What Your Air Freight Forwarder Wishes You Knew

by | Dec 6, 2016 | Freight Forwarder, Logistics, Supply Chain Dictionary

questions to ask your freight forwarder

As a freight forwarder, we receive all types of shipping requests. However, considering the cost and speed of air freight, it’s especially important to know the basics when preparing for an air shipment. Therefore, based on common questions, tips, and misconceptions, we’ve put together seven fundamental things to know when requesting a quote or booking a shipment with your air freight forwarder.

1. Understand Transit Times

When thinking about air freight transit times, you may be tempted to think in terms of your recent 7-hour, trans-Atlantic flight from New York to London. This thinking can sometimes lead to an unrealistic expectation for your air freight shipment.

While the actual flight time of your cargo is important, your lead time should also include customs, transportation to/from the airport, routing, extreme weather, at both origin or destination. If you reconsider your passenger flight; scheduling/booking your trip, packing luggage, getting to/from the airport, and remembering your passport all contributed to the overall journey.

You’ll also need to factor in seasonal demand. For example, if you plan on shipping in November, be prepared for a rush of cargo into the U.S. in advance of the holiday shopping season. Large air shippers, such as Apple, will command a lot of space which leads to overbookings and potential delays for your air freight shipments.

2. How Fast?

You’re shipping your cargo via air freight because you need it fast. However, do you need your shipment to arrive tomorrow? Or, will a 2 to 3-day transit time suffice?

There are air freight options that vary in transit time and therefore cost.

For example, if you are willing to sacrifice speed, a deferred/indirect air freight service could save you as much as 20% or more over an expedited option.

3. The Basics

Just like ocean freight, you need to provide certain basic information to your freight forwarder for a quote. Some of the things you’ll need include:

origin address
destination address
special requirements (e.g. is your cargo delicate? Hazardous? Etc.)

4. Know Your Key Decision Makers

Since air freight is so much faster than ocean freight, any issues that could cause delays need to be resolved immediately. Your air freight forwarder needs to know who to talk to in your company in case they need a decision made, or who can make changes.

Considering the additional cost compared to ocean freight, it’s important to establish a clear internal process for approving air freight shipments.

5. Don’t Forget to Send Routing Instructions to Your Supplier

Just as with ocean freight, you’ll need to provide routing instructions to your shippers.However, because of the urgency of air freight, it’s even more important that your supplier has the local contacts found in the routing order. You don’t want your supplier in Shanghai asking you how to book a shipment when it’s midnight in California. In this case, you may be delaying the shipment by a day or more since they likely won’t receive your response until the next business day.

6. Have Your Documentation Ready to Go

Just like in ocean freight, you need to have all your paperwork in order before the cargo arrives at its destination. However, everything must be completed that much faster. Ensure every shipment has its packing list, commercial invoice, material safety data sheet (if you’re shipping hazardous materials), etc., ready when the shipment is ready –or when possible, before.

Also, it’s important to have close contact with your customs broker so they can advise you of any specific requirements for your commodity and help ensure a smooth customs clearance.  To do so, be sure you have a continuous bond on file with U.S. customs, as well as a valid Power of Attorney with your customs broker for all inbound U.S. freight.

For U.S. export shipments, your freight forwarder will also need a TSA Consent to Screen form as well as an export Power of Attorney.

7. New to Air Freight? Meet the TSA

If you’re a U.S. exporter and you haven’t gone through the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Known Shipper Management System (KSMS), you are considered an “unknown shipper.” This means you won’t be able to ship your air freight on passenger planes, only in cargo planes. That severely limits your flight options and can stretch out delivery times.

If you have U.S. export air freight and aren’t yet a known shipper, talk to your freight forwarder about becoming approved in the KSMS. Please note that this regulation doesn’t impact air freight imports into the U.S. or other international air cargo.

If you need to ship air freight, Dedola Global Logistics is here for you. We offer priority and expedited services to send your shipments to and from anywhere in the world. Our vast network of air freight service contacts gives you access to the same air freight service options as your largest competitors.

Our customer service team is here to help. Contact us today and find out how we can work with you to create a seamless air freight process.