Shipping products by air is a safe, fast, and reliable transportation method over long distances. Air shipments carry items worth $6 trillion annually, from pharmaceuticals and electronics to fresh flowers and fruits, mainly in two ways – air freight and air courier. However, most people confuse both with one another. Therefore, it is important to learn about air freight vs air courier differences to have a proper understanding of them.
Air courier is a common method used by popular shipment companies we know that offer door-to-door services at a pretty hefty price. Meanwhile, air freight transports large products managed by freight forwarders. But which one suits you the best? This is what we will cover in this article. We will discuss both these mediums in detail and cover everything you should know about them. So, let’s get started!
- What is Air Freight?
- How Does Air Freight Work?
- What is Air Courier?
- How Does Air Courier Work?
- Air Freight vs Air Courier: A Detailed Comparison
- Factors That Impact Shipping Choices – Air Freight vs Air Courier
- Which Service Is Right For You – Air Freight vs Air Courier?
- Tips To Use Air Cargo Smoothly
- Wrapping Up – Which One To Choose: Air Courier vs Air Cargo
- FAQs – Air Freight vs Air Courier
What is Air Freight?
Air freight is the transportation of goods by commercial passenger aircraft or dedicated planes. Here, the term freight refers to the amount paid for the shipment of goods, and air freight simply means the price of transporting products via air.
Air freight, also called air cargo, helps in shipping bulks of large goods on regular passenger planes, managed by a freight forwarder. From customs clearance and documentation to the packaging, the freight forwarders take care of the entire process.
With air freight, all your products are conveniently and cost-effectively delivered to the destination. You can send almost anything valuable from one location to the other, such as letters, parcels, construction materials, special equipment, etc.
How Does Air Freight Work?
Air freight usually transports your goods on normal passenger flights. In the case of heavy and large-sized materials, dedicated or exclusive cargo service planes are used. Airlines not only use their cargo areas to carry passenger luggage but also keep commercial packages.
You cannot directly contact the airlines to reserve the space for your shipments since the booking is done by the freight forwarders. So you must contact a reliable freight forwarder to handle this process for you.
Freight forwarders do not own the aircraft. Rather, they act like intermediary service providers who negotiate with the airline, process the documentation, provide delivery services, and manage everything in between. They collect and bundle the shipments before handing them over to the airline. Also, they ensure proper packaging and labeling of the goods to prevent any loss or damage during the transit.
The air freight parcels are then divided into two categories: general cargo and special cargo. All ordinary-use products, such as household items, clothing, and footwear, are dispatched under the general cargo label. In contrast, shipments that require special care and handling are sent as special cargo.
After screening and sorting, these items are loaded into the airplane. When the goods reach the destination airport, they are unloaded and screened and then dispatched for delivery. The recipient can either pick up the package from the airport or pay an extra amount to get it delivered to the doorstep.
What is Air Courier?
Air courier is the popular shipping method for delivering small-sized or time-sensitive items from one place to another quickly. Several well-known companies offer doorstep courier services, like FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc., but at high costs.
Air courier is an express transportation service for sending important documents and small parcels. This courier service helps transport perishable items or goods that need urgent delivery. Interestingly, both the sender and the recipient can track the shipment status in real time.
How Does Air Courier Work?
Air courier companies transport goods quickly and conveniently. With air courier services, you receive doorstep delivery.
To send a parcel via air courier, you first need to shortlist and contact the courier company. Complete the documentation, including the invoice generated by the courier service with all the details of the shipment.
After the paperwork is done, you can pack your parcels and mark proper labels. Complying with the terms and regulations of the service provider is essential when packing these items. Make sure you don’t transport prohibited or heavy goods. In case you are sending products like electronic appliances or hazardous materials, you must prepare special documentation.
The courier companies dispatch parcels at the airport, where they are screened and kept in the airplanes. After reaching the destination airport and passing the scans, the courier company representatives pick up the parcels and deliver them to the provided address.
Air Freight vs Air Courier: A Detailed Comparison
Air courier vs air cargo is a popular debate among people using these terms interchangeably. From the definitions, it is clear that the two serve different purposes. Therefore, it is important to understand these transportation methods.
Differences between the Transportation Methods – Air Courier vs Air Freight
Here is the comparison of key aspects of air freight vs air courier services:
Items can take longer to reach the destination (may take one to five days)
Items are delivered faster (mostly within a day or two)
Charges extra amount for doorstep delivery
No additional charges for delivery
It is cheap
It is expensive
Ideal for heavy-weight or bulk goods
Ideal for transporting lightweight and small items
Freight forwarders manage the process
Courier services handle the shipment
Trustworthy service since heavy-weight goods are transported via dedicated chartered planes that don’t get delayed normally
Less reliable method as the flights can get delayed
Finding freight forwarders can be a hassle
Many popular courier companies offer air courier services
It may incur hidden costs
It has no hidden costs
The above comparison clearly highlights the differences between the two methods. Air freight is more pocket-friendly and flexible, offering cheaper service. In contrast, air couriers are expensive, providing quick doorstep deliveries for urgent shipments.
Air couriers can only transport lightweight items, whereas air freight works for heavyweight shipments from one place to another. Therefore, both shipping methods tend to serve different customer needs.
Factors That Impact Shipping Choices – Air Freight vs Air Courier
Like most delivery methods, air shipping is influenced by several different factors. Understanding these factors can help you make better choices. Some of the factors affecting shipment choices are:
1. Distance and Delivery Time
Distance between the two locations is the main factor that affects the shipping rate. The farther away the destination, the higher the cost of shipment. Also, transit time and routes affect your delivery time.
2. Shipment Expense
Shipping cost is the most important factor that influences the decision. Typically, standard shipment rates are calculated by considering the size and weight of the parcel and the destination distance.
3. Size and Weight
The size and weight of a product tell how much space and strength would be needed for transportation. Also, it determines the cost to ship the items. A small-sized and lightweight item can fit easily in the aircraft; hence, they are cheaper to transport. Whereas large and heavy goods take up more space and cost more.
4. Time of the Year
Time of the year also impacts your shipments. If it’s a holiday season with jam-packed flight schedules and many last-minute orders, your shipments might get delayed, such as during the Christmas season or other festive occasions.
Which Service Is Right For You – Air Freight vs Air Courier?
Deciding the shipment method purely depends on your personal requirements and conditions. You need to consider many different parameters while choosing a delivery service, such as the type of goods, urgency of delivery, budget, etc.
If you need an urgent delivery for important documents or time-sensitive products, air courier will be the best option since it offers super fast delivery at the destination. Your goods are delivered within a few hours or overnight. In contrast, air freight shipments take longer to reach the destination.
You can consider air freight when you have budget constraints and no strict deadlines, as it provides cheaper services than air courier. Additionally, air freight can help you transport large or heavy shipments via charter planes. You can also select the type of packaging for your goods.
Air freight offers airport-to-airport delivery of goods, where you can either pick up the shipment yourself or pay an extra amount to receive it at the doorstep. In case you want a door-to-door delivery service for time-sensitive products, go for an air courier.
Tips To Use Air Cargo Smoothly
If you are planning to send a shipment via air freight, you must take certain measures for smooth and safe delivery at the destination. Some of the practices you should do are:
1. Pack Properly
First things first, pack your goods properly using fresh and strong packaging. Reusing old or disfigured card boxes can damage your products.
2. Mark Appropriate Labels
Make sure you add labels on the packaging, including the face of the box and the adjoining sides. Mention the name, address, and contact number of the package recipient clearly on the box.
3. Attach Invoice
Always attach invoices with the packaging to avoid delays or prevent any loss, particularly in international shipments.
4. Avoid Overstuffing
Don’t add extra items to the box than its capacity, as overloading can make it hard to seal the box properly.
Wrapping Up – Which One To Choose: Air Courier vs Air Cargo
Air courier services are popular for carrying shipments worldwide. On the other hand, air freight is still a strange service for many. Both these methods transport your goods from one place to the other by air. However, deciding on air freight vs air cargo depends on several factors, like urgency, budget, nature of the shipment, etc.
If there is a time-sensitive or urgent delivery, an air courier can deliver it to the destination address faster than air freight. However, it is expensive and works for only lightweight goods. On the other hand, air freight helps you efficiently transport bulks of large-sized products at cheaper rates. Therefore, choose a reliable service provider considering your needs to ensure a smooth shipment journey.
FAQs – Air Freight vs Air Courier
Q1. Which service works well for bulk shipments?
Air freight or air cargo works best for bulk shipments, heavyweight, and large-sized goods. It can carry manufacturing materials, vehicles, pets, and similar others safely from one place to another at a cheap rate.
Q2. Which service provides faster shipments?
Air courier offers fast shipments and even overnight delivery in some cases. Mostly, recipients get their parcels delivered to their doorsteps within a few hours. However, air couriers cost more than the other shipping options.
Q3. Can I track my air freight shipment?
Yes, you can track most of your air freight orders, as many freight forwarders offer shipment tracking options. Using this service, you can easily track the status of your package in real time. You only need a tracking number to monitor your parcel using online platforms.