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What Does the “Sent to Airline” Tracking Update Mean?

You’re expecting an international package and you have received a “Sent to Airline” tracking update.

What does this mean exactly? Where is your package when you see this status alert and is there anything you should do?

Let’s take a look…

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“Sent to Airline” Tracking Status Meaning

The “Sent to Airline” status alert means that the consignment has been handed over to the airline service that is responsible for the overseas transit of the item. The package has cleared export customs and will soon be loaded onto the aircraft for overseas dispatch.

“Sent to Airline” – How Long Until Delivery?

The fact the consignment is being shipped via air freight is an indication that the shipment is being expedited.

Delivery from China when using AliExpress Standard Shipping, (which often utilizes sea freight) can take up to 6 weeks, sometimes more. 

The same package sent by air can arrive between 7 and 15 business days.

The time the shipment spends in the air is dependent on the destination location, however, 48hrs will be the maximum.

The part that can halt a speedy delivery (and is the reason the AliExpress premium shipments can still take over two weeks) is customs clearance and the behavior of the linehaul once the package has arrived in America or Europe.

We have dedicated an entire article to the “Liege Linehaul Arrival” tracking update. European AliExpress customers that have received this status have complained that a shipment can sometimes take weeks, with the package seemingly stuck at the linehaul warehouse in Belgium for the majority of that time.

However, back to the original question; how long until delivery after a “sent to airline” status alert?

AliExpress state that premium (as in air freight) shipments take 7 to 15 working days. This was extended somewhat during the height of the pandemic and clearly, China is struggling again with tight lockdowns in 2022.

That being said, assuming your package doesn’t get stuck at Liege, this is the ballpark delivery window you can expect if you have ordered an air-freight shipment from AliExpress.

What Happens After a “Sent to Airline” Update?

Sent to Airline

You should expect the tracking status to remain on the “Sent to Airline” tracking update for a few days due to the fact your package is clearly in transit during this period.

The next scans will be along the lines of “Arrival at Inward Office of Exchange” or “Processed Through Office of Exchange” both of which signify that the consignment has reached the destination country.

You should also expect customs clearance-related updates at this time.

Finally, you will receive updates that confirm the fact the package has been handed over to a carrier in the destination country that will make the final delivery.

Updates of this nature include, “Delivered to Destination Post” and “Accepted by Last Mile Carrier”.

My Package is Stuck on “Sent to Airline” What Should I Do?

There are a number of reasons your package might be stuck on the “sent to airline” update.

Firstly, it could just mean that your package is not being scanned (in terms of providing you with alerts), but is going through the delivery infrastructure.

The first scan the package might end up receiving after the “Sent to Airline” update is from the last mile carrier, meaning the package is very close to delivery.

Admittedly, that is a positive take on the situation. However, most regular AliExpress customers advise that you try to ignore the status updates and sit back and wait.

The process takes time (up to two weeks with premium shipments) so you should try not to panic about the lack of updates.

Of course, if this delivery window is coming to an end, you should contact the seller and/or AliExpress and look into opening a dispute using the Buyer’s Gurantee coverage provided by AliExpress.

The fact that you may be experiencing a delay at this stage of the proceedings suggests a customs clearance issue upon arrival in the destination country.

Unless tax or duties are owed, (which is the responsibility of the recipient) the seller will need to be involved with any issues pertaining to clearance.

What Does “Received by Airline” Mean?

“Received by Airline” is the status alert you should receive after “Sent to Airline” simply confirming that the airline has received the consignment.

All of the above applies here in terms of where your package is after you see this update. The fact the airline has the package within its possession means it will be in the air on the next leg of the shipment journey very soon.

What Does “Airline Receiving” Mean?

“Airline Receiving” means the same as “Sent to Airline”. The package has been dispatched to the airline for overseas transit. Whether you see a “Received by Airline” to confirm that the package is in the hands of the airline carrier depends on the service used and the level of tracking being offered.

Final Words

Overall, we would urge you to not stress after a “Sent to airline” status alert. It means that your package is proceeding as it should and is about to leave China.

You may well experience some delays after this or a lack of updates, however, once the local carrier has the item, delivery will be just one or two days away.

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