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Hand carry services – what are they and how are they used?

How many people travelling through an airport know about the hand carry service and what it does? Artemis Aerospace shines a light on a little-known industry which provides vital assistance to businesses all over the world.


People flying to destinations at all points of the compass are frequently weighed down with baggage; holiday clothes, laptops, skis, children’s buggies, business products and samples . . . the list is endless.

In contrast, amongst the crowds weaving their way to the boarding gate there are likely to be one or two people unencumbered by anything much more than their passport and one other item. Whatever the item is, it’s needed extremely urgently on the other side of the world and a hand carry courier is getting it there as fast as possible.

A hand carry courier is employed for critical situations because it’s the fastest means of transport for logistical emergencies. The item is physically accompanied to ensure immediate delivery as well as maximum security.

A vitally important scanner at an Australian hospital has broken down and needs a part which can only be sourced from the UK. An American vehicle production line is in danger of grinding to a halt without a replacement component from Germany, resulting in missed shipments and global supply chain issues. A hard drive with a master copy of sensitive legal information can’t be sent digitally for confidentiality reasons. Groundbreaking medical trial compounds with a limited lifespan need to be on the other side of the world before they become unstable. These are all situations in which the services of a hand carry courier can bypass lengthy customs checks, catch time-critical connecting flights and potentially save a business from disaster.

The aerospace industry is a regular user of hand carry couriers in AOG (Aircraft on Ground) situations. An aeroplane which has been grounded for technical issues will lose the operator tens of thousands of pounds while it’s repaired, inspected and returned to service. In addition, the airline may incur costs such as unexpected overnight stays for passengers or vouchers for replacement flights, and an unscheduled AOG incident can be a major issue for airlines whose reputation depends on reliability and consistent timekeeping.

The rapid supply of a vital replacement component is therefore crucial to getting the plane airworthy again within the shortest possible timescale, and arranging for it to be hand carried is often the most practical solution.

A courier can collect it directly from a source, fly with it to wherever it needs to be and deliver it straight to its destination, with the security of knowing it will be supervised for the entire journey. For added reassurance, couriers can provide real time updates or be GPS tracked throughout the journey, so the recipient can estimate exactly when the repair team needs to be mobilised, keeping loss of revenue to a minimum.

Working as a hand carry courier isn’t a job for the fainthearted but is ideal for someone with a flexible lifestyle, a keen sense of responsibility and an adventurous nature. You have to be ready to drop what you’re doing at a moment’s notice; one minute you’re washing the car and the next you’ve grabbed your passport and overnight bag and are heading to Heathrow to catch the next flight to Brazil, carrying an airspeed sensor which will save an airline a fortune and halt a domino effect of missed connections, delayed business meetings and other essential journeys. It’s a little-known job but one which helps keep the wheels of global commerce turning.

So next time you spot an unencumbered passenger moving purposefully through the airport throng with a single package, they could be a hand carry courier jetting off with the means to resolve an emergency anywhere in the world.