1. Everything that can be shipped on a truck can be shipped via air: This is a dangerous assumption. Many of the same Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) rules that apply to airline travel also apply to air freight shipments. If you have any doubt, it is a good idea to check with your carrier before you ship. The last thing you need is to have to deal with the TSA after they have impounded your shipment.
2. Heavier items always cost more: This is not necessarily the case. Airplanes tend to “cube-out” before they “weigh-out”. Therefore, larger but lightweight packages can cost much more than smaller heavier ones. In many cases, it makes sense to use a commercial shipping case with a custom cushioned interior than to pack the same items loosely on a skid. Another limitation on skid use is that air freight shipments are limited to an 80” total height, versus 96” for truck shipments. The bottom line is, the smallest possible package is best.
3. Air freight handling is not as rough as truck shipping: Airfreight companies have a dirty little secret, items oftentimes actually conveyed by truck. The carrier has agreed to meet your delivery deadline, and has not guaranteed the method of shipment. Aside from that, the same caliber of baggage handlers work in airfreight as in trucking. It is always best to pack your shipments as if they were moving by truck.
4. Your package will not be opened by anyone but you: Terrorism has blown this assumption up (bad pun intended!). You should assume that someone will inspect the contents of your package sometime during its journey. It may not always happen, but you should prepare for it. It is a bad assumption to think that your inspector will take the care and attention that you did we he re-packs the skid. Using a quality, top opening shipping case, rather than a skid, can assist you here. An intelligent cushioning system in an easy opening case will help insure that items inspected are put back where they belong. If you want to lock your case, use a TSA approved padlock that can be opened with a special key that the TSA officers carry.
5. The more valuable the item, the more it makes sense to use air freight: This is not necessarily to case. The value issue is more about insurance than anything else. The big trucking outfits such as BAX or YRC are as well heeled financially as the air freight guys. If you use Joe’s Trucking, you may want to read the fine print before sending very valuable items.
6. The more critical the delivery time, the more it makes sense to use air freight: Also not necessarily the case. If you are in New York and life will end as you know it if your package is not in L. A. by tomorrow, then air freight is your best option. The trucking companies offer expedited services, and you should definitely check your options out. Planes are more subject to weather and other delays than trucks are.
Norry Liebman is a principal of South-Pak, Inc. , which has been in the business of Custom Cases , and case interior fabrication for 30 years.