US international air freight totaled 7,207 million in the first half of 2020. These are large shipments that get flown from one country to another by businesses and individuals. 

Not sure if air freight is right for you? The trick is knowing your logistics budget, timeline, and shipment specs. This will help you determine what is the best method for your shipment needs. 

This guide will help you understand the difference between air freight and shipping. 

What Is Air Freight? 

Air freight companies provide freight shipping services. This method of shipping focuses on bulk transportation or large shipments or several small shipments combined into one. The shipments are typically classified by less than truckload (LTL) or full truckload (FTL). 

These terms refer to how much space on a standard-sized semi-truck trailer the shipment takes up. Since airplanes are significantly larger than a truck, many more shipments can get transported at a time. 

When shipping via air freight, you typically have a large shipment that is either high value or has limited time to reach its destination. Air freight tends to be the most expensive method of freight shipping. 

What Is Shipping?

Regular shipping is the consumer or commercial method of transporting packages. They can come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and weights. However, they are typically smaller than about 100 pounds. 

You will also hear the term “shipping” when talking about containers. These are large metal boxes that get used for bulk freight on trucks or ocean ships. This is not related to the mailing of packages. 

Why Use Air Freight Over Shipping? 

The difference between the two methods of shipping is their primary purpose. You wouldn’t use air freight to send a package that weighs five pounds. You wouldn’t use package shipping services to ship a pallet of product. 

Typically, air freight is the best choice for longer shipments. These include ones that are across the country or the world. However, if freight needs to be moved a short distance, it’s more economical to use a truck for ground shipment. 

Shipping services can be used for both nearby and long-distance shipments. Longer distance shipments will cost more than shorter ones. 

Another common difference is their pricing. Package shipping is significantly lower in cost than air freight. This is to be expected given the difference in package sizes and distance shipped. 

Finally, there is a big difference in travel time between the two services. With air freight, your pallet gets loaded on the plane and taken directly to the destination. This is different from package shipping, where your package gets taken to one or more distribution facilities. 

Choose the Right Shipping Method 

When deciding whether or not to use air freight, the first thing you should consider is the size of your shipment. If it’s bulk product on a pallet or a large piece of equipment, air freight can be the right choice. If you have a single box that you can carry, regular shipping methods will be the better option. 

Check out our other business articles for more helpful advice to save money and operate more efficiently.