In the case mentioned above, as the volumetric weight of the cargo exceeds the actual weight, the air courier charges would be based on 400kg, while the air freight charges would be based on 333.33 = 334 kg.
There’s a Catch to Air Freight
When deciding between air courier and air freight, the decision can be based on the size of the package and the associated fixed costs for customs clearing, forwarder’s fees, and domestic trucking at each end. For small packages and samples, using a courier service is typically the most cost-effective option.
Let’s continue with the previous example of importing from China to the US, assuming you were quoted $5/Kg for courier and $4.5/Kg for air freight. The costs would be as follows:
- Door-to-door courier: $5 x 400 kg = $2000
- Air Freight: $4.5 x 334 kg = $1500
However, there are additional costs to consider when using air freight, such as domestic courier or haulage from the factory to the airport, customs clearance costs, forwarder costs in both China and the US, and haulage from the US airport to your door. Assuming these costs total around $750, the options now look like this:
- Door-to-door air courier: $5 x 400 kg = $2000
- Air freight: $4.5 x 334 kg = $1500 + $750 = $2250
In this scenario, the air courier service is clearly the better option. Additionally, express courier services are typically faster, unless you opt for one of the slower and cheaper courier services that may take 7-10 days for your package to arrive at its destination.
When To Choose Air Freight over Air Courier?
The main question is at what point does air freight become more cost-effective than air couriers? Based on our experience of shipping thousands of air courier and air freight shipments from China to North America and Europe over the years, we have found that in most cases, at around 400-500Kg chargeable weight, the “total cost” of air freight begins to be less expensive than using air couriers.
For instance, in the example above, if you increase the number of cartons from 10 to 20, the total volumetric weight for air freight becomes 667Kg, while for air courier, it becomes 800kg. Therefore, in this case, air freight is a more cost-effective option than air courier.
For shipments weighing less than 500Kg, using air courier is a simpler option than air freight, especially if you can get a discounted courier rate from freight forwarders.
When deciding between air freight and air couriers, it is crucial to take into account important factors:
- For air freight, you can choose DDP (delivery to door, including customs clearance and customs duties, the recipient only needs to wait for goods) and DDU (delivery to door, excluding customs clearance and customs duties, and the recipient needs to clear customs)
- But for air courier, you can only choose DDU except for the UK(delivery to the door, excluding customs clearance and customs duties, the recipient needs to clear customs). DDP air freight is a suitable option for customers who lack the capability to clear customs or do not comprehend the customs clearance procedure.
- Of course, we also offer airport-to-airport air freight and port-to-port sea freight.
Chargeable Weight of Multi-piece Shipment for Air Courier
UPS Shipping Charge Rules
Multi-Piece Shipment: this refers to a shipment that contains more than one package, with UPS allowing up to 20 packages per shipment(more than 20, UPS will automatically divide orders).
For Multi-Piece Shipments, the minimum weight of a single package is 5kg per package, with any chargeable weight less than 5kg being calculated as 5kg. The maximum weight per package should not exceed 30kg, as UPS may impose surcharges for overweight packages.
The total chargeable weight of multiple packages in one shipment is determined by calculating the greater of the actual weight and volume weight of each package on the waybill. If the calculated weight is less than 0.5kg, it will be rounded up to 0.5kg, and if it exceeds 0.5kg, it will be rounded up to 1kg.
The chargeable weight of one shipment is the sum of the chargeable weights of each package. For example, if there are three packages with the following information: