Two new mobile apps are striving to monetize unused airline luggage space by paying travellers to carry small items for third parties.
While these apps both involve the transport of goods, travellers on Grabr are responsible for locating and purchasing the product and proposing a price to the buyer. The item is then delivered to the consumer by hand.
Airmule focuses on the shipping itself and works off a “space for hire” model. Travellers are able to post open space in their luggage allocations, along with their routes and dates. Interested shippers then pay for each pound or kilogram used for transporting their goods. In both cases, traveller and shipper need to coordinate the property exchange, which usually takes the form of small gifts or items.
These services offer a unique way for budget-conscious travellers to capitalize on unused luggage space, while at the same time providing a boutique delivery service for small parcels.
As safety is a concern, each app has taken a security-first approach to the transactions. Shippers and travellers must be verified and a rating system is used to rank each party.
Apart from personal safely, there’s also the matter of airline security. Airmule provides an extra layer of protection by requiring senders to upload photos of the items they wish to ship, along with a comprehensive paper trail of the transaction.
While some might be a little bit uncomfortable with the concept, it has been compared to Uber and Airbnb, where people travel and stay with virtual strangers every day.