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For most business owners, air cargo and air freight are used interchangeably to refer to the transport of goods by air. These two means of long-distance shipping are similar. Yet, there are also distinct and vital differences between them that could affect which form of transportation is appropriate and suitable for your needs.

Using air freight is an essential component of international shipping, acting as a crucial link in the chain with other forms of freight services to transport your goods seamlessly from one location to another.

Learn about which form will best suit your business needs so you can send and receive goods with confidence.

The Efficiency of Shipping via Air

When time is of the essence, you need air transportation. This mode of transport is time-sensitive, and you’re able to send goods to virtually anywhere worldwide using in-depth tracking and enhanced security.

If you were to send a package by sea using ocean freight, you would need to wait several weeks for your chosen destination to receive your goods. Although ocean freight is the most common form of long-distance shipping for both importers and exporters, it comes with distinct disadvantages that sometimes make it unsuitable.

Exploring Basic Definitions

It’s easy to see initial differences when you examine the meaning of the words freight or cargo. The terms freight or cargo refer to the transportation of goods from one place to another, but the term cargo is typically only used for goods transported by plane or ship. Freight has a much broader definition and can also be applied to the transportation of goods via road, ocean, rail as well as air.

To clarify this further, cargo refers to the goods carried by a third-party aircraft, while an air freight company moves this cargo onto their plane. While the term cargo can be used interchangeably with freight, it more specifically refers to what a plane carries vs. the means by which it’s carried.

The Benefits of Choosing Air Freight Services

There are many advantages to choosing air freight services, which is why this shipping method is so popular. The major disadvantage of this form of shipment is the higher cost; but once you understand the benefits and everything you get with air freight shipment, the cost becomes easy to justify.

Here are some benefits of sending goods via air. International air shipment:

  • Is faster than other methods
  • Has a worldwide reach
  • Includes a high level of security, with less risk of theft or damage
  • Suits time-sensitive goods, such as perishable items
  • Is easy to track
  • Can be used with well-known courier companies
  • Doesn’t require as much packaging as sea freight
  • Doesn’t involve LCL shipments
  • Has a reliable schedule with dependable arrival and departure times that are only affected by harsh weather

Factors That Will Influence Your Shipment Choice

Weighing up pros and cons is a crucial part of any decision-making process and can help you make the right choice. The following points are important factors to consider whenever undertaking an international shipment.

Freight Rate

When goods are transported via air, rates are charged according to the package’s volume and weight. Other factors such as the distance between your location and the destination and the package’s urgency will affect the ultimate cost.

Shipping goods by air is more expensive than other forms of transportation, so if time isn’t an enormous factor for you and you want to save money, shipping by air may not be a budget-friendly choice.

Transit Time

If there’s no shipping rush, then another form of transportation may suit you just as well as air freight. It can take weeks for your goods to successfully reach their destination via sea freight when air freight could deliver the same goods in hours or days.


Cargo planes and other forms of aircraft have limited space and impose size and weight limits on the goods they carry. If you’re sending a small package, this shouldn’t amount to much chargeable weight, but it can derail larger shipments.

Package type

What you want to send will also influence how it can be sent. Air freight won’t transport specific items such as flammables, gases, or biological waste. Airports and airlines rigorously follow these guidelines, so you must follow the rules. Plus, your goods will need to pass through a customs clearance process, whether sent by air or sea.

Air Cargo

Final Verdict

So is there a difference between air freight vs. air cargo? It turns out that there isn’t such a big difference between the two. In the shipping industry, these terms are often interchangeable, and the only time these terms are differentiated depends on the shipping company you use.

Figuring out the shipping world can be complex, and terminology only adds to this complexity. Thankfully, when considering freight vs. cargo, the only actual difference is terminology, but this doesn’t alter the overall outcome. This is especially true if you hire a company that takes care of these details for you and can explain some trickier parts of freight shipping.

Air freight services are one of the best ways to transport your goods over a long distance, but figuring out logistics and details can be complicated.

At Asiana USA, we offer door-to-door services so that you can track your goods throughout the shipping process. Contact us at (855) 500-1808. We are here to answer your questions and use our expertise and knowledge of the industry to help you navigate the complex world of freight shipment with ease.

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