Thinking about utilizing air freight consolidation services? Here are some pros, cons, and steps to get moving

Need to move freight quickly? Use Air Freight Consolidation Services!

You’re in a hurry to move freight across the country or planet, and you need to find a solution that is faster than your normal trade routes, but won’t eat up your margins. It’s always stressful when we have to go outside of our comfort zones but it happens, and we must cope with it in order to complete the transaction.

This is when air freight consolidation is very likely the answer, but like everything else we talk about in the world of freight… “it depends.” So, let me share with you some pros and cons to using air freight consolidation services, and how to go about engaging in the process if it makes sense for your situation.

Many people don’t intuitively think of air freight as a viable option for shipping their freight. Sometimes it’s a preconceived notion about cost, other times its about misconceptions about capabilities. But there are a lot more options than people realize. For example, you can ship anything from a few kilos to thousands of kilos to most domestic and international destinations. 

1. The Upside

The frequency depending on the destination / origin can be once or twice weekly, and the estimated transit time is speedy. (Western Europe 2 to 3 days, Middle East 3 to 4 days, Africa 5 to 7 days, Australia 3 days from departure.

2. The Downside

Out of my 35 years of experience with air freight working on the inside, the upsides for air consolidation outweighed the downsides 100 to 1. For example, customs can inspect, exam a shipment inside the consolidation, thereby slowing down the process that you’re trying to expedite. Once or twice a year, the airlines receive more freight shipments than their daily capacity allows, which can delay your departure, again, eating away at the reason why you’re using it to begin with.

Misrouting, lost cargo, and theft are seldom, but, can and do occur, however, these are going to be issues regardless of your method, which is why I always recommend cargo insurance (ETC International can help you with that too, by the way). 

3. The Process


  1. Product name, description & harmonized system (HS code #) per item
  2. Packed weight & 3 dimensions per box / wooden crate
  3. Origin city or departure of departure
  4. Destination international airport


Once you get your request in front of a reputable freight forwarder, you should be able to receive an email back with pricing usually within a few hours. 

Air consolidation rating is based on the gross or volume weights (density versus dimensional weight), whichever, is the greater weight, the airlines will use. Rates go by the weight break:

  • Minimum
  • Less than 45 K
  • 45 K
  • 100 K
  • 300 K
  • 500 K
  • 1000 K

Rates and weight breaks will not match from destination to destination, as each has its own rate structure.

“How do I calculate ‘volume weight’?” Multiply in inches the length by the width by the height to get to your cubic inches, then, divide by 166 to get your volume weight.

Volume weight = (L X W X H)/166

PRO TIP: Use a freight forwarder that can help you become a “Known Shipper.”

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a division of Home Land Security has every shipper under a unknown shipper status unless your forwarder add you to the known shipper list. The TSA does not let any company access the known shipper list & a review can take about 10 days or so.  

Known shippers can access combi aircrafts (passenger / cargo aircrafts) or all freighter aircrafts (cargo only aircrafts). Combi aircraft have height restriction lower than freighter only aircraft (cargo plane), but lower rates and frequency have benefits for known shippers that can use either or planes. The bottom line is that it makes you more flexible when finding routes and rates.


Like so many other topics we’ve discussed, air freight consolidation is so much easier when you have the help from an experienced freight forwarder that’s well connected, and has an eye for detail.

Interested in getting an air consolidation freight rate quote? ETC International Freight System is here to serve!

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Have another type of freight request? Click HERE!




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