Ocean vs. Air Freight - Which Should You Choose?

Jun-21-2018 | by: admin

For overseas exhibits and trade shows, ocean freight and air freight are the two methods of freight transportation. While air freight is the most common, ocean freight is a key and growing component for international exhibitions.

Some important keynotes about Ocean Freight vs. Air:


Ocean Freight Ocean Freight is less expensive, based on dimensional sizes of per cubic meter, or by 1000kg. It can also be based on container size such as 20 or 40-foot containers. All freight should fit into one of the containers that are used to load vessels, and these do have some size limitations, based on the door openings. However, they have containers with open tops, flat racks and even roll on and roll off systems to accommodate most sizes, vehicles, trucks and even helicopters.

Ocean freight offers the most flexibility in terms of size of exhibit that can be transported. It has extremely economical pricing and with proven delivery records. Ocean Freight is more susceptible to weather and other delays, with less flexibility in solutions, proper management of time frames and deadlines creates a great deal of success for meeting trade show deadlines. Generally, ocean freight can take a minimum of 21 or 30 days to go from port to port. Be careful, as some foreign venues and contractors have minimum handling fees for containers and for ocean freight, so make sure that you take these minimums into your total pricing budget.


Air Freight Very popular and accessible to most of the US, air freight is the preferred method for transporting exhibit materials around the world. Air Freight allows for greater frequency of service. More cities are reached by air freight, and if you have a short time schedule or rush shipment, air freight is the most flexible. There are size restrictions involved, and there are much more security requirements that can limit the choice and flight selections.

Air Freight is more expensive for ocean, and the convenience and timing factor have a large role to play in this. Yet, for shipments of fewer than 1000 lbs or so, air freight can be more economical than ocean freight to many destinations. Generally, air freight can take a minimum of same day or 2 days to transport from US to overseas destinations. For a full detailed listing on size restrictions for air and ocean, contact your TWI representative or give us a call 702-706-0405.