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I'm considering flying my motorcycle from somewhere in Europe to Nairobi to get over northern Africa. I know that Grant and Susan flew from Egypt to Nairobi, but I haven't seen anything about flying from Europe. Has anyone done this, or does anyone have information on how it might be done. Are there any European cities that might be easier than others? I was considering flying from Frankfurt because it seems to have a large airport and lots of freight services. Are there other European cities that might be better? Thanks.
Location: Soultz sous Forets, Alsace (Bas Rhin), France
I tried to get a ticket from Frankfurt to Nairobi for my DR 350 but all the information I got from all the airlines I contacted was that the planes thy use to get there from Europe are too small to take a motorbike - freight. Anyway, they would not do so because a motorcycle is considered as a "dangerous good" and there are only a few airlines left who still accept motorbikes as freight.
Sorry to tell you that,
I think the response you are getting from the 'front line' employees at the airlines is not the educated response you deserve. True, motorcycles are "Dangerous Goods" under IATA regulations, but lots of other things are dangerous goods, and airlines carry dangerous goods every day on every flight. All you need to do is ensure that the item you wish to ship (in this case, a "Vehicle - Flammable Liquid Powered", to use the correct nomenclature) is properly documented and properly packed.
I recommend you begin by visiting (in person) the cargo office of the airline you are considering using. I don't know where in Europe you are, but most of the major European carriers fly into Nai-robbery.
The cargo office staff can help you to fill out the dangerous goods paperwork, but by law, they are not allowed to complete the form for you. A motorcycle (sorry, a "Vehicle - Flammable Liquid Powered") is a Class 9 (misc) item, UN number 3166, and you need to follow packing instruction 900. Packing instruction 900 can be found in the IATA DGR book that is in every airline cargo office in the world. The airline will photocopy the page containing the instructions, and photocopy a 2 page checklist that lists everything you need to do to complete the paperwork and get your bike on its way.
I have shipped my bike transatlantic using Canadian air carriers, all I had to do (besides following the packing instruction and filling out the paperwork) was show up with less than a gallon (4 liters) of fuel in the tank, and disconnect and tape off the positive battery terminal. That was it. Below is a picture of my motorcycle, in the shipping container (the airline provides that free as part of the service). You will need to make a simple wooden pallet on your own to keep the bike upright.
Note that not all planes can accept a container the size of the one you will need. The container (ULD, or "unit load device", as it is referred to in the industry) shown below is a LD6. You need a two-aisle widebody, such as a 767, A330, A340, 747, etc. to carry a LD6. Smaller single aisle aircraft, such as A320's, 737 and 757 aircraft are not big enough to take this size container - but perhaps your 350cc motorcycle would fit into a smaller can - almost for sure it would if you took the front tire off and stowed it beside the bike. Otherwise, I am sure that there are dedicated cargo aircraft serving Kenya out of Europe daily. If you don't get a good response from the passenger carriers, call a freight forwarder-consolidator such as Panalpina or similar.
Airline Pilot and Dangerous Goods Instructor
[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 24 March 2002).]
I suggest you contact David Grist at HC Travel: email@example.com who I used to arrange shipping my bike from the UK to Mombassa. I found him really helpful although I must admit airfreighting the bike would have been much easier and ultimately not much more expensive. That was down to the shipping company really.
I'm sure he can arrange airfreight and crating for you. Alternatively, a number of travellers (2) I've met have said good things about using Air France from Paris on other routes and it may be worth checking them out.
I can fail but to see a little humour (or perhaps irony) here - you're asking how to get your bike into Kenya from Europe by air, and two posts down the list, Goose is going nuts trying to get his bike out of Kenya by air. See his post, Advice please for shipping/freighting out of Kenya
Maybe you might want to talk to Goose first - perhaps by now he would be willing to sell you his bike cheap, that would save both of you a lot of shipping costs.
[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 09 April 2002).]
I did see Goose's post and I got a chuckle out of it.
It did confirm my suspicions that Nairobi is a good entry point to Africa if you're coming from the north, or exit point if you're coming from the south. Hopefully the logistics of flying into Nairobi and riding out are easier than those of riding in and flying out
Yes, I think you are probably correct - it would be easier to import a shipment than to export one.
I worked out of Nairobi (Nai-robbery as we referred to it) for a few years in the early '90s, flying food out of Wilson airport up into South Sudan and later Ethiopia. The government officials in Kenya are not always the most facilitative in the world. They are not as "in your face, bribe me" as, for example, the Nigerians, but they are not as logical as you would expect, if you have not lived in Africa. Often there are strange requirements that need to be met - such as a stamp on a document - that neither you, the official, or the official's boss can think of a reason for - but it has to be done.
Having said that, you might want to prepare yourself for a possible 2 or 3 day delay in releasing your bike from customs, and also mentally prepare yourself to perhaps discreetly hand out a little dosh to move things along. 10 years ago, a US $20 bill did wonders. But you need to make the offer in a low key way, e.g. asking the official if he needs any cash for expenses he might incur as a result of going out of his way to help you, rather than framing it as an outright bribe.
The best possible arrangement would be to deal with a European based freight forwarder who has a local representative in Kenya, and have it agreed in your contract that the freight forwarder is responsible for customs clearance and costs. Even with that, you might need to slip a little cash to the local agent, who will keep a bit himself and pass some of it along to others to get you the results you want.
It must be said that the Cairo end of the flights was much worse than the Nairobi end, so flying in from Europe shouldn't be too awful.
"Landing in Nairobi is straightforward, somebody will try to get you to hire them to do the customs clearance for you - it's normal to do so, but clear with them what their charges will be - don't take "not much" for an answer - and how long it will take and how much in "tips" to get it through. Expect US$100+ if you want it in a few hours, as in sometime today. You can try yourself, but it's pretty chaotic and you don't know who and how much to "tip," although you can probably figure it out eventually.
Uncrating the bikes is easy - let it be known that you don't want the crates and they will disappear in seconds before your eyes - they will do all the uncrating."
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