Getting to Norway from the Netherlands.

We chose to fly there and back mostly due to time constraints. We booked via the Fietsvakantiewinkel in Woerden, after hearing about it from a collegue (nogmals bedankt Marian) who is a keen cyclist.

We were able to book with KLM to fly direct from Schiphol to Bergen and direct from Oslo. KLM seem to be the only carrier that flies direct from Schiphol to both cities (SAS does not seem to). The price turned out to be a very reasonable Eur600 and we were able to get departure and arrival times that suited our limited time frame perfectly.

The other alternatives were cycle buses, trains and ferries. All of these possibilities cost more, and/or would have been more inconvenient taking time off our cycling schedule. As it turned out we completed the route with plenty of time to spare. However cost and convenience gave flying the edge (even with the damage my rear wheel suffered on the way back).

We bought cycle boxes twice (costing Eur80 in total) as it was not feasible to transport the ones used on the outward journey. Fitting the bikes into the boxes was not a problem, we ended up removing the handlebars without taking the handlebar pillar out and tying the bars with the triathalon bars still attached. Getting the pedals off was only a problem on the return journey when 1100km of hard cycling had tightened them up virtually to the point where we couldn't get them off.

The only damage we suffered was in transit on the return journey. My back wheel was bent and broken beyond repair and the only way to get the bike to move was to release the back brakes completely. We filled all the forms in at the KLM baggage desk only to discover a couple of weeks later that we were not going to get any money back for the damage. Our insurer (Postbank doorlopen reisverzekering) regarded our bikes as baggage. If they had classed our bikes as 'means of transport' we would have got our money back. On the up side the repairs cost only Eur45 and we paid around Eur15 to get back home on the train. We will be using a different insurer for our next cycle trip. Read the small print carefully and don't rely on the Postbank insurance services if you are travelling by bike.

Getting to and from Schiphol by train from Utrecht is fine for us, although we got a lift to Schiphol (thanks Jeroen) on the way there. It was a 15km cycle from the airport in Bergen to the hotel mostly on cycle tracks, which was a bonus. We have got used to always having a separate cycle track in the Netherlands! Getting around by train in Norway presented us with no problems. There is a (pricey but fast) express train direct to Oslo Gardemoen from Oslo Central Station which seemed to have plenty of room for bikes as did the train from Fredrikstad to Oslo.

Addendum 30-05-2007

A correspondent who recently travelled from Australia to Italy was hit with an Eur80 charge for transporting a bike back in addition to the price of the cardboard box (which we all know is about as good at protecting your bike from damage by baggage handlers as a wet paper bag). Apparently she should have paid the bike charge on the outward journey as well. However she was not aware of this charge before she travelled. According to the lady in question these charges for transporting bikes with KLM (Air France as well) are new from January 2007.

We were thinking of taking our bikes with us for a short visit to Canada later in the year. However with the new charges it is far cheaper to hire when we get there. This is a shame as we have spent a lot of time getting our bikes set up the way we want them, and now we have to make do with something we are not used to.

An email to KLM customer service saying she was going to tell other cyclists of these charges has apparently lead to threats of legal action. If this is true then it is very shortsighted action by KLM. Just Googling quickly brought up loads of links about how airlines have recently started charging substantial sums to transport bikes.

My advice would be contact any airline before travelling to ask for written conditions of travel and charges and factor those in. Or buy a good folder and a standard looking suitcase to hide it in. Or just take the train if you can.

Page created 28/12/2005. Last updated 30/05/2007

All images are copyright © 2005/6 Stanislav Williams.

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