Back in 2002 as I was walking in the Sydney Airport Transit Hall , I saw a guy pushing his touring bike. And I asked him whether he carry his bike just like that without boxed it up. He answered (with his French accent) Yes and told me to check with some airlines that allow bikes to be carried without box. And I did checked it out and found out that it is the Malaysia Airlines.
In the South East Asia, it is very convenient and inexpensive to travel with bicycle by plane. I have fly with Qantas, Air Asia, British Midlands, Tiger Airways, Jetstar and of course, the Malaysia Airlines. No hassle and no problem given by them. My only worry is how the airport staff handle my bike at the baggage area and when they unload/off load to/from the plane.
In my past posting (Jan 2009), I have stated that Malaysia Airlines as Cycling Friendly Airlines due to their baggage policy that facilitate cyclist like us. But there are also other airlines, for example Qantas, Jetstar & British Midlands that allows you to carry your bicycle without additional charges as long as the total weight of your luggage + the bike does not exceed the baggage allowance. However, you still need to box up your bike. But you must be warned that the charges for access baggage is expensive. It can be as high as SGD20 per kg in Changi and 20GBP per kg in Heathrow.
Jetstar is another airlines that offer you a good solution. They allow you to purchase your luggage allowance according to your requirements. What I normally do is to declare my bike as a sports equipments and pay SGD35 per sector for my bike. With that I have covered approx. 20kg of weight. Then I purchased 20kg of luggage allowance at SGD15 per sector for my bags, panniers, etc. In addition, I still have 7kg for my hand luggage. Again, I still need to box-up my bike as per their baggage policy.
So next time when you plan to travel with your bicycle, do your homework first. Check out few options on the internet before you choose to travel with which airlines.