As a cyclist, travel can sometimes be stressful. Not just lately with the delays and baggage being lost–but just making sure your baggage (as in, your bike) arrives. If you’ve travelled with your bike, you know the anxious wait by oversize baggage, praying to the luggage gods that your ride has arrived. But it doesn’t end there. Then, of course, you slowly open your bike bag and hope that everything is one piece and the baggage handlers haven’t wrecked your precious possession.
For team Canada’s Erin Attwell, the post-flight inspection was a nightmare. She was returning from Paris, where she’d been riding the team pursuit at the track worlds. When she got home to Victoria, she opened up her bike bag and was horrified at what she saw. “I flew back from the worlds with WestJet. I usually look over my bike after I get it at the carousel and it’s always almost fine,” she explained. “I unzipped the back of the bike and I immediately noticed a huge crack on the left seat stay, there would have been quite the impact with the damage to the frame.”
But it kept getting worse. She then unzipped the rest of the bag and noticed the inside of the bag had ripped and thought it was super strange.
“After opening the bag up completely it made sense how the bag ripped, the shifter had been completely ripped off exposing sharp metal and plastic pieces. This was very surprising as I haven’t even seen damage like this after a bike crash from anyone,” she added “Part of the shifter is still attached at the base where I would have expected it to break if it was going to. I actually have no idea how this could have broken like this, as it would be an extremely difficult thing to break the way it did. The cables were completely severed and hydraulic fluid had spilled everywhere.”
Attwell tweeted about the brutal damage and WestJet sent her a direct message to submit a claim. She has yet to hear back from them.
Just got home from racing world champs in Paris representing CANADA flying on WestJet who have just destroyed my bike. really disappointed with the lack handling and care taken . @WestJet @CyclingCanada @cdncyclist pic.twitter.com/YgbCvDwpiu
— Erin Attwell (@erinattwell) October 19, 2022
Triple Olympic medalist, Curt Harnett saw her tweet and was aghast at the damage. “Holy sh*t! That’s unbelievable. What did they do, run it over with the plane?”
According to the WestJet website, “for international travel, WestJet’s liability will be limited by either the Montreal Convention or the Warsaw Convention, as applicable. In most cases, the limitation amount will be 1,131 Special Drawing Rights. If you have purchased excess valuation, which is available at the airport, prior to departure, for a fee, with the maximum liability is $3,000.”
The site also posts that “you may wish to consider the purchase of travel insurance for items valued exceeding WestJet’s maximum liability.”
Although the season is over so she has some time to sort out a replacement bike, Attwell is extremely disappointed in the situation. “I’m not the only one and I’m sure I won’t be the last. I’m just very disappointed with the lack of care taken and I hope that this can change in the future.”