Living all the way in the south of Thailand can be inconvenient when you do triathlons across the country. Every year there are races in Bangkok, Hua Hin, Rayong, and Pattaya, and all these places are an awful long drive away from Phuket. So instead of racking my bike on the back of the car and driving to my next race I decided to see how easy it is to take a bike on the plane.
Every airline in Thailand has slightly different rules regarding bringing a bike on the plane and after going through the options I figured out that NokAir offered the best options at very reasonable prices. They basically give you two alternatives on how to transport your bike.
The first way is by leaving your bike the way it is and just handing it over to the ground staff. Make sure you deflate your tires before the flight otherwise I am sure you have flat tires by the time you get your bike back. This option will cost you a total of 200 baht handling fee and you can still use the 15kg luggage allowance for your normal luggage. At first this option had my preference until I realized that would mean I would be standing on my destination airport with a complete bike in my hand and no way that would go well with available public transport or a taxi.
The second option is to buy a bike bag and take your bike apart partly to get it in the bag. Again, make sure you deflate your tires. This way your bike will count as normal luggage meaning no extra handling fee but unfortunately you need to keep the weight below 15kg (or pay for extra weight) and you will only be able to bring hand luggage with you. This option would be fine with me as I was only planning to be away for 2 days to race in the Bangkok triathlon and then go back again.
Bike bags are available at the better bike shops in Thailand but I was unable to find a cheap one in Phuket. One shop had a hard-case which would be a huge burden to store in my room the whole year and I did not even dare to ask what it would cost (probably more than my bike). Eventually I ordered a foldable bike bag online from Vincita (check their website for a dealer close to you). Total costs were around 2,000 baht.
The day before my trip I cleaned my bike, packed it in the bag, and it fitted nicely in my medium sized car. Only the steering wheel is sticking out from the bag which saved me time to get it off and was no problem with NokAir.
Once I arrived in Bangkok I was surprised to see they just loaded my bike-bag on the conveyor belt with the normal luggage. The taxi driver taking me to my hotel did look up a bit strangely but there were no further problems when he noticed the bag fitted easily on his back seat and I would sit on the passenger side.
The whole trip went a lot easier than expected and a 1-hour flight from Phuket to Bangkok is a lot easier than 10 hours of driving on shitty Thai roads. Maybe for the next triathlon in Pattaya I will do the same again as this saves me considerable time.
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