What Does In Transit Arriving Late Mean? | (2022 Guide)

Everybody wants their package to arrive on time, so getting notice of late arrival is bound to upset some customers. You might get even more upset when the tracking status does not provide you with enough detail about the problem. The USPS In Transit Arriving Late message can be somewhat vague, leaving you to wonder what happened to your package. There are a few reasons that you might see this status message, but they all signal a delay in your package delivery. So, what does the In Transit Arriving Late message mean? Keep reading as we tell you exactly what this message means, as well as give you the most common reasons you will see it.


What Does “In Transit, Arriving Late” Mean?

The In Transit Arriving Late message means that your package has encountered some issue that will delay its delivery date. The package is most likely still moving through the postal service infrastructure, but delivery will occur later than the original estimate. This message could appear at any time during the shipping process, although it is most likely to appear before arrival at your local post office. If the delay occurs after the package is out for delivery, then you are likely to see a different message. It is not uncommon to see the In Transit status message for several days, but once the “arriving late” message is added, then you know there is an issue.

In some cases, this message might signal that your USPS package has stopped moving altogether. Unfortunately, it could even be lost. So, when should you start to worry, or when should you contact the post office? Generally, if you have not seen any updates on the tracking details after several days, then it is time to take action. We will discuss in more detail when to act and what to do later in this article.


Reasons For A USPS Package Delay

So, what might cause USPS package delays once a package is en route to your location? There are a number of reasons you may see a delay in your tracking update. Here are the most common reasons.


— Inclement Weather

Bad weather is one of the top reasons that can make a package delayed in transit. Not only does inclement weather cause delays for USPS, but the weather also affects Amazon, UPS, and FedEx deliveries too. In the winter, blizzard conditions can make delivering packages especially difficult. If the trucks carrying your packages are unable to travel safely, then your package will be delayed until the roads are clear. Similarly, a natural disaster like a tornado or earthquake might affect access to certain areas. These disasters can delay your package after you see the “In transit to next facility” status.


— Damage To Package

Another thing that can cause a delay in your mail package arriving at its final destination is damage to the package. Though the mail service takes precautions to handle each package with care, sometimes accidents happen. If a postal worker notices that your package is damaged, then it can put the delivery in limbo. They might contact the shipper depending on the extent of the damage. If it is merely damage to the tracking bar code or shipping box, then your package should still arrive safely. However, if the item inside is damaged as well, then it might take longer to sort out. Not only could it cause USPS shipping delays, but package damage might cause a delivery exception.


— Package Was Lost Or Misplaced

This is one of the worst reasons that you will see the “Arriving Late” status update. It might be because your package has been lost or misplaced at a USPS facility. Packages pass through numerous sorting facilities on their way to your location, and sometimes they can get lost. Perhaps it just got placed onto the wrong truck, and it will get rerouted appropriately once it makes it to the next stop. Keep an eye on your tracking information on the USPS website, and go ahead and contact the postal service if you don’t see any updates in the tracking system for at least three days.


— Equipment Malfunctions

The United States Postal Service utilizes complex equipment and machinery to sort and scan all the packages and pieces of mail that pass through their facilities each day. Malfunctions with this equipment can lead to delays in package and mail delivery. In some cases, these malfunctions may only lead to package tracking capabilities being unavailable for a few hours. However, more severe malfunctions can hinder the post office’s ability to process mail through their facility successfully. In that case, items will be delayed until the equipment can be repaired.


Outcomes Of In Transit Arriving Late Status

So, just what does this status message mean for your package? Just how late will it be, and do you need to contact the post office? There are generally three possible outcomes when you see this message. Here are the details of each.


— Package Arrives Within Extension Window

Once the post office realizes there is a delay with your item, they will generally update your expected delivery date. They might even give you an updated delivery window. This is called the extension window. The majority of the time, your package will arrive within this extension window. Perhaps there was inclement weather or an equipment malfunction that caused a delay of a day or two. Once that issue is cleared, then things begin to move like normal, and your package is delivered within the updated delivery window. This is the best case and is usually what happens when you see the “Arriving Late” status.

— Package Arrives Outside Extension Window

Sometimes, the issue that causes the delay in your delivery might take longer to clear than expected. In those cases, the post office may give you an extension window that is not long enough. Perhaps they thought the package would be two business days late, but it ended up being five days late. At least your package is still delivered safely, but the delivery time is much longer than expected. In this case, you are likely to contact the post office once the original extension window passes.


— Package Never Arrives

This is the worst-case scenario, and thankfully, this does not happen often. Once you see the “In Transit Arriving Late” status message, you might find that your package never arrives. It may have gotten lost at one of the massive postal service distribution centers or damaged so badly that it could not be delivered. Whatever the reason, you will need to work with the post office to handle the issue. If your package was an item purchased from eBay or Amazon, then the seller will usually work with the post office to sort out the problem. Make sure you have your tracking number handy when contacting the post office so that they can look into the details of the problem.


How To Handle A Late Package

So, what do you need to do when a package is late arriving? It depends on the type of service that you are using and how late the package is. If you are using regular first-class package delivery, there is no guaranteed delivery timeframe with that service. If the package is a few days late arriving, then there is not much that you can do. As long as you continue to see status updates in the tracking system, then your package is still moving toward its destination. However, if you do not see any tracking updates after a week, then go ahead and contact the post office for assistance. They can help locate the package and determine why it does not appear to be moving. You may have to end up submitting a missing mail search request so that your item can be located.

If you paid for a premium service such as Priority Mail, then your package should arrive within two to three days. Further, if you paid for Next Day Express service, then you might be entitled to a refund of some of your postage if the package is late. In that case, you should contact the post office immediately if the package does not arrive on time. You may have to talk to your local postmaster to file a claim for a refund. If your package was lost, they could also assist with filing an insurance claim.


The Bottom Line

If you see the USPS In Transit Arriving Late message for the first time, then you might be wondering what is happening with your package. More than likely, there is a straightforward issue that will make your package a day or two late. However, it could signal a more serious problem like a totally lost package. In that case, you will need to contact the post office for assistance. Unfortunately, there are some packages that never make it to their destination once this message is displayed. For that reason, you should always get insurance on your item whenever shipping anything of value through the mail.


Frequently Asked Questions


What type of transportation is my package arriving on?

It depends on the route and the type of service that you purchased. Typically, most mail and packages arrive at USPS facilities on a truck. However, many express services will arrive at certain locations on a plane. This allows the postal service to get those items from place to place much quicker.


Why does a package “arrive late” to a transit hub?

Are you wondering, “Why is my package still in transit, USPS?” There could be several different reasons that a package arrives late to a transit hub. The most common reasons would be inclement weather or an equipment malfunction. Weather delays are pretty common, especially during the winter months. Similarly, equipment malfunctions can cause delays as well. This could be equipment at a sorting facility or even a truck breakdown that causes packages to arrive late.


When should I contact the post office if my package is in transit arriving late?

If your package was shipped using regular first-class package service, then you should not contact the post office as long as you are still seeing updates on your tracking status. However, if you have not seen any updates after a week, then go ahead and contact the post office for help. If the package was sent using a guaranteed service like Priority Mail Express, then you should contact the post office as soon as the package is late. You might be entitled to at least a partial refund of your postage.

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