cargo channel header

    Click below for blogs about:



  Join Us Online


Devin's Book Review

Factory Man by Beth Macy Factory Man
by Beth Macy
This book is true Americana. It follows the story of the Bassett Family and how they shaped the Furniture Industry we know today.
Full Review
1 Star1 Star1 Star1 Star1 Star0 Stars0 Stars
  5 out of 7 Stars

Subscribe by Email

Your email:

describe the image


describe the image



The Cargo Channel Authors:

describe the image
Devin Burke, Universal Cargo CEO
With over 25 years experience in the shipping industry, Devin offers up his wisdom on the keyboard and in front of the camera. More...

describe the image
Brian Chan, The Green Logistician
Since 2003, Brian has been a logistician at UCM and promotes green practices in the shipping industry on his Green Logistician blog. More...

describe the image

Jared Vineyard, UCM Content Creator
Researches and posts shipping related articles and creator of Super Shipping. More...

Other Blogs:

describe the image

describe the image

Join Our Online Community

Supply Chain Brief

Browse by Tag

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

4 Factors for Considering Air Freight vs. Ocean Freight


In life and business, there are always choices to make. When it comes to international shipping, there are many choices. Of all these choices, the most basic is the decision of what kind of transport to use: air freight or ocean freight. Whether you’re a business that will be shipping overseas all the time or an individual moving to a new country, deciding whether to go with ocean freight or air freight is an important choice. There are four key factors you should consider when making this decision.

   1. Cost

    You probably don’t have to be told to consider the costs before an undertaking. As a business person, you consider the bottom line and as an individual, you have a budget. Naturally, you’re going to want to know which will cost you less, air freight or ocean freight. Typically, you will hear that shipping by ocean is cheaper than shipping by air. And typically, this is true; however, this is not necessarily Cargo Jet Planethe case.

    To make the best decision, it helps to be educated about how carriers charge for international shipping. Airlines bill you by what is called a chargeable weight. Chargeable weight is calculated from a combination of the weight and size of a shipment. Sea carriers charge per container rates for shipping in standard containers (20’ and 40’ being the most common sizes). While weight can factor into the price from sea carriers, their charge tends to be based more on the size of a shipment. If you are shipping less than a container load, your price is often determined by cubic meter. With larger and heavier shipments, it is often much cheaper to ship by sea. As a shipment gets smaller, the margin between the prices gets smaller and sometimes air will even end up less expensive.

    Shippers should note that there are destination charges to consider. Whether shipping by air or by sea, there will be customs and destination fees. While the actual shipment cost of sea freight is usually cheaper than the shipment cost of air freight, the warehousing fees at seaports are many times more expensive than those at airports.

       2. Speed

      When it comes to speed, there is no question that air freight is usually much Cargo Shipfaster. Since time is money, this factor could more than make up for a higher cost of flying cargo. Many sea shipments can take around a month to arrive while an air shipment takes a day or two. For most business shipping, faster is better. When it comes to the individual moving a household, it is often good to have the extra time to prepare for the arrival of household goods in a new country. It should be noted that technology keeps moving forward in the international shipping world. Ships are getting faster. Canals have created shorter shipping routes. There are many ocean freight shipments crossing the oceans and being delivered in as few as 8 days.

         3. Reliability

        Reliability is something we all look for in people, businesses, products, and services. How does ocean freight and air freight stack up against each other in this category? Air freight shipping has a much, much shorter history than ocean freight shipping, yet air freight tends to win the battle of reliability. Flights get delayed by weather and other factors, but airlines tend to be very on top of their schedules. Ocean carriers are notorious for being bad about this. It is not uncommon for ships to be off schedule. For many, a day or two here or there doesn’t hurt; however, for many businesses, a day or two could have serious cost effects. With airlines, there are usually daily flights back and forth between major cities around the world. Because of this, missing a flight doesn’t cause much of a delay for a cargo shipment. Ocean lines tend to have weekly schedules. Missing the cutoff at a seaport means a longer delay.

           4. Environmental Impact

          Not everything is about the bottom line and convenience. While the social awareness of environmental issues can change the way the public looks at a company and affect its bottom line, we all have a responsibility of taking care of the planet on which we live. It would seem that ocean freight wins this category. CO2 emissions are much higher in air freight transport than ocean freight transport. This causes cargo shipping by air to have a much larger carbon fingerprint than cargo shipping by sea. However, considering oil spills and the water ecosystems affected by ocean freight, gives pause. Perhaps the jury is still out on this final factor.

          Considering these four factors should help you make the best decision for your cargo shipment. UCM offers free ocean and air rate pricing.


          Good you brought up this topic in limelight mate, but when your are making comparison, you should be justful on every aspect, as you have missed the part of weight carrying capacity and the capacity of the carriers to carry out the bulky quantity of weights, well if you see at this point, always sea freight will be a winner, as air freight has a big time set back at this point. 
          And when you are talking for big companies, bulky goods are more suspected then light weight goods, so ultimately sea freight prevails.
          Posted @ Saturday, June 01, 2013 3:17 AM by Shipping Company in Mumbai
          thanks for the info 
          Posted @ Thursday, June 20, 2013 12:57 PM by roberts
          Is there a rule of thumb that is approx 75 % accurate for making a quick air vs sea decision? 
          Posted @ Thursday, June 20, 2013 5:04 PM by kim
          Hey Kim, 
          The easiest rule of thumb when choosing air vs. sea is transit time. 
          Air is 3-7 days before it arrives and you have the goods in hand. Ocean is shortest 12-14 days. 
          If you need something here in a hurry go air freight. 
          The 2nd easiest rule of thumb is the cost. The cost is directly related to the cargo size. 
          If the cargo is small, go air freight. If the cargo is big volume, or very heavy compared to its volume, choose ocean because air freight will be very costly. 
          The 3rd easiest rule of thumb is the cargo itself. If the cargo is electronics or something that may be damaged by moisture go air. Ocean containers are not 100% air tight. So over the course of the journey ocean containers can get moisture inside.
          Posted @ Friday, June 21, 2013 10:56 AM by Raymond
          Eash way can be a good choice - depends on situation
          Posted @ Tuesday, September 17, 2013 5:35 AM by Kroviniu Gabenimas
          It's really important to weight your options before making that huge decision. Incredibly interesting in here indeed. Thanks a lot for the share.
          Posted @ Friday, November 08, 2013 11:41 PM by used dum trailer
          Whether you are a business owner or an individual on the verge of your next international move there is always a bottom line or a budget to be considered. Add to it, the time it takes to move things is another factors.  
          Air transportation, also known as air freight shipping, is usually more expensive, but it reaches destination a lot faster. 
          Choosing the right vendor is imperative in order to procure the best economical quote for your preferred method of shipping.  
          International Shipping Services
          Posted @ Sunday, November 17, 2013 2:27 AM by Astro Movers
          Sea freight and air freight definitely would differ a lot from each other, the cost and the amount or bulkiness of the freight items are the main variables for this. 
          <a href=" 
          ">Sea Freight Philippines
          Posted @ Sunday, November 17, 2013 8:54 PM by Sea Freight Philippines
          To add, both air freight and sea freight forwarding utilize warehouse and containers. 
          Warehousing Philippines
          Posted @ Wednesday, November 20, 2013 7:55 PM by Warehousing Philippines
          Thanks for sharing this article, it very nice and very informative and useful to us. For more Air cargo services companies list, find in our website.
          Posted @ Thursday, January 30, 2014 4:06 AM by Dcciinfo
          It is very can do something that most people can not.Your article can inspire someone to do such as something.It will be beneficial for many people.Thank you.
          Posted @ Friday, February 14, 2014 1:11 AM by Private Jets
          I was wondering if anybody would be kind enough to complete an interview for me about container shipping weights. I am currently doing my dissertation on the topic and would love to undertake my research by interviewing industry experts on the subject. If anyone can help please email me on Many thanks.
          Posted @ Monday, March 24, 2014 9:57 AM by Donna-Marie
          These blogs and articles are fully good enough for me. 
          Posted @ Monday, April 14, 2014 7:04 AM by Excess Baggage Shipping
          This article was extremely helpful! My family is planning to move overseas in the near future and I really found this article answered all my questions. I took notes!  
          Posted @ Wednesday, July 30, 2014 6:43 PM by Karin Rapsch
          Glad you found this article so useful, Karin.
          Posted @ Thursday, July 31, 2014 2:49 AM by Jared Vineyard
          Very interesting article! It's a big decision to make. I often ship my boat to different places. Which freight shipment I use depends on the distance. Personally I am very satisfied with both methods.
          Posted @ Monday, September 29, 2014 2:31 AM by Amy
          Reliability is something I am all looking for in businesses, products, and services.
          Posted @ Friday, October 03, 2014 4:50 AM by PRINCE
          Very impressive article with goo post.
          Posted @ Thursday, January 08, 2015 3:35 AM by RachaelSable
          Glad to find your blog with valuable information. 
          Posted @ Monday, March 09, 2015 1:58 AM by Julia watson
          Hi, My query is how to decide best sea freight rate. What factors should we kept in mind before choosing any sea freight Quote.
          Posted @ Wednesday, March 25, 2015 12:09 AM by Anjali
          Hi Anjali, 
          Thanks for your question. 
          Below are a couple URLs to blogs that will help you with that topic. The first one is how to choose a freight forwarder and the second is how to get a freight rate quote. 
          Often people will just try to get the cheapest freight quote they can find and often that turns out to be a mistake. 
          Price is certainly an important factor to consider, but making sure the company that is helping you with your shipping is reputable and good is more important. A cheaper freight rate quote can often end up being more expensive for you in the long run as you get hit with hidden fees, your cargo gets held up, etc. 
          So you want to make sure your freight forwarder knows what they're doing. 

          Posted @ Tuesday, March 31, 2015 4:00 PM by Jared Vineyard
          I've had lots of frustrating moments in the past with shipping services. Often packages arrived in much worse shape than when I first shipped them. Luckily I don't send packages too often. But I have a new one to send and I'm wondering what company would be best. Hopefully everything works out. Vil Vik Shipping LLC help me out. Will Surely recommend this company to anyone.
          Posted @ Wednesday, April 15, 2015 6:32 AM by das_nia
          Well its a really good post,but as per my point of view I'll go with air freight.I have experience of both air freight and ocean freight and some time there's problem arrived with ocean freight.
          Posted @ Thursday, May 28, 2015 4:33 AM by Sify Newton
          Post Comment
          Website (optional)

          Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics