Here’s why it may take longer for your holiday mail to get to its destination

USPS: ‘The postal service has been broken’

ORLANDO, Fla. – Big changes already underway at the U.S. Postal Service could impact your holiday mail.

In March, postal leaders unveiled a new ten-year financial plan called “Delivering for America.”

According to the plan, leaders hope to generate enough revenue to bring the U.S. Postal Service back in the black after losing $87 billion over the last 14 years.

“We have needed to change for a long time,” said USPS spokesman David Walton. “The postal service has been broken.”

Part of the plan calls for a steep reduction in the amount of mail that is transported by commercial airlines.

Instead, postal officials said that mail will be transported on the ground.

“We are changing the delivery standards for some pieces of mail,” said Walton. “It depends on where they’re going and how much they weigh. So yes, there could be a maybe a day or two added on to that.”

News 6 tested the length of time it took to mail a first-class letter, and it aligned with the projections laid out by USPS.

DELIVERY STANDARDDISTANCE TRAVELED
1 DAYPresorted & Local Mail
2 DAY139 miles
3 DAY140-930 miles
4 DAY931-1,907 miles
5 DAY1,908+ miles

For a letter mailed from Orlando:

  • Eustis, 32 miles away, it took two days to arrive.
  • Charleston, SC., 377 miles away, it took four days to arrive
  • Tucson, Ariz., 2,024 miles away, it took five days to arrive
  • Los Angeles, 2,469 miles away, it took five days to arrive

The change in transporting mail across the country is only one facet of the program.

According to the plan, $40 billion has also been earmarked for capital investments that included a new sorting facility in Orlando.

The facility is located on South Orange Ave. in a building that once housed a Goya Foods operation.

“I was excited to see all the new technology,” said Lisa Lake, the plant’s manager. “You know, I’ve got 33 years, and so to see the evolution of the postal service from when I started to now -- It’s amazing.”

Workers sort mail using a new high-tech sorter at a new postal facility in Orlando. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Walton said the need for the new location became apparent during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when the postal service was faced with 20 percent of their workforce being quarantined at some point and an unexpected surge in mail order delivery.

“I mean, who knew that many people were going to be ordering online? We got a billion packages last year. That was more than we’ve ever gotten,” he said. “It was very challenging. Our most challenging time of the century.”

The new facility features high-tech conveyor belts with scanners that help sort 3,000 packages per hour, as well as robots that help sort larger parcels.

Robots help sort larger parcels at a new mail sorting facility in Orlando. (Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

USPS is also asking some of its retired workers to come back.

“Today’s my first day back. Since I’ve retired,” said Leon Ziomek. “My boss, or ex-boss, gave me a call, and said she could use the help.”

Ziomek said he was ready for the holiday rush and promised to help get cards and packages where they need to go.

“We will work 24 hours a day through the holidays and everything else. We always have,” he said. “The mail will get to where it’s got to go.”

The U.S. Postal Service has announced the following 2021 deadlines to get your mail to its destination by Christmas:

MAIL SERVICESHIPPING DEADLINE
Retail Ground ServiceDecember 15
First Class MailDecember 17
Priority MailDecember 18
Priority Mail ExpressDecember 23

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.