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Air Freight

Air Freight Shipping

The fastest way to move freight is by air. The best way to get the lowest air freight rates is to book your shipment with FreightCenter. See Rates Instantly, use the calculator, get instant rates, and compare quotes in seconds.

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Air Freight Rates Instantly

See the best air Freight rates from all the top carriers. Just fill in a few short details about your shipment and receive instant freight shipping quotes from leading freight carriers in one easy place. Trust the experts at FreightCenter to give you the best prices and options for your air cargo shipping needs.


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We provide competitive freight shipping prices and an all-inclusive, easy-to-use shipping experience for our customers. Exceeding our customers’ expectations results in thousands of satisfied customer reviews and repeat business. We believe in the power of our customer relationships. Check out FreightCenter reviews from real customers, and learn what they have to say about their freight shipping experience!

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Why Use Air Freight Shipping?

Air freight shipping is often the better choice for smaller businesses when shipping goods overseas. Here are some reasons to use air shipping:

Quicker: Air cargo moves much more quickly than sea cargo, so your goods will get to their destination much faster. Airplanes are approximately 30x times faster than ocean liners. Ocean liners move at roughly 16-18 mph. For example, air cargo cruises at 575 mph.

Reliability: Air Freight provides better tracking and greater visibility

Faster customs clearance: Customs officials are usually much quicker to clear air cargo than sea cargo.

Less chance of damage: Unlike sea freight shipments, which can be subject to rough seas and other weather conditions, air cargo is less likely to suffer damage in transit. As a result, air freight is a good option for fragile items.

Smaller loads accepted: Air carriers generally accept smaller shipments

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Air Cargo

Air freight transfers and transports goods via a charter or commercial air carrier. Such loads travel from passenger and commercial aviation gateways to anywhere airport in the world. So, whether on Fedex, Ups, DHL aircraft, a commercial flight, or a charter, we’ll find the best and most efficient way to fly it. Because it’s not the logo on the plane that matters most, it is the logo on the cargo. Air is roughly 15x more expensive than ocean freight, which makes a huge difference. However, air cargo cannot ship large items as you can on an ocean vessel.

So, whether on UPS aircraft, a commercial flight, or a charter, we’ll search for an efficient way to fly it. Because it’s not the logo on the plane that matters most—it’s the logo on the cargo.
Explore options for International or within North America.

How To Calculate Air Freight Rates

Are you looking to calculate air rates? Shipping rates are based on the weight and size of the shipment. In Air freight, weight is determined either by the gross physical weight or the dimensional weight. Whichever is greater. Depending on the size, specific oversize fees can be added to the shipping cost. These additional fees are flat, and some are based on size or length.

Air shipping prices and costs

Global importers and exporters use air cargo to transport their products worldwide. Ocean freight providers transport roughly 90% of all imports and exports. As one can imagine, standard air freight is significantly faster than ocean freight reducing China-US ocean freight shipping time from 20-30 days to only three days by air. Regarding air freight shipping, weight, and volume are vital factors. Air carriers will charge by the dimensional or actual weight, which is greater. To calculate the dimensional weight for air shipping, multiply the LxWxH, then divide by the standard Dim weight factor of 194. For Example, L:48, W: 48in, H: 60 in. 48x48x60 / 194 = 713 dimensional weight.

In cases when the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight of the product, the dimensional becomes the chargeable weight for the shipment. If you book freight on FreightCenter, it is done automatically.

Additional Air freight shipping fees

In addition to the cost of freight costs as discussed above, additional fees may apply when shipping door to door.

  • Security surcharges
  • Airport transfers
  • Fuel surcharges
  • Station/terminal handling charges


Depending on where your shipment is coming from or going to, the below fees may also apply:

  • Customs Brokerage
  • Pickup and delivery
  • Cargo insurance
  • Accessorial charge

Express Air Freight Providers

Typically speaking, express air shipments are usually smaller than standard air. Are usually done by big companies such as UPS, FedEx, or DHL. These providers manage the entire shipment lifecycle and ship door-to-door, usually in under 5 days. The largest cargo airplane that can hold an entire train is the Anatov 225.

Anatov 225 air freight cargo plane being loaded

How Much Does Air Freight Cost?

With our freight rate calculator, you will always have a market overview, ensuring you find the most favorable rates.  Air cargo rates change depending on the time of the year and the starting and destination countries, but for a popular route like China to the USA, expect to pay approximately $3-4 a pound. This means air cargo rates are around $6,000-8,000 a ton before discounts.

Comparing air freight forwarders

Checking various shipping rates from freight providers is not required. All our partners have long-term experience in their field. You can compare and book the best and best shipping rates on in a matter of minutes. Are international freight quotes and freight prices changing? International air freight usage grew slowly, showing less than 1% growth in 2015. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said air freight growth only hit 1.6% in 2019. This is down from roughly 5% back in 2015. Due to lengthy delays plaguing ocean freight, more importers and exporters moved to air cargo.

Since the pandemic in March 2020, air cargo rates have doubled. This is due to many reasons, including:

  • Constrained capacity
  • Limited passenger travel due to restrictions
  • Increased consumer demand
  • Other factors resulting from the pandemic

Covid-19 Effects On Air Freight

Pre-COVID-19, international air cargo shipping rates ranged from approximately $5.50-$12.00 per pound. This depends on the type of cargo and available space. Shipping costs significantly increased in February 2020 when COVID-19 began a period of severe disruptions. The disruptions affected ocean freight, and the consumer demand for shipping air increased; as a result, air cargo rates reached a range of $11.00-$21.00 per pound. As of early to mid 2023, rates have dropped to around $6.50-$14.00 per pound, which is still higher than pre-pandemic shipping rates. This is likely due to increased fuel and labor costs.

Finely-tailored air freight solutions

To create value for our customers by delivering customized shipping solutions that meet their unique needs and to fulfill shipping demands from simple to complex with expertise, guidance and ingenuity.

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When Is Ground Better Than Air Freight?

Here are some examples of when ground freight is better than air freight.

Shipping Cost: Air freight is costly compared to shipping by ocean freight. For example, a 2000 lb item from China, California, can cost $1,500 by the ocean and $7,500 by air. However, this difference may be lower with price changes due to supply chain disruptions.

CO2 emissions: Studies show air cargo gives off more emissions. As of March of 2023, Air Freight gives off roughly 40x the CO2 emissions compared to the ocean. Not the greenest way to ship.

Heavy shipments: Air freight is priced based on size and weight, which can quickly scale prices. Ocean shipping containers are better for shipping large, heavy items.

Expedited Air Shipping Quote

Get the Lowest Air Shipping Rates Available

We can help you through the complicated air freight process of pricing air freight rates and picking a carrier while arranging paperwork and the entire international air freight transaction. We will help coordinate your plan from pick up to delivery and stay committed to your air cargo. Faster transit times, competitive air freight rates pricing, and a vast network of carrier and service choices are some benefits you can expect when selecting us to handle your air shipping needs. We have well-established relationships with air cargo carriers and airlines for all major routes in most countries worldwide.

The Fastest International Shipping Option

Whether your global air freight needs to be serviced as expedited, consolidated, deferred, or another customized solution, our trained international freight experts will create the perfect plan for you. We have the fastest transit times available with our global express air service and can even arrange overnight delivery to certain countries. We excel at finding cost-effective solutions for our customers and getting your international air freight where and when needed.

Additional Air Freight Services:

Customs Clearance & Insurance, As customs clearance often turns out to be complicated, a specialist’s help is usually required. So that you can book this service quickly and cheaply, you will find the service of customs clearance, which you can easily add when booking your air freight transport on our platform. Despite all the precautions, as with every transport, damages can occur. But not only your goods have to be affected, to make you liable for it. We recommend covering air freight insurance to avoid an unpleasant surprise and additional charges.

You can cover it quickly and favorably on our website. The Best Service Choosing FreightCenter for your global air freight will ensure you receive the best rates and quality customer service. If you want to get started, contact a FreightCenter shipping expert at 800.716.7608.

What Goods Are Transported By Air?

Air cargo is costly. Air is often 5x the cost of 4–5 over-the-road transport and 12–16 times that of ocean or sea transport. As a consequence, air freight is typically high-value or time-sensitive items such as:

  • Samples and Documents: The Air remains the most cost-effective method of shipping documents.
  • Seasonal shipments: When there is a high demand for a product, and it is made overseas, it will generally be shipped by air.
  • Electronics. Steve Jobs is famously known for shipping the first iMac before the holiday season by purchasing the air freight capacity along key Asia-US routes.
  • Clothing & Apparel: typically applies to higher expensive or luxury items. Due to the short season, luxury clothing brands with season products often transport goods via air freight or cargo.
  • Medical supplies and Pharmaceuticals: Due to their value and small size, medical goods are frequently shipped by air.

Air Freight Competitive Advantages

Using air freight can create competitive advantages for any shipper. Retailers will often use the ocean for the initial large order of garments, electronics, and other goods manufacturers then use air freight to replenish inventories when demand requires.


Air freight can also introduce goods and products with shorter shelf life or deliver smaller volumes into new markets. Once the volumes increase and the market has been established, the manufacturer can reconstruct supply chains using a less costly mode of transport. Air freight is the only means of guaranteeing continuity for landlocked countries where exports require cold chains.

Shipping Product Samples

Air freight is vital in the shipment of product patterns, designs, and technical drawings. While this is not a significant source of air cargo, it is essential for manufacturers who export manufactured products. This includes product prototypes sent for the buyer’s approval before placing a large order.

Airports Holding Up The Shipment

An advantage of air freight is significantly reduced transit times over land. But getting the cargo to move quickly through an airport is critical. The four factors that affect how fast a shipment moves through an airport are:

  • Customs clearing
  • Inspection equipment
  • Warehousing
  • Cargo handling

Most cargo will move through the airport within a few hours. Customs procedures, inspection equipment, cargo handling services, and warehousing are essential.

Customs clearing

For imports, customs clearing and procedures are essential. The custom clearance requires the customs declaration and airway master bill, sent when the flight departs. In some countries, inbound freight can take up to a day or two to be cleared. In others, the procedures are adapted to air cargo requirements and conducted electronically. Electronically cleared shipments can happen within one or two hours.

Inspection equipment

The documents are filed for export when the cargo arrives at the destination airport. The inspection is done simultaneously so that the shipment can be loaded quickly. A 24-hour cooling period was added to the transit time, but this has been eliminated due to X-ray scanners. Full pallet scanners allow shippers to build their pallets off-airport and load them on the aircraft within a few hours.


Many warehousing and storage facilities at smaller and older airports are pretty simple. Most cargo only stays at airports for a short time. Generally, exports are time-sensitive, and imports are fast-moving and high-value products. Modern warehouses use loading docks to speed truck turnarounds and minimize vertical cargo movements. Export facilities have large areas for scanning, inspection, building palettes, and gathering cargo for specific flights. Separate import facilities have offices and inspection areas to facilitate customs clearance procedures and allow cargo segregation into truckloads. For perishable products, these warehouses have temperature-controlled rooms. This maintains the cold chain between the truck and the aircraft transporting the products.

Cargo handling

Cargo handlers at the airport should ensure the secure and efficient handling of the cargo. Contractors must provide the appropriate equipment for loading and unloading aircraft types.

In 3rd world countries, often there is only a single air freight provider, and they have a monopoly. Places such as this present a problem if the carrier is an inefficient state-owned. Private contractors maintain a monopoly in other airports, but performance is often regulated.

Air Freight FAQ

Q. What is air freight?


Air freight is a method of shipping goods using airplanes as the primary mode of transportation. It involves cargo transportation by air carriers, either in passenger aircraft with dedicated cargo holds or specialized freighter aircraft. Air freight is known for its speed and efficiency, making it ideal for time-sensitive or high-value shipments.

Q. What are the advantages of air freight?


Air freight offers several advantages, including:

Speed: Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation, allowing for quick delivery of goods, especially over long distances or internationally.

Reliability: Airlines have well-established schedules and routes, providing reliable and predictable transit times.

Global Reach: Air freight, with extensive networks and connections, allows easy access to virtually any destination worldwide.

Enhanced Security: Airports have stringent security measures, reducing the risk of theft or damage to cargo.

Reduced Packaging: Air freight often requires less extensive packaging than other transportation modes due to shorter transit times and reduced handling.

Q. How is air freight pricing determined?


Air freight pricing is typically based on several factors, including the weight, dimensions, and volume of the shipment, the distance traveled, the origin and destination, and any additional services required. Airfreight rates can be calculated based on chargeable weight (actual or volumetric weight, whichever is greater) and are influenced by market demand and fuel prices. It’s best to consult with air freight carriers or freight forwarders to obtain accurate pricing based on your specific shipment details.

Q. What are the size and weight limits for air freight shipments?


The size and weight limits for air freight shipments can vary depending on the aircraft type, airline regulations, and the capacity of the destination airport. However, most airlines can accommodate loads weighing up to several thousand kilograms (typically around 100 kg to 10,000 kg) and have restrictions on the maximum dimensions of individual packages. To ensure compliance, checking with the airline or freight forwarder for their specific size and weight limits is essential.

Q. Are there any restrictions on what can be shipped by air freight?


Yes, there are restrictions on what can be shipped by air freight due to safety and security regulations. Items such as hazardous materials, flammable substances, explosives, live animals, and perishable goods may have specific restrictions or require special handling procedures. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the regulations and conditions imposed by airlines and any applicable international rules to ensure compliance and safety when shipping goods by air.

Q. How can I track my air freight shipment?


Most air freight carriers provide tracking services that allow you to monitor the progress of your shipment. Upon booking, you will receive a tracking number or air waybill number that you can use to track the status of your shipment online or through the carrier’s tracking portal. This lets you stay updated on your air freight shipment’s location and estimated delivery time.

Q. Is insurance necessary for air freight shipments?


While insurance is not mandatory, protecting your goods during air freight transportation is highly recommended. Air freight shipments may encounter various risks, such as loss, damage, or theft, and having insurance coverage provides financial protection and peace of mind. It’s advisable to consult with your shipping provider or insurance company to explore insurance options and ensure that your air freight shipments are adequately protected.

Q. How far in advance should I book air freight shipments?


It’s recommended to book air freight shipments as far in advance as possible, especially for time-sensitive or peak-season shipments. This allows for ample planning, securing flight space, and ensuring all necessary documentation and requirements are in order. However, balancing advanced booking with flexibility is essential, as last-minute or urgent shipments may require expedited or on-demand air freight services.

Q. What are the customs procedures for air freight shipments?


Customs procedures for air freight shipments involve compliance with import and export regulations, documentation preparation, customs declarations, payment of duties and taxes (if applicable), and any necessary inspections or clearances. Working with customs brokers or freight forwarders experienced in air freight customs procedures is vital to ensure compliance and streamline the customs clearance process. Additionally, it’s advisable to research and understand the destination country’s customs regulations to ensure timely and smooth shipping.

Q. Can I ship oversized or heavy cargo by air freight?


Yes, shipping oversized or heavy cargo by air freight is possible. However, due to limitations on aircraft capacity and loading restrictions, specialized equipment and procedures may be required for handling such shipments. Working with air freight carriers or freight forwarders experienced in handling oversized or heavy cargo is essential to ensure proper planning, packaging, and transportation.

Q. Are there any specific packaging requirements for air freight shipments?


Yes, there are specific packaging requirements for air freight shipments to ensure the safety of the cargo during transportation. It’s essential to use sturdy and durable packaging materials that can withstand the rigors of air travel. Proper cushioning, such as bubble wrap or foam padding, should protect fragile items. Additionally, packages should be sealed securely and labeled clearly with the necessary shipping labels and handling instructions. Following these packaging guidelines helps minimize the risk of damage to the goods during air freight transportation.

Q. Can I ship perishable goods or temperature-sensitive items by air freight?


Perishable goods or temperature-sensitive items can be shipped by air freight. Air freight offers faster transit times compared to other modes of transportation, making it suitable for perishable goods that require timely delivery. To ensure the integrity of temperature-sensitive items, such as pharmaceuticals or food products, it’s essential to use appropriate insulated packaging and consider temperature-controlled shipping options. Additionally, it’s crucial to comply with any regulatory requirements and obtain the necessary permits or certifications for shipping perishable or temperature-sensitive items. Working with experienced air freight providers or freight forwarders specializing in handling such goods can help ensure proper handling and compliance with regulations.