How Does UPS Second Day Air Shipping Work: Processes Involved, Requirements & Comparisons

If you need fast and reliable shipping within the U.S., UPS Second Day Air is a great choice. Nevertheless, knowing how the “semi-expedited” shipping option and its variants work is important to decide if it is right for you or your business.

As a buyer or seller, before opting for UPS Second Air delivery, you must evaluate your budget and when you want the shipment delivered. There is also a weight limit. 

This guide explains how UPS Second Day Air shipping works and compares it to other popular 2-day shipping options. Let’s begin by understanding what the service is all about. 

What is UPS Second Day Air Shipping? 


UPS Second Air is a shipping service that guarantees delivery within 2 business days, and as early as 10:30 am within the U.S. It is the fastest and most affordable way to receive a package outside UPS Next Day Air or Overnight delivery options. 

How Does UPS Second Day Air Shipping Work? 

When your package arrives at UPS and is scheduled for a UPS 2nd Air shipping, it will be scanned. Please note that UPS 2nd Air combines both air and ground transportation. 

When the distance between the facility (with your package) is short, UPS may opt for truck or ground delivery. You should get your package within 2 business days. 

On the other hand, if you stay far from the sorting facility, an airplane becomes necessary. It will transport your item to a local hub before a truck delivers it – all within 2 business days. 

Delivery typically occurs as early as 10:30 a.m. or before the close of business on the second day (for locations like Alaska and Hawaii.) Also, only packages weighing 150 pounds or less are eligible for this service, and shipping may cost up to $42 or more.

Does UPS 2nd Day Air Require Signature? 

The UPS 2nd Day Air shipping option does not always require a signature to complete a delivery. In other words, if the mail carrier does not mean anyone at your residence or office, they can drop the package at a spot or with your neighbor. 

However, if your package is sensitive and requires a signature, it will be returned to the nearest pickup location. Delivery will be reattempted once.

Failure to receive your package within both attempts means you must pick it up at the UPS Access Store or pickup location before it is returned to the seller. 

Does UPS Second Day Air have Saturday Delivery?

UPS Second-Day Air rarely ships or delivers packages on Saturdays or weekends. If you dispatch a package on Thursday and it does not get to its destination the next day (Friday), you may have to wait until Monday. 

However, there are locations eligible for Saturday and weekend delivery. While this will require an extra fee, it can be confirmed during checkout. 

UPS Second Day Air Shipping Variants

  1. UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.: This variant delivers packages on the second day by 10:30 a.m. or 12 p.m. at most (for commercial locations in the U.S.).
  2. UPS 2nd Day Air Freight: Designed to ship heavy shipments (those above 150 pounds) that require a 2-day delivery window to the Mainland U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
  3. UPS 2nd Day Air Freight NGS (Non-Guaranteed Service): This does not offer a guaranteed 2-day delivery window but mostly delivers oversized shipments within 2 business days. 
  4. UPS Worldwide Express or UPS Export Express Saver: This service allows you to ship to destinations besides the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico but does not guarantee delivery within 2 days.

UPS Second-Day Air Vs. USPS Priority Mail 

Is UPS Second-Day Air and USPS Priority Mail the same? No, they are not. Unlike UPS Second-Day Air, Priority Mail delivers within 3 business days. Your package can be 24 hours late, depending on your location. 

The closest service to UPS Second-Day Air is Priority Mail Express. This package features next-day and 2-day delivery (before 6 p.m.) within and outside the U.S. 

UPS 2nd Day Air Vs. FedEx 2-Day 

FedEx 2 Day is similar to UPS 2nd Day Air because it delivers packages within 2 business days. However, its delivery time is different. For context, FedEx 2 Day delivers packages between 4:30 p.m. (to commercial addresses in the U.S.) and 8 p.m. (to residential addresses).

It also offers a Saturday delivery at an additional cost and for only eligible locations. 


Is UPS 2nd Day Air faster than UPS Ground?

UPS 2nd Day Air is usually faster than UPS Ground for distant destinations. This may not be the case for short ones. 

What happens if UPS 2nd Day Air does not arrive on time?

Since UPS 2nd Day Air is guaranteed, late deliveries should be reported and eligible for a refund. This may not be the case if the reason for delay or exception is beyond human control. 

How reliable is UPS 2nd Day Air?

It is very reliable and will deliver your package within 2 business days from the date of mailing. However, delivery can occur anytime (morning or afternoon).

Final Thoughts: How Does UPS Second Day Air Shipping Work?

The UPS 2nd Day Air shipping option is one of the most affordable expedited and guaranteed 2-day delivery options in e-commerce. It is the perfect service for small business owners looking to ship less valuable and lightweight items within the U.S. 

In addition, the shipping option features variants that can help you ship heavy packages within and outside the U.S. However, you may have to pay more. 

I hope you find this guide helpful. Please see when UPS delivers in your area to understand the delivery windows for different shipping options. 

Thanks for reading.