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Air Freight vs Ocean Freight – Pros and Cons

Air freight and ocean freight international shipping are two of the most commonly used methods of transporting vehicles, household goods, and other cargo overseas..

Many of the overseas moving companies offer both services but each type of service requires its own expertise and has a different set of rules, regulations and implemented practices which makes transferring of assets using each method challenging in its own way.

Shipping your goods overseas by air or by ocean – which one is best for you?

When deciding which shipping service to use, air or ocean, there are definitely going to be trade offs and whether you are a business owner, or an individual on the verge of your next international move you will always have a bottom line or a budget to consider.

The cost is probably the number one factor which influences the decision to either ship air freight or ocean freight, but there is also the question of time.

The time it takes to move things is another factor to consider and with many other nuances it does not hurt to compare both – the ocean freight versus the air freight methods and find out which works best.

Air Freight versus Ocean Freight Differences


Factors Air Freight Ocean Freight
Reliability, safety of goods More reliable, less succession time Less reliable, probability of goods damage is higher
Cost More expensive Less costly
Charges for goods By weight By volume
Time Faster Slower
Destinations Lesser stops Might make more stops in a journey
Logistics Specific logistics and rules Specific logistics and paperwork
Tracking Provided Provided


The above table gives a brief overview about how different factors pan out for both methods of shipping. Deciding which one is better than the other also depends a whole lot on your personal requirements.

If you need household goods delivered fast one might opt for an air transfer. If you are tight on your budget ocean freight will be your natural choice.

Another important aspect to be considered when planning your relocation is the accessibility of the departure port and the destination port.

Air freight shipments are delivered to the nearest international airport which tends to be more inland and easily reachable. Shipping by ocean means getting your cargo to a loading warehouse close to the port of origin.

Some of the main departure ports in the U.S. include Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Savannah and New York. Although each method is safe, history has shown that both types of freight services can be subject to risk. But for the tens of thousands of shipments we handle annually, the percentage is very low.

While sea lanes can be exposed to possible pirate threat, it is very rare. And airplanes are always exposed to possible engine failure or the chance of emergency landing, but the rate for this is so low, that air freight is one of the safest ways to transport cargo globally.

When you choose your international service provider, ask about insurance coverage for either of these options, as it is peace of mind for a small additional charge on top of your freight charges.

Choosing air freight vs ocean freight also should take into consideration the mass of the asset that is being moved. If the item which you are trying to transfer is heavy, bulky and prone to damages, you might be better off using air freight.

Shipping through ocean routes might cause you delays and the possibility of damaging your goods since they tend to wait at the ports for transfer.

Ocean freights are also exposed to climatic conditions. Water currents and harsh weather might cause unforeseen delays.

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when selecting which type of international shipping service to use when moving cargo overseas.

Choosing the right vendor is imperative in order to procure the best economical quote for your preferred method of shipping. Schumacher Cargo with its expert team brings a great deal of shipping and overseas moving experience.

So what are you waiting for? Give us a call at 800-599-0190 or visit our website to request a free air freight or ocean freight quote.

Schumacher Cargo Logistics utilizes insured, secured and bonded facilities. We provide warehousing, packing, crating, trucking and loading services out of our own warehouses here in the USA - Los Angeles, Houston, Savannah, Miami, New York, and New Jersey. All other worldwide destinations are covered by our affiliated organization member companies.