If you want to cut the cost of your globe-trotting, consider travelling as an air courier. Huge savings can be made, and you can even take your board.
Here’s how it works:
Courier shipments travel in the hold of the plane, and the documents to speed them through customs are carried by someone – a courier – who travels in economy class at a substantial discount.
As an air courier, you never see the goods for which you carry the paperwork; all you do is pick up the documentation at the check-in, and hand it to an airline representative at the other end. Easy. The only requirements are that you have to be over 18 and have a valid passport with the relevant visas. All UK courier flights fly from London’s Heathrow airport, and smart / casual dress is expected (so tie those dreads back).
Great – you can save wads of money…so what’s the catch?
First, courier flights only go to a handful of destinations, namely Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mauritius, Johannesburg and Sydney.
Second, Inflexibility; you have to book well in advance, and once you’ve paid, your dates cannot be changed (cancellation fees are often 100 percent of the ticket price).
Third, there’s only one courier seat designated per flight, so you have to travel on your own.
Virgin Atlantic offers courier flights from the UK and allow trips to the US of up to six weeks, and long-haul trips to some destinations of up to three months.
Contrary to expectation, boards can be taken, although the airline employee answering the phone may need some convincing.
Virgin allow two 23kg pieces of baggage on routes to the US, and one 20kg piece on other routes. Boards always go as excess baggage. For flights to the US, the excess charge for boards under 9’0″. On other long-haul routes boards are charged by weight at around £16 per kilo.
If you are taking a surfboard make it absolutely clear when you book the ticket, so that notes can be made on your booking file to smooth your way at the check-in.
When you phone up the airlines to find out if flights are available, different people from the same company might give you different information about taking boards. Be prepared to argue your case to the hilt – but be nice!