Air Freight vs. Ocean Freight Shipping: Which One is Right For You?

Air Freight vs. Ocean Freight Shipping: Which One is Right For You?

All clients looking to utilize international shipping services want to choose the quickest, most affordable, and most efficient option when transporting cargo to overseas ports. A reliable freight forwarding company like K International Transport can inform clients about the pros and cons of all methods of transport and help clients determine the best method to achieve their personal and business goals. Ultimately, it is often necessary for clients to pick and choose which qualities are more important to them because getting all the benefits from one particular method is unlikely.

There are pros and cons for both air and ocean freight, and shippers must consider a few factors, including the time it will take to ship the cargo, the safety of the cargo, the type of cargo being shipped, and the cost.

Speed of Transport

The time it will take a shipment to arrive at an overseas port can be important for clients on a tight schedule. In this regard, shipping via air is a better option because it is much faster than shipping via ocean freight. This can benefit clients shipping retail goods, time-sensitive items like perishable goods, and temperature-sensitive goods such as pharmaceutical products. Air freight typically has more reliable schedules and shipments are rarely delayed.

On the contrary, ocean freight shipments are slower and are sometimes behind due to port delays, customs issues, and port congestion. However, with new advancements in maritime shipping, less-than-container load (LCL) shipments can be transported relatively fast and offer an alternative to air freight that is cheaper and almost as fast. All in all, ocean freight is better for clients who ship well in advance of the date they need the shipment to arrive, or who have a flexible schedule.

containers vans
Photo by Bernd Dittrich at Unsplash


Ocean freight is almost always considerably cheaper than air freight. Usually, ocean freight for a certain type of cargo can cost $200 while shipping the same cargo via air will cost over $1,000. Air freight can be worthwhile for small and valuable goods because otherwise, clients run the risk of paying more for the shipping than what the cargo itself is actually worth.

K International Transport can calculate an estimated cost for your shipment on the rate request page.


Type of Cargo

Air freight has far more restrictions on what can be shipped, and there is a smaller capacity on planes; even the largest models often can’t accommodate large equipment. Therefore, air freight is often best for retail goods, valuable items, and small cargo that needs to arrive in a specific timeframe.

Ocean freight, on the other hand, can accommodate automobiles, construction equipment, and large personal effects like furniture and other household goods. Cargo that is being transported via ocean freight is also bound by regulations and restrictions. Often these regulations are specific to the destination country, but they are usually less restrictive than regulations for air shipping. A reliable international shipping company can help answer questions about goods that are restricted.

airplane in midair at daytime
Photo by Hal9001 at Unsplash

Safety of Cargo

Shippers are often worried about possible damage to their cargo during the overseas shipping. Transport by both air and ocean is relatively safe. However, cargo traveling by air is handled by fewer people, while cargo in containers and on vessels has a higher risk of damage. However, this risk can be mitigated by clients by packing the shipment carefully and in an optimally safe manner.

Additionally, many experienced international freight forwarders, like K International Transport, will offer shipping and cargo insurance so that shippers are protected in cases of fires on ships, sinking, or any potential damage that may occur.


Other Considerations

For the environmentally-conscious shippers, ocean freight has a much lower environmental impact than transporting via air because ocean freight releases much less carbon dioxide and therefore has a smaller carbon footprint. Additionally, there are often more opportunities to transport the cargo further by rail from seaports, if shippers require the service in the destination country.

cargo ship on body of water
Photo by Patrick Brinksma at Unsplash


In conclusion, air freight is often limited in the cargo that can be shipped and is more expensive, but a lot faster. Ocean freight is cheaper and more accommodating of all cargo but is much slower than shipping by air.


Deciding between ocean and air freight can be tough because there are many factors to consider. However, with a reliable company like K International Transport and efficient international shipping services, shippers can rely on the advice given to them and can be sure that they will make a decision that will allow them to reach their personal goals. For more information about overseas shipping, call us at (212) 267-6400 or email us at You can also reach us on Skype at kinternationalny. For an international shipping rate, visit our rate request page to get a quote.