As I needed to travel to Rhode Island last week (as opposed to Arizona), I finally had an excuse to test Clarice’s travel-friendliness as we navigated through three distinct airports.
I do not yet own the suitcase specifically meant to protect a Brompton bicycle; therefore, I decided to try my luck by taking her as a carry-on.
The easy-wheels in the rear helped me to pull her around the airport in “cart mode,” although I did wish that she had all four easy-wheels that come with the rear-rack option, instead of just two I decided upon.
The greatest challenge would be to get her past the TSA folks at the security checkpoint, but we would never know without trying.
Luckily, the TSA folks (in all three cities) were very willing to try and fit her through the scanning gizmo.
With a little shimmy-ing…
… Clarice was successfully able to fit through all three of the scanners attempted at the Atlanta, Phoenix, and Providence airports.
I typically transferred her back into “cart mode” to wheel her to the gate, and then folded her back up again to put her cover on (stored in the saddle bag) prior to boarding the plane.
One of the convenient aspects of the Brompton cover is the fact that you can unzip it slightly to allow the saddle nose to protrude upwards.
The under-side of the Brompton saddle nose has finger ridges to allow you to comfortably lift the bicycle by the saddle.
On two of the three flights, I tried to fit her in the overhead bin. On both occasions, she just barely fit, but the bin door closed just fine. The flight attendants, too, were very willing to help make it work.
Most recently, on my way back to Atlanta, Delta gave me the option to gate-check the bicycle, and I accepted, only to see how it would work out. Contrary to Airtran‘s policies on gate-checking bicycles, Delta actually gate-checked it for free. Upon arriving at my destination, I noticed that the cover was a bit dusty, but overall, the bicycle survived.
The entire experience of lugging the bicycle through the airport caused a lot of “looks,” especially while folding/unfolding. As a Brompton owner (or future Brompton owner, if you are looking to purchase), until folding bicycles become more mainstream, you will have to get used to being somewhat of a spectacle wherever you go. The TSA folks in all of the cities encountered always got a kick out of the process, and even requested a demonstration. The TSA guards in Arizona actually encouraged me to ride to my gate (which I did). On another occasion in Atlanta, the train that connects the concourses was out of order. To save time and effort, I rode through multiple concourses (a distance equating to at least a mile, if not farther), beating my cohorts to the baggage claim.
All-in-all, traveling with the Brompton has its pros and cons, but at least I now know from first-hand experience that it is possible!