Air travelers who pack light may be able to get their airfare covered by delivering packages to international destinations.
“Fly and Fetch” is an Edmonton-based start-up that aims to lower the price of international shipping by using air travelers as couriers.
In an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on Monday, founder Shelvie Fernan said she often sends her packages to the Philippines by giving them to friends and neighbors who already travel there, as international postage can get expensive.
“I’m an immigrant from the Philippines and we usually just look for friends and family to bring packages back to us at home and here,” Fernan said. “I just thought ‘why doesn’t this exist?’ We’ve been doing this for decades and it always works.”
She says international shipping costs can range from $200 to $300 per kg, but her company charges $50 per kg for senders, while compensating carriers between 50 and 100 percent of their airfare.
PROS AND CONS
The business model of crowdshipping, where drivers or travelers make a pit stop during a journey they are already taking, is not new and has already taken off at US-based companies such as Airmule and Pigeon Ship. A study from the University of Calabria found that crowdshipping can be cost-effective and also help reduce environmental impact by avoiding using additional resources to ship a package.
However, Fernan says he is aware of the concerns of shippers and couriers about Canadian Border Services and the protocols every traveler must follow to ensure a smooth delivery.
“We follow all customs protocols and we pay the fees and if they’re ever asked we know what’s in their luggage. We know how much everything costs so we have an idea of what they’re going to expect once they get into customs,” she said.
Senders should not leave their packages sealed for the traveler to inspect and self-pack so that they are aware of its contents. In any case, Fernan says couriers can also refuse a package they’re not comfortable with.
One of the most common items, Fernan says, often sends customers clothing, jewelry, sealed food, and even medicine, with a prescription if needed.