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Traveling as a Courier New York Habitat Featured in The New York Times

The New York Times
November 11, 2001
Section: Q & A

Q. Years ago you gave me a list of companies specializing in courier trips. I took several in those years and want to start to travel again. Can you provide information? - Charles H. Berendzen, New York, N. Y.

A. Flying as a courier means traveling as an escort for packages, often legal or financial documents, on international flights at a discounted air fare. Since the air courier service uses the courier's checked baggage space for the luggage, the courier usually must be able to travel with only carry-on bags. Most courier flights are booked 30 to 60 days in advance, with fares at discounts of between 20 and 80 percent. The closer to flight time, and the farther from high season, the cheaper the flight.

While air courier companies cut back service in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks, most were back to normal schedules by early October, said Bruce Causey, president of the International Association of Air Travel Couriers. He said companies were waiting for possible new regulations on shipping packages, and he believes tighter regulations will probably mean an increased demand for couriers.

The International Association of Air Travel Couriers (I.A.A.T.C.), founded in 1989 by a former United States State Department diplomatic courier, is based in Keystone Heights, Fla.; (352) 475-1584, fax (352) 475-5326. The organization has about 10,000 members, Mr. Causey said, and some have taken as many as 100 trips.

By joining the association (annual membership, $45), members receive a year's subscription to the bi-monthly Travel Guide, which lists flights and prices of more than 60 shipping companies, courier requirements and first-hand accounts from couriers, plus the association's Courier Handbook, with tips. Members have 24-hour access to last-minute flight updates, posted at noon and 3 p.m. weekdays, on the Web.

Once you find a flight that inter-ests you, you contact the courier service and confirm the arrangements, checking their requirements (some companies only use couriers over 21, for example) and the number of days you'll be able to stay at your destination (generally you will serve as courier only one way).

Nonmembers can find useful infor-mation on the Web site, including first-hand accounts and a limited list of last-minute offers (only members can make the bookings). A recent listing included flights from New York to Sao Paulo ($300 round trip) and Miami to Quito ($260 round trip).

Another company, Couriertravel.org based in Nederland, Colo., (303) 582-5627, has been in business for seven years. Besides a directory schedules, fares, length of stay and booking information, the sites includes links to State Department warnings and embassies and consulates. A lifetime membership fee is $40. Members can sign up for advisories on last-minute specials. About 35 listings of flights from early October through November ranged from a seven-day stay to up to 60 days.

Larry Bunt, vice president of marketing and sales, said that a courier who had flown before for a specific company could often get lower fares on future trips.

Sublets in Paris
Q. We are interested in subletting an apartment in Paris this January, February and March. Can you help? - G. T. and J. T., Nantucket, Mass.

A. Probably the best place to find a Paris sublet is in the French-American magazine called F.U.S.A.C. (France USA Contacts), founded in 1988 and published every other Wednesday. It is an 80-page guide with information for visitors to France (and the United States), and includes apartments listed both by owners and agents. (Dominique Le-dieux, of F.U.S.A.C. in New York, recommends placing an ad in the guide, stating exactly what you want; that way, the owner or agent will contact you.) You can obtain a single issue ($10, first class, $7 third class), or a 3-, 6- or 12-month subscription ($50, $66, $90 first class) from France USA Contacts, Post Office Box 115, Cooper Station, New York, N.Y. 10276; (212) 777-5553, fax (212) 777-5554; wwwJusac.com.

Another good source for sublets and rentals is De Particulier à Particulier, founded in 1975. There's an English option at ar.pap.fr/hebdo/of/off_ls.asp. A recent search on the site turned up a studio near the Sorbonne for $685 a month.

And Habitat New York, at www.nyhabitat.com, with apartment listings in both New York and Paris, is good for weekly rentals but expensive for longer stays. A recent check found a one-bedroom in the Marais for $3,430 a month.

If you actually wish to see the apartment, and can wait until arriving in Paris to find a place, you might try the Paris-Anglo Web site www.paris-anglo.com/housing/guide/annonces.html. A source of services and contacts for visitors to France, it includes Paris newspapers and magazines that carry listings. (The International Herald Tribune's classified listings tend to be relatively expensive; on the Web it's www.iht.com.) The site explains the shorthand for French terms used in classified ads; gives tips on what to expect, and not expect, with a French apartment (what to tip a concierge at Christmas, what you will find in a typical bathroom and kitchen); and addresses the issue of the lease.

For rentals available through agents, not generally sublets, the French Government Tourist Office offers a general guide, Easy Reference Guide to France that includes 16 agencies with short-term rentals in Paris. It can be ordered from the tourist office at www.franceguide.com or (410) 286-8310. One such agency is Paris Sejour Reservation, (312) 587-7707, fax (800) 582-7274; www.psryourhomeinparis.com. In business since 1985, it lists about 600 privately owned furnished apartments. You can search by neighborhood, price and apartment size; most listings include photographs, layout descriptions, facilities (washer-dryer, microwave etc.), location and terms and conditions.