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Bike travel

I fly quite a lot with a bike.
And I never pay extra.
I don't use a hard case, rather a canvas bag and some foam surround my bike, and recently I've made a shroud out of plasticized-cardboard for further protection.

  

Most airlines have a 50lb and 62-linear inch (H x W x D) rule. My bike easily makes the 50 lb rule, despite me throwing in a wetsuit, some clothes, and other such stuff. I don't quite meet the 62" rule, but then neither does the Hen House solution (despite its claims) and that solution still incurs an extra bag fee for the wheels. I'm confident that despite having a very large Jamis frame (XL in fact) I could trim down the shroud and meet the 62" rule. Airlines very rarely pull out a tape measure to check the 62" rule, it's happened to me once in over 80 flights, and I still got away with it.

This solution does involve being handy with a wrench. 
I disconnect the following items:
  • Wheels, also remove skewers, as you would with a bike box
  • Forks + handlebars (the brakes & cables don't need disconnecting)
  • Rear deraileur (cable doesn't need disconnecting)
  • Seatpost, as you would with a bike box
  • Crankset (as easy as removing the pedals, which you'll do even with a bike box
  • Chain (not essential to do this, but it's easier, especially with a split link)
The best kind of wheels to travel with are the Hed3 (formerly Specialized Tri Spokes, mine were made by DuPont in 1991). They flat pack on top of each other, are bomb proof, and you can stick a handlebar through them, or whatever else you choose.

In 2014 I'm going to trim the shroud, so I'll easily make the 62" rule. I might add two small case wheels too. The bike already easily fits on the back seat or trunk of a small car, I've even had it in the passenger seat of a large car.

  

  

  


  

  

Finally, occasionally I'll also be taking a suitcase. If so then bars, forks, helmet, cranks etc go in there. The bike package gets narrower, and much lighter. 
This is the bike I took to Long Course Tri' Nationals in June 2014, it includes my 2 super-heavy Specialized Tri-spoke wheels: