A Day in the life of an ACS Onboard Courier
Travelling to foreign places had always been a dream of mine. Since childhood I have been fascinated by those giant mechanical birds flying through the air, painting vapour trail pictures in the sky. Then, whenever I saw those aircraft I’d ask myself, “I wonder where that plane is going?” Now, 20 years later, I’m lucky enough to be sitting in those jets. Not for vacation, but for business, and not just once a year, but several times a month. I’m an ACS Onboard Courier and this is my average day…
01:28 CEST– BUDAPEST
The call comes in. An OBC & Time Critical Agent from Air Charter Service is on the line asking, if I’m available for an extremely urgent shipment that needs to go from Budapest, Hungary to El Paso, Texas in the USA. “Of course”, I reply, “when do you need me at the airport?” It turns out the shipment was being picked up about 400 km away from Budapest at that very moment, so I needed to be at the airport for 04:30. As I’m a seasoned courier my bags are always packed, so I was up and ready to go quickly.
04:19 CEST – BUDAPEST
I arrive at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport and update the ACS OBC & Time Critical team who also have an update for me. Due to the long transfer time from Slovakia, where the shipment originated, and a delay during pick up because the shipment was not ready, the estimated arrival time was now at 06:25. As my first flight was due to depart at 06:45 am to Frankfurt, things are not looking great.
05:45 CEST – BUDAPEST
Luckily the driver shows up earlier than expected and I take receipt of 10 boxes and all of the necessary documents. I then head off to the wrapping station to wrap the boxes together to ensure a more secure transit and to save on excess baggage costs.
06:05 CEST – BUDAPEST
I arrive at the Lufthansa check-in counter. Whilst I can check in online, as I have excess baggage I also need to check this is separately. Due to my Star Alliance Gold status I’m able to use the Business and First Class check-in lines, which saves a lot of time. After paying 1000 EUR of excess baggage, which I can claim back from ACS, I’m free to go to the gate. The shipment has already been sent and is making its way to the aircraft while I’m going through security. I update the ACS team and head through security, where I’m also able to use the Business and First Class lines.
06:23 CEST – BUDAPEST
Due to the late arrival of the shipment I have to rush through the airport to reach my departure gate on time. But before I board I ask the gate agent for any information regarding the status of my luggage. The agent confirms my shipment is on the way to the aircraft, so I update the ACS team and board my flight.
08:30 CEST – FRANKFURT
I arrive at Frankfurt Airport and have a short wait before my next flight. As I arrived at the A gates it’s only a short walk to the Z gates where flight LH440 is departing and I quickly make my way through security via the Business and First Class lane. As boarding doesn’t start for another half an hour I go to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, another Star Alliance Gold status benefit. Here I have a quick breakfast before heading off to board my flight.
09:20 CEST – FRANKFURT
I arrive at the gate and ask the gate agent to provide an update on my shipment. He confirms it is loaded and then goes on to tell me I have been upgraded to Business Class. Due to my Star Alliance Gold status and a little luck I do get upgraded, and this time it meant I was seated on the upper deck of a huge Airbus A380. I update the ACS team, and enjoy the 10 hours ride to Houston in luxury.
13:45 CDT – HOUSTON
We arrive a little bit earlier than scheduled and make I make my way to immigration. As I’m a Global Entry member I can use one of the automated kiosks, so it only takes me five minutes to enter the USA. As I arrive at the baggage belt my luggage is also arriving because I have a special Priority tag on it, another benefit of my Star Alliance Gold status.
14:20 CDT – HOUSTON
I have to declare my shipment for import purposes so I head to Customs with the number provided by the ACS team whilst I was airborne. I show this, along with my commercial invoice to the Customs and Border Protection Officer to be cleared. Five minutes later everything is done and I head to the belt to drop off the shipment for my next flight, before relaxing till my next flight.
17:50 CDT – HOUSTON
I head to the gate to board and upon arrival check with the gate agent that my luggage has been loaded. She confirms it is, and I proceed with boarding and update ACS from my seat.
19:10 CDT – EL PASO
We arrive early into El Paso and head to the baggage belt to retrieve my shipment before heading outside. During my flight the ACS team sent a contact number for the driver who will pick up the shipment. I call him and head to my hotel where he is due to meet me.
19:45 CDT – EL PASO
The driver arrives and I hand over the shipment and ask him to sign my POD to prove the shipment was delivered to the right person. One more update confirms delivery to the ACS team and the job is complete.
20:00 CDT – EL PASO
I arrive at the hotel and have a few days scheduled in to enjoy the warm weather before my flights back to Europe. Warm weather, a refreshing pool and some drinks, what a life…