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FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 2/4 [Monthly posting]
Section - [2-4] Couriers

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Top Document: FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 2/4 [Monthly posting]
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One way of getting cheap international flights is to fly as a
freelance courier. There are a few companies which will pay you for
the right to use your baggage allowance, yielding a heavily-discounted
fare (typically a little more than half the regular discounted fare).
For them, this is much cheaper (and sometimes more reliable) than
paying cargo rates for shipping.  Since the shipment is usually
time-critical (e.g., financial documents), it is essential that the
package be classified as baggage. Baggage is less likely to be
"bumped" from a flight than freight. The courier company can't simply
buy a ticket and leave the seat empty, since the seat must be occupied
for the freight to be listed as baggage instead of freight.

The courier company earns a percentage of the savings from the company
shipping the package. They also further defray their costs by selling
the seat to you (at a discount, of course). The courier company may
also charge you an annual registration fee (typically $50) or a
refundable deposit ($100 or $200 is common). If the courier company is
really desperate, sometimes (rarely) you can get them to pay for all
or most of your ticket.  The tickets are non-refundable -- you pay the
money for the ticket to the courier company, who then buys the ticket
from the airline. The trips are usually very short notice, typically
1-2 weeks.  When shipments are done on a contract, seats can be
assigned to couriers several months in advance.

Some courier companies are less shipping companies than they are
courier brokers. Such companies match couriers with companies that need to
ship packages. An annual registration fee is usually a good tipoff
that the company is a courier broker, though there are no hard and
fast rules of thumb.

You do not deal with the baggage, other than (occasionally) to
hand-carry a set of paperwork.  You will not get the tickets until you
arrive at the airport (at the last minute) and meet with the freight
company's representative to get the paperwork. The representatives are
sometimes late and disorganized, so be prepared for some anxious
moments while you try to connect with them. When you arrive at the
destination you'll turn over the manifest to another representative of
the company. You'll probably have to wait for some time for the bags
to be unloaded and to clear customs.
 
You are allowed a carry-on.  There may be other restrictions, such as
limits to the length of the stay (e.g., usually anywhere from one week
to 30-days maximum, though it can vary significantly from case to
case).  Sometimes you can use the baggage space on the return flight,
depending on the company and the situation (many companies have you
couriering a shipment both ways). If the company doesn't need you to
escort a package home, sometimes you can change the return date on
your ticket. You're responsible for your expenses at the destination
(e.g., food, hotel), so you'll probably want to learn the ins and outs
of staying in youth hostels. Since only one courier is needed for a
route, you'll be traveling alone. If you want to travel with a friend,
don't courier.  You must be at least 21 years of age, have a valid
passport, and be somewhat levelheaded. It helps if you have a sense of
adventure.

You will most likely be flying on a major carrier. In the US, most
courier companies are located in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,
New York, and San Francisco. There are also courier companies based in
England, various major european cities, the far east, Australia,
Argentina, Singapore, Honk Kong, Tapei, Japan, South America, Canada
(Toronto, Montreal), and so on. Courier travel between destinations in
the US is much less common these days, as US domestic airline package
delivery services have improved enough to no longer make couriering
cost effective. (For example, shipping a package from Pittsburgh to LA
with same-day delivery on an airline costs around $50.) So most
courier travel is between the US and an overseas destination. If
you're not located in a city that has courier companies, you'll be
responsible for your transportation to that city.

It is much easier to find a trip by visiting their offices in person
than by mail or over the phone. If you don't live near one of the cities
from which most couriers depart, it probably isn't for you.

There are risks involved, so be sure to use a reputable courier
company and get references. Horror stories include stranded
passengers, couriered luggage that contained contraband, and so on.
Also beware of fly-by-night outfits that advertise cheap fares and
then disappear with your money. If you haven't traveled by courier
before, be very careful.

The likelihood of finding a courier company that needs a package
escorted to your favorite destination on the day of your choice is
next to nil. Courier travel just isn't well-suited for planned
vacations. Likewise, if you have commitments or other obligations
(e.g., making a connection for your return flight home, getting back
to school on time), don't count on meeting them. Some people have
smooth trips, others don't. If you're just after cheap international
airfare, you're probably better off going to a bucket shop. The
savings just aren't enough to make the hassles worthwhile. But if
you're very flexible about when you want to travel and can leave on a
moment's notice, or you don't care where you go, so long as you go
somewhere soon, then couriering is a great way to see the world a bit
at a time.

Some books about flying as a courier include:

   o  The Air Courier's Handbook, $9.95
      Big City Books, PO Box 19667, Sacramento, CA 95819

   o  The Courier Air Travel Handbook, 1993, $7.95.
      Mark I. Field, Thunderbird Press, 5930-10 W. Greenway Road, 
      Suite 112B Glendale, Arizona 85306 USA

   o  A Simple Guide to Courier Travel, $15.95
      1-800-344-9375
      Guide Books, PO Box 2394, Lake Oswego, OR 97035

   o  The Insiders Guide To Air Courier Bargains
      1-800-356-9315. $14.95 + $2 p&h.
      Kelly Monaghan. 
      Inwood Training Publications, Box 438, New York, NY 10034.

   o  The Air Courier Guide Handbook, 5.99 pounds sterling
      John Walker Books, 160 Cromwell Road,  LONDON SW5 0TL

   o  Directory of Freelance On Board Couriers, $9.95 Canadian.  
      The Inside Track Travel Group, British Columbia, 604-684-6715.

Newsletters:

   o  Travel Unlimited, $25/year, 12 issues (8 pages each issue)
      Attn: Steve Lantos, PO Box 1058, Allston, MA 02134-1058
      SteveL2555@aol.com

   o  International Association of Air Travel Couriers
      $35 registration fee, gets you six copies of the Shoestring
      Traveler newsletter and six issues of the Air Courier Bulletin
      directory. 
      Run by Bill Bates.

      International Association of Air Travel Couriers
      International Features
      PO Box 1349
      Lake Worth, FL 33460

      Tel: 407-582-8320

      (Street address is 8 South "J" Street, Suite 3, Lake Worth.)

Courier Agencies in New York:
   Able Travel and Tours                212-779-8530                  
        Paris, London
   Air Facilities                       718-712-0630                  
        South America
   ACC                                  212-983-0855, 800-983-0856
   Courier Network                      212-691-9860                  
        Israel
   Courier Travel Service 		516-763-6898, 516-374-2261 (fax)
                                        516-374-2299, 212-836-1989
                                        718-244-0101, 718-COURIER
	Worldwide, but mainly to Europe. Some to Middle East, Asia, and
        South/Central America. 1 week stays. No fee. Hours 09:30-17:00
        weekdays.  
   Discount Travel International (DTI)  212-362-8113/3636
                                        212-655-5151
        To Mexico, South America, Asia, and Eastern and Western Europe.
        169 W. 81st Street, New York, NY 10024
   East-West Express			516-561-2360
	To Singapore, Asia, and Australia.
   Halbart Express			718-656-8189/8279
        New York to Europe only.        or 718-995-7019
	10am-3pm only
        147-05 176th Street, Jamaica, NY 11434.
   IBC					718-262-8058.
   Jupiter Air				718-341-2095, 718-656-6050
	New York to Hong Kong and Singapore.
   Now Voyager, Inc.			212-431-1616
        74 Varick Street, Suite #307, New York, NY 10013.
	Europe. Call between 10:00-16:30 M-F, 12-4:30 Sa, recorded
        message other times. Charges $50 registration fee.
        Major cities in US, routed through NY. Payment via certified
        check, money order, or credit cards (3% processing fee).
        Tickets are on standby. FedEx's the tickets to your address.
        You courier both ways.
   Rush Courier                         718-439-9043
        Puerto Rico
   World Courier			718-978-9400, 718-978-9552/9408
                                        800-221-6600
	9am-noon only. Requires personal interview in New York.
	Does not fly to Paris. Flies mostly to Europe and Mexico.

Courier Agencies in Miami:
   A-1 International			305-594-1184
        To Venezuela
   Air Facilities			305-477-8300
   DTI                                  305-538-1616
   Halbart                              407-483-8832,305-593-0260
        To Europe.
   IMS Courier Service                  305-771-7545
        To Jamaica
   Line Haul Services			305-477-0651
        To Latin America, Central and South America
   Martillo Express                     305-681-6979
   Trans Air Systems                    305-592-1771
        To Central and South America
   Travel Courier                       718-738-9000

Courier Agencies in Chicago:
   TNT Chicago				312-453-7300 (area code 708?)
       To Mexico and London.
   [doesn't seem to exist anymore?] 

Courier Agencies in LA:
   City Link				213-410-9063
       [doesn't seem to exist anymore?]
   Crossroads International		213-643-8600
 	3pm-5:30 pm
       [doesn't seem to exist anymore?]
   IBC Pacific				310-607-0125, 415-697-5985
   	9am-4pm T-F. Asia, Australia.
   Jupiter Air				310-670-5123
       Flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea (Seoul).
       $200 deposit required for all flights. $35/year membership required .
       Max stay 30 days, one-week minimum for Seoul. Reserve 2-3 months
       in advance.
   Midnight Express			310-673-1100
       Flies only to London.
   Polo Express                         310-410-6822
       Flights to Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, and Bangkok.
       No deposit, no fee. 2-week stay, except in Australia (3-weeks).
       Reserve 6 weeks to 3 months in advance.
   SOS Intl Courier                     310-649-6640
       Mexico
   Way to Go                            213-466-1126/1166
       6679 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90028
       Flights to Far East (Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur,
       Penang, and Singapore), with some flights to Mexico and London.
       $75/year membership fee. San Francisco office 415-292-7801;
       San Diego office 619-224-0252.
   World Travel & Tours                 213-384-1000
       Korea

Courier Agencies in San Francisco:
   Gateway Express			415-344-7833
       111 Anza Blvd. #418 Burlingame, CA 94010
   Jupiter Air				415-872-0845, 415-872-6506
       Flights to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Manila.
   Polo Express                         415-742-9613
       Flights to Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, and Bangkok.
       No deposit, no fee. 2-week stay, except in Australia (3-weeks).
       Reserve 6 weeks to 3 months in advance. For info send SASE to
       Polo Express, 811 Grandview Dr., South San Francisco, CA 94080.
   TNT San Fransisco			415-692-9600
	Call afternoons only. Hong Kong.
   UTL Travel                           415-583-5074
       Flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Manila.
   Way To Go                            415-292-7801
       Asia, London, Mexico

Bahrain:
   Line Haul Express                    (0973)-258-700

Buenos Aires:
   Air Facility                         (1)-3220-7720

Canada:
   F.B. On Board Couriers (Montreal)    514-633-0740/0951
       Courier travle to London, England. Call 9am-Noon EST for info.
       Located in Montreal but also serves Toronto.
   F.B. On Board Couriers (Toronto)     416-675-1820
       Cargo only.
   F.B. On Board Couriers (Vancouver)   604-278-1266
       Courier travel to Hong Kong from Vancouver.
   Jet Services                         514-331-7470
       Paris

Germany:
  Line Haul                             +49 69 69793260
     Located in Frankfurt/Main. Flights to Hong Kong, Sydney, and possibly
     other destinations.

Hong Kong:
   Bridges Worldwide                    (03)-305-1413
      London, Sydney, US, Asia
   Great Bird Courier                   (03)-332-1311
      Honolulu, Tokyo, Taipei
   Intl Courier Travel                  (03)-718-1332
   Jupiter Air                          (05)-735-1886, (05)-735-1946
      Asia, US, Sydney
   JNE                                  (03)-736-8678
      Bangkok
   Line Haul Express                    (03)-735-2167, (03)-735-2163
      London, Asia, Vancouver
   Polo Express                         (03)-303-1286, (03)-303-1287
      Asia, LA, Sydney
   Wholepoint                           (03)-718-0333

London:
   Courier Travel Service               (0181)-844-2626, (0171)-351-0300
   F.B. On Board Courier                (0175)-368-0280                  
       Canada
   Line Haul Express                    (0181)-759-5969

Paris:  To New York
   Halbart Express                      (01)-45873230
   Jet Services                         (01)-48626222

Rio de Janiero:
   Air Facility                         (021)-252-9597

Seoul:
   Jupiter Air                          (02)-655-6024

Sydney, Australia:
   Courier Travel Service               (02)-698-3753 
   Intl Courier Travel                  (02)-317-3193
       London
   Jupiter Air                          (02)-317-2113, (02)-317-2230 
       London, Asia, Auckland
   Polo Express                         (02)-693-5866
       Los Angeles, Auckland

Taipei:
   Jupiter Air                          (02)-551-2198
   Line Haul Express                    (02)-731-5367

Tokyo:
   Line Haul Express                    (03)-376-98354

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Top Document: FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 2/4 [Monthly posting]
Previous Document: [2-3] Consolidators
Next Document: [2-5] Travel Agencies that Specialize in Students

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