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:

Wind surfers; and

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.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.