Starship From South Africa, joined Nov 1999, 1098 posts, RR: 15 Posted (12 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 4504 times:
I have been pondering as to whether small packages and bags of mail destined for foreign countries do in fact get loaded on a ship and go true surface mail?
Do the items not perhaps get stored in a warehouse and when the loadmaster of Airline XYZ says "Hey - we have space for 200kg of freight" that your surface mail then gets loaded aboard an aircraft and goes air freight, but does not enjoy the benefits of true airmail which is a guaranteed delivery time of anything between one and ten days depending on the service offered rather than four to six weeks for surface mail.
Can anyone enlighten me?
Throughout its history, the Postal Service enthusiastically has explored faster, more efficient forms of mail transportation. Technologies now commonplace -- railroads, automobiles, and airplanes -- were embraced by the Post Office Department at their radical birth, when they were considered new-fangled, unworkable contraptions by many.
Missile Mail Launch -1959
One such technology, however, remains only a footnote in the history of mail delivery. On June 8, 1959, in a move a postal official heralded as "of historic significance to the peoples of the entire world," the Navy submarine U.S.S. Barbero fired a guided missile carrying 3,000 letters at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station in Mayport, Florida. "Before man reaches the moon," the official was quoted as saying, "mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to Britain, to India or Australia by guided missiles."
History proved differently, but this experiment with missile mail exemplifies the pioneering spirit of the Post Office Department when it came to developing faster, better ways of moving the mail.
Jwenting From Netherlands, joined Apr 2001, 10213 posts, RR: 20 Reply 1, posted (12 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4497 times:
yes, they do get loaded on a ship (usually). This is why you can never tell how long it's going to take. The items sit in a mailterminal until there is enough weight or volume to fill a shipping container that goes in the right direction. This can be days or weeks depending on many factors.
Sometimes it may go by air (Europe-UK for example does go mostly by air, I believe), for example if there is no regular shipping or if airlifting is cheaper (read, sponsored).