I know many of you have had the experience of flying to a race.....What is the best way to ship your bike? Do you buy one of those boxes and ship it with the airline? Or do you have one of those companies ship it. I'm doing Cali 70.3 and i guess there isn't anywhere in Oklahoma that ships bikes. Anyway if you have any suggestions i would appreciate it.
I got lucky. On a trip to MO I borrowed a friend's bike shipping box. Checked it as my 2nd piece of luggage when I flew Northwest and they didn't charge me a penny in either direction. I didn't claim up front that it was a bike, I just casually said it was one of my checked items and didn't say a word. Probably one (or I guess 2) in a million chance.
I recently took mine to a race on the plane in a bike case I bought. Continental didn't charge me either direction! I'm not sure if it was because I'm a frequent flyer, or because it was under 70 lbs (non frequent flyers have a 50 lb limit, which I was actually under), or because they just didn't feel like charging me.
I also took a couple of bikes down to Mexico recently, but Mexicana Airlines charged $75 each.
FWIW, the cases with wheels are really easy to pull around!
The easiest: Tri Bike Transport. If they're servicing your race, the hassle factor is nil, other than they have your bike for 2 weeks. And it's 100% sure it'll be there. Plus, you can ship equipment and gear in the TBT truck, so it lightens your load.
The most sure: Box it yourself. You can choose whether you get a permanent or disposable box, they make both. That's an economic decision. The good news: It's pretty much guaranteed that the bike will get there when you do, because it's on the same plane. However, when it gets there, you need to be your own bike mechanic to reassemble it. Also, be sure that insurace covers the bike, because luggage on a plane is covered for like $500 tops, standard. You have to pay by the drink for extra insurance, and it's pricey. I actually got a rider on my homeowners policy for not much money that covers it during flights, on the back of my car, and while at races. something like $8/month (for a $5K bike). Worth looking into.
The wildcard: UPS/Fedex. You can have your LBS box it, then ship it UPS. Depending on the dimensions, and believe it or not your local UPS/Fedex place of business, it can cost as little as $70 and as much as $300 one way to ship it, with insurance. It's all about who's measuring the dimensions, regardless of whether it's a disposable case or a hard case. Weird, I know. It'll get there more quickly than TBT can take it, and it's more convenient than rolling a case through the airport, plus it comes with it's own insurance. The minuses are that it can get really expensive, plus you have to be your own mechanic on the other end to reassemble your bike. For me, this option is a crapshoot.
Happy flying, and whatever the choice, kill the HIM.