How to choose between Air / sea freight

With the help of globalization, the world is growing at a more incredible speed. Globalization helps countries connect, resulting in increased trade and transportation of products across the globe. Goods of all sorts are delivered to almost every place on earth from landlocked countries to the other sides of oceans. You must have heard air freight and sea freight.

Acturally, there are four main ways to ship goods:

  • Express transportation
  • Sea transportation
  • Air transportation
  • Train transportation

The cost and the time of each way are different. You can choose the method of transportation based on the weight of your goods. And here are our brief findings for you so that you can make the best decision regarding your shipment in the given circumstances.

 If your time is urgent, you can choose international Express, such asUPS, DHL or FedEX. But the cost of transportation is terribly high. Train transportation is only available to shipping goods from China to Europe.

The two cost-effective services have become a burning dilemma for all those in need of this type of services. While both solutions come with a set of advantages and disadvantages, the final choice will depend on a variety of factors.


Undeniably, cost is the decisive factor.

The amount of financial means necessary to afford air freight services is considerably higher than that of sea freight due to quick and efficient deliveries. On the other hand, sea freight is much more affordable. And consequently, the number one choice of a vast majority of clients. Opting for sea freight provides clients with acceptable service but at a significantly lower price. In contrast with other cargo rates, it is more moderate and incredibly more practical for bulkier payload. Depending on how much you are willing to pay (especially considering urgency), you may find yourself more than willing to pay extra for air freight to ensure your stock arrives within a short time frame. On the other hand, if you have allowed for a long lead time sea freight is much more cost efficient.


Your cargo’s urgency is the principal factor to consider in deciding between air freight and sea freight. Most often, clients want their shipment delivered as soon as possible.

pexels andrea piacquadio 3769138

Air freight commonly can take up to as long as ten days including holding hours at air terminals, routing and waiting for the accessible airplanes. And the time of procedures at the place of origin and the destination. Even if it involves a few transshipments, an air freight shipment will arrive at the destination way ahead of sea freight shipment.

Sea freight relies upon distance. The duration may range from seven days to 70 days.  However, we must admit that a giant step forward is evident in this field. Firstly, high-quality, modern ships are much faster now than it was the case in the past. Secondly, there are some canal upgrades that can eliminate tedious and tiring delays on some routes. Finally, sea freight forwarders can guarantee delivery times. Many customers are able to plan their shipments on sea freight and still ensure just-in-time deliveries, which is vital for business owners when it comes to organization.


Understandably, the safety of cargo is always the top priority.

Air cargo involves minimal handling, which means there is a minimal risk of cargo getting damaged and a higher chance of reaching its destination safely. Meanwhile, it is important to emphasize that air cargo has to be dealt with the utmost attention and in accordance with the regulations which are very strict and clear. All the crucial elements, including handling and securing your cargo as well as the proper storage, are defined by airport regulations. This is a great benefit and a guarantee that the safety of your goods will be at the maximal level.

On the other hand, we cannot say that sea freight is a bad alternative either. In this case, the goods are transported in containers, but the human factor is crucial. If the cargo inside the container is not packed properly, there is a big possibility of cargo damage, which may even result in or be the cause of catastrophic damages including ships catching on fire, sinking or piracy. Proper packing strategies are essential in order to decrease any chances of potential damage during transport.


According to the analysis, airfreight is a more favorable option by all means. As air freight volumes are considerably smaller and handled quicker due to the clear procedures, there may not be congestion at the airports as compared to the long queues at the sea ports.

The accessibility to markets is much higher in case of sea freight because when unloaded from ships, containers can move further inland by using the services of intermodal shippers. Using sea freight for your cargo often results in additional costs due to periods of severe congestion in sea ports. If your goods are not delivered at the arranged time, you are required to pay for detention and demurrage costs, which may be a heavy burden on your budget.  

Type of cargo

The type of cargo is one of the most important factors influencing the choice.

In this case, we must admit that sea freight seems like a much better solution since it has no limitations you have to be aware of. One of the crucial pros of the maritime shipping is that you can ship even the bulkiest and extremely heavy goods. Apart from the traditional parcel or box freight, sea freight is also used to transport heavy equipment, cranes, project cargoes, etc.

sea freight cago

Conversely, air freight is limited in the type of cargoes it can carry due to capacity, weight and safety factors. Before you opt for this type of goods transportation, it is advisable to make sure that the type of your cargo is acceptable. In addition, there is a very long list of the items which are prohibited and those listed as hazardous materials. Depending on your final destination, the rules and laws may differ. Yet, getting sufficient information on the subject must still be the first step in the process.


The choice depends on your needs and requirements. Requirements influence customer’s decision regarding the mode of transport to be used. But essentially, it comes down to the nature of the freight. The time frame and how much the shipper is willing and able to spend. It has been observed that sea cargo is very much more affordable than air freight. Just like air freight is the quickest way possible, ocean freight is the cheapest way of transporting goods.  A serious effort is required to negotiate the best shipping terms. And only then can you expect to ship your goods completely fuss-free. If you need any help with this, please contact ForwarderOne. We will make sure that your goods get to the destination when they are supposed to.

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