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"Almost like the plane ran over it!": UCI Worlds Gran Fondo rider's Cervélo wrecked in flight transit, but Air Canada denies any responsibility

“I understand these things happen, but people need to take responsibility for it. It’s okay to say ‘We ruined your bike,’ but let us make it right”

A Canadian rider, who participated in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Scotland last month, has revealed that her brand new 2023 Cervélo Soloist, 2020 Cervélo P-Series and her time-trial helmet were severely damaged with several chips, cracks and dents, when flying back with Air Canada, however the airlines has denied any responsibility for the damages.

Diane Bomans from Saskatoon was reveling being a part of the biggest cycling event in history in Scotland, representing Canada in the Gran Fondo, finishing 22nd in the road race and a commendable 9th in time-trial championships.

However, her "fantastic" two-week trip to Scotland "ended in a nightmare" on her way back home. "I arrived home without early Wednesday morning without either of my two bikes. They arrived later in the day and when I picked them up, both bags showed damage," she said.

Her 2020 Cervélo P-Series time trial bike had at least three cracks in the frame with paint chips all over the bike bag. Her 2023 Cervélo Soloist also had damages to the frame as well as her brand new TT helmet, which had dents on both sides.

> Blame Air Canada – Tour de France rider still missing THREE bikes lost on flight to Grand Départ due to global airline baggage crisis

"The force required to generate this type of damage had to be extreme. I take extra care packing my bikes including wrapping every piece of the frame in foam," said Bomans, adding that Air Canada then asked her to wait for 15 days for a response.

When she took the bikes to her local bike shop to get them assessed, they were shocked as well. One of the employees of the bike shop said: "It’s almost like the plane ran over it, that was my first opinion.

"As though it got run over by the plane, that’s kind of the level of impact. You might rarely see a minor scuff or maybe a slightly bent derailleur, but this is the most severe damage I’ve seen."

> Tour de France pro slams "ridiculous" airline as suitcase still in Amsterdam

After waiting for two weeks, Air Canada responded to Bomans claim, "unfortunately" declining it and denied any responsibility.

They wrote: "The airline's liability for loss, damage or delay of checked baggage is limited. The carrier may refuse claims based on the inherent nature of an item or for loss or delay of unsuitably or inadequately packed items (e.g, perishable/fragile item)."

Air Canada also responded to a request by CTV News, saying that bikes "must be placed with handlebars fixed sideways and pedals removed in a rigid and/or hard shell container."

Bomans was shocked after reading this, saying that nobody had ever told her before that it has to be hard case. "Pretty much everybody I know travels with a soft case and the soft cases are great," she said.

> The stuff they never tell you about flying with your bike

Gran Fondo rider's damaged Cervelo (4)
Gran Fondo rider's damaged Cervelo (5)

While damages for Bomans bike were eventually covered by Saskatchewan Government Insurance, this is not the first time Air Canada is finding itself in the middle of a bike transit scandal.

The airlines lost three bikes belonging to a Tour de France rider from Israel-Premier Tech as he flew from Canada to Copenhagen for last year's Grand Départ amidst the global airline baggage crisis.

Guillaume Boivin, who got a late call up from his team to ride the Tour arrived in the Danish capital on time, but he was down three bikes, besides his other personal effects. As a result he had to ride the opening individual time trial on a bike borrowed from a team-mate, finishing in 129th place.

The 33-year-old, a top-10 finisher at Paris-Roubaix in 2021, resigned himself to only being reunited with his own bikes following the Tour, but even a month later, Air Canada was still unable to find his bikes and other possessions.

He said: "I have nothing and they don’t know. It's been almost a month and there are limits. It’s annoying not having your stuff. I wanted to give them a chance, but I find it pretty ordinary.

"My patience has its limits. I'm going home after the Tour and it’s not settled. It is not a free service with volunteers.

"For anyone, a plane ticket is not cheap. I would have expected better. This is my situation, but I find it deplorable for everyone who is experiencing the same problem this summer."

> Ryanair ‘lose’ triathlete’s bike – twice on different flights in different countries has contacted Air Canada for a comment on Bomans' bikes, but is still awaiting a response.

Bomans, meanwhile, said that she understands accidents happen, but she’s frustrated that the airline isn’t taking any responsibility. She said: "I understand these things happen, I absolutely get that people make mistakes and accidents happen.

"But people need to take responsibility for it. It’s okay to say ‘We ruined your bike,' but let us make it right." 

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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Steve K | 8 months ago
1 like

I've been at an event this afternoon in the Houses of Parliament for the Rights for Flight campaigns. Given the stories there about airlines damaging people's wheelchairs (apparently more than 30 wheelchairs are damaged a day on flights in the US) I can't say this surprises me.

julesselmes | 8 months ago

I worked as a baggage handler at London Gatwick for a short while. I was horrified to see the staff literally throw bike bags and boxes onto the loading dollys and then stack 4 layers of suitcases (also thrown down) on top of the bikes. When I spoke up, suggesting that we put the luggage down first and the bikes on top,  the reply I got was "I fucking hate cyclists" and also "I'm not going on no fucking holiday; the cunts." In fairness, there is so much pressure to get the luggage loaded and out to the planes that there is no time to mess around. In our training, we were told that if we wanted to test our own suitcases before flying, "to throw the suitcase down a flight of stairs. If it doesn't burst open and nothing breaks inside, you are good to go!" This is why I always use a hard bike box when I fly with my bike.

mattw | 8 months ago

Air Canada do require a hard-shell case in their T&C. Any claim is toast.

Packing instructions

Sports equipment bags and cases can’t contain clothing or other personal items. They must be used only to carry sports equipment.

The bicycle must be placed - with handlebars fixed sideways and pedals removed - in a rigid and/or hard-shell container** specifically designed for shipping or in a bicycle suitcase (in the case of collapsible bicycles). 
Tires must be partially deflated.
If packaged differently, the bicycle may be refused for carriage.

* Bicycles exceeding these limits can be shipped via Air Canada Cargo.
** Air Canada is not liable if and to the extent that any damage results from the inherent defect, quality or vice of the baggage.


Daclu Trelub | 8 months ago

Handler Monkeys are a close relative of the Barbary Ape.

Freddy56 | 8 months ago

Awful. But accept it is part of flying and insure it. I fly 10 times a year with my bike and pack it, expecting a load to be placed on top of it.  Air Canada didnt do it, a baggage handler loaded it on its side. a cardboard bike box, especially the canyon boxes are fantastic and far better then the EVoc bag you have which does nothing for side pressure.

Cugel replied to Freddy56 | 8 months ago

Freddy56 wrote:

Awful. But accept it is part of flying and insure it. I fly 10 times a year with my bike .....

Your details have been sent to my children & grandchildren, who will expect you to pay a fairly significant share of damages for your daft contribution to ruining their future. You'll probably be getting similar bills from billions of others - although they might all be dead of weather by then; but so might you! Even me!!

Mind, I don't know how you'd make recompense. Money won't help. In fact, having far too much of it seems to be a major cause of future-cancelling daftness in the first place.

Incidentally, did you know that the basic idea of a bike is to enable travel without an engine, especially of the highly polluting kind? Are there no roads or nice tracks where you live? You could get a-one o' them virtual cycling machines and a big tele sceen ........

bobbinogs replied to Freddy56 | 8 months ago
1 like

Spot on Freddy, anyone who has flown and sat in a window seat will see exactly how the baggage is handled. I cannot imagine packing a bike for a flight and not putting it into a hard case. She seems genuinely surprised that her bike was damaged, I would have been bloody amazed it came out in one piece.

capedcrusader replied to bobbinogs | 8 months ago
1 like

Oh for FS! That's all I have to offer upon scrolling down to see she used an softcase. 

paulrattew | 8 months ago

Obviously terrible treatment from the airline / baggage handlers, but I can't imagine taking such expensive easily damageable bikes on a flight in a soft bag. 

RoubaixCube | 8 months ago

Take them to court. You've given them a chance to handle it and they havent handled it so you let the lawyers handle it.

Rendel Harris replied to RoubaixCube | 8 months ago

RoubaixCube wrote:

Take them to court. You've given them a chance to handle it and they havent handled it so you let the lawyers handle it.

If the airline is telling the truth about hard boxes being mandatory as part of their T&Cs for bike carriage she won't really have a case (pun not intended), will she? Obviously as a cyclist one has sympathy for anyone who suffers damage to their pride and joy but it does seem absolute madness to trust any bicycle to a soft case when it's going into the cargo hold of an aeroplane, let alone two such valuable ones.

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