The below dates are for mail originating in Europe and destined to locations in the United States. Mail originating in the U.S. and sent to European APO, FPO or DPO addresses use similar mailing dates.
The 2014 holiday season mailing dates for postal customers assigned to the European theater are:
• Space-Available Mail (SAM) — Nov. 26
• Parcel Airlift (PAL) — Dec. 3
• First Class or Priority Mail — Dec. 10
• Priority Mail Express — Dec. 17
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa postal patrons should plan ahead and mail early to ensure letters, cards and packages arrive to intended U.S. destinations in time for the holidays.
Customers can avoid long lines at the post office when they mail early and take advantage of using the cheaper, although slower, space-available mail service military post offices offer in Europe.
“SAM service takes longer to arrive at its destination and moves on a space available basis once it arrives in the U.S.,” said Lionel Rivera, USAFE-AFAFRICA postal operations branch public affairs officer. “If you want faster service, consider using Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express service. It costs more, but these classes of mail get preferred or expedited service.”
Most mail accepted at military post offices in Europe is flown to the U.S. on commercial aircraft.
Once mail arrives, depending on the service selected, it’s transported based on the service paid for.
Customers should keep in mind packages transiting through the mail stream are handled numerous times, and therefore proper packaging is very important.
The following U.S. Postal Service mailing tips are provided to help ensure packages arrive safely and undamaged:
Choose a box with enough room for cushioning material around the contents. If reusing a box, cover up or black out any old labels and markings.
Place cushioning around the items. Close and gently shake the box to see whether there is enough padding.
Tape the box shut, and reinforce the seams with two-inch wide tape. Use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape or paper tape.
The weight of the package cannot exceed 70 pounds. If customers are planning to use Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail services for faster delivery, length plus girth (distance around the thickest part of the package) can’t exceed 108 inches. When using SAM, the total can’t be more than 130 inches. PAL is a service that provides air transportation for parcels on a space available basis. It is available for parcel post items not exceeding 30 pounds in weight or 60 inches in length and girth combined.
Using a complete and correct address is critical for timely delivery.
For additional information on how mail is dispatched and received, as well as advice on the best service to use based on mailing needs, contact the local postmaster.