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New Apps Let You Turn Your Luggage Into a Courier Service

Airline baggage fees have turned luggage space into a valuable commodity. And now there are apps to help you sell it

A startup called Airmule and a new rival, Grabr, connect customers in need of a delivery service with users who have space to fill in their suitcases. With Grabr, you can search to see if anybody in the city you're flying to wants anything from the city you're flying from, and you can deliver it for a fee. 

So, for instance, if you're flying from Chicago to Miami and find that you have extra room in your bag, you can bring, say, a box of Frango mints to some homesick transplant, and get paid for it. How much depends on how much the person on the receiving end is willing to pay.

Airmule, meanwhile, has set fees for deliveries: $40 for packages up to 5 pounds, $60 if the mule departs within 48 hours, a $5 extra fee if the mule has to travel to pick up the package, and so on.

If this system strikes you as filled with certain legal risks, you're not wrong. While it's not against U.S. law to travel with someone else's stuff, you can nonetheless be subject to penalties if that stuff is illegal.

Grabr tries to protect users against that outcome by having the person doing the delivering also do the purchasing and packing, so they know what they're traveling with. Airmule mules, by contrast, receive goods prepackaged by the sender—though they get a little security, too, because senders have to upload photos of the item being sent and they have to supply credit card info and their addresses.