Pros & Cons of Shipping Methods: Air Freight, Sea Freight, Courier Companies

Irrespective of the type of item you wish to ship abroad, you definitely want it to arrive to its destination as soon as possible. However, would you mind paying more money to save time? The fact is that certain parcel shipping methods are more affordable than others. And in some instances, this can mean a lot, especially for long-distance shipping. Unfortunately, cheap parcel delivery methods are often not as quick as those more expensive ones.

Every shipping method has its benefits and drawbacks. Deciding which one to use depends on the type of cargo you need to transport, your time, and your budget. With many factors coming into play, it’s not possible to say which one of them is the best among all. You’ll have to decide it yourself. We’ll help you make this decision by giving you information about each of these shipping methods. So let us go through each one of them in more detail.

Air Freight

In international shipping, air freight is the fastest way to deliver parcels and goods. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that a plane can fly much faster than a ship can sail. Plus, it can arrive at any destination on the planet, something that trucks can’t do. While air freight is far less time consuming than truck freight or ship freight, it has a downside, and that’s cost.

In almost every case, air freight is costlier than any other shipping method. While it may not be a big deal if you’re going to send a small-sized item to a different part of the planet, if your business is international trade, the cost of air freight can take a toll on your company’s profits.

There’s another downside to air freight shipping, and that’s the limited amount of space inside the plane. Compared to a cargo ship, there’s less space inside an airplane. So, weight plays an important role and you may be prevented from transporting your entire cargo in one go.

Pros of Air Freight

  • Can be used anywhere on the planet
  • Little to no delays
  • Safe and secure shipping method
  • The fastest shipping method

Cons of Air Freight

  • Expensive

Sea Freight

Bulk shipping and sea freight go hand in hand. Why? Because sea freight is relatively cheap. In fact, sea freight is as much as five times cheaper than the typical air freight. Unfortunately, it’s a lot slower, too. So, if you’re low on supplies from some remote part of the world, for example, China, you’ll have to wait from weeks to months for your shipment to arrive.

Sea freight also can’t reach every part of the world. For example, it’s impossible to ship items from one of the big industrial centers in mainland China via sea – a few of the cities are at a distance of over thousands of miles from the nearest harbor. Sea freight is much more eco-friendly compared to air shipping. In sea freight, 15g of carbon dioxide is emitted per ton of cargo on average. This is 40 times less than what air freight produces

Your packages won’t take as long if you opt for air freight. With an airplane, shipping goods from China to Europe usually doesn’t take more than a couple of days.

Pros of Sea Freight

  • The cheapest method of long-distance shipping
  • Very eco-friendly than air freight

Cons of Sea Freight

  • Not available everywhere on the planet
  • Time-consuming

International Courier Companies

Road transport of bulk cargo is one of the most-effective methods when it comes to shipping items. It’s much faster than sea freight and far cheaper than air freight shipping. You can hire couriers to free you of all concerns. All you need to do is hand over the packages to the courier.

Courier services are considered safer than other shipping methods, which is a great advantage. So, if you need to transport fragile items or your valuables, international couriers are the best ones to hire for the job.

Besides using courier services to send or receive small packages, you can use them for bulk shipping, as well. The majority of international courier companies have vehicle fleets with trucks and vans of different sizes. This means that they can deliver your cargo in one go.

With regards to vehicle fleets, certain courier companies use ships and airplanes too, not just land vehicles. And some partner with other freight companies that allow them to use various means of transport to get your package delivered affordably and swiftly.

Pros of Courier Service

  • Cheaper than air freight
  • Fastest shipping method for short-distance delivery (~1000 mi)
  • Perfect for domestic shipping
  • Secure, safe, and reliable

Cons of Courier Service

  • Not a preferable method for cross-continent shipping

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