Don't let this one mistake hurt your freight shipment


There is a recurring theme in the shipping industry that needs fixing. As a veteran of more than 30 years in this industry, I have seen this happen many times.

Suppliers provide their buyers the boxes dimensions, but, they do not always specify the pallets’ dimensions. Such information may not be known before the shipping takes place & may not reflect on the packing list, so it’s easy to see why it happens so often.

However, if you want to avoid delays and more of those “unforseen” challenges and costs, I suggest getting your arms around a process to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

MORE LIKE THIS: How to Prepare for the Unknowns when Importing & Exporting Freight

It starts in the very beginning:

As a freight forwarder, we get to see the suppliers’ packing list details per box, such as dimensions (length x width x height) as well as the gross weight per box. With that information alone, your forwarders should be able compute the volume weight & compare it to the gross weight.

We often receive rate requests that may not have the final weight of their shipments, which, can grossly increase the freight cost. An easy way to prevent such a fluke would be for the suppliers to provide ahead of time, a pro-forma invoice / packing list that would reflect the order & final gross volume weight with cube. Evidently, if the purchase of the merchandise reflects the pro-forma, any difference, mistake would rest with the suppliers.  

1. The packing list

To start, your packing list needs to show the origin and destination names. It should also show the description of the cargo, gross weight, dimensional weight, & final cube. If pallets are being used, the pallets’ dimensions must be given with the final cube next or underneath the gross weight.

2. Airlines regulations: getting the weight right

Airlines check the final gross & volume weights, and whichever weight is greater will apply.

Ultimately, the shippers or the consignees are responsible for any weight correction, so you want to get it right. How do you figure out if your final volume weight exceeds your gross weight?

Airlines use a ratio of 166.

You multiply in inches your length by your width by your height to get to your cubic inches. Thereafter, you divide the cubic inches by 166 to obtain your volume weight in pounds.


CUBIC INCHES / 166 = Volume weight in pounds

Then, convert your weight to kilograms. To make this easy, we created this free conversion calculator that you can download HERE:

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Weight in pounds divided by 2.2046 = kilograms

3. Aircrafts’ cargo space

Combi-aircraft have weight & dimensions per piece restrictions that are drastically greater than an all freighter aircrafts, but going this route dramatically opens the doors for routing and pricing flexibility. 

TSA regulates the use of a combi-aircraft (passenger & cargo aircraft) to know shipper only. Ask your forwarder how to be added to a known shipper list. Freighters can be accessed by known & unknown shippers alike. (more on becoming TSA certified HERE)

In conclusion, whether you ship air or ocean, know your dimensions backwards and forwards, and make sure you have folks who understand how they impact your costs, timing, and overall logistics. For more direct help, request a quote and speak with one of our experts today!


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