Can you fly for free as a courier?

Julia has heard of a way you can fly for free if you are willing to carry packages and transport them to your destination, but is it for real?


Q. Julie
A little while ago a friendof mine was explaining that it was possible to fly for free if you were willing to carry a package on you and drop it off at its destination. It sounds a little too good to be true. Is this really an option, and if so, how does it work?

man holding boxes

A. Great question, Julia. I have to admit when your email landed in the inbox, I thought this sounded like an urban myth for sure. After some research, though, it does appear there is a skerrick of truth in what your friend was telling you.

Unfortunately, the practice is not as common as it once was. Before the advent of modern communication, it was important for some businesses to send documents and materials from one place to another as quickly as possible. There was a time when these companies could save time by having a person carry the documents or baggage and clear them through customs, rather than having them treated as cargo.

In the most typical case, delivery companies made deals with courier agencies to screen and supply people to undertake this task. Travellers interested in really cheap travel would sign up with those agencies to either be notified for future trips or to agree to take a trip already posted as available.

Courier prices for advance-notice trips on popular routes were only a few dollars less than the cheapest available discount tickets; last-minute trips on less popular routes cost much less and were occasionally offered free.

Many of the companies that used this service now have their own air fleets and handling systems. Add to this the increased security measures at airports these days and the need for air couriers is nearly obsolete.

After my search for anyone offering this service in Australia came up empty, I did manage to find an American company still offering this business model, called Airmule. They don’t appear to fly to or from Australia.

The flights are not free with this service, but they offer up to $US300 per travel box and you can courier up to four travel boxes per trip.

Would you act as a courier to get discounted flights? Have you ever taken part in this program before? What was the best deal that you secured?

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