I've used both the hard plastic Tricos and a soft cases.
The Tricos are incredibly sturdy and can hold a lot of stuff including helmets, tools, shoes and whatever else you need for your trip. But that can be a problem. I once packed a Trico for a camping/MTB trip to Moab and found that the final package weighed 75 pounds! I was fully prepared for the weekend, but I could barely lug the thing in and out of the rental van. Now days, airlines will charge extra (lots) for heavy and overweight packages (call first and ask about the costs).
For the last several years, I've been using a lightweight nylon case by The Pika Packworks Company of Salt Lake City, Utah. I bought one after reading in Bicycle Magazine that the The U.S. Posties were using them when they flew. It's much smaller and easier to handle. The Pika has a large shoulder strap making it less of a chore to lug a bike through the parking lot, into cars and onto trains. It's about like lugging a set of gold clubs. I managed to carry a bike a mile to the taxi station in Kent (UK), through Charing Cross Station and into the London Underground (subway) during rush hour on my way to Stanstead Airport with out too much trouble.
The Pika case is easy to pack and unpack. The top unzips and everything drops into slots. There is a thick piece of foam on the bottom which wraps all the way around the forks and seat stays. I always take off the rear derailleur and chainrings, but I don't think it is absolutely necessary. I take some old towels and a bunch of large rubber bands to wrap up loose pedals, chainrings, pumps, seats, etc. If the TSA airline security folks want to take a look, you just unzip. The Trico can take a long time to pack and unpack and might potentially make you miss a flight.
The disadvantage of the Pika is that the nylon straps slip sometimes and the case probably wouldn't withstand impacts as well. (I bet you could drive a small car over a Trico without hurting your bike).
Pete. Good luck on the trip. Say high to everyone. You'll get a kick out of seeing 50 Hetchins spinning down the motor way at the same time. And be sure and look at the Norman Columns in the Tewksbury Abbey.
Off like a flock of turtles, Stratton Hammon Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 18:44:49 -0700
From: Chuck Schmidt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [CR]Wanted; Information on Bike Traval Cases
<3EF3B481.email@example.com> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit Precedence: list Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Message: 16
>I have used a Trico Iron Case for years and never had a bike damaged.
>When I worked for a touring company I made several trips to Europe, all
>over the US and Canada, and a trip to New Zealand without a scratch to