Despite the shipment mostly involving trucks and trailers, it is a known fact that specific shipments may also include commercial airlines. Many airlines have begun collaborating with the shipping companies to compete with other vehicles and try their luck in making capital with freight shipping. So far, their efforts have paid off successfully.

Many airlines have become the primary vehicular choice for shippers but not more than commercial freight shipping. We will elaborate on the reason later in the article, but first, we must address what shipping freight on commercial airlines is.

Shipping freight on commercial airlines is a common practice in the transportation industry. It involves transporting goods on passenger planes that have steadfast cargo holds. The process of shipping freight on commercial airlines involves several steps, including packaging, labeling, and documentation.



The freight commercial airline process


  • First, the freight must be adequately packaged to ensure it can withstand the rigors of air transportation. This may involve using specialized packaging materials, such as crates or pallets, and securing the shipment with straps or shrink wrap.
  • Next, the freight must be labeled with the appropriate information, including the shipper and receiver’s names and addresses, the weight and dimensions of the shipment, and any special handling instructions.
  • Finally, the shipment must be accompanied by the necessary documentation, such as a bill of lading or air waybill, which details the shipment’s origin, destination, and contents.
  • Once the freight is ready for transport, it is loaded onto the cargo hold of a passenger plane. The cargo hold is designed to keep the freight secure during flight and protect it from damage.


Shipping Freight on Commercial Airlines


Types of shipment transported by airlines

According to the IATA (International Air Transport Association), as of July 2022, air cargo is tracking at levels close to 2019 while having retreated from extraordinary success in 2020–2021. Since April, unpredictable supply chain issues and economic conditions have caused the cargo markets to change dramatically. According to July’s data, air freight is still holding its own, but as is the case for practically other businesses, we must closely monitor upcoming political and economic changes.

Over US $6 trillion worth of goods are transported via air cargo annually, making up about 35% of global trade in value; during the COVID-19 pandemic, air cargo accounted for one-third of airline revenue.

The cost of the goods and the required speed of delivery are the two critical criteria that determine whether things are delivered by air. Usually, essential items like radio pharmaceuticals for medical treatment or expensive products like advanced items and commodities are sent via air freight. Food products, like fresh fish, exotic fruits, and cut flowers, are best transported by air.

Shipping freight on commercial airlines can be a cost-effective and efficient way to transport goods, especially for smaller or time-sensitive shipments. However, it is vital to work with a reputable logistics provider and ensure that all necessary regulations and requirements are met to avoid delays or other issues.


Shipping restrictions for risky commodities

While many unsafe products can only be transported on shipments-only aircraft and others can be shipped on cargo and passenger aircraft, some dangerous goods are too harmful to air transport except under particular budgets by the civil aviation authority. No matter which aircraft is employed for carrying dangerous items, specific guidelines must be adhered to.

Any substance that is likely to explode, hazardously react, create fire, or facilitate a risky increase in temperature is forbidden to be carried on an airline. Objects that can potentially release toxic, damaging, or explosive gases or smoke under conditions typically encountered in transport cannot be carried on aircraft under any conditions. The IATA has explicitly clarified that such items are never acceptable when shipping goods.


Shipping Freight on Commercial Airlines


Benefits of shipping freight on commercial airlines

Shipping freight on commercial airlines has several benefits. Firstly, it offers exclusive delivery speed, allowing freight to arrive the next day in another part of the world.

The most compelling benefit of air shipping is its speed. Only air freight transportation can deliver your cargo the next day to another location if you need it there. Air freight offers package safety, broad service regions, and few disruptions in addition to its superior delivery speed.

Several airlines offer service to numerous areas for air cargo. There are both domestic and foreign destinations. Air shipping doesn’t have a distance limitation because planes can fly everywhere.

Additionally, air shipping provides shipment safety, large service areas, and fewer disruptions, making it a reliable shipping form. Another benefit of air shipping is that you can use it for domestic and international deliveries. You can use it for same-day or deferred deliveries, although it will impact the rates. Finally, recent reports indicate that due to the pandemic, passenger planes are being used to haul cargo, allowing cargo to arrive at its intended destination much quicker than freighter aircraft with multiple stops.

While shipping freight on commercial airlines has many benefits, they have their fair share of shortcomings. Commercial airlines are costly in comparison to other shipping vehicles. This is due to the modern technology and accelerated deliveries airlines offer. Then there is the issue of weather conditions considering that other vehicles do not have to be constrained by sudden weather changes. Any storm or rain prediction can restrict the airline’s ability to operate, and you may not receive your shipment on time.

Ultimately, shipping freight on commercial airlines is a fantastic investment if you are in the business industry. The only catch is that you must develop a solid budget to facilitate your business prospects. Other than that, you will propel yourself to a great future through airline shipment. Commercial freight shipping, in general, is indeed suitable for your endeavors regardless, but airlines are a commodity that offers special privileges and security.


Frequently asked questions


What types of items can be shipped as air cargo?

Almost any item can be shipped as air cargo, provided they meet specific size, weight, and packaging requirements. Standard items include electronics, clothing, perishable goods, and industrial equipment.

How is air cargo pricing determined?

Air cargo pricing is based on several factors, including the weight and volume of the shipment, the distance it will travel, and any additional services required, such as insurance or special handling.

How long does it take to ship freight via air cargo?

The exact transit time will depend on several factors, including the source and destination of the shipment, the airline carrier, and any potential delays due to weather or other factors. However, air cargo is generally faster than other modes of transportation, with most shipments arriving within 1-5 days.

What regulations apply to shipping freight via air cargo?

Air cargo is subject to numerous regulations and requirements, including packaging, labeling, and documentation. Moreover, certain items, such as hazardous materials or live animals, may be subject to extra regulations.

What should I look for in a logistics provider for air cargo shipping?

When choosing a logistics provider for air cargo shipping, it is essential to look for a company with experience, a strong safety record, and a comprehensive idea of the regulations and necessities for air cargo shipments. Furthermore, consider factors such as pricing, customer service, and the provider's ability to offer additional services such as customs clearance or insurance.