What types of goods or cargo are ideal to transport by air?

Nowadays air transport, both cargo and passengers, has the aim to reduce the impact it has on the environment. Currently, aircraft models are available with new materials, hybrids and powered by other types of energy, such as solar or electric.

Air cargo transport: Advantages and disadvantages

Air cargo transport has many advantages over other means of transport such as maritime or land transport. However, it also has some disadvantages. We detail it below.

Advantages of cargo air transport

  • Speed. It allows you to reach any point in the world in just a few hours.
  • Flexibility. Flexible schedules and dates that allow any merchandise to reach its destination quickly and efficiently.
  • Loading capacity. Although cargo is more limited than in the case of maritime transport, freight aircraft allow the transfer of numerous goods of small, medium and large size.
  • Innovation. The air sector is one of the biggest changes in recent years from its speed to its combustion.
  • Borders. In the air transport there are not as many physical barriers or customs, as it happens with the rest of means of transport.
  • Accessibility. The plane makes it possible to reach practically hidden places, where other means of transport are not able to reach.
  • Cargo. It is the ideal way to transport perishable, fragile or high value merchandise.
  • Security. It is the safest for the transportation of goods.
  • Temperature. It is possible to ensure a specific temperature if necessary.

Disadvantages of cargo air transport

  • High cost. It is significantly more expensive than other means of transport.
  • Weather. Conditioned by the weather which can cause delays.
  • Law. Legal restrictions that must be taken into account depending on the different countries of destination of the merchandise.
  • Independence. Air  transport must be complemented by land, train or truck. So, it does not count by itself as the only means of transport in commercial operations.
  • Limited load. Although the charge is wide it is not infinite.
  • Cargo. It does not allow to send all kinds of merchandise. Lithium batteries, liquid products such as fuels or oils, or hazardous materials, such as explosives, gases and other toxic substances, can not be transported.
  • Documentation. It is not exempt from paperwork. Declarations, certificates of origin etc., must be completed by the different agents that operate along the entire transport chain.

In which situations should you opt for cargo air transport?

As we have mentioned, air transport is not suitable for all types of merchandise. Generally, the goods that are usually transferred through this means of transport are the following:

  • Urgent goods
  • High volume goods
  • Intercontinental urgent mail
  • Spare parts and spare parts for land vehicles
  • Spare parts for the aerospace industry
  • Perishable food
  • Materials for fairs and events
  • Plants
  • Drugs, vaccines and pharmaceutical products
  • Live animals
  • Luxury products
  • Artworks
  • Machinery and accessories for medical use

Wrapping up

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Air freight: why are some goods charged by volume and others by weight?

We know that cotton of the same weight is much larger! Goods such as cotton and sponges are light in weight, but they take up a lot of space. If they still charge according to their actual weight, the air transport company will face the risk of bankruptcy.

Air space is fixed, so the charge for air freight is bound to be based on the weight of the cargo.

What does the airline charge?

The airline charges the freight according to the chargeable weight. To understand what is billable weight, the first step is to understand what is volumetric weight. After the volume weight is calculated according to a certain conversion coefficient (the actual volume of the goods ×167), the volume weight is compared with the actual weight to select the major measure. This is the basic charge standard for air transportation.

For example, for a cargo of 1 cubic meter, its volume weight is equal to 1 cubic meter ×167, or 167KG, while the actual weight is only 100KG. However, when the cargo is transported by air, 167KG will be charged to the airline. If the actual weight of the goods of 1 cubic meter is 200KG or even more, then the charge will be made based on the actual weight, which is called “option charge”.

What are the common measurement methods in air transportation?

Actual weight:

A-W or AW, Actual Weight.

Volume weight:

Volumetric Weight or Dimensions Weight is calculated based on the actual size of the cargo and by a certain coefficient of translation. In air transport, the conversion system is generally 1:167, or 1 cubic meter (CBM) approximately equal to 167KG. (the volume and weight are also calculated according to the length (cm) × width (cm) × height (cm) ÷5000, which is not common. Generally, only express companies use this algorithm.)

Charged weight:

The Chargeable Weight, C.W. for short, just as its name implies, Chargeable Weight is used to calculate the Weight of the freight, Chargeable Weight is either actual gross Weight, Weight or volume.


Goods weighing less than 1 kg per 6000 cubic centimeters or less than 1 pound per 366 cubic inches or less than 1 pound per 166 cubic inches. The bill weight is its volume weight.

You can keep this in mind, because the airline needs to take out cargo or heavy cargo to fit the cabin, to balance the cabin weight to meet the take-off standard. If your goods are very bubble or very heavy, you can find the master in the transport to the airline for a more favorable rates.