air freight shipping

Air Freight Shipping: All You Need to Know

Everything moves faster today than it did yesterday, and that can’t be truer in the word of shipping. The higher delivery expectations of customers mean there are a growing number of companies striving to provide customers with products as soon as possible. Air freight is the safest and most realistic way of achieving quick transit times.

What Is Air Freight?

Air freight is the shipment of goods or cargo via air carrier. The types of planes used for air freight range from chartered to commercial aircraft. Air freight is the ideal solution for moving freight around the world quickly and safely. However, it typically comes at a higher price than other modes of transportation, and despite that factor, it’s crucial to ensuring an efficient supply chain. Shipping by air is common for transporting items like consumer packaged goods, medical supplies, emergency spare parts, and many other goods.

What Are the Types of Air Freight Shipping?

Almost anything can be sent to a destination by airplane. Air freight moves large volumes of heavy cargo daily. Depending on the budget and cargo, a variety of air freight options are available.

Air Parcel

Shipping cargo on passenger aircraft is common amongst airlines. Generally, commercial aircraft handle small shipments and parcels. An average passenger plane can move the same volume as two semi-trailer trucks in addition to the passengers on board.

Cargo Planes

Cargo planes are the most popular method of shipping air freight. They’re built to maximize space for freight handling and they come in a wide range of sizes. The largest cargo planes can handle nearly 900 cubic meters of large or hazardous freight.

Air Charters

Using a charter plane means that you can be fully confident that your cargo will meet the required deadline. The aircraft is dedicated to your needs and no one else’s. But it is much more expensive than other options. Commonly charter flights are used by the energy, entertainment, and medical industries as well as some other sectors for emergency shipments.

Inian Air Force C-17 at Suvarnabhumi Airport

How Does Air Freight Work?

Depending on your carrier there can be variations to how air shipments are arranged. However, generally the process looks like this:

  1. Choose your shipping provider.
  2. An air carrier or third party logistics provider, such as BGL, registers your shipments and arranges pickup from warehouse or other facility.
  3. Your freight is loaded, taken to the airline, and loaded on the plane.
  4. After the airplane lands, the shipment is collected from the airline and taken to its destination.

Benefits of Shipping Via Air


Shipping speed is the most compelling advantage of air freight. If you need your freight to arrive the next day in another part of the world, it can only be achieved by an air shipment.

Long-Distance Shipping

When shipping by air there are several airlines that serve many locations, both domestic and internationally. Distance isn’t an issue.

Delivery Options

Air shipping has multiple delivery options. You can choose how fast your cargo gets delivered, such as the choices below.


  • Same-Day Delivery: This option is the fastest way to ship goods. This is the service to use if you want your shipment delivered the same day it flies out. This service costs more, but it’s the fastest delivery.
  • Next-Day Delivery: This is the second fastest option. Freight arrives at its destination by the end of the following business day.
  • Second-Day Delivery: The shipment arrives by the second business day.
  • Deferred Delivery: This is the option to use if you have a shipment that can wait for space to be available on an airplane. Deferred delivery cargo will be shipped when possible once space is available.


  • Deferred Delivery: Generally, a shipment arrives at its destination within 3-5 business days. This is the standard option for international cargo.
  • Express Delivery: This is the higher priced option for international air shipments, but delivery will be within 2-3 business days.

Drawbacks of Air Shipping

High Cost

The price of shipping is a considerable concern, but it’s generally understood amongst shippers that you must pay accordingly for speedy and safe delivery. Parcel shipping on passenger planes is the cheapest among air freight options, while a charter is the most expensive.

Weather Conditions

Of course, weather is beyond anyone’s control. But, because of weather sometimes air shipments must be canceled if the weather is severe enough to ground air traffic. Such delays can lead to later than expected deliveries.

Shipping Restrictions

There are some restrictions on the types of goods an airplane can transport. Some examples of restricted goods include explosives, gases, and flammable or toxic items.

Ultimately, air freight is a very beneficial shipping option if you have the budget. Air freight offers secure and fast delivery with a range of service options.

BGL & Air Freight

Do you have cargo that needs to reach it destination quickly? Best Global Logistics can help! Contact us or get a quote for your next air freight shipment.

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