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Mail service -- and bill payments -- returning to normal

Grounded planes slow your payments Mail service is rapidly returning to normal as the air transportation system gets back to regular operations. Mail that traveled by air came to a standstill when aircraft were grounded following the events of Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The United States Postal Service processes half of the world's mail volume -- 650 million pieces daily. Commercial aircraft transports 25 percent of that volume.

The Federal Aviation Administration continued to halt all mail shipments on passenger planes even after airlines were allowed to resume flight schedules. That ban has since been lifted.

Private cargo airlines, such as Columbus, Ohio-based AirNet Systems, which transport checks for the banking industry, are also just about back up to speed.

Spokeswoman Lori Williams says AirNet Systems normally transports checks Monday through Thursday nights. Last week, they flew Friday night and Saturday to make up for lost time. Williams says operations are back to normal.

What this means for consumers is that, more than likely, if you sent a bill payment on time it probably reached its destination either on time or maybe a day or two late.

Stan Lata of Bank One, one of the nation's biggest credit card issuers through its card unit First USA, says the majority of their customers' payments are being received on time. Lata says most credit card payments are shipped by ground transportation and weren't affected by the grounding of planes.

If you sent a payment on time but are socked with a late fee because, you believe, the payment delivery was legitimately delayed by the halt in air transportation, contact your credit card issuer and ask that the fee be waived. Be prepared to send a copy of the dated check, if necessary.

-- Updated: Sept. 30, 2001

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