When time is tight, air freight is the right choice to get your items to an isolated archipelago like Hawaii. Air freight can arrive in Hawaii in as little as a few days—or faster, depending on how much you’re willing to pay.
In contrast, the ships carrying ocean freight can take anywhere from five to nine days to transit from California to Hawaii. Plus, you’ll need to add additional days on either end for the ship to get loaded and unloaded.
Bottom line: When your timelines are critical, go with air freight.
Air Freight Advantage #2: Minimal Handling
When you move items to Hawaii via ocean freight, they’re subject to all kinds of forces along the way. This includes the loading and unloading of the container, plus the impact of the wind and waves on the steamship as it crosses the Pacific Ocean. (That’s why it’s so important to package your ocean freight correctly!)
Despite all the care that goes into your shipment, sometimes goods that travel via ocean freight arrive with an occasional bump or bruise.
In contrast, air freight shipments are subject to minimal handling. As a result, air freight usually arrives in impeccable shape.
To offer one example, did you happen to notice the handbags, wallets, and jewelry listed among the most popular air freight commodities above? Luxury retailers rely on air cargo to move their most expensive items so they arrive in perfect condition.
Advantage #3: Fewer Handling Charges (or None at All!)
If you’re familiar with ocean freight, you also might be familiar with all the line items on an ocean freight invoice—terminal handling charges, drayage charges, wharfage charges, and more. All of these little items can really add up.
In contrast, air freight shipments are generally subject to fewer “extra” charges. Some companies may add on documentation, handling, or other miscellaneous fees to handle an air freight shipment. However, Approved Freight Forwarders doesn’t charge any additional fees for air freight shipments. We only charge for the freight itself.
This can make it a lot easier to understand your all-in cost for moving items to Hawaii—and it can make air freight a more budget-friendly choice.
5 Must-Knows About Hawaii Air Freight
Now that you understand why you might choose air freight for a Hawaii shipment, let’s talk about a few must-knows so you can execute that shipment with ease.
Must-Know #1: You’ll Have Some Choices to Make
Air freight comes in a number of different service levels, each with their own speed and pricing. As you might guess, the faster your shipment moves, the more expensive it will be. (Generally!)
Below, you’ll find a list of available air freight service levels, so you can get a sense of what’s available:
- Air Charter – The top level of air freight service in which you hire an entire airplane for your exclusive use.
- Part Charter – A high-priority service in which you move your cargo on an already-scheduled charter flight.
- First Flight Out – Secures a spot for your cargo on the next available flight(s) between two points.
- Express – Your cargo moves on the first available flight with the quickest transit time.
- Standard – General, all-around air freight service.
- Deferred – A lower-cost service that moves your items on flights more convenient for the airline. Comes with cheaper rates but longer transit times.
- Consolidated – The lowest-cost air freight service. For a consolidated shipment, a freight forwarder accumulates freight headed for a common destination and ships it either on a set schedule or once the freight reaches a certain weight/volume.
Not sure which service level is right for you? Talk to your forwarder about your goals and budget, and they’ll match you with the right air freight service.
Air Freight Consolidations: A Budget-Friendly Option
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As we mentioned above, air freight consolidations (also called consols) are your most budget-friendly option for Hawaii air cargo. Like a less-than-container (LCL) ocean freight solution, your shipment “shares” space in a larger shipment, and all the shippers in the consolidation essentially split the cost.
For certain types of shipments, consolidated air freight can make financial sense—and it will often get your goods to Hawaii faster than ocean freight. To learn more, get a quote from our Hawaii air cargo experts.
Must Know #2: Not All Providers Offer Pickups & Deliveries in Hawaii
Some air freight providers solely deal with airport-to-airport cargo shipments and don’t offer door-to-door service. Other providers may do pick-up and delivery on the U.S. mainland, but not in Hawaii. Still others may offer service to certain areas of Hawaii and not others.
For maximum flexibility, look for a one-stop provider who can offer door-to-door services on both ends. You might not need pickup and delivery services immediately. However, there may come a day when you need help getting a shipment to or from the airport. If your provider offers door-to-door service, even in Hawaii, you’ll save yourself a ton of hassle.
Must-Know #3: Seek Out Multi-Modal Capabilities
Along similar lines, consider choosing a provider that can handle both Hawaii ocean freight and air freight. These capabilities will give you more options and more flexibility, both in terms of cost and speed.
For example, let’s say you run a retail business in Honolulu, and you’ve run out of an item that a customer needs urgently. However, you only need a few pieces to get you through until your next big restock arrives.
If you’re working with a provider who arranges both air freight and ocean freight, they can solve this problem in a single phone call. For example, a freight forwarder could move the pieces your customer needs via air freight. Then, your forwarder could follow up with a (lower-cost) ocean freight shipment to get your stock back up to normal levels.
This solution will solve your immediate needs, while saving you some money along the way. And rather than having to coordinate with multiple carriers, the right forwarder could handle the whole thing for you—adding significant ease to your Hawaii cargo flow.
Must-Know #4: Be Aware of Hawaii Import Restrictions
Because of Hawaii’s isolated position in the Pacific Ocean, the islands have a unique ecosystem, with many of species of flora and fauna you won’t find anywhere else. To protect this delicate ecosystem, the state has requirements in place for the import of fish, wildlife, and agricultural products.
If you’re shipping products that fall into these general categories, mention it up front to your forwarder or carrier. They can run you through any restrictions or procedures that apply to your individual situation.
Must-Know #5: Some Items Can’t Go Via Air Freight
Finally, you should also be aware that some items simply aren’t suited for air freight. This includes: