If you’re coming to India with us from the UK, there’s no doubt that British Airways offer the quickest and most direct service (T5 issues being sorted by the summer…). As our time in India is relatively short given how far we’re travelling, those extra saved hours on either end – and the fact that a direct plane reduces the chance of damaging trusty steeds – are a real bonus. What’s more, BA’s prices have been really competitive over the last few years.
But like most airlines, BA have been shuffling around their baggage policy recently. Since last year, bikes have travelled for free as an extra piece of sporting equipment, taking any pressure off baggage allowance quandaries. The only stipulation was how they’re packed (pedals off, handlebars turned etc…) and that they’re within a 23kg max weight – no problems there. This year, they’ve introduced a clause stating that while this is still the case, the total dimensions mustn’t exceed 158cm – that’s the height, plus the width, plus the length. Unless you have a folding bike or one with S&S couplings, this is pretty much impossible. Somewhat confusingly, BA also state that standard bike boxes and bags will still be accepted, even though these exceed these dimensions. Anyway, so while it looks like everything will be ok, it’s worth finding the smallest bike box or bike bag that you can, just to try and avoid any issues with surly check in staff.
With this in mind… Although nothing short of a big, heavy hardcase will guarantee the safe passage of your bike, we’ve had very good experiences from Ground Effect’s very diminutive Tardis. With the addition of some locally sourced bubble wrap, cardboard and pipe lagging, it’s really well designed to protect your frame, and packs down to A4 size for easy transportation in the jeeps – for those coming on the Manali-Leh tour. We’ve had several people use them in the last couple of years, and they’ve got a big thumbs up. So well worth looking into, and impressively priced at £60.
Lastly, it’s always worth checking your airline’s bike policy and printing it out to avoid any confusion at the check in counter. Ringing a day earlier to confirm the fact you’ll be bringing a bike can also help.
Photos: Big skies on the Morei Plains, Ladakh.