Things you should have learned in 4th Grade
March 22, 2011 11:34 AM   Subscribe

We want to send some balloons overnight via Fed Ex to our boss. Will he open a box of deflated, sad balloons and promptly fire me?

Wow, my scientific knowledge is embarrassingly lacking.

We're looking to send self-inflated latex balloons, nothing fancy. No helium. According to "the internet" most Fed Ex cargo planes are pressurized. So that's good. I understand that the balloon will expand as the plane climbs - so can I just under inflate the balloon so it doesnt get near popping? But what happens when the plane descends? Will it just turn back into near the original shape/size or will it look like a sad, wrinkled prune balloon - and then, the mass firings.

Thank you!
posted by fillsthepews to Science & Nature (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This seems like something much better handled by a ground crew (i.e. a party store local to your boss that does deliveries) than by FedEx. The balloons will for sure get there and it will almost certainly be cheaper.

If part of the schtick is opening a delivered box of balloons, I still think that would be better handled locally. I'm sure you can find some business out there willing to box up the balloons for you.

If you give us the location, mefites may even be able to give recommendations for a reliable balloon delivery service.
posted by phunniemee at 11:38 AM on March 22, 2011


Another thing: I don't know how you open boxes, but that's what my pocket knife is for. Presumably, boss doesn't know he'll be receiving balloons, right? One careless poke and the fun's over.
posted by phunniemee at 11:41 AM on March 22, 2011


Response by poster: That's a good point about the knife - hur hur hur. Also, regarding local delivery, everything I was able to find online was multiple times the cost of sending a box with our corporate shipping rate. If anyone knows of a cheapo one, the delivery would be in NYC just outside of Times Square.
posted by fillsthepews at 12:08 PM on March 22, 2011


I've actually dealt with this problem before. The major trick is to underfill the balloons a bit so that at half-pressure they don't pop. This works fine with latex ones, less well with mylar ones.

To protect from knives, put something lightweight and rigid on top of the baloons. A piece of cardboard, or packing foam or styrofoam works great. Cut it the size of the box opening.

With FedEx, we've never been able to figure out a way that will be absolutely 100% guaranteed not to go by air. They seem to always reserve that as an option. If you want surface transportation only, you'll need to go to a trucking firm.

It would be almost certainly cheaper to go local delivery. Florists can often do this.
posted by bonehead at 12:21 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


With FedEx, we've never been able to figure out a way that will be absolutely 100% guaranteed not to go by air. They seem to always reserve that as an option. If you want surface transportation only, you'll need to go to a trucking firm.

Isn't that what FedEx Ground is for? I realize it can't ever be 100% guaranteed, but I thought the idea is that you can use it to ship hazardous materials that can't go by air? I'd be very surprised if a random FedEx Ground package wound up on a plane.
posted by zachlipton at 12:36 PM on March 22, 2011


Ground seems to be just a time thing. They do "Ground" service to Hawaii in 2 to 7 days from North America, after all. There's no boat that can get to Hawaii from NA in two days. It's just delayed air-freight.
posted by bonehead at 12:51 PM on March 22, 2011


Alaska and Hawaii are special cases. In the continental US FedEx Ground is a completely separate network (formerly RPS) from FedEx Express.

When you calculated the shipping rate did you include the box dimensions? Large light boxes incur huge dimensional weight surcharges. If you are close to the destination this would be significantly less of an issue.
posted by reeddavid at 1:52 PM on March 22, 2011


Mylar will last for days or weeks if you seal them right. Latex will deflate in no time. Fill the whole bouquet and then send it ground, complet with very scary "DO NOT USE A KNIFE" warnings and perhaps a rip-strip opener on the box.

Weights? Line the box with plywood to make it heavy?
posted by dirtdirt at 1:54 PM on March 22, 2011


Will he open a box of deflated, sad balloons and promptly fire me?

If I was your boss, I would fire you for sending a box of inflated balloons. Air-freight is by volume as well as weight. It would be a terrible waste of money.
posted by ovvl at 8:59 PM on March 22, 2011


I am not clear on why you don't try using a delivery service. Most of the "flower" delivery companies also do balloons and other gifty stuff, not just flowers. As an example, I know 1800flowers does balloon deliveries. I am sure ftd.com does as well.
posted by gudrun at 10:36 PM on March 22, 2011


Response by poster: Follow up - it worked fine! And to the why... Well, it was fun and different to send a box of silly noodle balloons and candy to a very overworked guy miles away from his family on his birthday. And much, much cheaper than the 30-40$ it would have cost to send via a service. And at @ovvl, it is not difficult for us to write a check to the company to cover personal shipping costs.
posted by fillsthepews at 11:29 AM on March 23, 2011


Well. if company cheque covers everything, then we can easily arrange to send a case of Moet & Chandon to my address, if everyone is okay with that.
posted by ovvl at 7:56 PM on March 23, 2011


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