Getting to Colombia


It would seem easy enough, wouldn’t it? Bought a one-way ticket to Bogota, actually found a bike box big enough to fit my frame (thanks Amtrak), packaged it well, contacted JetBlue a month before departure to double-check that my behemoth of a check-in bag (giant bike box) would be ok… and they told me via emails that it would be.  Things were looking up, until they crashed down on me, raining disappointment and frustration so bad I actually put my head down on the JetBlue check-in counter and started moaning.

So what happened?  Well, it started like this:

tallbike at lax #1

I cautiously made my way to the JetBlue check-in counter, “ahem-ing” my way through the packed Thanksgiving weekend crowds, smiling at people bewildered by a box so big it had to be 8-point turned just to get into the building-

JetBlue lady: “Where are you headed today?”

Me: “Flying to Bogota to start a bike tour!”

JetBlue lady: “Oh?”

Me: “I’m really excited”

JetBlue lady: (Sourly looks at the giant box a few feet away) “You can’t take it in that box.”

Me: “I know it looks too big, but I emailed your Customer Service team a month ago and told them the exact dimensions and weight. They told me not to worry about the size, but to keep it under 99lbs to avoid excess baggage fees.” (Showing her the email on my phone)

JetBlue lady: (looking at email) “Well, this policy is true for domestic flights, but not for international.  Colombia has decided that cardboard boxes will not be allowed as baggage, and we don’t know why.  We’ve put this information on our website.  Also, we have another problem; you only have a one-way ticket.  We can’t let you on the plane with a one-way, it’s not allowed.  You’d have to buy a return, and repackage the bike to be allowed on.”

Me: “But I’m traveling by land from country to country on my bicycle, I’m not sure when I’m coming back home, or from where.  When I bought the ticket online I never saw any warnings when I chose a one-way ticket.  Also, I can try to repackage the bike, but do you guys have any pallet wrap and foam wrap?”

JetBlue lady: “Looks like you bought your ticket through Orbitz- if you had bought it directly from us there would have been a warning.  Unfortunately we don’t have any packing supplies.”

Me: “Ok… so how would I repackage the bike? Obviously I don’t have those materials with me…”

JetBlue lady: “You could take a taxi to Staples.”

At this point, I felt doomed. I was being herded into obstacles that could not be conquered.  I put my head down on the counter and just let out “UUUUGGGHGHGHGHGGGGHH WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?”

JetBlue lady: “I’ll be right back.” (Heels clicking as she walks away)

I thought I had lost my 500$ flight to Colombia, and would have to rebook another ticket, and buy a return I wasn’t going to use.  This were not looking good. On top of it all, I had just moved out of my house, so I wasn’t really sure where I could go with all my junk.

JetBlue lady: “Ok sir. Sir?”

Me: (I lift my head up and look dejected)

JetBlue lady: “We’re going to book you on same flight, a week from now.  We’ll only charge you the 34$ processing fee.  You can repackage the bike in that time and figure out your return ticket.  Is that ok?”

Me: (Perking up) “Yes. YES. Thank you!”And so it went.  I called my roommate Alexis back to pick me up, and was told it’d be okay to crash at home for another week.  Another roommate was going out of town, so I could use his room until my next flight.  I was battered, but not out-After an exhaustive amount of correspondence to JetBlue, I was told foam wrap and pallet wrap would be suitable packing material instead of the cardboard box.  I was also told that I could book a refundable return ticket, then cancel it once I got to Colombia.After a trip to Home Depot, lots of help from my friend Adrian, and many more hugs goodbye; I gave it another go-

tallbike at lax #2

And this time; I made it! Now the adventure really begins.


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