What Are the Potential Risks of Being an On-Board Courier?

Airmule is a service that pays you to carry other people's items into another country, specifically China. The idea is that not everyone uses their free luggage allowance, so Airmule will give you packages to carry to your destination. You can earn up to $500 per roundtrip flight. 

How does Airmule work?

  1. List your trip details on Airmule, and they'll match you with packages on their platform.
  2. An Airmule representative will hand off suitcases for you at the departure airport before takeoff. You are free to inspect the items inside the suitcase.
  3. Drop off the suitcases to an Airmule representative at your arrival airport.

On the surface, this sounds risky, but Airmule claims liability for the items inside the package. All packages come with a manifest that includes photos, descriptions, and values of all shipments.

If the package is taxed by customs, Airmule will take care of the fees. Read more on their terms of service page.

Pros

For each of the roundtrip flights you take to China, you can earn up to $500. This is a great way to save on flights, or in some cases, get a free flight if there's a sale. 

Cons

The biggest con is that there are risks because you don't own the items inside. Even though you are welcome to inspect the items inside the suitcase, shippers can easily smuggle substances within the items. 

If you are caught with any illegal substances in some Asian countries, it could result in jail time or the death penalty. 

There haven't been any negative reviews or media reports, but I wouldn't want to be the negative data point. 

I would be more comfortable using the service if I were in full control of the items packed inside, i.e., if I was given a shopping list and bought the items myself.