Thank you for your interest in traveling as an air courier. Here is some information to see if traveling as an AIR COURIER is for you!
One of the biggest points of confusion I have to explain is that traveling as an air courier is NOT a job you get paid for. Independent Air Couriers get to travel at a substantial discount, and sometimes for FREE just for carrying shipping documents for a courier company. Traveling as an air courier is fun and exciting. It's a great way to see Europe, Asia, South America or Australia on a budget.
Here are some common Questions and Answers about traveling as an AIR COURIER provided by:
The International Association of Air Travel Couriers Lake Worth, Florida
(Reprinted here with permission)
What is an air travel courier?
An air travel courier is a person who carries shipping documents on international flights for a courier company, and forfeits his baggage allowance in exchange for a discounted air ticket.
Why do freight companies need couriers?
It is cheaper for a courier company to have a person check freight through as luggage than it is for them to ship freight as air cargo. Plus, shipping material as luggage helps it clear customs quicker, instead of sitting for days in customs as cargo often does.
Why be an air travel courier?
Traveling as an air courier gives you a chance to see the world! Jet to exotic places you could never afford to see before. Explore the globe and widen your knowledge of the world.
Who can be an air courier?
Virtually anybody can be a courier, however some companies require couriers to be at least 21 years old.
What do I give up as an air courier?
Usually you are not allowed to check through any baggage, or are allowed just one bag in some cases. You are allowed however, to carry on as much luggage as the particular airline will permit. If you're only acting as a courier on the outbound flight you can check baggage as normal on the return trip.
Where do I sit and what airlines are used?
Air courier companies utilize major airlines like TWA United, American, British Airways and other international airlines. You fly like any other passenger in a regular seat in the "tourist" or "coach" section of the aircraft. Couriers have been allowed on occasion to upgrade to first class at their own expense.
Are the tickets one-way or round trip?
All tickets are round-trip tickets except in rare cases.
How much do I have to pay, if anything?
Usually you save up to 85 percent of the regular airline ticket price. And in some instances you can fly free. The range is all over the board, depending on the season and demand, but the discount is substantial. Recent bargain fares for couriers include trips to the Orient for $250 round-trip, Europe for $99 to $199, South America for $150. During the summer, rates are generally higher than any other time of the year, but you still fly cheaper as a courier than with other discount fares. In short, traveling as an air courier will save you hundreds of dollars on each trip you take. Some courier companies maintain a list of couriers who they can call at the last minute in the event of a cancellation, and let the courier fly free in exchange. Free flights are extremely rare, but super discounted last-minute flights are more common.
How far in advance do I have to schedule?
If you wanted, you could probably be on a flight to some foreign country within 24 hours of receiving our information, especially if you're interested in Central or South America -- or Europe during the winter. Flights to the most popular destinations usually require at least a 2-week advance reservation, especially during the summer when advance booking can be 4 or 6 weeks or more to guarantee a seat. Most people advance book in order to make sure they get the flights they want. When courier companies are short of couriers for particular runs, the price usually starts dropping the closer it gets to the day or hour of takeoff.
How long can I stay where I'm going?
The length of stay which is permitted varies according to the ticket. Nearly every flight allows you to stay at least 7 days. Some tickets are for a 7-day trip, other tickets allow you 10 days, 14 days, 21 days and up to 6 months if you desire in some cases. Fixed stays of one week or two weeks are common on the European trips. Oriental and South American flights generally allow longer stays as a rule, and often require no minimum stay.
Where can I fly as an air travel courier?
Air travel couriers are needed for flights to every continent except Antarctica. Common destinations include Paris, Rome, London, Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Brussels, Mexico City, Tel Aviv, Honduras, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Caracas, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Quito, Manila, Montevideo, Melbourne, Sydney, Santiago, and other locations in Europe, South America, Asia and Australia.
How do I know I'm not escorting contraband?
Air courier companies are established firms that deal in legitimate air freight. They have to sign documents which are presented to customs officials when the baggage is checked through. For their protection - as well as yours - you are generally not allowed to touch the baggage. When you arrive at the destination, you generally hand the "manifest" to the agent for the courier company who then takes the material from the baggage claim area and clears it through customs. You are not personally liable for the baggage. Before you make your flight you can verify with the company what precautions they take on behalf of couriers such as bonding and insurance.
Where do I stay when I arrive?
You book into a hotel, motel, youth hostel, bed & breakfast inn or with friends and family at your own expense. Once you complete your duties you are on your own and have no need to stay in contact with the air courier company unless you're acting as a courier on the return flight.
Do I have to fly alone?
Yes and no. Courier companies usually have just one courier on each flight. But that doesn't mean there is no chance of traveling with a partner. Occasionally you can fly as couriers for different companies on the same day and sometimes on the same airline. Other times, you can arrange to both be couriers on consecutive days. For instance, one of you might fly as a courier to London on Monday, get the hotel and other arrangements in order, and then join up with your partner who flew in from Los Angeles as a courier on Tuesday. Another possibility is that your partner could buy a ticket on the same flight that you're acting on as courier.
Do I serve as a courier on the return trip?
Usually. But sometimes just on your flight out.
Do I get to keep my Frequent Flyer Mileage?
Yes, except in rare cases.
From which cities do courier flights originate?
At this moment, courier flights currently take off for foreign destinations from the following North American gateway cities: New York, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. (The majority of courier flights originate in New York, Miami, L.A. & San Francisco.) Once overseas you can also link up with foreign courier companies & fly courier out of London, Frankfurt, Paris, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Auckland, Caracas, Guatemala & Buenos Aires, and many others. You must get to the origination city at your own expense.
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