If you are a business that will be sending shipments overseas or an individual that is moving to another country, choosing between sea and air freight can be difficult. You should base your decision on speed, reliability, cost, and environmental impact. Depending on your preferences and needs, making a decision requires you to prioritize. Here are some factors that you want to consider when it comes to shipping:


Considering that cost is important, the bottom line is shipping by sea will be cheaper than shipping by air. Airlines will bill you by chargeable weight, which is calculated from a combination of the weight and size of a shipment. Sea carriers will charge per container rate when it comes to standard containers, although weight can be factored into the price, they will still tend to charge based on the size of the shipment in cubic meters. 

If you have larger heavier shipments, it is often much cheaper to ship by sea. As a shipment gets smaller, the margin between prices will decrease and sometimes shipping by air might end up being less expensive. Do note that there are destination charges to consider as well regardless of whether you were shipping by air or sea. There will be additional customs and destination fees as well.


When it comes to shipping speed, there’s no doubt that airfreight will ship a lot faster. Since time is money, the fact that flying cargo will ship a lot faster may overrun the higher price for some people. Sea shipments can sometimes take up to a month to arrive well. Air shipments will take a day or two. This alone might be more worth the cost.


Humans look for reliability in people, businesses, products, and services. When it comes to ocean freight and air freight, air freight shipping has a much shorter history in comparison to ocean freight shipping. Airfreight tends to take the cake when it comes to reliability. Although flights can get delayed by weather and many other factors, airlines tend to be on top of their schedules. 

Ocean carriers are known to be notoriously bad about this. It is not uncommon for ships to be off schedule and that can affect your business or moving plans. If you choose to go with airlines, there are daily flights back and forth between major cities around the world.  Missing a flight will not cause much of a delay when it comes to cargo shipment. Ocean lines will have a weekly schedule, missing the cut off at the seaport, which means an even longer delay.

Environmental Impact

Although you might have your mind on cost and convenience, it is important that you consider the environmental issues that come with your shipment plans. Social awareness of environmental issues will have an impact on how your company is seen by the public or your audience. 

When it comes to environmental impact, it would seem that ocean freight wins this category. CO2 emissions are a lot higher when you choose air freight transport in comparison to sea for transport. Shipping cargo by air will have a much larger carbon footprint than shipping by sea. However, considering past oil spills and the water ecosystems affected by ocean freight shipping, perhaps this could play a role in your decision.

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