Test Involving Shipment of Unaccompanied Baggage as Space Available Mail on Commercial Airlines

LCD-78-240: Published: Aug 4, 1978. Publicly Released: Aug 4, 1978.

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In 1976, the Senate Appropriations Committee stated its belief that more than $40 million could be saved annually if the regulations governing the shipment of service members' unaccompanied baggage were amended to require that such baggage be shipped as space-available mail via the U.S. Postal Service. This shipping method seemed feasible since parcels of personal belongings as well as official material have been mailed by parcel post since World War II. The Committee asked the Department of Defense (DOD) to make a test to determine the feasibility and cost effectiveness of using space-available mail to move unaccompanied baggage. DOD conducted a 1-year test, completed on June 15, 1978, of unaccompanied baggage shipments from California, Texas, and North Carolina to Okinawa, Japan. During the first 9 months of the test, 1,587 baggage shipments totaling about 375,000 pounds were made from the three States to Okinawa. Only 31 shipments, slightly over 3,100 pounds, moved under the test concept. With only 2 percent of the shipments and 1 percent of the weight moving under the test program, a meaningful evaluation of the test was impossible. The only question answered by the test was the acceptability of the program. The service members' overwhelming selection of the conventional method indicated that they rejected the test concept in its present form. The lack of interest can be attributed to the fact that service members have little incentive to use the space-available method. If the Committee wants DOD to retest the concept, incentives should be included.

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