The Hidden Gem of Logistics: Unlocking the Power of On-Board Courier Service for Time-Critical Shipments

The Hidden Gem of Logistics: Unlocking the Power of On-Board Courier Service for Time-Critical Shipments

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Are you familiar with On-Board Courier (OBC)? This service involves a professional courier who hand-delivers shipments across commercial airlines, ensuring a secure and unbroken chain of custody from pick-up to delivery. Many of us may not be familiar with their work, but they are the unsung heroes of ensuring critical shipments get delivered anywhere, at anytime. From manufacturing components to medical supplies, on-board couriers are relied upon to transport priority freight across the world, helping businesses get their cargo delivered fast.

Let’s paint the picture: A manufacturing company in the United States urgently needs a specialized component to keep their assembly line running. Unfortunately, the only available supplier for this component is located in a remote area in Europe. The company can not afford any delays in the shipment, and so they turn to an OBC service.

A courier quickly gets booked for a flight to Europe, and on arrival, picks up the component and boards a flight back to the United States. The package is safely delivered to the manufacturing company, and their assembly line is back up and running. This is just one example of how on-board couriers play a crucial role in being an incredibly efficient and reliable method to transport critical, time-sensitive freight.

OBC service is rapidly gaining popularity

Although OBC service has been a relied-upon solution for quite some time, serving a variety of industries like medical, fashion, automotive and more, we’ve seen an enormous uptick in demand — a 170% increase in volume and a 55% increase in unique customers requesting the service since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Why the sudden surge in popularity? With port congestion and backlogs of freight for ocean and air export, plus a shortage of equipment, worker availability and storage space at distribution centers, it’s become increasingly challenging to ensure that freight arrives safely and on time to its destination. OBC service is the mode that fills in the gaps, acting as an emergency supply chain solution by allowing freight to flow at the speed of the ticketed airline passenger. 

Since the pandemic began, the volume of OBC shipments has grown as customers supplement more scheduled air cargo with on-board couriers to speed up their delivery times and avoid lengthy import/export delays. Moreover, with the looming economic slowdown, shippers are also paying closer attention to their transportation spend and seeking more cost-effective solutions. OBC service is an exceptional alternative to purchasing an exclusive air charter under the right circumstances – and ensures that shipments reach their destinations as quickly as possible.

So, how does an OBC move work?

An OBC shipment is personally delivered by a courier accompanying the freight on a commercial airline. While the courier is ultimately responsible for the safe delivery of each shipment, the real magic happens behind the scenes. A diverse group of travel experts familiar with every corner of the world and multiple languages works to connect all stakeholders, including couriers, airlines, shippers, receivers, customs brokers and ground service providers, into one aligned solution. From the start of each mission to its final delivery point, an on-board courier ensures that the shipment arrives timely and secure with the support of a highly skilled 24/7 operations team behind them to ensure execution.

When you request an OBC service with Ascent, we find you the nearest courier and provide a detailed quote within 15 minutes. Once you confirm the booking, we dispatch the courier to collect your freight and handle all the details – from ticketing to customs brokerage to final mile preparation – guaranteeing that your shipment runs smoothly and quickly.

How much freight can be shipped with OBC service?

Typically, most airlines limit the baggage to 62 linear inches (L+W+H), not exceeding 50 pounds per piece. However, this can change based on airline, routing, passenger loyalty status and travel season (baggage embargos). Additionally, each airline’s excess baggage for oversize/overweight varies. Ascent’s OBC team works diligently to help you navigate these frequently changing guidelines to ensure your mission is successful on every booking.

How does my freight need to be packed?

Airlines will accept many different forms of baggage, such as boxes, bags, totes, crates, coolers etc. Your freight should be securely packed in sealed cartons not exceeding the airline’s maximum dimensions and should not contain any liquids, explosives, hazardous materials or lithium-ion batteries. All passenger baggage is subject to TSA screening.

Having access to a vast network of couriers is key to success

A sizable network of couriers worldwide is essential to making an OBC shipment run smoothly and quickly. With Ascent’s global network, you can find an available courier from any location worldwide, ready to collect the shipment and transport it quickly to its destination. Our courier network allows for faster delivery times and careful handling, regardless of how far the shipment needs to travel.

In addition to speed and efficiency, a vast network of couriers also provides flexibility and reliability. OBC shipments often require urgent and time-sensitive delivery, which means that a courier must always be available, including on weekends and holidays. With an extensive network of couriers, there is always a reliable courier available to pick up and deliver the shipment, regardless of the time or location. That’s why at Ascent, we have over 160 couriers worldwide (and growing), making it possible to transport goods to any place, at any time.

Get seamless, reliable OBC service with the right technology

When managing complex missions with a large network of couriers, it’s crucial to use strong, reliable technology to quickly connect customers and couriers. Ascent’s On-Board Courier team uses our proprietary PEAK™ platform to keep all parties connected, allowing our customers to stay informed while keeping each mission highly visible and well-organized. PEAK™ is a powerful tool that allows us to connect our couriers to our customers, simultaneously presenting multiple options for routing and timing and ensuring that we offer the fastest and most efficient route for each shipment. With real-time shipment visibility, we can track each shipment at every stage of its journey, from collection to delivery, giving our customers peace of mind and confidence in the service.

In addition, our platform allows for 24×7 communication with our courier team, ensuring that we can quickly and efficiently respond to any issues that may arise during the shipment’s journey. With the ability to promptly address any difficulties, we can ensure that shipments arrive on time and without any issues.

At Ascent, we’re proud to say that we have at least 20 couriers in the air at any given time and are at the ready with over 160 couriers worldwide to transport your critical and time-sensitive freight to its destination. If you’re looking for a fast, reliable, and personalized way to transport your critical freight, consider OBC service to get the job done. Check out our OBC solution today:


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