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I'm planning a trip to recover a motorcycle from a distant city. The ideal trip would be flying to that location and coming back riding the bike, but that would require me to transport my riding gear with me in the plane: Leathers, boots, gloves, back protector and crash helmet.

All this is bulky and expensive stuff, and a crash helmet may be damaged if dropped or hit hard.

I don't expect any airline to allow me a crash helmet as hand luggage; and wearing it all the time is out of the question :-)

To complicate things, I would be coming back riding the bike, so any hard suitcase would have to be left behind.

How do people normally transport that kind of stuff?

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    Why won't they let you take the helmet as hand luggage? Is it too big? Also, you could ship your suitcase back by mail or parcel service. – phoog Mar 14 '16 at 22:51
  • Put everything in your motorcycle pannier and check that. – Michael Hampton Mar 15 '16 at 0:25
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    I've seen people fly with crash helmets as carry-on. Which airline are you flying with? – JoErNanO Mar 15 '16 at 11:42
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There's a great guide on how to fly with motorcycle gear psoted on Ride Apart, which goes through all the questions you asked point by point. Starting with the type of luggage, it suggests a duffel bag, small enough to be considered a carry-on, and large enough to fit all your gear. You don't have to buy this exact bag, but you might want to find a similar configuration.

Regarding the helmet, you can carry it on a plane as your personal hand-luggage item. Place it in a padded helmet bag, haul it over your shoulder and you're good to go. As an added precaution, make sure that your ticket fare allows you one personal hand-luggage item (European low-cost carriers sometimes don't so check this). Quoting from the linked site:

So how do you get it on a plane? You carry it with you as your personal item. Just throw it in a helmet bag (Bell makes the best ones, they come with any new helmet purchase) and tell anyone who asks that it’s your murse. Airport security apparently isn’t aware that these things make excellent blunt impact weapons; I’ve only been hassled once, in Heathrow, immediately following a terrorist attack in that country. It’s never once raised an eyebrow elsewhere and even makes a great conversation starter if you happen to sit next to a pretty girl...or guy. Just keep in mind that it likely won’t fit under your seat and needs to go in the overhead.

The rest of the gear can safely go in the duffel bag. The leather suit, armour, boots, and gloves are unlikely to be considered as dangerous/prohibited items. The only issue you might have is if your gear contains metal padding/plates. These are becoming more and more common on both gloves and leathers, and might raise an eyebrow or two.

A final tip: if you have a two-piece leather suit, wear the jacket on the flight, and pack the bottoms in the bag. Just remember to remove your back protector since it'll be uncomfortable during the flight.

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    It's perhaps noting that the "helmet in a bag as personal item" probably won't work with European low-cost airlines. – CMaster Mar 16 '16 at 11:57
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You can use a soft duffel bag, that can be folded up and strapped on top of your gear when riding the motorcycle. They are usually more durable than a cardboard box and avoid the shipping hassles of a hard sided suitcase.

You can pack your helmet in the middle surrounded by other pieces of your riding clothes. Stuff some street clothes or tshirts, etc inside the helmet, then wrap it with your riding jacket and place it with other clothing on top and below in the middle of the duffel. I've carried bottles of wine wrapped thusly in my duffels and had them survive just fine.

When picking a duffel to use, layout your gear to get an idea of volume then buy a duffel that size, not larger. A duffel that is completely full is fairly rigid, but if there is empty space is gets quit floppy. If it isn't quite rigid enough when you are packed or you are still a bit concerned about damage, you can always cut some pieces of cardboard that are the same length and width of the duffel, then slide them in around the outside.

  • The baggage handlers cannot have known abut the wine or they would have put in extra effort to ensure that they broke. – Russell McMahon Mar 15 '16 at 13:21
  • Most ramp rats are good people, who get stereotyped by the acts of a few bad ones in their midst. – user13044 Mar 16 '16 at 1:07
  • that may be true, but my observation, over a large number of flights in recent years, is that there seems to be some extremely energetic things happening to many bags in the relativel small timeframes during which they are transferred between various location Say Checkin-conveyor-waiting-transport to plane -conveyor to plane- storage - retrieval - unload-transport-carousel. In some cases some of that would be containerised with fewer steps. I have frequently seen bags (mine and various others) which would survive many many trips in cars etc in domestic use, .... – Russell McMahon Mar 17 '16 at 6:04
  • .... reduced to mush in one multileg journey. The one good example I have seen and (still) photographed was about as classic as they come - with a combination of indifference and destructive mayhem being combined most artfully. Seeing bags thron a meter or 2 onto a conveyor, with some falling off the edges with drop of 2+ metres and being retrieved and rethrown was "enlightening". | Maybe I've been unlucky with experiencing the good people. I know now how to choose and pack a bag so it and contents has a good chance of surviving heavy impact. Many people don't. – Russell McMahon Mar 17 '16 at 6:08
  • @RussellMcMahon - We are all aware that checked bags are not handled with kid gloves, but that does not make the baggage crew guilty of deliberately trying to break them either as you insinuated in your first comment. That is why I suggested that the OP stuff his helmet and wrap it to cover standard baggage handling occurrences – user13044 Mar 17 '16 at 7:26
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You can pack your gear in a cardboard shipping carton and check that. Call the airport to see if there are any special requirements for checking such packages.

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Every airport is different. I carried mine on the plane through Gatwick going to ride in Cuba - no problem , but at Havana Airport on the way back they took it off me. Didn't have time to take it back to check in, so they had it. It was a £350 Schuberth so I wasn't very happy

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