Travel as an Air Courier | How I Saved $300 Travel Hacking with Airmule (full review)

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– Hi, this is me, Josh. And this, (bell dings) well, this isn’t my luggage. I didn’t pack it and I have
no intention of taking it out of the airport, and yet this piece of
luggage helped me pay for almost half of my round trip flight between Los Angeles and China. (upbeat music) When traveling internationally, most of us don’t use both of our allotted checked bags. So, what if someone were to offer to pay you for the right to use one, or both of your unused checked bags? If you’re anything like me, you’d end up with two questions. First, how would that even work? And probably more importantly,
is that even legal? Well, this week I’m in Los Angeles to answer both of those questions and to try my hand at being what’s known in the
industry as an air courier. Unfortunately, of all the
days to be here in Los Angeles I had to find the one day
where it’s crappy, rainy. So, a few months back
I ran across a company known as Airmule. It’s an unfortunate name because of the English connotations, but the concept was intriguing to me. How can we merge technology,
and the new sharing economy with the opportunity of
wasted luggage space? [Josh] Hey, nice to meet you. – Nice to meet you. – [Josh] Yeah.
– Nice to meet you. How was your trip? I know a lot of travelers,
they only have backpacks so, they have two free
luggage before Airmule, it means nothing to you, but right now with Airmule, that’s extra money for
you when you travel. – [Josh] That’s Winston, part of the Airmule staff here in LA, he met with me to answer some of my own misgivings about being
an onboard air courier. A week earlier, I had listed my flight on the Airmule website. I told them my flight information and how many pieces of
luggage I had available, which on this trip was two. A few days before the
flight I received an e-mail telling me that my luggage
had been purchased. I then logged in to my Airmule account. – So, you can go on Airmule.com
24 hours before departure, log in and then there is a manifest there, where you can see. – [Josh] The items I
would be carrying here would be stuff like iPhones, high-end cosmetics, luxury handbags, a porcelain figurine and even a gold coin, among other items. You know I have to admit, that it did feel a little weird. – We scan everything, before
we hand off to our traveler. So, we make sure that
everything is 100% safe before it gets to traveler’s hand. – [Josh] There’s a bit of
trust that’s assumed here but I was willing to give it a shot. Details for the baggage
pickup were done via WeChat, which is currently China’s
biggest messaging platform. I was given a picture of the vehicle, and the number I should call
when I arrived at the airport. (pensive music) Alright, so I’m here at the LAX airport, and this is where things are gonna happen. I’m gonna have this guy,
I’m about to call this guy, he’s gonna drop off the luggage and then we’ll see what
happens from there. – My name is Josh Summers,
I’m picking up two pieces of luggage for Airmule. OK, I’ll be waiting for you. Thank you, sir. Once the van arrives, I get
a chance to look through the luggage before
signing the release form that supposedly puts all the liability on Airmule from this point forward. – [Winston] When the
traveler meets the concierge, when you see the items, it actually looks the same when you see the manifest in the picture. – [Josh] Now I can go
ahead and open these up? – [Winston] When we pack our luggage, we base it on each individual traveler, of the duty-free limits of
each individual traveler when they enter to China. So, some people they
have a business flight, they can carry three,
but we only allow two, to carry maximum two, because of the duty free limits that the China custom required. – [Josh] Well, here’s where
the rubber meets the road, I’m about to check these bags in and I’m not gonna hide the fact that these are not my bags
and I did not pack them. (suspenseful music) Hi, how are you doing? – I’m really good.
– Good! – I got a question for you, I’m acting as an air courier, for this. I’m just curious, how common is that? – I… – You’ve never heard of it before? – Yeah, no. – OK, I was just curious. So, the lady at the
counter had never heard of an air courier before, but I didn’t have any problems
checking in, whatsoever. She went and asked somebody,
it was not a big deal at all. And, that’s just part one. After I finish the flight, I need to get these two pieces
of luggage through customs. (pensive music) Alright, so, I just picked up my bags, now I am headed through customs, and they’ve already texted
me with their location, so I’m going to go meet the person I’m going to be dropping
the luggage off with. I was prepared for pretty much anything, and yet, I walked through
without a single problem. Winston over at Airmule told me that of the thousands of pieces
of luggage that they send through onboard air couriers, there’ve been virtually no problems. [Josh] You’ve never, ever — – Never, ever happens, any safety issues with
customs or traveler. – Alright, that was pretty simple. It took me about five or 10 minutes to pick up the luggage in LA and it was an immediate drop off outside the baggage claim in Shanghai. Within an hour, I had been sent an email that said, everything had been complete, and within a couple of days $300 had been deposited
into my US bank account. So, let’s go ahead and do the math. The total cost, including taxes, for my round-trip tickets
between LA and Shanghai was $657. I’ve seen those tickets for
as low as $483, in the past. Now, when you factor in
that I just got paid $300 to be an air courier, my total cost for round-trip tickets between Shanghai and LA was $357. Now, I took the China trip, but Airmule offers a number
of international routes that you can find on their website. Some pay more than others, and they’re usually listed
based on their match rate, In other words, how likely they are to be
able to match your route with items that need to be shipped. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to purchase your unused luggage, but the earlier that you’re
able to list your trip, the more likely they are
to be able to find a match. Oh, and one little bonus, if you use my affiliate
link here in this video, they’ll even give you 10 percent
more for your carrier fee, which means if they’re gonna pay you $300, instead they’ll pay you $330. Hey, free money. You know, overall, it was a
really good experience for me, or as Winston said, – It’s like, when you use
Airmule once, you got addicted. ‘Cause it’s so simple, you just
pick it up and drop it off. (upbeat music)

 

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