International Moving Options: Air Shipping

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International Moving Options: Air Shipping

International Moving Options: Air Shipping

Generally, all shipping methods have pros and cons. Air shipping is most suited for carrying your light goods of high value. It has many advantages you may want to consider, like the following:

  • The quickest mode of transportation: Putting your belongings on a plane is much faster than using road or ocean freight. Air shipping is best for urgent deliveries of commodities from one place to another.
  • Follows a timely schedule: All airlines have daily flights back and forth, so you can schedule your delivery to arrive within a set timeframe even when you miss a flight.
  • Shipping services available to almost any destination: You can easily get your shipment delivered to any destination in the world due to an extensive network of many airlines worldwide.
  • Reduced insurance premium: Air freight is a fast method of transportation which reduces the cargo’s transit time as well as the cost of insurance premium.
  • Reduced exposure to damage and theft: Air shipping ensures there is minimal handling of your belongings during transit to reduce the risk of damage and/or loss.
  • Fast cargo clearing and forwarding procedure: Custom formalities can be easily cleared when transporting any goods. A timely delivery is ensured and there is no need to pay extra for storing your items in a warehouse while the formalities are being done.
  • Online shipment tracking: It enables the shippers to track and locate their shipment online, allowing them to follow the status of their goods with constant updates.

Air Shipping Risks

In spite of the many advantages, air shipping has the following limitations:

  • High costs: Air transport service costs more because the airline’s operational costs are very high. If you’re trying to save on moving costs, it may not be the best option.
  • Limited load capacity: The aircraft’s carrying capacity is limited. It is not suitable for carrying bulky and heavy items like furniture due to the space and weight requirements of the airline. For such belongings, you may choose another means of transport.
  • Suspension of air service or cancellation of flights due to bad weather condition: Air transport is significantly impacted by adverse weather conditions causing the cancellation of some flights depending on how bad the weather is.

Different Air Freight Types

Almost anything can be transported by air. Automobiles, mails, animals, and even aircrafts can be shipped by plane thanks to the efforts of air operators.

There are 3 categories of air freight:

  • Air freight by passenger aircraft;
  • Freighters by dedicated cargo plane;
  • Super transporters for huge payloads.

A commercial passenger plane carries shipments and passengers with their luggage.

Dispatched packages and other shipments are generally combined and packed in special containers. These containers are usually kept in a storage area beneath the passengers’ seats where their sizes can be accommodated.  The Boeing 747-400, for instance, can carry as much as 150 m3 or 5,330 ft³ of shipment along with 416 passengers. This is comparable to 2 semi-trailer trucks.

Some freight is placed inside special containers to fit in the storage area while other freight is loaded on pallets, so the remaining space can be used for loose items.

The Boeing is designed to carry both passengers and cargo with the latter being stored in the passenger compartment. This aircraft can hold as much as 266 passengers and 283 m3 or 10,000 ft3 of cargo.


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The freighter version of Boeing uses its passenger compartment for cargo duty. This aircraft can contain as much as 266 passengers and 283 m3   or 10,000 ft3 of the shipment when it is in freighter mode.

Boeing’s converted freighter can carry and transport much more cargo.

Logistics companies like UPS and FedEx operate cargo airlines with different kinds of aircraft in service, like the Boeing 747-400. Typically, it can carry and transport as much as 736 m3 or 26,000 ft3 of shipment or the equivalent of 5 semi-trailer loads.

The main deck loader of Boeing 747-400 can carry 30 pallets of shipment. The size of a pallet is 96 x 125 inches, 120 inches or 3.5 m tall. Airstables are special containers linked to pallets and used for transporting horses.  The lower deck can accommodate as many as 14 containers (1.6m tall or 64 inches) and 5 pallets. These shipments are placed in the trapdoors of the airplane.

The aircraft may open the nose door to store all the bulky and unevenly shaped freight.

Using a forklift to place the pallets inside the narrow loading area is not possible. The cargo is maneuvered manually to a final position on board by the use of a roller floor, before being finally secured in position.

A super transporter can be used for super heavy freight. This type of airplane is created to transport enormous, oversized and heavy items, like planes, helicopters and other huge things.

It is specially designed with a spacious cargo compartment and a vast freight area that can be filled for nearly the entire length and breadth of the airplane. Its door is huge with a ramp that enables quick and easy loading/unloading operations. It has a 47 tons cargo capacity. However, if you are to transport a heavier or a larger cargo, like a military tank of 65 tons, a larger plane is required.

Antonov AN-225 is the largest cargo transport aircraft in the world. It is created to perform transportation of various loads up to a weight of 250 tons or even 4 military tanks.

The Antonov An-225 was designed to airlift a space shuttle (Russian version). In the 1990’s, the space program was cancelled and An-225 was placed in storage. The restoration of the plane and the first trial flight was made on the 7th of May 2001. It can haul 80 automobiles and its wingspan is like the size of a football arena.

Shipping a Dog with Air Freight

Give your dog the best chance to arrive safely at its new home by taking these steps:

  • Advance planning and preparation for pet air transportation is important. If travelling internationally, it is best to know the shipping process and importation requirements. Set up the necessary paperwork like health and vaccination certificates from a certified vet.
  • Check your dog’s size. You may want to introduce your dog to a cargo crate as early as possible, so it gets used to it. The cargo crate must be of the appropriate size for your dog and also airline approved. Otherwise, you can make your pet‘s travel comfortable by using a kennel.
  • Take time to search for a reliable airline that can facilitate and/or provide safe transportation for your pet. Ask for the guidelines and accommodation the airline can provide.

Given the complexities of transporting your pet, you may consider getting a professional service to organize a safe moving plan. This way, you’ll ensure its safety and well-being.

Cost of Shipping a Dog by Air

Every pet move is different. There are several factors to consider before you can identify your dog’s moving cost.

The rates vary depending on a few key factors, such as:

  • Airline fees;
  • The cargo crate;
  • The location;
  • The pre-flight medical examination from a veterinarian;
  • Import permits and International health documents;
  • Government Approvals or Endorsements;
  • Additional International Expenses;
  • Country-Specific Customs Clearances and taxes;
  • Quarantine fees.

Other factors you may want to consider are as follows:

  • The size and weight of the dog: The shipping cost depends on the size of the cargo cage, and by extension, on the height and weight of your dog. The volume of the cargo cage is what determines the charge.
  • Location and route: Your trip will be less expensive if you can select an airline that offers a non-stop route to your destination.
  • Import permits: There is an additional fee for the import permit when shipping your dog overseas. Every country has different importation rules you need to comply with, and getting a formal approval from the government is one of them. This often comes at quite the price.
  • Government Approvals or Endorsements: You may need to get your dog’s veterinary paperwork to get a government endorsement or approval for travel (for instance, a USDA approval).
  • Airport Procedure: Go to the airport and be sure to check-in for your flight early to give your agent sufficient time to process your pet travel documents and enough time for your dog to get through airport security.
  • Customs Clearance: Prepare for the few clearance steps that need to be taken upon arrival. For example, there may be fees you need to pay, like country-specific fees or taxes and tariffs.

Although air freight is the fastest way to move your belongings, the costs are only worth it if you’re pressured by time. However, you may still use it to transport you and your family members, your pet, and your most valuable and light belongings.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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