Which Is Better: Air Shipping vs Ocean Shipping

Choosing between air shipping vs ocean shipping would depend on your shipment’s needs and your priorities. Do you prefer that your goods arrive on time and in one piece sans the cost? If yes, air shipping would be your best option.  Are you more concerned with the financial cost and the environmental impact of your choice of shipping? Then air shipping is your best option. 

Below is a detailed list of factors that must be considered when selecting between air shipping versus ocean shipping.

How much would it cost?

The bottom line and your own budget should be your priority whether you are choosing to ship for business or personal purposes. It is vital that you know how much an air freight or an ocean freight would cost. How could ocean freight or air freight be determined? Know how much carriers charge when its customers opt for international shipping.

The cost of air freight

  • Airlines bill their customers by chargeable weight. This is calculated by combining a shipment’s weight and its size. 
  • Consider destination charges, destination fees, and customs fees 
  • Air shipping is ideal when its cost is 15-20% less than the goods’ value
  • Airfreight is relatively more expensive than ocean shipping as a $200 ocean freight could cost five times more by air

The cost of ocean freight

  • Sea carriers charge their customers according to container rates of standard shipping containers
  • The cost includes the shipment’s weight and size. 
  • If the shipment is less than a container load, the cost is determined per cubic meter. 
  • It is relatively cheaper to use ocean shipping when shipments are larger and heavier. 
  • Warehousing fees in most seaports are more costly than in airports

How fast or slow would the shipment arrive?

Time is essential specially when shipping cargo. Any delay is equivalent to money loss. Speed-wise, air shipping is faster than ocean shipping. Most sea shipments would take a month to get to its destination. Air shipments would only take 24 to 48 hours. 

Businesses highly prefer faster cargo arrival and thus choose air shipment. Individuals moving household goods usually prioritize the preparation time it takes before cargo arrives and so select ocean shipping. Current ocean shipping technology allows such shipments to arrive faster. Most ocean freight can now be delivered in as fast as eight days.  

Air shipping speed

The increase in the number of commercial flights and commercial air freight forwarders allow air shipments to be delivered in dizzying buy prednisone over the counter speeds. Missed flights are no longer a problem due to the regularity of commercial flights that allow goods to be delivered within the same day. Businesses and individual customers can choose from various delivery times.

  • Same-day or next-flight-out delivery is an option that sees shipments arrive on their target destination on the same day they were shipped
  • Next-day is an option where freight is delivered at the end of the next business day
  • Second-day is ideal for shipments that are time-sensitive and require cost-effectiveness. Such shipments arrive at their destination on the second business day
  • Deferred air is best for low-priority shipments that can be shipped once there is available aircraft space

Ocean shipping speed

Advances in ocean shipping now allow less-than-container-load (LCL) containers to compete with air shipping, plus, the former is relatively cheaper. The reasons for this are the following:

  • Faster whips
  • Canal upgrades removed route delays
  • Improvements in ocean tracking technology
  • A freight market that is more competitive

Which method is more reliable?

Ocean shipping has been around longer than air shipping. However, the latter is considered a more reliable method of moving goods than the former. 

Air shipping

  • Despite the possibility of flight delays and bad weather, most airlines usually stick to their schedules and deliver shipments on time.
  • Airlines offer everyday roundtrip flights between major cities all over the world

Ocean shipping

  • Ocean lines mostly offer weekly schedules. A delay is usually caused by missing the cutoff schedule at the seaport
  • Expedited LCL is now provided by a few forwarders as express ocean services. This offer guaranteed delivery days

Which is good for the environment?

If you include the environmental impact of moving goods from one location to another in your choice of shipping, you might opt for ocean shipping instead of air shipping. 

Air shipping emits far more carbon dioxide emissions than ocean shipping. Essentially, shipping by air leaves a larger carbon fingerprint compared to sea shipping. However, with the possibility of oil spills occurring, as well as ocean shipping’s impact on water ecosystems, both methods seem equally unfriendly to the environment.


All in all, both shipping methods offer benefits and disadvantages. Ocean shipping is slower compared to air shipping. Meanwhile, though air shipping promises fast transit time, the process is more costly. The best choice is one that suits your personal or business needs, as well as your specific budget.

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