Air Freight – Help Airlines And Forwarders To Serve You Better

Introduction: Air Freight, Airlines and Freight Forwarders

Air freight points to speed and fast processing. Your cargo needs to fly on time to arrive on time. Freight forwarders and airlines are your partners and you can certainly help them in getting your freight flown on time. A freight forwarder can give better services, when you as his customer helps him out with information and by keeping to certain rules.



air freightCourtesy : Even Westvang





air freightCourtesy: Bernal Saborio



Air Freight Packaging

Strong and sturdy.

If wood is used please make sure it is treated and carry the IPPC logo.

No holes or openings in the packaging.

If pallets are used, strap the freight to the pallet using straps. Try to avoid overhang

Shipper, consignee details to pasted and waterproofed. Airlines do take care of your shipment, but additional care from your end is always good.

Remove any old labels or addresses.

Dangerous Goods are to be packaged and documented only by certified persons!

The freight forwarder is duty bound to run an inspection of the freight and see if there are packaging defects.

Dec 29, 2011 … An international freight forwarder is an agent for the exporter in moving cargo to an overseas destination. These agents are familiar with the …


Dangerous Goods

Use a professional packaging company.

Shipper’s Declaration is to be checked against a checklist before passing it on to a forwarder. Remember: zero tolerance for errors. Safety comes first.

Do not use ISO country codes, write them in the standard way.

Do not forget signature and date. Only certified persons may sign DGD (Dangerous Goods Declaration).

Always give the freight forwarder a minimum of three originals DGD  (some airlines demand three. Standard is two).

Recheck  means you will pay extra fees. So try to be 100% correct.

Dangerous Goods consignments have no confirmed bookings.


Customs and Documents

Complete documentation to be handed over to the freight forwarder.

If you have sent important documents via courier, please inform the freight forwarder

Please give the forwarder with copies of the invoices and other important documents. This will help the forwarder to process the file faster. If  the freight forwarder has to copy all the documents, he is losing time. When the air cargo agent loses time, he cannot tender the consignment to the airline on time.


Pick Up and haulage

Please advise the complete details to the forwarder at least one day in advance

Never forget the following

  • Dimensions: always in Length x Width x Height
  • Please mention the unit (cm or in)
  • Pick up time frame
  • Pick up location
  • Destination
  • Incoterms: Please use the official format. For example, do not mention just FCA. Is it FCA, factory or is it FCA, airport of departure?
  • If you are using DAP as terms, please specify, “excluding customs clearance” or “including customs clearance”
  • Mention “stackable” or “not Stackable” on both the SLI (Shipper’s Letter of Instructions) and on the freight. Airlines cannot guess.

Large freight

  • If consignment is more than 10000 (ten thousand) kilogram, please do not enclose the freight in a crate! Airlines cannot know what is inside (risk)
  • Have the cargo inspected (Please keep the freight neutral! no consignee name to be attached to the freight)
  • Please remember, a wooden flooring will go under the freight. Metal on metal is not permissible on aircraft.
  • No loose materials to be left in the freight.
  • Crane : if cranes are needed, please provide rings and hooks for hoist chains and slings.
  • Pressure Chambers (chambers that control pressure) are usually classified as dangerous goods. Separate them!
  • If the freight is for nose load (Boeing 747) 249 cm is the maximum permissible height.


Helping forwarders and airlines will help get your freight to the destination on time. Small things do matter. Contact details are to be made available on the documentation and  on the freight, if possible. Help airlines and forwarders to move air freight efficiently and faster.

Questions About Air Freight

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 Courtesy : Automotive Zone




C17 Globemaster ( a plane I adore): Courtesy: pilotdynan

References to air cargo and freight forwarders – What is a Freight Forwarder

Dec 29, 2011 … An international freight forwarder is an agent for the exporter in moving cargo to an overseas destination. These agents are familiar with the …

Freight forwarder – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A freight forwarder, forwarder, or forwarding agent, also known as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), is a person or company that organizes …

IATA – Freight Forwarders

Freight forwarders are an integral part of a sector that successfully transports goods worth $5.3 trillion every year.

Air Freight: Cargo Handling and Terminals

Introduction Air Freight Terminals

This is a very small article and it tries to give an idea of air cargo handling to those who have no idea about the world of air cargo.  A lot of cargo is transported by airlines, and passengers barely notice the cargo that is accompanying them on their flight. Air cargo is present on almost all flights, except the small local flights on tiny aircraft used for airfield to airfield trips.

A world of equipment is available to the cargo section to help the various types of freight to be loaded on to and offloaded from the aircraft. Freight loaded in the compartments below the passenger cabin goes by the name of belly freight. The sections are called forward and aft compartments and the last part is called the hold.


air freightCreative Commons Licence Courtesy: Bill Abbott



Air cargo goes through various stages of handling. The freight forwarders organise the bookings, the labelling, the security screening and the delivery of the freight to the airline. In the airline warehouse the freight goes through package and label checks, documentation, customs clearance, and finally the loading into air freight containers called ULDs (Unit Load Devices)

Loading Freight into an Aircraft. Here a Boeing 747-400 Freighter. Courtesy: Jesper Frank


The Customs office is the last hurdle to cross. Authorities can demand inspection. They can even stop the freight from being flown. In Certain countries, advance information of the freight is to be sent to customs. This is done electronically and is termed AMS or Advance Manifest Service.


The air cargo terminals are busy centres where the job can be very stressful, as  hundreds and thousands of air cargo pieces go through various levels of processing. Wrong labels can mean the freight is routed to a wrong destination and wrong “positioning” (moving the freight to the loading position) can mean the air cargo flies to the wrong country. Air freight terminal staff need to be fast in processing air freight, be it offloading or positioning the various freight ready for further carriage.


Here is a view of Hong Kong Terminal. Courtesy HKTDC



Here is another video of Hong Kong Cargo Terminal. Technically advanced, state of the art terminal. Courtesy  InteliBuild


Air freight has become an inseparable part of aviation and even in small air ports small freight is being handled. Air freight terminals are also a vital link to the economy of a country and a high standard of professionalism is demanded from the terminal staff, as freight needs to processed effectively and very fast.

Questions about Air Freight or Terminals?

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References to air cargo and air cargo terminals

Air Cargo – IATA

Air cargo transports goods worth in excess of $6.4 trillion on an annual basis. This is approximately 35% of world trade by value. The sector itself generates …

The Cobra is the dynamic prime mover of McGrath Industries’ Slave Dolly workstation system. Slave Dollies allow open warehouse floor area to be utilised for ULD loading and storage operations – no need for fixed conveyor equipment. The Cobra transporter provides rapid flexible Slave Dolly movement in a safe efficient manner that requires only the minimum possible aisle width and turning space.

Ship small parcels, packages or large cargo with Air Canada Cargo

Air Canada Cargo’s shipping solutions are tailored to the needs of international shippers and small businesses. Find rates, as well as shipment preparation and …

Air Freight: Dangerous Goods

SUPATH freight Dangerous Goods











Introduction To Dangerous Goods

Dangerous Goods in air cargo shipping (air freight) are  those goods that are hazardous in different ways to the environment and the world in general. Such goods have been classified into 9  classes with some of the classes having sub-divisions as explained below. The rules for the transport of dangerous goods are called DGR meaning Dangerous Goods Regulation and the IATA publishes the updated version every year.

Please note dangerous goods regulations for dangerous goods are different from the rules used in sea freight (ocean freight). Air cargo regulations tend to be extremely strict in comparison.

The following sections will give you a general idea of regulations in place for air cargo. Details about the documentation (shipper’s declaration, MSDS) will be taken up in separate posts.




IATA The Organisation

Here is what IATA says about itself. Text taken from the organisations website

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 250 airlines or 84% of total air traffic. We support many areas of aviation activity and help formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues.


The Classification

  1. Explosives : Explosive substances
  2. Flammable Gases
  3. Flammable Liquids
  4.  Flammable Solids
  5. Oxidising substances
  6. Toxic and Infections Substances
  7. Radioactive Material
  8. Corrosives
  9. Miscellaneous Dangerous goods

The Sub-Divisions

Some of the classes above have sub-divisions and these have their own rules. Details will be given on new posts.

1. Explosives

This division has six sub-divisions. (Courtesy: IMDO)

  1. Division 1.1: substances and articles which have a mass explosion hazard
  2. Division 1.2: substances and articles which have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard
  3. Division 1.3: substances and articles which have a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or a minor projection hazard or both, but not a mass explosion hazard
  4. Division 1.4: substances and articles which present no significant hazard
  5. Division 1.5: very insensitive substances which have a mass explosion hazard
  6. Division 1.6: extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosion hazard

2. Gases

  1. Division 2.1 Flammable
  2. Division 2.2 Non-Flammable, non-toxic
  3. Division 2.3 Toxic

3. Flammable Solids

  1. Division 4.1 Flammable solids, self-reactive substances and solid  desensitised explosives
  2. Division 4.2 Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
  3. Division 4.3 Substances, which emit flammable gases when in contact with water

4.  Oxidising substances and organic peroxides

  1. Division 5.1 Oxidising substances
  2. Division 5.2 Organic Peroxides


5.  Toxic And Infectious Substances

Division 6.1 Toxic substances

Division 6.2 Infectious substances


Below is a video about class 1, beautifully presented.




Another informative video



6.  Conclusion

This post gave you a very compact overview of what the freight forwarders refer to as DGR. The abbreviation actually stands for Dangerous Goods Regulations. Companies that store dangerous goods must abide by regulations in place, failing which, action can be taken against them. Safety first is the motto.

Further posts will continue this discussion.


7. Questions?

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References for air cargo (air freight)


Air Cargo – IATA

Air cargo transports goods worth in excess of $6.4 trillion on an annual basis. This is approximately 35% of world trade by value. The sector itself generates …

World Air Cargo Forecast – Boeing

The Boeing Company issues the biennial World Air Cargo Forecast (WACF) to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date overview of the air cargo industry.


Air Cargo – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

John F. Kennedy International. A photo of being loaded. JFK is the region’s biggest and busiest airport for international air cargo, offering a full range of service …

Air Freight Cost : The Costs Involved in Flying Goods?

Introduction To Air Freight Cost Factors

Air freight is expensive. There is no second opinion to that statement. Expensive is not the only adjective that can be applied to this mode of transport, quick is another term that can be aptly used. Air freight cost factors are quite a few.

In a fast moving economy, helping the freight to reach the consignee is not the only point to be kept in view. It is equally important not to lose sight of the costs involved.

Transport, handling, documentation, customs formalities are all points that belong to the costing area.

Factors To Consider

Before starting to evaluate air freight cost, it is important to consider a few other important points. How urgent is the order? This is the first question to answer. Any delay in transit might result in your losing your client. Time and urgency are two inter-dependent factors. When it comes to  air freight and speed, do not compromise on quality. Many think, losing one customer is not going to ruin a business. The truth is, every single customer is important. Before we go on to the air freight calculation process, let us consider a few points

  • Time bound delivery stipulated?
  • First order from the client?
  • Size of the freight


Calculation: Air Freight Elements


Air freight rates are charged on the space occupied by the cargo. The volume is calculated in meters by multiplying the length, width and the height. The result is then multiplied by 166.6666 (do not round off this figure). After the multiplication, the result is either

  • kept as it is (e.g. 125.00 is kept unchanged)
  • or rounded up to the next 500 kg (125.6 will become 126.00 )
  • decimal figure less than 500 g is rounded up to 500g (125.4 becomes 125.00)

Gross Weight

This is the total weight of your consignment in kg. It includes the packaging material, as well. Nett weight is not considered in air freight. In Germany, it is of importance only for the export declaration. The nett weight is posted to the national statistics office. Some of the surcharges in air freight billing used to be charged on gross weight. Many airlines have changed this practice and the charges are now levied on what is called chargeable weight.

Chargeable Weight

Chargeable weight is the weight on which air freight rate or even other rates may be applied. The gross weight and the volume weight are compared and the higher one is taken as the chargeable weight. Here are a few examples.

Gross WeightVolume WeightChargeable Weight

Air Freight Rate

As mentioned earlier, air freight rate is levied on the chargeable weight of the cargo. If the consignment is flying on an IATA Air Way Bill (a way bill, not covered by a master way bill, the seller is the consignor/shipper and the importer is the consignee), the rate shown is a very high one. This rate is printed as per the IATA price table, which is included in the TACT book. It is a rate that is, usually, not used for billing.

If the consignee is paying for the air freight, it is better to  fly the freight under consolidation or as what is called “back-to-back” (it means one House Bill covered by one Master Bill. The Master Bill is addressed  to an air freight agent).

Standard Airline Surcharges

  • The standard surcharges are as follows:
  • Fuel Surcharge
  • Security Surcharge (also called Risk Surcharge or War Risk Surcharge)
  • AMS Surcharge (Automated Manifest Service)
  • Screening Surcharge (or X-Ray Surcharge) applicable, usually, only if the shipper is classified as unknown shipper and only applicable if forwarder asks the airline to do the screening.
  • Dangerous Goods Surcharge: differs from airline to airline. Applicable only if the cargo is classified as hazardous

Pre-Export Charges

It is difficult to list all the air freight extra charges here as forwarders have their own tariffs and tables. A few of the relevant ones are as below

Export Declaration: depends on country of export. In Germany the practice is to charge a fixed amount for a a declaration with one HS Code and an add on rate per each extra HS Code.

Pick up : the rate is usually applied to chargeable weight (see above). air freight volume calculations apply for lorry transport.

Haulage : freight is not flying from the airport, where the forwarder is located. Hence, it needs to be transferred by lorry to the airport of departure.

Screening charge or X-Ray charge : each forwarder has his own tariff. Security regulations for air freight are very strict

Handling : The freight has to be stored in the warehouse, checked, labelled and tendered to the airline. Usually a single price and not a per kilo price

Repackaging : if there is visible damage to the packaging, the warehouse staff have to “better” that to avoid rejection by the airline

Customs Inspection: Authorities have the right to inspect the contents. There is a customs receipt for the amount but it takes at least two weeks time for it to arrive at the forwarder’s desk.

Before Requesting A Quotation

Incoterms: Terms of Sale. Request only charges that you are going to pay! If you are paying all the charges up to the airport of destination, then ask for all the charges with breakdown. If you are paying for door delivery without customs clearance, please specify. The air freight agent has to request the charges from abroad.

Number of pieces in accordance with the Export Declaration

Dimensions and total gross weight : Dimensions are to be rounded off. mention ONLY the total gross weight

Location of the freight: pick up charges are calculated as per the distance

Deadline : if any. The forwarder has to know if a dedicated transport has to be organised

Date and Time : Please specify  when the freight is available for pick up. Also specify the time frame. Regular pick up timings need to be requested

Is the freight stackable?! This is important. If the freight is not stackable, the charges are going to increase (using more room)


It is advisable to ask for a quotation, if  the consignment is a large one.

Quotations for door delivery are tentative prices. Currency exchange factors will influence the final price. Please request prices in foreign currency!


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