When you start to delve into the realm of private aviation and cargo charters, you will more than likely come across an unfamiliar term, on-board courier (OBC). Some of you may already be aware of what this term is about and yes, it’s somewhat self-explanatory but for those wanting a more detailed explanation, an on-board courier is a hand carry courier service utilized in localized or global time-critical transport of small cargo, sensitive materials or high-value documents. Not only is it a service in itself, but these are also actually representatives employed to responsibly convey consignments specifically to their desired destination, or door-to-door, on multiple flights, if need be.
These individuals are either freelance or work strictly for a specific provider and are otherwise considered the cargos escort throughout its journey. Some onboard couriers will accompany their consignments on private charters. Others have been employed to travel commercial, regardless of the means of travel, the OBC will accompany their consignment throughout the entirety.
Are there requirements to work as an on-board courier?
Specialized providers or clients may have stipulations of their own and these are applied at their discretion but typically, industry-wide, what is required is simple. Minimum stipulations to work as an on-board courier include; applicants must be in possession of a valid passport. They will need to be at least the age of consent, generally 18 years or older, some companies will ask that you be between the ages of 25 and 60, and if necessary must be able to apply for and receive a Visa when necessitated.
Additional requirements can include the following: possessing a valid US driver’s license for 3+years, must be able to speak and understand English (specific missions may require the use of another language so being multilingual is a plus), have transcontinental and/or intercontinental travel experience, possess an international usable credit card, smartphone access with roaming capability, and pass a background check. Additionally, you may be asked to purchase travel insurance.
Now I’m employed as an on-board courier, what’s the process?
- Although there may specifics that apply to a specific request or mission or per company or provider, otherwise the process is relatively the same.
- Applicants register themselves with courier companies and list their availability including destinations, dates and times.
- The company will then source a corresponding match between your availability and a particular mission or shipment. They may book your travel or you may need to do it yourself.
- Confirmation of your intent to travel will be done a few days later via text, phone call or email.
- A travel coordinator employed by the courier company will meet you at the departure airfield to deliver the objective(s) of the consignment and the air cargo.
- You’ll check-in for your flight and will board with your consignment.
- When you arrive at the final destination, a representative will accept the consignment and you’re objective will have been achieved. *You may be expected to accompany the destination representative until your consignment is cleared through customs.
- The return trip will have you repeating the process in reverse with another consignment or you will simply return empty-handed.
Things to bear in mind when working as an on-board courier
- If courier tickets are not available at a departure location near you, expect to travel to an airfield at your expense.
- Baggage stipulations vary, check ahead to see if you will be able to bring along personal possessions as well as your consignment.
- Flexibility is the key to working as a successful on-board courier. Be prepared to not receive much notice if you want to stay busy with work. There will also be times when work may slow.
- Some courier companies will not allow for you to retain your flight “miles”
- Courier flight prices are subject to availability so be prepared for variances in airfares.
- You could be expected to maintain a professional dress code.