Outsized boxes on National Express buses

22camels

Active Member
I am wondering if anyone has any recent experience transporting an oversized cardboard box on a National Express bus.

My box will contain a bike, but bike-specific stuff is irrelevant to this question, which could just as well be about skis or musical instruments. The dimensions of my box will be 138cm x 73cm x 19cm.

Their luggage policy http://www.nationalexpress.com/footer-pages/luggage.aspx?utm_source=Redirect&utm_medium=Marketing&utm_campaign=SERVICE Luggage Policy says, amongst other things, that:
"Height, width or depth of these extra items must not be bigger than 85cm."
"We may agree, subject to available room, to carry additional luggage such as: skis, surfboards, folding/dismantled bicycles, provided that they are in suitable protective packaging."

I am happy to pay the additional £8/£10 for an extra bag allowance which should in theory give me some extra leverage if the driver is being difficult, but I am not sure, as my box will still exceed 85cm in length and if the hold looks like filling up on that day, I could be out of luck.

I will need a 99.999% guarantee that the driver will accept the box on the day. I will be taking an early morning coach from Wales to Heathrow to catch an afternoon long distance flight and cannot face the uncertainty. Taking a train is not an option (there is no space for such a large box on the train I would be catching and so I would have to stand beside the box in between carriages for four hours and annoy lots of people). I can easily travel with the bike unboxed by train but I am not prepared to box it up at the airport, it is way too much hassle to deal with. Hence I need to have it boxed up in advance, which is why I am looking at the coach.

I spoke to a ticket sales agent at my local bus station and they suggested calling National Express in advance to obtain additional assurance (apparently they can broadcast a message to the driver of the given bus), but I am not sure if this counts for much.

Basically, if it's iffy, then I will have to travel the day before and spend the night at the airport, which is far from ideal too.

Any suggestions would be great.

Thanks!
 
Fwiw, any time I've taken a coach, there has always been loads of room for baggage. Far, far more room than baggage. But I'm not a regular.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
Are you happy to have the box turned on it's side?
And one thing worth considering is that the driver has the final say on any item loaded. Wether you've paid or not. Swap coaches half-way down and you might find the new driver doesn't allow you to load it.

The broadcast message isn't worth the paper it's written on.

The height restriction comes from the luggage hold height.

Check with both their local operator and those along the route wether they'll actually take it. IF you're able.
 
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rugby bloke

Veteran
Location
Northamptonshire
When my son came home from Uni for the Easter holiday using National Express he was restricted to 2 bags and was not able to take his guitar ... not sure if that helps or not !
 
Location
London
And one thing worth considering is that the driver has the final say on any item loaded. Wether you've paid or not. Swap coaches half-way down and you might find the new driver doesn't allow you to load it.

The broadcast message isn't worth the paper it's written on.
Yes, that line in national express's terms has always bothered me - irrespective of whatever the size of your package or the space available, possibly with a bit of minimal rearranging, it surely leaves you at the mercy of a driver having a hissy fit, who had a bad night the night before, who isn't getting enough and thinks you may be, who doesn't like guitars, your facial hair, a certain look about you or whatever. You can't dismiss the human element in these things.

I'd be inclined to pack the bike at the airport.
 

MarkF

Legendary Member
Location
Yorkshire
I disregard the T&C's and often get bikes on transport I shouln't be able to if I followed the T&C's. But, I wouldn't try if I needed a guaranteed 99.999% successful outcome to catch a flight!
 
OP
22camels

22camels

Active Member
Thanks for the feedback.
Is having the box on its side with suitcases on top of it a serious problem?
I wonder what others in the UK living several hours from a major airport do when they want to travel with a boxed bike - get a lift in a car?
Boxing it up at airport would be fine if I had some experience boxing bikes (I hear that the first time you do it you should allow 3-4 hours..) and if I was sure I could find a box at the airport - neither of which are true. So the next best thing would be to box it up in Central London and take it on the Heathrow Express (which I've done before and know is fine). However (unless I can fold up the box I've got and carry it along) this requires either sourcing a box from a London bike shop and finding a space to box the bike up, or getting a bike shop to do it for me, either way I would need to be in London 24hrs before my flight departs to be sure.
This is complicated!
My usual packing method for flying with bike is a soft bag but I do not want to take chances with this particular airline (I think they will only accept a boxed bike, not a bagged one).
 

classic33

Legendary Member
Check back with the booking agent. Get them to phone National Express, whilst you're there, and ask about the rules regarding carrying bicycles(seperate set again).
They stand to loose the commission on the sale of the ticket. At the least.

How long before you need to know?
 
OP
22camels

22camels

Active Member
I travel in four weeks but I need to decide what I am going to do in the next week as have some other travel plans in between. I think asking National Express about their bicycle policy is just confusing the issue. They take folding bikes, but with full size bikes their policy is ambiguous. So I would just ask them about taking an oversized box. I could call them now but I am not really sure I would trust their assurances.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
I travel in four weeks. I think asking National Express about their bicycle policy is just confusing the issue. They take folding bikes, but with full size bikes their policy is ambiguous. So I would just ask them about taking an oversized box. I could call them now but I am not really sure I would trust their assurances.
Couple of numbers for you
0121 6251278
01582 415841
01582 7844440
08705 808080
01582 2453437(John Gilbert)

Previous thread, 2011
https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/taking-the-national-express.75768/
 
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MarkF

Legendary Member
Location
Yorkshire
Thanks for the feedback.
Is having the box on its side with suitcases on top of it a serious problem?
I wonder what others in the UK living several hours from a major airport do when they want to travel with a boxed bike - get a lift in a car?
Boxing it up at airport would be fine if I had some experience boxing bikes (I hear that the first time you do it you should allow 3-4 hours..) and if I was sure I could find a box at the airport - neither of which are true. So the next best thing would be to box it up in Central London and take it on the Heathrow Express (which I've done before and know is fine). However (unless I can fold up the box I've got and carry it along) this requires either sourcing a box from a London bike shop and finding a space to box the bike up, or getting a bike shop to do it for me, either way I would need to be in London 24hrs before my flight departs to be sure.
This is complicated!
My usual packing method for flying with bike is a soft bag but I do not want to take chances with this particular airline (I think they will only accept a boxed bike, not a bagged one).
Personally I wouldn't rely on an employee name/reference number authorising you to take the bike on the bus, not when a flight is at stake.
I think the first time I boxed a bike it took about 30 mins, I could do it in less than 10 now. No idea where 3-4 hours is from?
I had a similar problem once, I got bag from a Pedragalejo bike shop, (Malaga suburb) and rode with it to the airport, folded x3 lengthways, resting on my bars and rear rack. It wasn't a nice 20 miles though.
Take your bike on the train with the box folded flat and pack at the airport, hassle is minimal.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
Thanks for the feedback.
Is having the box on its side with suitcases on top of it a serious problem?
I wonder what others in the UK living several hours from a major airport do when they want to travel with a boxed bike - get a lift in a car?
Boxing it up at airport would be fine if I had some experience boxing bikes (I hear that the first time you do it you should allow 3-4 hours..) and if I was sure I could find a box at the airport - neither of which are true. So the next best thing would be to box it up in Central London and take it on the Heathrow Express (which I've done before and know is fine). However (unless I can fold up the box I've got and carry it along) this requires either sourcing a box from a London bike shop and finding a space to box the bike up, or getting a bike shop to do it for me, either way I would need to be in London 24hrs before my flight departs to be sure.
This is complicated!
My usual packing method for flying with bike is a soft bag but I do not want to take chances with this particular airline (I think they will only accept a boxed bike, not a bagged one).
Would you lay the bike down on its side and let others put stuff on top of it outside of a box? The driver doesn't load luggage, due to to Health and Safety!
 
OP
22camels

22camels

Active Member
I guess it depends on how it is packed within the box. It's also a risk when they load your bike into the plane, but that I am prepared to live with.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
I guess it depends on how it is packed within the box. It's also a risk when they load your bike into the plane, but that I am prepared to live with.
Difference being those at the airport have been shown how to load the plane, as opposed to someone throwing a case in so that they can get a seat.

You'll miss the ferry times I assume?
 
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