Air Freight Shipping From China : Ultimate Guide

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Written By Sharline

Sharline is an expert on Chinese export trade. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, she is familiar with all relevant regulations and laws about China's exporting. She loves to share her experiences with people and has written many helpful articles.

Air freight solutions are often opted to improve dropshipping business proceedings. However, costs and delivery options should be understood to make things go seamlessly.

With the increase in dropshipping services, businesses are looking for a high-end air freight service. This is because the better the air freight services, the securely the goods will reach their destination.

In addition, it also helps reduce costs and minimize delays that can be used for business proficiency. This guide will show how air freight works and what factors you should consider in it.

Shipping Method Of Air Freight

How does air freight work?

Airfreight shipping involves the process of picking up goods and delivering them via aeroplane. Your logistics provider will coordinate with the freight company in this matter.

Once the details for the shipment is done, the shipment will be sent to the airport.

This is done using a local carrier that will pick your shipment and deliver it to the designated airport.

Afterwards, the freight is loaded on the aeroplane, the goods will be shipped to their designated location. There your local carrier can pick the shipment and bring it to your warehouse.

You can either request the airport management to send the carrier for picking up the goods. Or you can also arrange a carrier on your own.

Air freight shipping from China

Air freight shipping from China comes with its own set of pros and cons that are to be considered for the process. Here are those pros and cons:


The following are the pros of using air freight shipping from China:


One of the primary perks of using air freight is that it comes with speed. Unlike sea shipping and other modes of transportation, air freight comes with high-speed transportation.

It only takes hours for the shipment to arrive at the designated location. On the other hand, it can take days, weeks or even months for the shipment to arrive at the location. With air freight, your shipment can arrive in hours or take a day at maximum.

Low risk of accidents and delays

Another reason why suppliers use air freight is that it comes with low risks of accidents and delays. With air freight, the only thing that concerns is the malfunctioning of the plane.

However, even in that case, the plane can immediately land on any destination. For sea shipping, there’s no way that it can take port immediately.

The shipment can be stranded for weeks and you still won’t have the update when it will arrive. Same goes with local transportation.

There is a high rate of chances that it can face any accident. However, with air freight, these risks are mitigated, and you can get your shipment without any delays.

High level of safety and cargo preservation

Another reason why people opt for air freight is that it offers a high level of safety and cargo preservation.

Once loaded, the cargo will only be opened when it reaches your warehouse. That being said, air freight shipping is considered the best for the purpose.

On the other hand, sea shipping comes with a great deal of threats. For starters, the sea shipment can face issues from pirates, which can result in the loss of the shipment.

On the other hand, if damaged, the entire shipment can go down in the drain, resulting in a huge loss for you.

Apart from that, local transportation is also bound to get troubled by bandits on the road. From losing the shipment to never knowing what happened to it, various troubles await.

That is why choosing air freight is the most optimal solution. Not only it is secure but also comes with a deal of safety and time efficiency.

Air freight shipping Pros


Despite the appealing perks, here are some cons of an air freight shipment that you should consider:

High Costs

One of the major reasons why people don’t go for air freight is because of the high costs. These costs are quite high than sea shipping or local transportation.

In addition, the costs are added to the total depending upon the distance and the designated location. The more the distance from China, the greater will be the cost.

Limited Carrying Capacity

In addition to the high costs, you’ll have to face limited carrying capacity. This means that only a limited amount of goods can be carried on air freight.

Unlike sea shipping, you can’t just stack crates on the plane. Even with a carrier jet, the quantity of the goods remains low than a carrier ship. Moreover, opting for a high capacity plane will ultimately increase the costs.

Unfit for specific products

There are several kinds of products that one needs for their business needs. However, opting for air freight for some products such as heavy machinery or equipment may not be the right option.

First of all, the air freight would not even consider the order. Even if they do, the price would be quite high, which would disrupt your budget.

Dependable on weather conditions

Another reason why air freight isn’t a reliable method is weather conditions. Even with immense rain and storm, sea shipping continues to bring the goods.

However, bad weather completely stops air services, which would delay the shipment for unknown limits.

Air freight shipping Cons

3 Shipping Method Of Air Freight You Can Choose

Here are the 3 shipping methods of air freight that you can choose:

1.Cargo Aircraft

Thee planes are designed to carry cargo around the destinations. These are the most commonly used planes that are opted for air freight services by most suppliers and buyers. Their costs are also low as compared with other methods.

2.Commercial planes

Commercial planes are also used to bring goods. The planes are in schedule with the regular flights and can be booked for bringing passengers and goods as well. Hence these flights can also be used for bringing goods via air freight.

3.Air charter services

Air charter services comprise of booking of an entire airline for transport purposes. Many airlines offer air charter services.

This allows the customers to book the entire airline for either transporting passengers or goods. Hence this option can also opt if you want air freight services for your goods only and with time efficiency.

Air charter services

Multiple delivery options by Air Shipping

Now that you know how can you know the types that can be chosen for air freight, it’s time to know what other options can be chosen in this matter:

Domestic delivery options

Domestic delivery means something that is to be delivered within the same area or at least in the same country. Here are same-day delivery options that you can choose:

Same-day air

Same day air gets your product delivered to you within the remaining hours of the day. Although, it would cost more since the entire focus of logistics will be on the order to get it delivered on time. However, you’ll get the order delivered and received on the same day.

Next-day air

Next day air means getting your order at least in 24 hours. This kind of delivery is fast and takes no time delivering the goods. The price for this service is high as well.

Second-day air

Second-day air takes at least 48 hours to get the goods delivered. The process is the same and the price is low. However, many companies put preliminary options for certain goods.

This is done to make sure they are able to deliver the goods on time without having any issue. If preparation needs more time, then options such as same or next day air are not offered.

Deferred air

This results in a delay in the delivery of the goods. Deferred air can be a result of services being affected by weather, delay in packing, trouble in the way, etc. Hence, the shipment is then noted as deferred air.

International delivery options

Apart from domestic delivery options, here are some means that you should know for international delivery systems:

Deferred service

Deferred service in international delivery is considered when the service is affected due to international reasons. It can be the closing of air space, no flight privileges, flight restrictions, etc.

Express service

Express services such as UPS, DHL, etc. ensure proficient proceedings for air freights. These companies ensure that goods are transported using high-end logistics to ensure safety and time efficiency.

Many companies also use these to own tracking ID so that the shipment can be tracked. It also ensures the safety of the goods in case the goods go missing.


How are air freight rates calculated?

It’s important that you know how air freight rates are calculated so that you can estimate the costs and make the budget for it. Here are some factors that contribute to the calculation of air freight weight:

Gross weight

Gross weight is the total weight of the product, including the packaging it is coming in. For example, if you’re ordering any electronics, you’re going to have to pay for the packaging as well as any safety packing that is coming with it.

Volumetric weight

The volumetric weight is considered the total weight of the product that is derived by using the length and width of the product. It comprises of the total volume that the product is coming with.

Other factors that can impact the cost

Here are some factors that can impact the cost of the goods that are coming via air freight:

Fuel Surcharges

The price of fuel changes all the time. Express flights such as DHL, FedEx, etc. add fuel surcharges within their transportation costs.

This is the cost that allows the companies to cover the costs of fuel in case the price changes. Hence you can have a definite amount by the end of the evening and it can increase by tomorrow.

Container Freight Station Fees

The container freight station or CFS fee is the fee that is charged for deconsolidation the container when it reaches the port.

Upon arrival, the container has to be taken for deconsolidation. The CFS includes the costs of the process such as a fee for transportation, storage, etc.

Airport Security Costs

As evident from the name, these are the costs that are added for the safety of your goods. Even though there are rare chances of thefts at the airport, still, having security for the goods and the shipment should be your top priority.

Airline Handling Charges

The handling charges are added in case-specific airlines are landing on the airport. These are the charges that are added for commercial and air charters.

Since these planes need special protocol, the airport makes way for landing and handling these planes.

Customs Clearance Fees

Customs can be a hassle. Every shipment entering the air space and the airport must get cleared by the country’s customs.

That is why the customs clearance fee is taken. This is done the reduce the extensiveness and the time of checking the goods. This in result allows the shipment to reach its destination in no time.

Associated Trucking Costs

Trucking costs as can be assessed by the name are the costs that are associated with local transportation.

These can be trucks used for transporting containers, moving the goods to the warehouse, etc. That is why trucking costs are also added and can impact the overall costs for your air freight.

Key Terms Of Air Freight You Should Know

Here are some of the key terms of air freight that you should know about to understand how does it work:


AWB, or Air Waybill, is a document that looks over the routing of an exporters package as long as it is under the care of a consolidator or the air carrier.

Air Waybill can also be defined as a contract for carriage, however, you can not negotiate with this contract because it serves as a receipt for the person responsible for shipping indicating that the carrier has accepted the package.

In layman terms, AWB is a bill that covers both air freight international flights and air freight domestic flights carrying the goods or packages to a specific destination.


IATA stands for the International Air Transport Association which was established in 1945. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, IATA governs everything that goes on in the air freight services on a day-to-day basis.

It is a trade association that helps in establishing international airfares for air freight. IATA also serves passengers, travel agents, government, airlines, and shippers by promoting standardization and safety of goods.


ETD is the Estimated Time of Departure. The way ETD works is that the cut off the time required for carrier’s cargo to go through ramp handling is set two hours before the Estimated Time of Departure.

As far as freight forwarder’s consolidation is concerned, its cut off time depends on every forwarder’s operations, respectively.


The actual time of Departure or the ATD is the time when an aeroplane carrying cargo actually takes off. However, in air freight logistics it can also refer to the point in time when an air freight shipment is dispatched.


The estimated time of arrival, as the name indicates, refers to the time period within which an air freight shipment is expected to reach its destination. ETA determines that remaining time at which shipments from air freight shipping companies will arrive at their destination.


The counterpart to ATD, ATA refers to the Actual Time of Arrival. It indicates the actual time at which an air freight shipment actually lands at the destination.

Though, under different contexts, ATA might also refer to the Airport-to-Airport or Air Transport Association of America.


MOQ denotes the Minimum Order Required. In other words, MOQ is the lowest amount of units of a certain product that you must buy from a supplier to even establish a deal.

Dangerous Goods

Dangerous Goods is just an official term for Hazardous Materials set by The United Nations. Dangerous Goods can be simply defined as those substances and articles that can pose a significant risk to the safety or health of the public when transported via air freight.

Dangerous Goods are classified in accordance with the latest edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations and the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.

Dimensional Weight

Established to ensure fair compensation in case of low-density shipments, Dimensional Weight comes in to play to determine the air freight charges for shipments with low density.

In simpler words, it is a computed weight, estimated by dividing the volume of the shipment by the minimum density requirement.

But when is the Dimensional Weight used? It is used when a given air freight shipment falls below the standard of minimum density requirement.

How Leeline Help You Shipping Goods From China By Air

Shipping Goods from China by Air is a lengthy process stretched over numerous steps that you must take care of.

If you think that you can handle all the tasks involved in air freight international all by yourself, then you need to think again.

It is important to get in contact with a well renowned and reputable sourcing agent to ensure safe and seamless transport of goods via air.

And what better source than Leeline. From cargo insurance to the delivery of products to your doorsteps, Leeline takes care of everything leaving you to think about the future of your business.

With competitive pricing and no fee, Leeline is the best option for you if you want to import goods from China via Air Freight. Let’s dive into how Leeline takes on the complex task of shipping by air from china:

Cargo insurance

We cannot stress enough about how important cargo insurance is in air freight. Cargo insurance makes sure that you receive proper coverage against all risk or damage to your goods or physical loss during the course of shipment by air. If you do not get your cargo insured, you can lose your precious cargo.

With Leeline you do not have to worry about Cargo Insurance because their teams take care of it without you having to ask them.

They make sure that your cargo is insured so you can protect it even when it is hundreds of feet up in the air.

Door To Door Air Freight Service

Want someone to take care of door to door delivery for you? Say no more, Leeline Sourcing will take care of that for you too.

Leeline makes sure that the cargo is responsibly collected and delivered to the point agreed with the final customer.

The best perk of Leeline’s door to door shipping is that the prices are cheaper than renowned retailers such as Ali Express and the Quality is a whole and better as well.

Besides, Leeline ships the products timely to avoid any kind of disruption.

Door To Door Air Freight Service

Fumigation and inspection

Proper Fumigation and inspection of the cargo being shipped are extremely crucial for it to be approved by air freight logistics and Leeline understands that better than anyone.

Leeline makes sure that product inspection is carried out with great detail to ensure a smooth delivery. The best part? Leeline’s basic quality inspection is free of charge so you do not need to spend any extra money.

Direct flight to worldwide

Do you have a large shipment or you want your cargo to be delivered urgently? Worry no more. With Leeline you can get your cargo shipping by air from china directly no matter where you are in the world.

Leeline’s Direct Worldwide shipping works perfectly with just-In-Time manufacturing models. So, it can not afford to wait for your shipping to arrive, then we suggest that you should go with Leeline’s Direct Worldwide shipping instead of settling for consolidated shipping.

Single-source quoting

If you do not have enough reasons to choose Leeline as your agent for air freight services already, then their single source quoting will serve as the cherry on the top for you.

With many years of experience in the field of sourcing, Leeline goes to great lengths to ensure that you are able to find the right source for the purchase of your goods.

Competitive air freight rates

If you are first timer stepping into the field of air freight then you need to beware of air freight agents that overcharge people by offering less price on the outside but have numerous hidden charges that they surprise you with later on.

You can count on Leeline when it comes to air freight rates. Without any hidden charges, Leeline offers its amazing services at competitive air freight rates that are the lowest in the market.

Hence, if you looking to save some money without compromising on service and quality then Leeline is the right match for you.

Customs clearance service at origin or destination

Do you have everything sorted and are ready to have your cargo shipped via air freight international and the only thing left is customs clearance?

You need not to worry because Leeline’s job isn’t finished yet. Leeline also takes care of customs clearance and clears your shipment from the shackles of customs at the origin and the destination by hook or by crook.

And before you know it, your product will be at your doorstep, thanks to Leeline’s unparalleled service and amazing rates.

Customs Broker

Final Thoughts on Air Freight

Shipping by air from China is a tricky process with so many complex steps involved, and things can get even more difficult during the peak season.

For a seamless and well organized Air Freight experience you need an experienced freight agent such as Leeline.

Leeline is the best freight agent that you can find in China to assist you with air freight services and air freight shipping. Without any hidden charges and with follow up production, unprecedented quality assurance and delivery of products at your doorstep, Leeline will change the way you look at, and think about, air freight.

FAQ For Air Freight

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions when it comes to shipping by Air Freight to help you in understanding the whole process better:

1.What goods are generally shipped via air freight?

You can ship just about anything via air freight. Think of anything and you will be surprised to know that it can be shipped via air.

Anything ranging from letters, snacks, furniture, cars, animals, heavy construction equipment and even aeroplanes can be shipped via air freight.

The type of cargo shipped greatly influenced by the type of service used by air freight shipping companies.

For example, an airbus has a maximum limit of 16 tons while a Boeing 747-300 has a maximum capacity of 13 tons. Antonov 225 Mriya, on the other hand, offers a capacity of 250 tons for shipping by air from China.

The only few things that air freight shipping companies cannot ship are gasses, radioactive items, explosives, strong magnets and anything else that can be considered a danger to the public health.

2.What is peak season and how may it affect my shipment?

Air freight logistics usually experience peak activity during the fourth quarter of the year. Peak activity starts in November and ends during the second week of December.

In other words, it starts with Thanksgiving and ends with Christmas. Bear in mind that rates for shipping by air increase drastically during the peak season of shipping by air from China.

As far as your shipment is concerned, you should be prepared for air freight shipping prices to touch the sky.

Moreover, peak season also results in rolled cargo, delays in trucking and other interruptions that can get very annoying very quickly. Make sure that you get a good handle for your supply chain and analyze the costs for air freight services beforehand.

3.Should I book the delivery by myself, or will my supplier do it?

Well, while your supplier can surely handle the shipment himself by getting in contact with the local freight forwarder for the air freight services, we will highly suggest you to book the delivery yourself via a freight forwarder who is based on your related market or your country.

How will this benefit you? Booking the delivery yourself will give you a great deal of transparency over the cost of air freight services and the whole process that goes into it.

Besides, you can personally ensure that your precious cargo is properly insured and shipped safely.

4.Can I obtain insurance for my Air freight?

Yes, you can obtain insurance for your Air Freight and we highly recommend it. As far as air freight is concerned, insurance companies very rarely charge you over $15 – $20 per air freight shipment.

Get your cargo insured because transportation damages are more common than you think especially when you are shipping by air from China. So, in case of any mishap, you can file an insurance claim.

5.Are there particular restrictions that I should know?

Yes. In order to ship products via Air Freight, you must follow the instructions set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

For example, there is are strict restrictions on cargo-carrying lithium batteries including electronic devices and power banks.

So, if you want to ship stuff that is restricted by IATA, you must comply with all the rules including safety regulations, export packaging, documentation, and labelling.

If you want to import lithium batteries via shipping by air from china then we highly suggest you work with freight forwarders that have prior experience in shipping electronic devices, power banks, and lithium batteries via air freight services.

6.What is the difference between air cargo and air freight?

The main difference between air cargo and air freight depends on the type of air freight shipping companies that you deal with.

Both terms, air freight and air cargo, denote the concept in shipping by air industry and are interchangeable.

Both terms refer to the fees that are paid to carrier operating the transportation of the package. In addition, air freight includes goods imported by a freight forwarder which can also act as a carrier of goods if the need arises.

While air cargo can be referred to as bulk cargo added to domestic cargo category on a plane.