy did the tweet complaint a month ago comparing bike travel experiences of Frontier and United. Frontier reached out to him in minutes; United nothing. I called to complain about some major problems and they couldn't care less. That year, I spent close more than $40k on business travel with them with 1k status. I told them I would take my business elsewhere and they said, "that's your choice." Seriously?! Ultimately, our government has allowed consolidation to take place to the point where we have less choices than you would think. Unless you are flying to another company's major hub, choices are quite honestly very limited, even in major metro areas.

When I travel with my bike, I use the big heavy Tri All 3 case, which took major major abuse by the airline. It's a major pain to travel with since it is so big; at least it keeps the bike safe.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Russ Brandt] [ In reply to ]
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Russ,
This is the policy clause that USAA pointed out. I am arguing that I wasn't in a moving status. The matter is being reviewed by USAA's legal department now.

MOVING AND STORAGE

1. Begins when YOUR PROPERTY PASSES INTO THE CUSTODY OF A PUBLIC CARRIER, INCLUDING United States government trucks, aircraft and vessels, or a storage facility. Your property must be under a bill of lading, a mover's contract, baggage check, or other form of shipping or storage document. This coverage ends:

a. When your property is delivered to your permanent or temporary address in accordance with the shipping document; or
b. When you take possession of your property from storage.
2. Provides coverage, in addition to the previously described CAUSES OF LOSS COVERED, for:
a. Loss of your property if, when described under a bill of lading, mover's contract, baggage check, or other form of shipping or storage document, it cannot be located after a reasonable search

Last edited by: Trigirl357: Aug 9, 13 9:54
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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Your bike was under "baggage check" wasn't it? It seems clear to me that this should be covered under their definition.
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [J7] [ In reply to ]
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I flew mine to IMC in a borrowed hard shell case. The airline managed to puncture the case! It almost looked like a front loader hit it really hard. I was lucky that the bike was not damaged. I suppose it would have been toast with a soft case, but the case was ruined. Then they told me that any damage had to be reported BEFORE I left the terminal. I was exhausted and did not see the puncture until we got to the hotel. So I would suggest unpacking and inspecting when you claim it.

I will never fly with mine again if I can avoid it.
Last edited by: lam: Aug 9, 13 10:16
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Trigirl357] [ In reply to ]
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  In my past life I worked as a baggage handler for a major airline. Over 20 yrs and saw many different types of baggage accidents. I can bore you with many stories about what happened during that time. Beer talk!!
For me ,,,, I travel with a hard shell suitcase that can take a beating and is water tight. My personal suit case and my bike case... hard shell. Soft shell in the cabin.
I know it is just a matter of time before shit happens!! That's the fact.

I have packed many a bike over the years and the clam shell cases are the best, either you like them or hate them. Each bike packs differently, some better then others and some just do not pack well at all.

If your case has 4 wheels and you see the guy flip the case upside down, there is a reason for this! the thing has wheels and it can roll off the steel floor baggage cart, if this falls off the cart it can injure the ramp guys, broken foot mostly. Do not blame the bag guys they only have so much time to load and unload your baggage, just get under your table and pack suitcases that weigh 50lbs! 100 people means about 75 bags! depends on type of flight.

Check out the insurance portion on your ticket and see what you sign up for! this is important to understand. Extra insurance is always the best.

Carbon bikes are very strong in many ways BUT do not like impacts. carbon cracks, AL bikes dent, Steel dents- bends
.
I am sorry to hear what happened and I am sure the guys doing the work did not want to see any thing happen to your goods.

When traveling on a flight is your plane hand loaded or baggage placed in a container. hand loaded means the bag get thrown ... you to the check in belt, check in belt to cart, cart to loading belt to the in the belly,, then the you land. maybe 8 times. container flight you to belt, belt to baggage can , can to baggage cart, belt to you. 3 times.

Now what TSA does is a serious question? you can pack your bike right and they open it and they mess everything up then the 300lb guys steps on the case to close it and you have a damage bike they are not responsible ! and then you blame the airline and they have to pay for this scam! it has happened to me..." you don't know how to pack a bike"

In my opinion many yrs as a mechanic The bikes were never made to be taken apart and but back together as many times as there are. You have aluminum parts and steel bolts! One is harder then the other and something has to wear. I have seen the the damage from traveling bikes over the years.

This is why I transport bikes in a NO touch, ride ready, NO scratches either. oh yea leave the frame water bottles on!
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Re: United Airlines severely damaged tribike and refuses to pay. [Russ Brandt] [ In reply to ]
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Sorry - I forgot #3


3. Does not cover loss or damage caused by:
a. Breakage, marring, scratching, or handling;

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