How to Choose Between International Air Shipping & Ocean Shipping

How to Choose Between International Air Shipping & Ocean Shipping
December 27, 2018 Aldo Flores
a truck loading cargo onto a plane

A Guide for International Ocean Shipping vs. Air Shipping

International air shipping wasn’t even a possibility a century ago. At that point, there was only one way to have anything sent overseas: load the items onto a ship. Consider it the throwback equivalent of international ocean shipping. Today, however, you have more than one option, thanks in large part to the Wright brothers. Sending cargo by air has its advantages, but it may not be the best choice in every situation.

Choosing whether to send freight by boat or plane can have significant repercussions on your supply chain in a number of ways. This is why it’s a good idea to stop for a moment and think about it before deciding. Here are several crucial factors to consider before choosing between international air shipping and ocean shipping.

Shipping Costs

Perhaps no factor means more to your business than how much you’ll be spending. If this is the most important for your shipment, you may gravitate toward ocean freight over international air shipping. That’s because the rates for ocean transport are substantially lower than flying it. In many cases, going by ship can save you nearly 80 percent of what you would spend sending the same cargo through the air.


a freight forwarder on the ocean

A significant edge that airplanes have over boats is how much faster they can reach their destinations. A trip of several days over the water can take hours through the air. Adding all of the necessary handling into the equation, anything sent by international ocean shipping can take at least a month to arrive, if not longer. By comparison, sending it by air can take as little as two days.

Type of Shipment

the cargo hold of an airplane

All other factors being equal, the dimensions of your shipment can influence your decision. Specifically, items that are heavier than about 400 pounds may cost extra to transport via international air shipping. Bulky cargo also stands a better chance of fitting on a container ship than in the hold of a plane.


Some types of shipments have to be treated with care. Shipments with high value, sensitive natures, or shorter shelf lives need to get to their destinations quicker and with greater certainty than others. In these situations, you may want to choose international air shipping. This is because the shorter transit time means you can be more certain that your shipment will arrive in ideal condition. There is less chance of damages or theft when sending them through the skies.

Trans Global Can Help You Decide

Whether you decide on international ocean shipping or air shipping, we can guide your cargo through its journey from start to finish. The comprehensive services at Trans Global include air and sea freight, and we can shepherd you through the entire process. As a fully licensed and bonded freight forwarder and non-vessel operating common carrier, we can handle all of the documentation and administrative tasks associated with your shipments — no matter their point of origin or destination.

We’re dedicated to providing you with unbeatable rates and best overall service, whether on land, sea or air. For more information about international air shipping or anything else we offer, reach out to Trans Global today.

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