Understanding air freight: How to ship internationally

Air freight shipping is the transport of export products by air, which involves various documents and licences. In this blog, understand how air freight is different from other shipping modes and the pros and cons associated with it.
Air Shipment
With increasing sale and demand for Indian products in international markets, the need to choose a reliable and quick shipping method has become important for sellers. Air and ocean are two popular and recommended international shipping modes. Among the two, air shipment is not just faster but also offers better tracking information.

The advancement in aero technology and real-time tracking facility has made air shipment smooth and transparent, leaving customers happy and satisfied. It has reduced the overall turnaround time taken to deliver a product to an international customer.

How does air freight shipping work?

Shipment pickup

After calculating the weight of the final shipment, all the necessary details about the products, required licences are obtained and handed over to the warehouse.

Verification and labelling

When the package is received, it undergoes quality tests. If the shipment clears all the checks, labelling is done mentioning the details about products and the airway bill is prepared.

Customs clearance at departure

At the departing port, the package is checked thoroughly to ensure that there are no prohibited products being shipped. All the details of the shipment are verified and customs are charged accordingly.

Loading and departure

The shipment is packed into a Unit Load Device (ULD) and is then further sent to aircraft for transportation.


After the aircraft arrives at the destination airport, it is unloaded and its respective bills and labels are gathered.

Customs clearance at arrival

The customs department of the destination country or region inspects the shipment and clears it for entry based on their import regulations.


Once all the legalities are cleared, the package is transported to the respective destinations via road for delivery to the customer.

Documents required for air freight

While export licences might vary depending on the product, origin and destination country, below is a list of documents that are usually required to be obtained for air freight:

1. Shipper’s Letter of Instruction: This document provides information and instructions on shipping for the freight forwarded on movement and delicacy of the products in the shipment.
2. Packing List: It contains the list of contents of the export products.
3. Commercial Invoice: This is required for international shipping, especially for customs clearance.
4. Airway bill: An Airway Bill is a document between a shipper and a carrier used for tracking, a guide for handling goods and customs declarations.

Advantages and disadvantages of air freight


• The broad network of airlines connected to domestic as well as international locations ensures that shipments can be delivered to any part of the world with ease.

• Due to high levels of security and stringent package checking practices, air shipments are subject to less risk of theft. It is also easy for both seller and customer to track.

• The air shippers can easily transfer shipments on short deadlines, decreasing the need for large warehousing spaces.


• As compared to other modes of transport like ocean, airplanes can carry only a restricted amount of goods. Bulk orders and shipments may be restricted.

• Shipping by air is relatively more expensive than ocean freight. Due to its high maintenance and operations, sellers need to pay higher charges to ship by air.

• During monsoon, in either origin or destination country or the route, air freight becomes limited due to weather conditions and accompanying risks. This may lead to delays in delivery of the shipment.

Air freight with Amazon: Fulfillment
by Amazon (FBA)

Shipping via air is easy and simple with Amazon global logistics. Indian exporters can send their shipments across the world using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). To assist global sellers and exporters deliver international orders in a hassle-free and seamless way, Amazon takes care of everything from packing, shipping to delivery and customer service through the FBA program. With FBA, sellers can focus on their business expansion in terms of product quality, launches, marketing and more, while Amazon handles international shipping for them. Amazon has a dedicated storage space of 150 million sq-feet and a successful shipment of more than 29 million units across the globe.

To support you for hassle-free logistics, Amazon has also launched SEND, enabling you to ship directly to international fulfillment centers at competitive prices. All you have to do is book, pay and track shipments without any hassles from India to the world.
To export from India, register with Amazon Global Selling in just 15 minutes by sharing a few KYC documents (identity proof, address proof and credit card). With over 300 million customers globally, you can leverage Amazon’s global scale across 18 global marketplaces in 200+ countries and territories.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the courier and air freight?
Air courier is more expensive than air freight, but it gives delivery to the doorstep of the receiver.
Is airfreight more expensive than sea freight?
Yes, shipping via air is more expensive than shipping via ocean.
Published on March 28, 2022.

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*Map not to scale. The map has been used for design and representational purpose only, it does not depict the geographical boundaries of the country. These do not conform to the external boundaries of India recognized by the Survey of India.

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