How to choose between Sea or Air Freight Forwarding

Whether you’ve just started your first business or have years of experience, selecting the right type of freight forwarding for your company can be a stressful process. While it’s easy to think in black and white when reviewing between sea or air freight, it’s important to us at Personalised Freight Solutions that every business has the right information to make the best decision for them – especially, in logistics where changes can occur instantly  and have a significant impact on your business positive or negative.

We wanted to share our knowledge and experience when choosing between sea or air freight, as often new clients come to us only possessing rote knowledge which doesn’t take into account the context of their requirements and the wider environment. The most effective way we thought to share this information at a general level was to cover frequent questions that were asked, which are related to; cost, reliability, flexibility, fastest, safest and if we had to pick only one means of transport – what would we pick?

What is the cheaper option between Sea and Air Freight?

Most often sea freight is the cheapest option for companies to choose when selecting a freight carrier type – but this is often because there are a greater range of container types and has the ability to transport large quantities or bulky items. Sea freight is charged per cubic meter for LCL options or  per container rate for full containers. Airfreight is either based on the actual weight or volumetric weight (the space the cargo takes up) – whichever is greater, which is called the chargeable weight.

What is the more reliable option between Sea and Air Freight?

Reliability often depends on the season because of the changes in demand, rather how long of a delay are businesses impacted by freight types. When delays occur with air freight, whether there’s a missed flight or a delay due to weather – typically, you can expect another flight within the next day or two. In comparison to sea freight, which if your cargo misses the cut-off date for a departing vessel or the ship is delayed in meeting a transhipment vessel – you can expect a delay by up to week or more. Where we have seen this in full impact, was during COVID  lockdowns for a lot of countries through 2020, sea freight then became the more reliable option as there were less flights during this time.

What is the more flexible option between Sea and Air Freight?

Sea freight gives greater flexibility in referring to shipping container options when transporting – air freight, unfortunately, due to higher regulations has stricter policies and procedures in place. The impact of these stricter policies and procedures impact what can be transported, whether it’s restricted all together due to  it’s bulky size or the type of commodity the item  is.

 What is the fastest option between Sea and Air Freight?

If you require your item yesterday and it’s not bulky (leaving shipping as your only method of transport), air freight will enable you to receive your items ASAP. Unfortunately, if you have bulky items and you need these products to be transported ASAP you still are (in some circumstances, depending on what you’re transporting) able to  use air freight but it is likely that you would have to charter an entire plane – a path which is rarely taken due to the prohibitive cost associated with such an activity. It will all depend on the commodity and actual weight and dimensions of your cargo.

What is the safest option between Sea and Air Freight? 

Air freight is typically seen as the safer option when compared to sea freight, because of the high regulations associated with planes and air travel (in addition to the shorter time period of travel, which indicates less time for interferences to occur).

The verdict – is Sea or Air Freight better? 

When it comes to selecting sea or air freight, there isn’t a single black and white answer on which freight option is better – as with most decisions in both business and life, it’s circumstantial. If you’re stuck deciding what’s the best option for you and your business, we encourage you to call our team at Personalised Freight Solutions to answer any of your questions or to click below to find out more about our air and sea freight service offering.

Personalised Freight Solutions is an international freight forwarding company, simplifying the movement of cargo globally. Our services include import and export, sea and air freight, border clearances, and on ground trucking at both origin and destination.
165-171 Broadwater Terrace, Suite 8
Redland Bay
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