Just like any business decision, costs are a consideration when you choose how to ship your goods. Although air freight offers a few advantages over ocean freight—such as faster shipping times, reliable delivery dates and less handling for high-value goods—it sometimes falls to the bottom of the list because of its cost. 

However, air freight is a flexible mode of transportation that can be customized to fit your needs. For example, if you look at air freight consolidations, you may find that the benefits push it to the top.

Here’s how it works: If you decide to air freight your goods, you’ll be offered four options: 1) express, 2) standard, 3) deferred and 4) what the industry calls a consol,” or consolidated air freight.

If you choose air freight consolidations, you’ll get access to three distinct advantages:

Advantage #1: The Lowest Cost Available for Air Freight

Consolidated air freight offers you the opportunity to bundle your shipment with several others to create a full load.

In other words, you’re essentially working in cooperation with shippers like you to split a large load, which lowers the costs for everyone within the consol. You might think of it like partnering with your neighbor to split a bulk pack of 48 rolls of paper towels, rather than purchasing them individually.

Thanks to this arrangement, consolidated air freight becomes a much more cost-effective option for moving your goods via plane.

Additionally, because you’re choosing air freight, you’ll see additional cost advantages in comparison to ocean freight.

Advantage #2: Lower Fees on the Receiving End

Many businesses try to save money by having goods sent in less-than-container (LCL) loads via ocean freight. The initial quote for this service is likely lower than quotes for shipping via consolidated air freight.

However, keep in mind that the fees on the receiving end for ocean freight vs. air freight are quite different.

Air freight is subject to a flat $20 handling fee.

Ocean freight, on the other hand, comes with extra charges at the port. These charges are usually not included in your LCL shipment quote. For example, once your shipment arrives, the container has to be received, it has to be stripped and, if it’s coming from an international destination, it has to clear customs. Additionally, many ports have minimum charges that apply no matter the size of your load.

These charges can add up quickly.

If you do the math, you may find that shipping those same goods via consolidated air freight would be about the same cost.

Plus, you’ll get your goods to their destination on a much faster, more reliable timeline.

Advantage #3: More Flexible Schedule

Relying on LCL ocean transport requires much more lead time than using air freight consolidations. Drayage to and from the port, transit over the ocean, and loading containers on and off vessels can add days (if not weeks!) to the time it takes your shipment to reach its destination. If you are looking for more flexibility on when you ship, air freight consols could be the answer to your supply chain dreams.

Plus, when it comes to ocean freight, you’re entirely reliant on the vessel’s sailing schedule. If you’re shipping to a remote destination like Guam, you may have to wait a week or two before you can even get your container on a ship.

So if time is a factor, consolidated air freight can get your goods where they need to go, at a price that won’t break your budget.

Interested in shipping via air freight consolidation? Talk with our experts to see how you can save

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