How Much? Usually you save up to 85% of the regular airline ticket price, and in some instances you can fly free. The savings varies depending on the season and demand, but the discount is substantial. During the summer, rates are generally higher than any other time of the year, but you still fly cheaper as a courier than with other discount fares. In short, traveling as an air courier can save you hundreds of dollars on each trip you take. Some courier companies maintain a list of couriers who they can call at the last minute in the event of a cancellation, and let the courier fly free in exchange. Free flights are extremely rare, but super discounted last-minute flights are more common.
Savings from courier travel works the opposite of conventional airline fares, which require advance purchase to ensure the cheapest seat. With courier travel, fares go down as the departure date approaches. But if you're not the adventurous type who doesn't care what part of the world he travels to as long as it's within the next 24 hours, then it's possible to make advance reservations several months in advance. Sure, the biggest discounts are for those flights with rapidly approaching departure dates, but the likelihood of finding a courier company that needs a package escorted to your particular destination at the last minute is slim to none. Flights to the most popular destinations usually require at least a 2-week advance reservation, especially during the summer when advance booking can be 4 or 6 weeks or more to guarantee a seat. Most people advance book in order to make sure they get the flights they want. When courier companies are short of carriers for particular runs, the price usually starts dropping the closer it gets to the day or hour of takeoff.
The courier company may charge you an annual registration fee (typically $50) or a refundable deposit ($100-$200). Once you've chosen your destination you pay the money for the ticket (non-refundable) to the courier company, who then buys the ticket from the airline. Several hours before your departure you meet the courier company representative at a predetermined airport location, usually the gate where your flight leaves. He will give you your tickets and a courier pouch which has the manifest, baggage claim tickets and other courier company documents pertaining to the shipment. You do not deal with the baggage. It is your responsibility to deliver the pouch to the courier company representative in the customs area of your arrival airport. Then you are on your own.
This whole process may sound a bit scary, but after your first trip as a courier, you will become much more comfortable.