Travel SOS: Can you get free flights by conveying a package?

Julia has heard of a way to secure free flights, but is it true?

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 friend of 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?

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 $US150 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?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    25th Aug 2018
    My first thought was - is this a sneaky way of attempting to courier drugs? Too risky. You don’t want to end up in gaol.
    25th Aug 2018
    25th Aug 2018
    I used to work as a personal assistant to the CEO of IML Air Couriers in Essex near London. I had a courier flight to Australia for £250. You never knew what was in the packages you were escorting to protect you in case they were illegal! So you could not be held responsible.
    I loved Australia so much that I migrated here 30 years ago.
    25th Aug 2018
    Not sure if DHL still do this, but they use to late 70s-early 80s. I think they paid for cost of departure but return was at your cost. 50% off! If it coincided with with bringing back a package to Australia then they paid for the return trip however, your stay overseas with this method was limited to a one day or two days.
    25th Aug 2018
    I used to do many courier flights for Bridges World Wide
    Very cheap sometimes free & often I got free upgrade too
    Those were the days !!!
    25th Aug 2018
    Yes, I received a Business Class upgrade too! It was amazing!
    25th Aug 2018
    It happens here in OZ. Just a few weeks ago a friend told me of how he was paid an hourly rate for a delivery which lasted a few days due to delays.
    Delays and or losses can occur with regular couriers so depending on the level of priority and importance a personal hand delivered parcel may be the only option. Its often influenced by the cost of not having the parcel sooner.
    25th Aug 2018
    Drug Mule

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