Peak package shipping already underway; the deadlines you need to know

KSAT talks with the UPS team at the SA International Airport about getting your packages delivered in time for Christmas day

SAN ANTONIO – Thanksgiving may still be a day away, but the holiday rush for shipping packages has already begun.

UPS’s San Antonio “gateway” at the San Antonio International Airport doesn’t ever really have a “slow day,” but Samantha Martinez, the Air Division Manager for South Texas, says air shipping traffic starts to ramp up the week of Thanksgiving, even before the holiday season begins. She says it doesn’t return to normal levels until about the New Year.

The season culminates in what UPS employees call “peak week,” the week leading up to Christmas.

“I can tell you this is kind of like our Super Bowl,” Martinez said.

The San Antonio gateway typically sees seven cargo jets arrive and seven depart on any given day. During peak week, though, that jumps to nine arrivals and nine departures.

“Next day air” deliveries passing through the airport are expected to spike on Dec. 23 as customers rush to deliver packages for Christmas Eve, jumping up about 69% compared to a typical day.

So what does that mean for you? Martinez’s advice boils down to four words -- “plan early, plan ahead.”

While Martinez says UPS is aiming to get you your package when you expect it -- UPS says it has exceeded a 95% on-time delivery rate since January 2020 -- she noted that weather issues could throw a wrench in your plans.

Fortunately, however, while global supply chain issues have caused issues with retailers keeping certain items stocked, Martinez said those issues don’t affect the small parcel shipping that UPS does as long as the company you order from has the product on hand.

“So where we get our packages from the warehouses, from the distribution centers. And then we process those packages to the consumer, you know, deliver them to end-to-end customers. So we really don’t see much of that. It hasn’t affected us whatsoever,” Martinez said.

In case a retailer is out-of-stock, though, UPS recommends having a backup plan ready, such as a gift card.


Though higher-priced, rush shipping options keep the door open to procrastinators all the way to Dec. 23 for delivery by Christmas. Here are the cutoff dates for some of the more common shipping methods. Click on a shipping service’s name to see the full range of shipping options and deadlines.

About the Authors:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.