• My top 3 airlines for the travelling triathlete

    As a jet setting professional athlete I get to do a fair bit of travelling. Sounds glamorous huh…not really, unless your idea of glamorous is squished in a seat for 12 hours eating tiny meals out of boxes, watching movies you’ve already seen and not being able to sleep! With up to 15 races a year all over the globe, this makes for plenty of air miles accumulation. I’ve also come to recognise a good airline for the travelling triathlete and which ones to avoid. As you may know, travelling around with your bike can be some people’s idea of hell. A hectic race schedule for pro athletes and time constraints due to work for age groupers may often involve flying out with a short turnaround, where rest and comfort onboard may also be important! Generally you want to get to the other side as fresh and rested as possible and without a bad taste in your mouth due to surprise bike charges.

    Without further ado, here are my top 3:

    1st: British Airways

    Picked as my number one for a combination of its bike friendly baggage policies and onboard cabin experience. I generally travel with my bike and hand luggage. If your bike is 23kg or less it forms part of your general baggage allowance so long as you don’t have an extra bag to check in. The great thing is that BA’s hand luggage policy allows your hand baggage bag to be as heavy as you like, so long as you can lift it in the overhead lockers unattended. So for light to medium travellers, this is a great, cost effective option!

    Secondly, BA’s cabin experience is usually great. The economy cabins are clean and comfortable with decent leg room. On short haul flights you also get a complimentary drink and meal. On long haul flights, obviously you get fed but there are also snack stops in all the galleys throughout the flight with all sorts of snacks to munch on, as much as you like. The staff are usually great too. After racing in a weird country when you are tired and just want to get home, it’s quite comforting getting onboard seeing friendly faces and hearing familiar accents.

    2nd: Virgin Atlantic

    Virgin has an even better bike baggage policy than BA but I’ve put it second as the cabin experience is not quite as good as BA’s.

    On Virgin you can take your bike at no charge plus you get an additional checked bag – no extra cost, sweet! You also get 8kg hand baggage allowance.

    I get a little hungry on Virgin flights though. The food is ok but portions not very big and they don’t have the 24/7 snacks like BA. I found myself panicking that I wouldn’t make it to the next meal. Well that’s a bit dramatic, but if you do have a big appetite, be sure to pack snacks for those long haul flights.

    3rd: South African Airways

    SAA has been elected by me for it’s very friendly bike policy. SAA has more or less the exact same bike policy as Virgin. I.e. No charge for bike and you get normal checked baggage allowance.

    SAA short haul is great but the long haul experience is not as good. The cabin service is decent but nothing special and I’ve often found the staff won’t really go out of their way to help you and make you feel special…something BA is pretty good at.

    So there you have it!

    Warning: Be careful of codeshare flights. You may book a flight with BA for eg. And the flight is operated by Iberia or American Airlines for eg. Check this before you book as you don’t want to be travelling either of those who charge an arm and a leg for bikes (US$150 & EU70 per way respectively….ouch!).

    Happy triathlon travels!

    Gx

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