General Question

AshlynM's avatar

How does snail mail get to its destination so quickly?

Asked by AshlynM (6669 points ) September 2nd, 2011

I realize it may depend on the method of mailing used, but most mail takes two to three days, or at most, a week to get its destination.

What goes on behind the scenes at the U.S. post office?

Do mail carriers drive their trucks and vans all over the country to deliver mail? What about overseas?

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7 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

The regional centers sort mail by general zip code (the first two numbers) and then fly it to hubs where it is redistributed. So if you are near a major airport and send mail to a major airport, it can arrive the next day, i.e., New York to San Francisco.

WestRiverrat's avatar

First class mail is taken to a centralized location, where it is sorted by the first 3 digits of the zip code. this tells the PO where the nearest distribution center to the destination is. From there it is either trucked or air freighted to the destination distribution center.

There they read the first 5 digits of the zip code to sort for the separate post offices, and it is trucked to the local post office for delivery. Most of the sorting is done by scanners, which is why the PO prefers printed/typed envelopes.

Junk mail has the same general outline, but the pieces are sorted into mail carrier sequence, and often shipped by the mailer directly to the various regional postal centers.

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digitalimpression's avatar

The easy answer is that it just never stops moving until it gets there. There is always someone out at all hours taking care of things that most people take for granted.

shrubbery's avatar

Well I’m glad it’s so quick for you guys. Australia Post is not so reliable… Actually though, I’m still waiting on two parcels from the US which probably should have arrived months ago. Maybe I just have all the bad luck.

MrItty's avatar

The USPS is a 24/7 operation. It is not limited to your local PO where you might have a box or where you buy stamps. It is not limited to your local mail carrier who delivers your mail. The bulk mail processing centers are moving your mail 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including every single federal holiday throughout the year.

(both of my parents work for the USPS in the bulk processing centers)

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