In January of this year, over 2.2 million revenue tons of air cargo moved across the United States. Air cargo is used most often when time is of the essence.
Because this form of shipping tends to be more expensive and more complicated, you need to know how the process works. You have more options than merely quoting with a well known national air courier.
We’ve created a guide to help you get the best rate for your next air freight shipment. Let’s get started!
Preparing Your Shipment
Before you can start getting quotes, you need to have your shipment packaged and ready. Freight carriers will want your shipment to be on a pallet. This allows them to easily move the shipment to and from the truck and plane.
Place your items on the pallet. Walk around the pallet and make sure no part of your items hang over the edge of the pallet. If it does, fix it.
The carrier will not accept your shipment if you do not do this. These overhangs will get damaged when they load multiple pallets next to each other.
Secure the Items
If you have an oddly shaped item, strap it down to the pallet using ratchet straps. If you have stacked your pallet with boxes, you can use plastic wrap to secure everything. Though we still suggest you use straps here too.
Remember, you need to secure it so that any rough movement won’t affect it. If you think it might be good enough, make it more secure.
Measure the Dimensions
Measure from the highest point of the item to the bottom of the pallet. Then measure the width and length of the pallet. This should give you the total dimensions of the entire shipment.
If you have multiple pallets of the same thing, you will want to account for each one.
Do not guess on this. If your guess is too low the carrier will find out and charge you more. If your guess is too high, you are overpaying for your shipment.
Don’t forget to add the weight of the pallet into your total. Wood pallets can weigh anywhere from 30 to 70 pounds depending on their size and the type of wood used. Plastic pallets can weigh 15 to 30 pounds.
The easiest way to know for sure is to weigh the finished packaged shipment. Most of us don’t have a scale that big though. You can ask the manufacturer for the finished production weight of the item. Of you can weigh one box and multiply it by how many boxes are on the pallet.
Find Your MNFC Number
Now that you have your dimensions and weight you can calculate the density of your shipment. The density will tell you what freight class your shipment belongs in. This is how carriers charge for shipments.
If this sounds like too much math, there is good news. You can use an online calculator to determine your freight class for you. What is great about these calculators is that they will give you an analysis of your shipment.
You may find that if you slightly adjust the height or weight, you can get your item into a different freight class.
You can start shopping around for air freight quotes now. You need to decide who you want to get quotes from.
These are the large national carriers with shipping lanes across the major distribution channels in the United States. Typically they are going to give you the best rate as long as you stay within their channels.
These are the smaller carriers that tend to specialize in a particular region. If you are looking to ship there, this is a great way to go. Because they specialize in an area, their resources are more focused.
They can beat out the national carrier on rates for their geographic coverage area. Hiring this type of air freight service is ideal because they know the area and have extensive experience in air freight deliveries.
Air freight is a bit more complicated than truck freight. You will need to arrange transportation for your shipment from your facility to the airport, then the flight, then transportation from the destination airport to the final destination.
You can do this yourself through a courier service. Look for a shipping service that specializes in your area to the best rates.
The other option is to hire a freight broker to do all of the work for you. The benefit is that you don’t have to do anything and you can take advantage of their pre-negotiated rates. The downside you are limited to only working with the carriers that the broker has relationships with.
What You Need to Quote
To get an accurate quote for your shipment, there is a list of information you will need to provide.
- Package width
- Package height
- Package length
- Distance from the origin airport
- Distance from the destination airport
- Type of service you want
- If you want insurance
Getting insurance may seem like an unnecessary waste of money. It isn’t if anything happens to your shipment during transport; the insurance will cover it. That way you are not out the value of the item you shipped.
Bill of Lading
You will know you have successfully completed your shipment quote and booking when the carrier sends you a BOL. This is a vital piece of paperwork that outlines the critical details of your shipment.
The driver will not pick up your shipment without this paper.
Quote and Book with a National Air Courier
You are now ready to ship with a national air courier. When you ship air freight you need to make sure you package your pallet so it can withstand a lot of jostling and bumping.
Remember your shipment is going from the truck to the cargo hold and back to a truck. That is a lot of moving around.
Have the accurate information for your shipment so you can get the best rates. Then choose the carrier you feel most comfortable with.
Get a quote today and let us help you get your shipment moving by air freight.