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Email and Twitter protests cause cut-price airline to reverse thrust

Cut price airline easyJet has backpedalled on its decision to reduce the weight limit for bicycles, restoring the previous allowance of 32kg which was knocked down to 23kg earlier this month.

Earlier this month, easyJet amended its baggage allowance for large sports equipment to read:

“Large Sports Equipment (items up to 32kg, except bicycles for which the maximum weight is 23kg) for example:

Bicycles;
Canoes;
Wind surfers; and
Hang-gliders/paragliders.”

The specific restriction on bikes was new - you’d previously been able to pay the fee and take a bike up to 32kg.

This was particularly bad news for mountain bikers as a burly all-mountain bike in a well-padded bag could exceed 23kg, especially if you lobbed in some ancilliary kit like a rucksack or riding gear.

But it also threatened cycle tourists who’d got into the habit of slipping the rest of their gear into a bike bag. That’s technically against easyJet’s rules - the allowance is just for a bike and its container - but few bike bags ever got checked. Who wants to make sure there are no sweaty shorts in there on a return flight?

Our very good friends over on Singletrackworld.com were among the riders that who kicked up a fuss, and within hours easyJet said it was reviewing the charges.

The airline’s press office recently announced:

“From Saturday 11th January we are raising the limit on bike weight to 32kg. Whilst this will take a number of weeks to be applied to all our systems, no customer will be charged an excess for bikes between 23kg and 32kg going forward. We hope more people will continue to enjoy our network of over 130 destinations across Europe for great road and mountain bike rides.”

Transport activist Dave Holladay, who has previously persuaded train and airline companies to improve provision for cyclists, says the storm of tweets and emails that went easyJet’s way was the main factor in the rule reversion.

“By the time I was looking for the easyJet contacts to tackle quietly behind the scenes, news came through that the changes had been reverted.”

But Dave points out that problems can still crop up. Things can go pear-shaped, he says, “when the ground handling contractors (who make up a large percentage of the liveried/nominated customer-facing staff at any airport) have an RTFM moment and don't apply the correct easyJet rules as set out by their manual.”

In other words, don’t assume that the person you’re talking to on the desk actually works for easyJet and knows the rules. As ever in these situations, being polite, cheerful and helpful works better than getting stroppy.

Dave adds: “I'm hoping to get some better liaison with the ground handling contractors at key airports used by easyJet, especially to clear the confusion which can occur when the contractors working for easyJet interpret something slightly differently.

“Given also that many CTC Cycling Holidays tours use easyJet with their groups I'm going to see if we can get some direct contact details, for key departure points so that a group can arrange to check in all bikes as a single transaction and thus get them, loaded in a more organised way for a group travelling together.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.