This parcel bound for Brisbane took a 34,000km detour, flying from Sydney to the USA and Japan
This parcel bound for Brisbane took a 34,000km detour, flying from Sydney to the USA and Japan! Photo: bpeteb.

Unprecedented cargo demand, fewer planes flying, limited staff availability and ever-changing border restrictions throughout the pandemic have wreaked havoc on freight shipments and postal delivery services worldwide. Some countries have even had to temporarily shut down international mail. So it’s no surprise that some international parcels are taking longer to arrive, or taking an unusual path to reach their destination.

But a parcel received last week by AFF member bpeteb has well and truly racked up some frequent flyer miles! This member’s package took two months to arrive in Brisbane from California in the United States, taking a 34,000km detour along the way.

The parcel’s bizarre tracking history, which runs for more than three pages, details how it was initially flown from Los Angeles to Sydney. So far, so good. But instead of then being sent the final 750km from Sydney to Brisbane, for some reason the package was instead flown to Chicago in the United States around three weeks later!

This happened around the same time that the Queensland border had just closed to people from greater Sydney. It’s possible that a lack of planes flying from Sydney to Brisbane – due to the border closure – could have impeded the delivery of the parcel to Brisbane. But the Queensland border closure should not have prevented cargo from entering Queensland.

From Chicago, the parcel was transferred between more USPS facilities in the United States for almost two more weeks, before being flown to Japan. From there, the package eventually returned to Australia and was finally delivered to bpeteb in surprisingly good condition last Thursday.

The parcel finally arrived in Brisbane on 28 January 2021.
The parcel finally arrived in Brisbane on 28 January 2021.

In total, it travelled 47,000km – including a slight detour of 34,000km.

Parcel tracking map
A summary of the parcel’s journey from Los Angeles to Brisbane… via Sydney, Chicago, Fort Worth, Tokyo and Sydney.

The contents of the parcel? Two bag tags made of genuine aircraft skin from VH-OJP, a Boeing 747-400 that flew for Qantas from 1992 until 2012, and was recently scrapped for parts in Victorville, USA. (Who said Qantas 747s would never fly again?)

Plane tags
The Plane tags arrived in surprisingly good condition. Photo: bpeteb.

bpeteb posted about the parcel’s epic journey on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.

The complete tracking history

The full tracking history is rather hilarious! Here’s a summary of the main events…

  • 28 November 2020: Shipping label created in Torrance, USA
  • 30 November 2020: Package accepted by USPS in Los Angeles, USA
  • 18 December 2020: Package is processed in Sydney, Australia
  • 7 January 2021: Package is processed in Chicago, USA
  • 18 January 2021: Package is processed in Fort Worth, USA
  • 20 January 2021: Package is processed in Tokyo, Japan
  • 24 January 2021: Package is processed again in Sydney, Australia
  • 28 January 2021: Package arrives in Brisbane, Australia

And I know you want to see it, so here’s the full tracking history from the USPS website (you can click on the image to view a larger version)…

Complete USPS tracking history
Complete USPS tracking history
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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

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Sharon Bunter

I had one that probably beat that during our first lockdown. Travelled all around America, the Arab states, made it to Singapore and then went all the way around America again before eventually hitting Australia in Sydney and making it over to Perth! It gave us something to do every day 😀

Adam

This takes the cake for distance, though I also had a similar experience with an ebay item ordered early October 2020 from Sydney for me in Perth.. the item was then flown back & forth 6 times between WA & Victoria, before lodging complaints with AusPost and the Seller in mid-November, the item finally arrived in January 2021, 2 months late for the party the item was required for. Returned item to seller, it flew back within a week and we’ve since got a refund… who knows how or why the item was bouncing around and for so long!

Mark Pickham

What an amzaing story!