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Most Common Freight Modes

January 19, 2022 by FreightCenter
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What are the most common freight modes? And what is a freight mode?! Freight modes are simply the different freight shipping transportation options available to you. Figuring out what type of freight transportation method is best for your shipment doesn’t have to make your head spin. Find out what the most common freight modes are and when you might choose them for your shipping needs.

Most Common Freight Modes


If you run a small to medium-sized business, chances are that you will use the less-than-truckload (LTL) freight mode often. It’s one of the most popular ways to ship because of its cost-effectiveness and efficiency. In LTL, your shipment shares trailer space with other shippers’ cargo, making LTL like a ride share for freight. You’re only charged for the space your freight takes in the trailer and for the LTL freight rate of the cargo you’re shipping.

Because your cargo shares space with other shippers’ freight, there’s more frequent loading and unloading during transit.

You should choose the LTL freight mode if:

  • Your packaged cargo weighs more than 150lbs but less than 10,000lbs.
  • Your shipment doesn’t require the full trailer space.
  • You’re shipping between 1-6 palletized or crated freight cargo.
  • You want to save money on shipping rates.
Get an LTL or FT Shipping Quote

Full Truckload

For cargo that requires the full trailer space, has special equipment needs, requires temperature control or is oversized or very heavy, you will likely want to choose the full truckload freight mode. While full truckload shipping is not the least expensive shipping option, it requires no truck transfers like LTL shipping sometimes does. It’s also a faster shipping method because there are no stops during transit.

You might choose the full truckload freight mode if:

  • Your freight shipment exceeds likely 10,000 pounds, depending on the commodity being shipped. In fact, your shipment could weigh more than 42,000lbs.
  • You’re shipping 26-30 pallets.
  • Your cargo or commodities are unpackaged, such as produce.
  • Your cargo requires refrigeration, climate control, flatbeds or other special accommodation or equipment for oversize or overweight shipments.

Partial Truckload

When you choose partial truckload shipping, you’re essentially getting a blend of LTL and full truckload shipping. In the partial truckload freight mode, you get dedicated truck that moves fewer loads at one time and handles all types of commodities. These include refrigerated items, temperature-controlled cargo, hazardous materials and certain overweight or oversized goods. 

You might choose the partial truckload freight mode if:

  • You’re shipping between 6-18 pallets.
  • Your shipments weigh between 8,000 to 27,000 lbs.
  • You need the faster delivery times of full truckload shipping with the competitive LTL freight rates.

Air Freight

While most shippers think trucks when it comes to freight shipping, there are other freight modes that might benefit you, too. In fact, cargo airlines or air freight carriers are specifically dedicated to handling the transport of cargo by air. Air freight usually has a higher density, and as you know, the denser the better when it comes to freight rates and the amount of space your freight takes up. Plus, air freight has fast transit times and can be a cost-effective solution for your freight.

You might choose air freight if:

  • Your packaged cargo weighs more than 100 pounds.
  • Your shipment is time-sensitive or requires fast transit time.
  • You’re shipping internationally.
Get a Freight Shipping Quote

Intermodal Rail Freight

Have something to ship but looking for a greener way to ship it? Intermodal rail freight could be the solution you need. Commonly, intermodal rail freight is used to ship very bulky items, like construction equipment or hazardous materials. Because it can be costly to ship very heavy items by truck, shipping via intermodal rail freight can save you time and money. With railroad systems throughout the United States and Canada, rail freight carriers can get your cargo delivered to most places in North America.

Keep in mind that intermodal rail freight will need a truck to get the shipment from the rail hub to the final destination. However, the majority of the shipping is done by rail, making it a greener option because an intermodal train can move one ton of freight over 400 miles on just a gallon of fuel. 

You might choose intermodal rail freight if:

  • You’re shipping very large, bulky items, such as construction machinery or materials.
  • You’re shipping certain hazardous materials.
  • You want a greener shipping option for your long distance or heavy machinery shipping needs.

International Shipping

Shipping your freight across borders or internationally is made much easier with international shipping. If you’re shipping containers across the globe, you will probably use international shipping as part of your shipping strategy. There are different types of shipping loads for container shipping, which is separated by full-container loads (FCL) and less-than-container loads (LCL). However, you don’t have to ship a container to utilize this freight mode. You can also ship smaller, densely packed cargo. You may use ocean freight, rail freight, air freight or a combination of these in order to ship your cargo internationally.

Let a 3PL Help You Decide on the Right Freight Mode

A third-party logistics provider (3PL) like FreightCenter can help you decide on the right freight mode for your shipment. Your business isn’t one size fits all and neither should your shipping solutions. You may need LTL shipping for certain shipments, full-truckload for others and maybe air freight sprinkled in, too. No matter what, FreightCenter has the logistics expertise to help you find the shipping solutions to make your business thrive.

With the basic knowledge of the most common freight modes in your back pocket, you’re ready to get shipping! Find the freight transportation mode that fits your shipping strategy and get your free online quote or give us a call at 8007167608 today!

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