USPS & Airmail: 12 Common Questions (Answered)

Airmail is faster than surface mail but is more expensive and less reliable. In addition, the type of service and destination will depend on when Airmail is used.

For example, if you send mail to a country requiring airmail service and use the First-Class Parcel Post service, it will be delivered by Airmail.

If you send a postcard to another country that requires airmail service and use Priority Mail International Flat Rate Envelopes or Parcels, it will also be delivered by Airmail.

To help you select between USPS and Airmail, we’ll address some of the most frequently asked questions regarding both services:

Does USPS Do Airmail?

USPS no longer provides Airmail as a stand-alone service. However, many USPS mail and package are still delivered by air. There are multiple options for delivery, including surface mail and Airmail. In addition, the type of service and destination will depend on when Airmail is used.

Does USPS Use Planes for Priority Mail?

Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express are usually sent by plane.

These types of mail can also be sent by ground, depending on where they come from and where they are going.

For example, sending a package from San Francisco to New York City will likely be flown there rather than trucked or sent by boat.

However, sending a package from Los Angeles to San Diego might be trucked or sent by boat rather than flown. 

Priority Mail is a service offered by USPS that allows you to mail packages quickly and easily. It’s the fastest way to ship items within the US and can be used for domestic and international shipping.

The service provides delivery times ranging from one to three days, depending on where you’re sending your package. Priority Mail also offers to track information for your packages.

What About First-Class Mail?

USPS does use planes for first-class mail. First-class mail is delivered by plane to remote areas, including Alaska and Hawaii.

USPS uses planes for first-class mail because some areas don’t have access to roads or railroads. Without access to these forms of transportation, it would be impossible for the USPS to deliver letters without using airplanes.

First-class mail is a classification of mail service that includes letters, postcards, and other types of correspondence sent between individuals or businesses.

It’s also called standard mail by USPS, which means that it’s not expedited delivery but will still arrive at its destination within two to three days of being mailed.

Read also: Does USPS Charge For Redelivery? (We Checked)

How Long Does USPS Airmail Take?

While the average delivery time for domestic shipments is 1-3 business days, international packages can take between 7-10 business days or longer to arrive at their destinations.

The reason for these delays is that international shipping services are not as reliable or fast as domestic ones. This is because more variables are involved in international shipping than in domestic shipping.

Each country’s postal system has its own set of restrictions regarding the kind of items that can be mailed, with some countries having more stringent rules than others.

How long it takes to get an international parcel also depends on whether or not you reside near a major airport. Sometimes, large cities like New York City or Los Angeles will have multiple mail centers available at their airports.

Those centers will then be able to deliver packages quickly within their surrounding areas. However, if you don’t live near one of these hubs, your package will likely take longer to arrive at your doorstep.

Does USPS Use Commercial Airlines?

A common misconception about the USPS is that it operates its fleet of aircraft.

This isn’t the case, as USPS does not have its fleet of aircraft. Instead, it uses commercial airline planes to transport mail and packages around the country and even internationally.

The reason is that the USPS has a very low-cost structure and can afford to ship packages through commercial airlines at a lower cost than airlines would offer.

It also means that the USPS’s aircraft don’t have to comply with strict safety standards or maintenance requirements, so they can be much cheaper to maintain.

What Airlines Does USPS Use?

USPS contracts with various airlines, including:

  • American Trans Air
  • Continental Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Midwest Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Delta Airlines

FedEx is another common carrier used by USPS.

The partnership between USPS and FedEx enables USPS to ship items on the same aircraft as FedEx.

This is a fantastic method for USPS to give an additional service to their consumers without incurring more costs.

Does USPS Use American Airlines?

USPS has been contracting American Airlines for many years now, and the airline is ranked second largest mail contract with USPS.

The partnership between USPS and American Airlines has allowed them to provide a reliable service to customers, especially those in remote areas.

Even though the US government’s airmail service is no longer in operation, USPS still relies on American Airlines for some of its mail delivery.

Read also: Does USPS Redeliver Automatically? (Here’s What Happens)

What Are USPS Packages Shipped by Air?

Packages that are shipped via Air Mail are usually small and lightweight.

They can be sent in padded envelopes, tubes, or packages.

In addition, USPS frequently ships priority mail items via air because the service is typically utilized for time-sensitive shipments that must arrive at their destination as soon as possible.

Priority Mail packages frequently include a tracking number, allowing you to track your product as it travels through the postal system.

How Do I Know if My USPS Package Is Shipped by Air?

If your package is shipped via USPS Priority Mail, it will likely be an air shipment. This includes packages that are marked as “Priority Mail Express.”

If you receive a package marked “USPS First-Class Package International Service,” keep in mind that this indicates that your package has been shipped using international service.

Most packages sent through this service are sent by sea, but some may be sent via air.

Does USPS Fly Mail Across the Country?

The USPS doesn’t just deliver mail locally. They also deliver it across the country and even internationally.

There are many reasons why USPS might fly mail across the country. The most typical scenario in which air transport is required is when the delivery is time-sensitive.

Flying mail provides faster delivery times than other forms of transit like ground or water transportation.

You can get important documents or packages delivered quickly and efficiently without waiting for them all day.

Furthermore, flying mail provides lower postage costs than other forms of transit like ground or water transportation. This means you will only pay the necessary rates for sending your items rather than spending extra.

Can You Use Regular Stamps for Airmail?

You can use regular stamps for Airmail. However, you should use the postage meter to get your package’s correct amount.

If you do not have a postage meter, you can weigh your package at a post office and then purchase your postage.

If you’re sending a letter via Airmail, it’s important to ensure you’re using sufficient postage stamps. If you don’t, you could pay more than you have to. Or worse, your letter could never make it to its destination.

Here’s what happens if you don’t use sufficient postage for Airmail:

  • You’ll have to pay extra postage on top of what is already required by law.
  • Your letter might be sent back to you because it wasn’t properly marked with the proper postage amount.
  • The post office will not accept your letter due to insufficient postage and may return it to the sender or destroy it without delivering it at all.

How Do You Indicate That a Letter Should Be Shipped by Air?

The most common way to indicate that a letter should be shipped by air is to write “AIRMAIL/PAR AVION” on the address of your postcard, letter, or large envelope.

You can also use this method if sending an oversized envelope through First-Class Mail International.

After you’ve written your message on the envelope and sealed it, you can insert the item you’re sending inside.

Sources:

USPS – Airmail: A Brief History

Postal Times – Airlines Could Lose Big if U.S. Postal Service Fails

USPS – 244 Mail Preparation

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