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How Does Airmail Work?  
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8073 posts, RR: 54
Posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 16381 times:

Hi guys. I sent a mix CD and a letter to the hottest girl on the planet last week. I'm in London, she lives in Toronto. If I posted it Friday afternoon, presumably it gets to Heathrow the next day. But how long before it gets loaded on a plane? And even though there isn't much a mail service in the UK on Sundays (or Bank Holiday Mondays), does air mail fly out of the UK on Sundays? And what happens at the other end? How long before it gets put in a postman's mailbag and delivered? Heathrow must have the biggest sorting office in the country, right? Anyone worked in the mail section at an airport? Got any light to shed on the subject?

(If this isn't sufficiently relevant to aviation to warrant staying in General Av, it'll reappear in Non Av, right?)


fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBostonGuy From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 514 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 16337 times:

Can't really tell you how the British postal service operates... and how fast your mail gets to the airplane depends on when the mail you drop-off is first picked up, etc.

I can tell you that just before boarding a CO flight in SYD (1990) I dropped a postcard to a friend in a mailbox in the terminal.

Flight routing was SYD-HNL-SFO-IAH-MCO.

Friend picked me up at the airport and had my postcard with her.

The postcard got there before I did!


User currently offlineJfidler From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 355 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 16310 times:

I just spent a bit of time looking on Google and Wikipedia for more information, but was unsuccessful. According to Royal Mail's site, they estimate 5 days for delivery (to the destination country) outside of Europe.

What I'm interested in (and this is somewhat aviation-related) is how routing of airmail works between countries. For example, let's say I send an airmail letter from Chile to Malta. There are no direct flights to Malta, and probably very little post traffic between the 2 countries. How does this get routed? Does the routing get determined in Chile? For example, when they sort it there, if it goes to a country where they have direct service (Argentina, for example), then they send it on their own.. and if they don't have direct service, they send it to the nearest large country?

I also seem to remember reading that all incoming airmail to the US comes through New York, and at that point it enter the US Postal Service distribution network. However, I could find no information about this when I just conducted my search. Does anyone have information on this?


User currently offlineSkyexramper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 16180 times:

Airmail means that its transported between major cities via airplane and not trucks like normal mail. The US postal service has contracts with cargo and pax airlines to transport mail.

User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8073 posts, RR: 54
Reply 4, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 16148 times:

Five days for non-EU airmail from the UK huh? But what I'm wondering about airmail is, does it go every day? I mailed the letter + mix CD to the hot girl in Canada on Friday. Now it's Tuesday, but Sat and Sun were weekends and Mon was a bank holiday (think: Sunday, pt 2). So is this day five or day two?

And good question about the US - surely flights to LA, Boston, Dallas all carry mail? They can't funnel it all through the Big Apple, surely?



fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineDABZF From Germany, joined Mar 2004, 1200 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 16122 times:

In general (in Europe) post offices handling air mail (normally located at the airports) work 24/7, also, mail is normally transported on ground between distribution centers during weekends and bank holidays... this might vary between countries though.


I like driving backwards in the fog cause it doesn't remind me of anything - Chris Cornell
User currently offlineDFORCE1 From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 505 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 16090 times:

UK-Canada service can be as quick as 4 days but can often take 7 to 10 business days. www.canadapost.ca

User currently offlineBigOrange From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2364 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 16057 times:

Airmail is carried on certain scheduled air carriers. From the UK for example it would probably go on a direct BA flight to Toronto.

Not sure of the time it would take, or the working hours of Royal Mail.


User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8073 posts, RR: 54
Reply 8, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 16021 times:

Quoting BigOrange (Reply 7):
Airmail is carried on certain scheduled air carriers

But not all? I heard even charter airlines such as Air Transat sell cargo space (which was a surprise cos I thought charter airlines managed to get A310s and common-or-garden non-ER 767s to cross oceans by not carrying cargo and mail). Man, I never thought about air mail before, but it's really interesting. If I send a letter to Albania, and Tirana is only served from Gatwick, how does my guy at the sorting office in Camden know? Or do Heathrow just send it to Frankfurt and cross their fingers?

And speaking of crossed fingers, let's hope Miss Canada gets her mix CD soon. We only met once and it was months ago but I think she cast a spell on me. Any more airmail-related thoughts?



fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlinePlanesailing From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 816 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 16001 times:

Quoting BigOrange (Reply 7):
From the UK for example it would probably go on a direct BA flight to Toronto.

BA planes carry the Royal Mail logo on the rear of their fuselage.


User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 15924 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Thread starter):
I sent a mix CD and a letter to the hottest girl on the planet last week

What are you doing sending dirty photos to my girlfriend?!?!

Quoting Cedarjet (Thread starter):
If I posted it Friday afternoon, presumably it gets to Heathrow the next day

Probably the same evening, assuming you don't miss the last post.

Quoting Cedarjet (Thread starter):
But how long before it gets loaded on a plane?

As soon as practically possible, depending on stuff already waiting to be loaded. From Royal Mail's website: "We use over 1400 scheduled flights and 85 airlines"

Quoting Cedarjet (Thread starter):
Heathrow must have the biggest sorting office in the country, right?

Actually, I think it's Wembley. They have a huge distribution centre there, rail served. At least, it used to be rail served. RM decided that the trains were too unreliable and expensive and switched to road/air service only. That decision meant their reliability DROPPED to something like half what it was on the trains. They're now re-negotiating with another rail freight company.

Mail at most international airports would be handled - or at least received - daily, I would have thought. After all, loading a plane on a Saturday night in NYC would mean something has to happen in LON on a Sunday.

Geoff M.


User currently offlineCheckraiser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 15882 times:

Quoting Jfidler (Reply 2):
I also seem to remember reading that all incoming airmail to the US comes through New York, and at that point it enter the US Postal Service distribution network. However, I could find no information about this when I just conducted my search. Does anyone have information on this?

I received a small package (sent Royal Post) about a year ago from Manchester to my residence in the central US. I believe it took 4 or 5 calendar days to arrive and I also believe it cleared Customs in Chicago.


User currently offlineAvianca From Venezuela, joined Jan 2005, 5924 posts, RR: 40
Reply 12, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 15875 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Reply 8):
I heard even charter airlines such as Air Transat sell cargo space (which was a surprise cos I thought charter airlines managed to get A310s and common-or-garden non-ER 767s to cross oceans by not carrying cargo and mail).

yes they trying to sell the cargo space and often with success, well the service is not the best but the rates are low low low, Air Transat for example transports often perishables from the netherlands to canada...


for example deutsch post world net, has daily allotments on many many LH flights ex fra and muc, but also on foreigen carriers like AA, UA, DL etc...
for example AA is used for the transport from fra to dfw....

the deutsche post builds mostly own uld´s with the freightt (mostly uld containers)

this kind of cargo has always a very high priority on the flights, just behind express cargo.

regards



Colombia es el Mundo Y el Mundo es Colombia
User currently offlineDispatcher From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 254 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 15854 times:

Looks like you should have used FedEx. Then you would KNOW when it got there!!

User currently offlineAAFLT1871 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 2333 posts, RR: 10
Reply 14, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 15823 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Thread starter):
I sent a mix CD and a letter to the hottest girl on the planet last week.

Where does she live?

Signed

FLAIRPORT



Where did everybody go?
User currently offlinePlanesailing From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 816 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 15803 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Reply 8):
heard even charter airlines such as Air Transat sell cargo space (which was a surprise cos I thought charter airlines managed to get A310s and common-or-garden non-ER 767s to cross oceans by not carrying cargo and mail).

As far as I am aware, the UK charter airlines used to fly out the newspapers to tourist resorts. At times, they are the only direct routes for air cargo, as no scheduled airlines fly direct.


User currently offlineManu From Canada, joined Dec 2004, 406 posts, RR: 7
Reply 16, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 15733 times:

Quoting AAFLT1871 (Reply 14):
Where does she live?

Signed

FLAIRPORT

Ummm... I think I live closer, I've got dibs on this one. Besides, we know anyone posting a message on an aviation website about mailing a hot girl has either a vision impairment or has a warped perception of "hottest on the planet".

Cederjet, wish ya luck. Obviously the girl won't be reading this forum... so do tell any details... lol.


User currently offlineAAFLT1871 From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 2333 posts, RR: 10
Reply 17, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 15723 times:

Quoting Manu (Reply 16):
Ummm... I think I live closer, I've got dibs on this one.

FLAIRPORT goes to the extreme. You cannot match him.

Friend Flying FL FLL-ATL Friday. (by FLAIRPORT Feb 17 2005 in Non Aviation)

http://www.airliners.net/discussions/non_aviation/read.main/783263



Where did everybody go?
User currently offlineCentrair From Japan, joined Jan 2005, 3598 posts, RR: 20
Reply 18, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 15678 times:

First my experience
I once tracked a package my mother sent to me (my retainer...stupid me). She sent it by U.S. Post International Express Airmail. (not UPS or FEDEX)

It went like this.
Day 1) Morning: Marshfield, WI Post office to Regional sorting center by truck. Afternoon: Regional sorting center to CWA and then to ORD by plane. Night: Sorted at ORD Postal Sorting center.
Day 2/3) Afternoon: ORD to NRT by plane
Day 3~5) Was held in customs at Tokyo (Got phone call of concern)
5th day morning: NRT to NGO by plane
Day 6) Mid-day: NGO to Sorting center by truck
Afternoon: Okazaki Central City post office by truck
Day 7) Morning: Okazaki Central post office to Local branch office by truck
Afternoon: Local branch to my home by moped
Totaled 7 days

You can sit at MSP or DTW and watch blue and white U.S. Post box after U.S. Post box get loaded on anything from an RJ to a 744.

International agreements
Most nations belong to the "Universal Postal Union". This is like the ICAO for post. It creates "cooperation between postal services and helps to ensure a truly universal network of up-to-date products and services. It deals predominantly with international mail. The website has a lot of gret info. On top of this many nations have bilateral agreements for delivery of postage.

How does it get sorted?
Even if you drop it in a box at your post office on Sunday...it will get picked up within 24 hours.

If you notice, most international packages have a barcode. The mail goes to a sorting center which are mostly open 24/7 unless it is impossible to do. The packages/letters are dumped into a sorting machine which reads the barcode and sorts it to the right box. Humans only dump the mail into the sorting machines and pick up the sorted boxes. The box will recieve a label with its next destination (postal code, sorting center code or country code). That code then is used to put the box on the proper vehicle (local truck or long haul). At an airport the boxes are sorted by destination and placed on the proper airline either cargo or passenger depending on priority or not. At the destination country the box is emptied, contents examained and sorted based again by barcode. Then sorted to the next plane or truck that will be needed.

For standard mail (letter) with just an address and "by airmail" sticker. The sorting machines actually read your handwriting several times. They look for the Capital letter country and or postal code. If it cannot be read it is then sorted by hand. To prevent further confusion a sticker with barcode might be applied. From there the process is the same.

If I am completely wrong...correct me. This is from reading a book someplace ... I think it was at a post office.



Yes...I am not a KIX fan. Let's Japanese Aviation!
User currently offlineRedDragon From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2004, 1135 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 15596 times:

Excellent post, Centrair  thumbsup 

Quoting Centrair (Reply 18):
For standard mail (letter) with just an address and "by airmail" sticker...

What about if you post a letter without BY AIRMAIL? (Think sending a postcard with just a plain old stamp.) Does it travel by surface/sea instead? (This could explain why postcards from the Med take three and a half months to get back to the UK...)

Rich


User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8073 posts, RR: 54
Reply 20, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 15459 times:

CD arrived Wednesday. Not bad, it was posted in London NW1 at 5pm on Friday.

Just to put my nosier a.net friends out of their misery: I met this girl in Toronto in June - I was on tour in Canada with a semi-famous musician (as The Record Company Guy, not a performer) and we did a little acoustic gig in Toronto and this girl was doing the guest list. She was so gorgeous I nearly swallowed my own tounge in shock. Normally I probably wouldn't have gone up and talked to her but I'd been on tour for a week, lugging heavy equipment in and out of gigs, taking my shirt off, smoking Lucky Strikes and generally feeling quite pumped up, and we ended up spending the whole night talking. We left at three in the morning but she was in the front of the cab, I was in the back, got out at different places, so I never even got to give her a hug. Anyway it was like she'd cast a spell on me, when I got back to my room I felt like I'd taken acid. I spent the plane ride (Air Transat A310) back to England writing her a letter which I posted, telling her mostly about the rubbish inflight movies but also how lovely I thought she was. Anyway since then we've spoken on the phone a few times and there's been daily emails. The mix CD I sent last week started with Wouldn't It Be Nice by the Beach Boys, also included other hard-to-misinterpret tracks like The Long And Winding Road, some heavier stuff to establish my cutting-edge credentials (Mew, Maximo Park). And the drop-dead gorgeous Life In A Northern Town by the Dream Academy to remind her how English I am. I'll be back in YYZ in a few weeks and we'll see what happens, I still can't tell what she's thinking but it's looking quite promising - I don't think she would have responded to the first letter if she wasn't semi-interested. I'll do a trip report when I go back, and hopefully there'll be good news to report. She could be my first wife!



fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineRedDragon From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2004, 1135 posts, RR: 6
Reply 21, posted (8 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 15414 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Reply 20):
She could be my first wife!

Awww, how romantic  Wink


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