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air freight shipping

Ins and Outs of Air Freight Shipping

The pace of the modern world makes us do everything faster. In the world of freight shipping, the pace is doubled. The higher delivery speed expectations are, the more companies strive to provide next-day shipping. People rely on the arrival of their shipment all over the globe, and everybody wants their items as soon as possible. One of the most realistic and safe ways to achieve such a quick transit time is air freight shipping.

What are the types of air freight shipping? air freight shipping

Almost everything reaches the destination with a plane: documents, parcels, animals, cars, and more. Airfreight moves large volumes of heavy cargo every day. In 2018, commercial airlines carried just under 64 million metric tons of freight worldwide. Depending on the freight type, there are different types of air freight shipping:

  • Air parcel (moved on passenger lines). Shipping cargo on passenger planes is a common practice among airline companies. In most cases, commercial planes handle small shipments and parcels. An average passenger plane can move a freight volume of 2 semi-trailer trucks, apart from the passengers on the board.
  • Dedicated air cargo planes. A cargo aircraft is the most popular way to ship freight across the sky. These planes are constructed to maximize space for freight handling and come in different sizes. The largest cargo airplane can move up to 26,000 cubic feet of large, heavy, and even hazardous freight.
  • Air charter for urgent shipments. When using charter aircraft, you’re confident your freight meets the required deadline and has no transit stops. It’s dedicated just for your needs and essentially is much more expensive than other options. Charters are mainly used for mining and energy industries, movie production, pharmaceutical items, and other urgent shipments.

How does air freight work?

Depending on your air freight carrier, there can be different ways of arranging air shipping. However, the general scheme looks like this:

  1. Choosing a shipping provider.
  2. Air company or a third-party logistics provider registers your shipments and arranges freight pick-up from the facility or warehouse.
  3. Your freight is loaded and taken to the airline, and then loaded on the plane.
  4. After it arrives at the destination, another carrier picks up your freight from the airline and takes it to the final destination.

What are ins and outs of air shipping?

As one of the most commonly used shipping modes, air shipping has many benefits as well as downfalls.

Shipping speed is definitely the most compelling advantage of air shipping. If you need your freight to arrive the next day to another part of the globe, it only can be achieved through air freight shipping. Special relevance of air shipping comes for retail companies that ship consumer packaged goods, fashion, and apparel, medical supplies and equipment, etc. Apart from exclusive delivery speed, air shipping offers shipment safety, large service areas, and fewer disruptions.

On the contrary, the price of air shipping is a huge concern when choosing this option for freight transportation. Essentially, if you want extremely fast and safe delivery, you have to pay for the services accordingly. Parcel shipping on passenger planes is the cheapest option among other aircraft freight moving options, while the charter is the most expensive.

Ultimately, air freight shipping is a very beneficial shipping option, if your budget isn’t tight. It suggests secure, fast delivery and covers a wide range of services.

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Air Shipping for Beginners

Globalization is not just a commonly-used term, it’s our reality. The world is becoming “smaller” and much more interconnected than ever before. People are involved in the events unfolding not only in their own country but across the globe – we travel, we move and we interact. Many companies today are no longer limiting their operations to one country and are going global.

If your company’s global supply chain requires international shipping, there are a few options you can consider depending on your company’s needs. We have reviewed LCL (Less than Container) ocean shipping in one of our previous blogs that talked about its advantages and disadvantages. Airfreight is another option you can choose to ship your freight internationally.

What are the main characteristics of air shipping? air shipping

  • Quick transit
  • High cost

Air will be the fastest shipping method, without a doubt. However, just like with anything else, convenience (and in the logistics world, quicker transit) will come at a price.

Do you need a critical piece of equipment shipped over to save the whole production process from coming to an abrupt halt? Shipping is via air, despite the cost, will be the best option to avoid much higher expenses due to stopped production – just as an example.

What are other advantages of air freight?

While quick transit is the most obvious as well as the most beneficial for most shippers, air shipping offers some other benefits as a pleasant bonus.


The risk of theft and damage of air freight is typically the lowest among all transportation modes. Delays happen due to weather, understandably so, but deliveries are rarely delayed by more than a day (except for prolonged and severe weather conditions).


Air shipments are typically easy to track online as air service providers offer flight status visibility.

While air shipping is not the best fit for all companies and all shipments, often it’s just the option your shipment requires. When choosing the shipping method, evaluate your requirements and choose what works for you.

Additionally, certain LTL carriers offer domestic air shipping for overnighting the shipments. Reach out to us for an international or domestic air quote.