Air Freight Vs. Sea Freight

Online shopping is so simple and easy these days! However, when considerations like international shipping come into play, it can become more complicated than it needs to be. Which method is most cost effective? How can I get my package here ASAP? Worried about your carbon footprint and the effect of international shipping?

When given the choice between international sea and air shipping, there are several points to consider.  Size, time, cost and environmental impact are some of the major contributing factors in the decision making process. Air freight is of course, in general, much quicker than sea freight, but did you know that the carbon footprint is much smaller with sea freight vs. air freight? If you were to ship a baby grand piano from USA to Singapore, it would cost you over $5,000USD by air freight; Shipporter would charge you $765USD. Use our shipping calculator to see how much you could save shipping your large, bulky or heavy items via sea freight.

While we at Shipporter champion sea freight shipping, we understand that it’s not always the most appropriate method of shipping internationally. We’ve identified the pros and cons of both the air freight vs. sea freight shipping options to make the choice easier for you.

Air Freight vs. Sea Freight - Looking down on sea freighters from an airplane - Shipporter

Air Shipping


  • Speed: Air shipping is by far the fastest way to receive your order
  • Reliability: The estimated delivery date on air shipping is, in most cases, very accurate
  • Track your order: You’re usually given a tracking number on your order so you can follow the journey from dispatch to delivery
  •  Security: Airport control enforces strict regulations, reducing the chances of theft and damage
  • Less packaging: Packaging doesn’t need to be as heavy duty as with other modes of freight, which is also eco-friendlier!
  • Reach: Airlines can travel to hundreds of locations, meaning you can order to just about everywhere


  • Cost: Air shipping is primarily charged by weight. The price of shipping can become very high if the items are heavy, regardless of their value
  • Limitations: There are often restrictions with size and weight due to the surface area inside a plane
  • Weather: Flights are very weather dependant and delivery times can be jeopardised if scheduled flights are cancelled due to weather conditions
  • Damages: Larger, more fragile items can often be damaged due to the lack of space e.g. surfboards, bikes etc.

When it’s best to use air shipping:

  • If time is an issue and you need the item fast
  • Your order is lightweight and small
  • You’re ordering to an inland/remote location that can be accessed directly by plane


Sea Shipping


  • Cost: Sea freight is by far one of the cheapest options! Cargo ships have a lot of space to store shipped goods, meaning the cost of fuel etc., is split between more parties
  • Size: You have a lot of freedom with size and weight when you choose sea shipping. Ships can carry large amounts of cargo, which means fewer restrictions for you
  • Type of cargo: You can ship items that are prohibited on planes e.g. chemicals, fuels, minerals etc.
  • Eco-friendly: Sea shipping uses a low level of fossil fuels. Businesses who use freight services frequently can reduce their carbon footprint by choosing sea freight
  • Low risk: Compared to other modes of transport, shipping by sea is relatively low risk
  • Track you order: With Shipporter you can track your order from the moment it arrives at on of our depots all the way until it reaches your door


  • Reliability: If something goes wrong, you may experience significant delays to your delivery, and it’s very difficult to monitor the exact location of your goods
  • Time: It is usually much slower to transport goods by sea than air
  • Weather: Bad weather can prolong delivery times even further

When it’s best to use:

  • If you’re transporting large, heavy items like cars, furniture etc.
  • Time is not an issue
  • You’re looking for the most cost effective delivery option


Contact us today!

At Shipporter, we appreciate the huge number of opportunities sea freight has provided for our customers. Sea freight gives people the chance to own items from around the world that do not fit the criteria for air freight, or would be simply too expensive to ship by air. We work to ensure people have access to purchase products from all over the world, and have them delivered to their door worry-free and at a great price.

Our trusted team are here to provide expert advice and guidance on the entire shipping process. Check our FAQs or contact us today to discuss sea shipping to destinations around the world from a number of countries including USA, UK, China and more!