How to Make Money When You Fly (Rent Out Your Checked Baggage Allowance for Cash)

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Everything old is new again.

    In the 70s and 80s a great deal of international shipping was done using “onboard couriers”, people who accompanied canvas bags full of overnight shipments. DHL operated this way, as did TNT Skypack. Sometimes the couriers were family members of employees (which I think was how DHL did most of their business) but in other cases you could just sign up and be on on-board courier.

    I did several flights to Europe (including a return on the Concorde) as well as Asia with these services. Eventually the whole thing got commercialized (a company called Now Voyager inserted themselves between the couriers and the courier companies) and co-pays were introduced. Eventually it was no longer enough of a discount to make courier flight interesting.

    There are some differences between the old model (where the courier company bought the same flight each day and made all the arrangements) and the new one (where you tell them when you’re flying and they’ll see if they have goods for transport). Although clearing customs with the goods (and a manifest) was always part of the deal, at some outstations the clearance agent was actually able to meet you at baggage claim (between immigration and customs) and do the clearance.

    Interestingly, AirMule (and Grabr, also mentioned in the linked article) are far from the only services that show up if you google “onboard courier” or “hand carry service”.

  2. I remember Now Voyager. I used to call up their hotline and listen to their recording but never took them up on it. Nowadays “Air Mule”….uh yeah, I think I’ll pass on that one.

  3. Airmule seems more interested in paying bloggers to promote themselves than actually investing in the service. For non-bloggers, after your first trip, you will almost never be matched with a package and the experience is remarkably worse if you do. They seem to be following the Uber model of trying to get as many people as possible to use the service once.

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