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.

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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: What You Need To Know

International Air Freight Consultant


Air freight mode of transport is fast but expensive but in a fast-moving world  there is no other faster mode of transport . Businesses must be fast in getting their freight to their clients. Unless sea freight has been mentioned explicitly air freight remains the popular mode of transport in moving small to medium freight. Large freight is shipped by air, when an emergency arises. As air freight is expensive, attention is to be paid to the details and the planning should be fast and correct. Knowledge is power and armed with the right information, a company can keep the cost under control. SUPATH brings you practical suggestions that you can use, and  knowledge that has been tested


Cost Involved : Mandatory Charges

The following charges will definitely be an inseparable part of air freight. There are charges that cannot be listed by SUPATH because the charges vary from country to country and from company to company.

  • Pick up – from the shipper’s place to the freight forwarder or to the airport warehouse
  • Haulage – the lorry service to the airport of departure
  • Handling – air way bill, labelling, warehouse checking, customs formalities
  • air freight rate – based on chargeable weight (gross weight or volume weight: whichever is higher)
  • Fuel Surcharge : usually charged on gross weight. Of late most of the airlines charge this on chargeable weight
  • Risk Surcharge: also called security surcharge. charging mode similar to Fuel Surcharge
  • AMS Fee : Automated Manifest Service Fee: Airlines need to transfer air way bill data to customs authorities. Electronic transfer
  • Warehouse Charges: demurrage charges! ask for tariff. There is no general tariff. Each country and each airport of destination has its own listing! SUPATH can never warn you enough.  Delay could mean a shocking invoice!

Costs Involved : Possible Charges

  • Dangerous Goods Fee : only applicable to hazardous goods (IATA regulation)
  • Development Fee : only if the airport of destination lists this (Canada does)
  • Broker Transfer Fee : depends on who does the brokerage. Applicable if the de-consolidator and the broker doing the customs clearance is not the same company.
  • Crane  or Forklift charges
  • Insurance : If you want to insure the freight, you need to cover it before the pick up of the freight

Documents involved

  • Commercial Invoice(s)
  • Packing Lists (freight to India: if you have  more than one piece please include a packing list)
  • Delivery Note : some companies issue these. Not needed for customs clearance
  • Pro-forma Invoice : NOT accepted by customs in India for clearance.
  • Certificate of Origin : needed in countries that have Agreement on Preferential Tariffs ( goods from India to Europe should carry Certificate of Origin; also called Form A; so that the importer can get reduction on duties. Original certificate is to be tabled.
  • Certificate of Conformity : usually for electronic and electrical goods. Also applicable for telecommunication equipment in certain countries
  • Export Permit : In Europe, if the goods for export fall in of the categories of dual use listed in the appendices of the EC regulation, an export permit in original is mandatory
  • Export declaration : varies from country to country. In India the export clearance takes time and a customs inspection may take place.
  • Customs Bond : in the US, either a single entry bond or a continuous bond is mandatory
  • ATA Carnet : needed only for exhibitions. Not all countries are parties to the ATA Carnet contract.
  • Fumigation Certificate or Non-Wood Packing Declaration may be required by the country of destination
  • IEC : (Import Export Code) : needed by importers in India along with the PAN (Permanent Account Number)


Check the invoices for mistakes (spelling mistakes in names can cost money: e. g. South American destinations)! Keep contact lines open: time is money

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How to Ship Large Freight By Air?

Introduction: Large Freight

Here is a very touching video. This is not only about freight but about a loving heart. It is meant to show large freight is possible on smaller aircraft. Commercial transport of oversized freight is, however, done in a completely different way . Courtesy David Gates We salute you Gary Roberts for your big heart



How to ship large freight is a “large” question. There are too many points to put on the check list. Large freight means freight that is oversized and that includes heavy freight and  is usually shipped as sea freight. However, large machines and structures, often, become emergency freight and the forwarding has to be fast.

Should you charter cargo aircraft? What does the forwarding cost?  How long does it take? What arrangements are to be done? Too many questions surface.

Realistic and Down To Earth Thinking

  • Keep a cool head and think of all possible questions about transportation. You will need to consider at least the following points
  • Freight packaging: if the freight is more than 10 tons, most airlines will refuse a packaged freight. Unknown content, untold risk!
  • Know the dimensions of the freight: Length, Width and Height
  • Weigh the freight! Know the nett and the gross weight
  • A heavy-duty forklift might be needed
  • A gantry crane might be necessary
  • Should a heavy-duty crane be ordered?
  • Cranes might mean, the freight has rings for steel shafts to be inserted. The hoist chains or cables are then attached to the shafts
  • Any moving items need to be dismantled and secured in such a way that the pieces neither move nor cause damage to the sides of the freight
  • If the freight can be moved, lifted or loaded using a forklift, the freight must be mounted on pallets (please refer  freight packaging  )
  • Do not finish the packaging before the airline people inspect the cargo

No hazardous materials to be included! Any item, which has been classified as hazardous as per the IATA regulation, is to be excluded. Pressure chambers are classified as dangerous goods. so ship them separately.  VERY IMPORTANT: When packaging pressure chambers, make the packaging so dense that the content does not show any movement when shaken. (This will be updated)

  • Any fragile item should be excluded or well protected.
  • Protect the edges of the freight. styrofoam is better. It is light
  • Make room available under the freight for wooden boarding! Metal against metal (air freight pallets are of aluminium) is not permitted on aircraft.


Dimension, Weight and other factors

  • The aircraft doorways are not extremely big. There are limitations like door actuators, which, although small, can become problematic for ver high cargo
  • The length, width and the height of the freight have to be considered in relationship to the aircraft and the weight of the freight
  • Not all aircraft have winches on board
  • If the height of the freight is more than 240 cm, it cannot be loaded on to  an MD 11
  • On a 747 freighter a height of 295 cm might be critical (depending on the version of the aircraft )
  • Nose Load (loading through the nose of the aircraft: the cone is lifted to show the cargo compartment located under the cockpit on a 747 jumbo) is not possible for freight of more than 249 cm! (weight and width of the cargo will also be taken into consideration)
  • Advance arrangements for offloading and transportation are to be done at the airport of destination.
  • Additionally, the import clearance should be planned down to the minutest detail.


  • Know your international air freight rate!
  • You are paying for volume! It is the chargeable weight that counts.
  • Ask for the chargeable weight on the air way bill  (if you are being billed for items separately and not a single lump sum price )
  • Should your freight be insured?
  • Crane charges are for the time taken! ask for the correct pricing!



  • Keep good photos of the freight (even digital ones)
  • Commercial invoices
  • Packing Lists
  • If wood is used: have you included a fumigation certificate? Ask the consignee if it is needed! Written statements, please!
  • Contact numbers (telephone, fax, mobile phone etc.) mentioned on the papers?



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