Air courier companies provide opportunities for air travellers to benefit from reduced air tickets, in exchange for the service of carrying documents or checking in freight on international flights. The company shipping the goods clears them as personal luggage rather than as air freight, which can be a lengthy process. In recent years the air courier business has declined as commercial freight services have ramped up their services. However, a few companies still provide this service and are using solo travellers to provide reliable and speedy delivery.
Visit courier.org, the website of the International Association of Air Travel Couriers. This site has a wealth of relevant information on the air courier business. There will be listings of courier opportunities open immediately; the number of new listings varies from a just a few to about a dozen each week. The competition is difficult, as many qualified individuals are studying the same listings and vying for a limited number of open spots. For most courier assignments you must be at least 18 years of age and hold a valid U.S. passport. You should also be flexible on your travel dates and destinations, and be prepared to travel light: you are usually not allowed to check any baggage while working as an air courier. Beyond these restrictions, courier assignments and travel discounts are given on a first-come, first-served basis.
Pay the IAATC current annual registration fee of £14.60. You will be given access to regular updates on current openings, details of courier companies that are hiring, and more information on current demand for couriers and procedures. The website also provides a list of ticket consolidators who are selling discount air-travel tickets.
Contact the courier company or agency, and request information on registering with them as a courier. Pay any registration fee, if required, and provide documents as demanded by the agency. The registration fee will be refunded after your first successful delivery.
Arrange for Travel
Using information provided by the courier company or by courier.org on open travel assignments, select your travel dates and destination. Airfares follow seasonal patterns; tickets to Europe, for example, are cheaper in the winter, when tourism slows considerably.
Contact the courier company. Arrange to purchase airline ticket through the company and pay the reduced fare, if any. Verify any bonding or insurance that will be provided by the courier company. On the day of the flight, you will receive the ticket either at the courier office or at the airport, where an agent will meet you and provide the necessary manifest documents you will be required to handle.
When you reach the destination, you will meet the courier agent, who will take custody of the documents and handle the shipment through customs. The courier company may have an assignment for the return flight; more often, the courier job is for one-way service and your return date is open according to the terms of your original ticket.