How to Fly as a Courier
Jason Stevens owns a small television and video service in
Los Angeles. He
was negotiating financing for a film project with an investor
Thailand. Stevens needed to fly to Thailand on three days
notice to close
the deal, but couldn't afford the $3,900 roundtrip airfare.
Through a friend
Stevens heard about courier travel. After a few phone calls
a flight to Bangkok at a cost of just $450 roundtrip.
Major companies all over the world save money and time by
to escort important documents, cargo and other materials to
locations. Businesses use the couriers checked baggage allowance
their cargo in exchange for drastically reduced airfare.
No, this isn't something out of a James Bond movie. These
business with a need to transport materials without the delay
involved in the
air cargo industry. The Federal Aviation Administration monitors
travel, so you don't have to worry about carrying drugs, smuggling
weapons or some equally nefarious act. Travel writers, retirees,
travelers and companies with a need to get their employees
to meetings around
the world have used courier travel for years. It's one of
secrets in the travel industry.
And the savings can be as much as 85 percent of the cost
of a roundtrip
ticket according to Bruce Causey, President of the International
of Air Travel Couriers (IAATC). At press time, IAATC was offering
roundtrip flight from San Francisco to Singapore for $150.
Internet giants Travelocity and Expedia had the same flight
Causey says 85 percent is an extreme case, but discounts
like this happen
often especially if the courier/passenger is flexible and
available to travel
at a moments notice.
John Ferry of the Air Courier Association says a person can
travel as much as 60 days in advance and in some cases all
you carry is paper
work, meaning you don't have to give up your baggage allowance.
concurred with Causey and said the best deals are definitely
second specials where a business might be desperate to get
their cargo to
some overseas destination.
The traveler's responsibilities are simple. Show up at the
airport on time
to meet a representative of the courier service. They will
hand you all the
shipping documents and customs forms along with your ticket.
Once you arrive at your final destination, hand the documents
over to a
designated representative at the airport and you're done.
The tickets are
roundtrip with liberal return dates. And the best part, in
about 90 percent
of the cases there's nothing to bring back to the United States,
your return baggage allowance is all yours.
Couriers travel to international destinations only. Passengers
fly out of
major airports such as LAX and JFK and use major carriers,
so you don't have
to worry about being placed on some small airliner you've
never heard of.
There are a few drawbacks to traveling as a courier. First,
you must learn
how to pack light. In some cases, you'll only have carry-on
the courier used your checked baggage allowance.
Second, you will be traveling alone unless you want to pay
full fare for a
companion ticket. Another option would be to see if another
company has a
courier need on a different flight to the same destination
that your spouse
Third, unless it's a rush job or last second deal, you will
required to pay for your own hotel accommodations. There are
depending on how desperate the courier is to transport their
The IAATC and the Air Courier Association monitors the needs
of more than 30
courier companies and can assist you in making the appropriate
arrangements. If you would rather contact the couriers direct,
look in the
yellow pages under Air Courier Services or Messengers.
Before signing on as a courier, check the other discount
options available to
you such as the Internet. You'll often find deals comparable
travel where you don't have to give up your checked luggage