Air Cargo Booking: The Best Way

The air cargo booking industry is experiencing a period of significant transformation, driven by several factors especially with the rise of ecommerce, placing a premium on faster delivery times, marking air cargo booking an increasingly attractive option for businesses of all sizes. 

The global booking air cargo market, valued at $USD 131.09 billion in 2022, is projected to reach $180.1 billion by 2025

This significant growth highlights the increasing demand for faster and more efficient cargo transportation solutions. The growing importance of same-day and next-day delivery options is further propelling the demand for air cargo freight booking services. 

Additionally, advancements in technology are streamlining the air cargo booking process, with online platforms allowing for faster quotes, real-time tracking, and simplified documentation management. 

Air Cargo Booking_ The Best Way

Air Cargo Booking Process

Air cargo booking involves space on an airplane for your shipment. It’s a collaborative process involving several key players. 

  • Shipper: The party initiating the shipment booked for air transport, responsible for preparing the goods and documents. 
  • Freight Forwarder: An air cargo freight is an intermediary who acts as a liaison between the shipper and the airline, handling logistics, customs clearance, and documentation. 
  • Airline: The carrier that transports the cargo on its aircraft. 

Here’s a breakdown of the typical air cargo booking process: 

1. Contact a Reputable Freight Forwarder

Research and choose a freight forwarder with a proven track record of handling shipments similar to yours. Experience in your industry is especially beneficial as they’ll understand the specific requirements and potential challenges associated with your cargo type. 

Look for a freight forwarder with a strong network of airline partnerships to ensure they can offer competitive rates and a variety of transit options. 

Positive online reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers are indicators of reliable service. 

2. Provide Comprehensive Shipment Details

Provide the freight forwarder with all the necessary details about your shipment, including: 

Origin and Destination Airport Codes: Crucial for determining the routes, airlines involved, and any potential limitations based on airport capabilities. 

Detailed Cargo Description: A comprehensive description of the goods being shipped is necessary. Include the weight, dimensions (length, width, and height) of each package, and the total shipment weight. Classify your commodity according to the Harmonized System (HS) code, a universally recognized system for classifying goods. This information is used for calculating rates, determining customs clearance requirements, and ensuring proper cargo handling during transport (e.g., hazardous materials storage). 

Customs Requirement: Ask about any required customs documentation or permits for your destination country. The freight forwarder can assist you with navigating these complexities and ensure your shipment complies with all regulations to avoid delays at customs. 

3. Request Competitive Quotes

Based on the shipment details you provide, the freight forwarder will obtain quotes from various airlines. They will consider factors like size and weight of your cargo, the desired transit time, and any specific handling requirements. 

You will be presented with a range of options tailored to your budget and time constraints. 

The quotes will typically include the estimated transportation costs, fuel surcharges, terminal handling fees, and any applicable security charges. 

4. Book Your Shipment

Once you have selected the most suitable option based on your needs and budget, the freight forwarder will book air cargo for your shipment on the chosen flight and secure space for your cargo on the aircraft. 

They will liaise with the airline to confirm the booking and provide you with a booking confirmation that includes important details such as the flight number, departure and arrival times, and any specific requirements or restrictions. 

5. Prepare Your Air Cargo 

Refer to the “Prepare Your Air Cargo and Documents” section below for crucial information on preparing your shipment for air travel. 

6. Delivery and Tracking

The freight forwarder will handle the delivery of your shipment to the airport cargo terminal and liaise with the airline for loading onto the aircraft. 

Throughout the journey, you can make use of air cargo tracking systems provided by the airline or freight forwarder to monitor the real-time location and status of your shipment. 

These tracking systems provide shipment information at various stages, including receipt at the origin terminal, loading onto the aircraft, arrival at the destination terminal, and final delivery. 

Prepare Your Air Cargo and Documents

Proper preparation of your air cargo and documents is vital for a seamless air cargo booking experience.

Ensure your cargo is packaged securely using materials appropriate for air travel. The packaging must withstand potential handling during loading, unloading, and transit. Fragile items require special packaging to prevent damage. 

Clearly mark all packages with the following information: 

  • Shipper and Consignee Names and Addresses
  • Number of Packages in the Shipment (e.g., 1 of 3)
  • Gross Weight of Each Package 
  • Any Special Handling Instructions (“Fragile,” “This Side Up”)

A detailed commercial invoice is required for customs clearance. It should include information about the goods, their value, origin, and destination. 

A packing list details the contents of each package in the shipment, including item descriptions, quantities, and weights. 

Depending on the specific goods and destination, additional documents like certificates of origin, health certificates, or dangerous goods declarations might be necessary. The freight forwarder will advise you on any specific requirements. 

Step-by-step Guide to Shipping Air

  1. Contact a freight forwarder and discuss your shipment needs. 
  2. Provide detailed shipment information. 
  3. Review and select a quote based on your budget and time constraints. 
  4. Book your shipment with the chosen airline. 
  5. Prepare your cargo and documents as per regulations. 
  6. Deliver your shipment to the freight forwarder or designated location. 
  7. Air cargo track and trace your shipment using the provided tracking information. 

Air transit options

Choosing the right air transit option depends on several factors. 

Budget: Direct flights are the fastest but most expensive, while connecting flights or consolidation services offer cost-effective alternatives. 

Transit Time: If speed is critical, prioritize direct flights or freighter options. Less time-sensitive cargo can use connecting flights or consolidation services. 

Cargo Type: Fragile items or perishables might benefit from direct flights to minimize handling. Oversized cargo might require freighter services. 

Destination: Direct flights might not be available for all routes. Connecting flights or multi–stop freighters offer wider destination coverage.