Land, Sea, & Air: What’s the Best Freight Shipping Method?

Whether it’s by land, air, or sea, freight transportation has developed over the last few decades. What took months to deliver in the past now takes a few weeks. Even some online orders offer same-day or next-day deliveries.

Generally, freight shippers have three options: cargo delivery by land, sea, and air. Not all methods work for certain destinations and places, so here are the different pros and cons of the three types.

Cargo Delivery By Land

Freight shipping by land simply means that a truck or large vehicle will be responsible for getting your cargo from Point A to B. When you ship an item, your cargo will be sent to various sorting centers transported by cargo trucks until it reaches its intended destination.

This option is only practical when you and your cargo’s destination are within the same landmass. So, if you live in California, it’s possible to transport cargo to New York or Mexico City by land. But if you’re trying to ship to London, it’ll be impossible to use this method. Also, just because the destination is within the same landmass does not mean truck delivery is the most convenient. Canada and Argentina are technically within the same landmass, but it’ll be more convenient to have it shipped through sea or air freight.

Land cargo can take anywhere between one to three working days to reach its destination, depending on how far your destination is. Factors like the holiday season (due to the number of increased packages), size of your package (larger cargo is more difficult to transport), and the weather (natural events like storms and floods could cause delays) can affect its speed.

It’s the only practical option if you’re shipping to a nearby destination. The farther your cargo’s destination is, the more practical it may be to use sea or air transportation. This is because land transportation is quick for nearby deliveries, but if it’s already far, you might want to save time and opt for faster (but more expensive) modes of shipping.

Cargo Delivery By Sea

Sea delivery is the more practical option if your destination is abroad and accessible by sea. With over 360 ports in the United States, delivering cargo by sea carriers can be more practical for international shipping and distances too far for land transportation.

Sea shipping is the practical choice if land shipping is too slow or impossible. It is also the ideal choice if your cargo is too heavy for air cargo that it’s either too expensive or too heavy to fit in any air carrier. It’s more expensive than land transportation, but it’s cheaper than air delivery.

Its main drawback is that it is much slower than air freight. Cargo ships are large vessels and their costs are shared by the different companies or private individuals that take up the vessel’s space with their cargo, so there may be delays in your shipping. Aside from the slower travel, there’s also the time spent to load and unload freight, customs clearance, and bottleneck issues that can cause backlog and delays, especially in busy ports. Because of these, expect that you can’t really promise same-day delivery or a short delivery time if you opt for sea delivery.

Cargo Delivery by Air

DeliveryThe most expensive option, air cargo is the best option for fast international and long-distance shipping. With over 5,000 airports around the United States, this is a good option for those who don’t have the luxury of living near a port for convenient sea shipping and want their cargo shipped faster.

If speed is your main concern, air freight is your best solution. In 2016, a statistics report showed that air cargo had 15% less late arrivals compared to both land and sea transportation.

Unfortunately, air freight comes with some cons. While inclement weather can slow down land and sea cargo deliveries, it can stop flights from taking off. So, on the off chance that your plane does meet bad weather, there can be bigger delays. There’s also the problem of costs. A plane can take your cargo to the other side of the world in less than 48 hours, but it is more expensive. Air carriers charge by weight, so the heavier your freight is, the more expensive the total cost will be.

Each mode of shipping has its own advantages and disadvantages. Find one that won’t decrease your profit margins while still getting your cargo to its destination within the time you promised your customer.

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