Cheap Courier Flights to Asia

I’d always figured that low-cost delivery services had killed off the need for passengers to escort packages. Always on the hunt for a bargain, I spent the good part of a Sunday morning poking around to see what I could find out.

As it says on the tin, the general idea is that can get a reduced fare in exchange for accompanying a package, passing it through customs, and meeting a local courier to make the exchange. All in all, it sounds pretty dodgy. But by all accounts, from what I’ve read, very few people have a bad word to say. It seems that you’re charged with man handling paperwork (contracts and the like) that don’t quite make it on the scheduled fleet service (ie. DHL) and that the bounty the airline receives is sufficient to pass it on.

Benefits:

  • Heavily discounted prices; you can typically shave off ~50% from the standard fare.
  • You get fully fledged tickets for the flight and not just standby tickets (therefore you’re guaranteed a seat).

Pitfalls:

  • There’s typically only one ticket available per flight. Therefore, anyone wanting to tag along with you will need to pay the full fare for their ticket.
  • After the ticket has been booked, there is zero flexibility in changing flight times or cancelling.
  • You may find yourself hanging around at the arrival airport waiting for the local courier.

The only operator on this side of the pond offering courier flights appears to be BA. They have just two scheduled routes; Tokyo and Bangkok, although the latter will be axed in middle of March. Prices are advertised to be in the £300-£500 bracket for a return trip, all inclusive.

I phoned in and provided some dummy dates in July (10-24th) and was quoted £430. Booking online, the same flight was marked up as £768 – just shy of double the price. Flexing the dates, I could knock this down to £622 (which seems to be the absolute minimum), so I should imagine the courier flight could also be equally knocked down if you pick the right dates, perhaps to as low as ~£350. BA World Cargo operates the service and the direct line for courier flight bookings is +448703200301.

I doubt I will avail of this, but I hope this information proves to be helpful to someone. Make sure to bring back a nice gift if it does.

Update: MoneySavingExpert.com has a superb piece on other methods of obtaining cheaper air travel.

Update #2: BA definitely only now offer courier flights to Tokyo.

 Tags: Random   Published: 11th February '09


12 Archived Wordpress Comments

Andrew

Thanks for this!

I just booked a flight for £290 in June using this tip – saved me about £160!

Keith Mander

Wicked – thanks for sharing Andrew. £290 is a pretty formidable price, are you off to Tokyo or Bangkok? Please share your experience upon your return and enjoy your trip!

Andrew

Just back from my trip to Japan!

The £290 ticket meant I could afford the 2 week JR rail pass, which is more expensive now because of the weak pound. I got to do some crazy long trips down to Kagoshima for some tropical sunshine and then up to Aomori to cool down. Ordinarily I would have flown into Kansai International in Osaka, but with a rail pass it doesn’t matter that you have to go into Tokyo.

I can’t say that my BA flights were much different to ones with KLM or Emirates, but when you can get such a low price, you’d be a fool to pass it up. Try it while these tickets are still on offer I say!

Keith Mander

Wow – thanks for sharing your story Andrew! Totally cool that you managed to see a whole bunch of stuff and save a few bob along the way. Now I’m seriously tempted to snatch up some tickets!

Saf

Wow £290 is dirt cheap, but I have seen tickets from Singapore airlines and the like going for £400 through flight searches from MoneySavingExpert.com. It gets a little cheaper in winter also, guess no one likes the cold lol.

Will look into this definate, if I can snap a last minute summer holday to Japan, happy days, if not guess I will see what winter is like over there hehe.

Thank for the tips and info guys.

Patrick

I read about this in a blog a few years I go but dismissed it as a fabrication:-) I travel a lot 4-6,000 miles 2-3 times a year. I will try and if something good comes out if it, I will share it with you here.

Chuck Miser

Great article !

I do have a nagging question though

You are waiting for the local courier before you jump on the cheap flight to Asia and he is past the gate closure time, do you still get to fly or do you need to cancel and wait for the package? as you said there was zero flexibility once the ticket was the cheap flight was booked?

Thanks in advance!

Keith Mander

Hey Chuck,

Good question and I don’t really know the answer. The local courier has a vested interest in being there on time, time is the core reason why the company has paid such expense in sending you there. So I suspect it’s more of a hypothetical problem.

Plus, you’re not really obligated to do anything – you could just head out of the airport. However, I suspect you’d lose your return flight and be blacklisted for the future as a consequence. So if they’re late, I think you have a strong case to explain why you had to move on. I’ve not yet taken a courier flight, but I believe they stipulate how long you’re expected to wait for.

Give it a try!

ted smith

I lived for 14 enjoyable years in Australia and on my way back experienced a courier flight. My son is at present in Australia and is very keen to visit his aging parents (I am 77) for Christmas. Is there any sort of a courier flight he might apply for please?

Keith Mander

Ted – I’m not aware of any courier flights to Australia. The need for courier services has all but disappeared over the years. I’m currently only aware of flights to Tokyo from London. Good luck!

drink drive solicitors

Thanks save loads of money thanks to your tip