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The advantages and downsides of air freight shipping

The advantages and downsides of air freight shipping with a red-yellow plane in the sky.

What other modes of transportation could be more impressive than an airplane. Just imagine the hulks that carry huge loads of cargo across the sky! Surely it could be said they beat trucks and ships by a mile. They are also much quicker and have other advantages that make air freight shipping an interesting choice. However, it is not a choice devoid of its own downsides. That’s why we wrote this article, to present both of these to you!

Do you need air freight shipping?

Before we jump into the specific advantages and disadvantages, let us first look at what situations require such an impressive type of shipping. Obviously, short-range moving is out of the question. But even in long-range moves, air freight shipping isn’t always the number one option. Due to its costs, it is mostly reserved for loads being hauled over great distances. Especially if those distances cover large bodies of water and other terrains that is hard to traverse. For example, most car transport tips will mention trucks and ships. The first is the choice of car transport over land, while the latter offer is a cheaper way of transporting your car and other belongings globally. However, there are specific advantages to air freight shipping that make it a good choice. In some cases even better than ship transport. So let’s talk about those first.

Cargo ships seen from the window of an aircraft.
Land, air and sea transport options all have their own advantages.

Speed

In this category, air freight shipping trumps all competition. You just can’t beat the speed of a plane when it comes to cargo transport. And with an increase in distance, the speed difference becomes more obvious. Say you need to move your belongings from China to the US. With air freight shipping it should take about one or two days. How long does the same task take using ships? About a month or two, sometimes even longer! Therefore it’s clear why air freight shipping is the go-to choice for individuals that need to transport their items quickly.

Reach

Another area where air freight shipping is clearly better than its competition is its reach. Simply put, you can get anywhere by air. Seas and oceans present an impassable obstacle for trucks. On the other hand, ships can only dock in coastal areas, meaning that you will again need to use a truck to move your items inland. Aircraft however only need a landing strip to deliver their cargo. This coupled with the fact that these strips are present near most of the population centers means that it is easier to directly deliver cargo by air than by any other mode of transportation. And this plays an even greater role for people that are moving to more remote places in the globe. Like military personnel. It is obvious from this then why most trouble-free military move tips include air freight shipping.

Man in uniforms standing in the line, one in front of them with a gun and airplane above them.
It’s global reach makes air freight shipping ideal for military personnel.

Accurate shipping dates

Coupled with the speed of air freight shipping are it’s accurate shipping dates. This is the result of comparatively short transit times that your cargo has while being shipped by air. Also, airline companies tend to strictly stick to their schedules when it comes to departure and arrival dates. This further contributes to the accuracy of the shipping date. This comes with one caveat though, that we will discuss later.

Shipment tracking

Yet another advantage of air freight shipping is the ability to track your cargo. Apart from the websites of your airline of choice, you can track your shipment online or by using an air transport radar website. Although land and sea transport companies are slowly integrating this feature too, it’s still the most prevalent in air shipping.

Security

A concern that you might have if you’re shipping valuables like artwork, antique furniture or jewelry, is the security of your package. And nothing beats air shipping in this category. First of all, airports have high levels of security, making it hard for anyone to take your package. Also with minimal holding times and fast delivery, there’s little chance of your package going missing. Finally, due to its speed, air freight shipping allows you to ship even perishables.

Downsides

All these advantages may make air freight shipping seem perfect. But it does come with its own downsides, such as:

The price

The main disadvantage of air freight shipping is it cost. Considering how air shipping can cost several times more than land or sea shipping it is obvious why it’s not as common, despite it’s many advantages. However, since air freight cost is calculated by weight and sea shipping price by volume, there are cases where the former costs as much as the latter.

Weather dependency

Remember that caveat we mentioned when talking about the accuracy of air shipping dates? Well, we were talking about the weather. Although there are many ways weather can influence your move, it goes double for air freight shipping. This is due to the fact that bad weather may cause flight delays. These can last until the conditions clear out adding a level of uncertainty to your move. Especially if you’re moving during the winter, over mountains or regions known for having bad weather. Also, while the weather conditions might clear up within a few hours, there are cases where they can last for several days. This can impact air freight shipments that need precise dates.

An aircraft landed due to bad weather. Weather conditions can impact air freight shipping thus they must be taken into consideration.
Air freight shipping heavily depends on weather conditions.

Size and weight limits

Finally, a disadvantage of air freight shipping are the size and weight limits. Firstly, aircraft have much smaller cargo spaces than ships. Even a dedicated cargo plane doesn’t come close to a container ship in terms of cargo space. Secondly, many of the planes used for air freight shipping are passenger planes, meaning that the cargo comes second to passenger luggage. Finally, there are FAA limitations in place further limiting the scope of air freight shipping.

Is air freight shipping worth it?

Reading through this article you could see many advantages and disadvantages of air freight shipping. It would be fair to ask, with all these in mind, is it worth it? Well, we would say yes. However, it is situational. In fact, in some cases air freight shipping is irreplaceable. In others, however, it can be replaced more efficiently with other forms of shipping. So it all comes down to weighing your options and needs. One thing is certain, however – air freight shipping is undeniably cool!