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Controlling Air Freight Costs

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Air Freight has many variables and surprises so it is important to manage costs up front.

There are 6 basic ideas that I can give to control airfreight costs.

  1. Carrier Choice – Choose the type of carrier that best fits the shipment size. At Exhibit Edge we use Express Air freight such as FedEx or UPS but we also use what I refer to as Regional Air Freight Forwarders. We will discuss this in detail in another video. Right now it is enough to know that they are more adaptive to handling specific needs and larger shipment sizes.
  2. Control of Time – As you know there are different levels of service and more time should result in lower costs. We all know these phrases – overnight, second day, and 3 to 5 day deferred. Here is where the Regional Freight Forwarder is helpful since you can be very specific about when you want a shipment to be delivered especially at a smaller event where the move in time is very short. You can specifically tell them to deliver on the 4th day at 1 pm and still get the 3 to 5 day deferred price.
  3. Load pallets evenly. The dimensional weight calculation can really hurt you if you have one item that sticks out or protrudes on a pallet. For example: you send your own literature rack to save the cost of renting one on the show floor. Instead of the height of the pallet (without it) being only 30”tall that one skinny item sticking up – now makes the pallet 60” tall. By doing this, you have doubled the height of the entire pallet causing the dimensional weight to double. Sometimes it is better to send certain items loose. In this example that 20lb. literature rack changed the dimensional weight of the airfreight shipment from 300 lbs. to 600 lbs.
  4. Check your drayage bill. You need to make sure that the general contractor is using the actual weight and not the dimensional weight. Both numbers are usually on the air bill and the contractor may see and use the higher dimensional weight for your drayage weight. Only airfreight companies should use dimensional weight if it is the highest number.
  5. Off peak drayage. Try to send shipments during off peak drayage times. Air Freight companies charge a waiting fee to stay in drayage lines. When using a Regional Freight Forwarder you can be very specific about when the shipment arrives. You can request a delivery in the afternoon to avoid longer drayage lines in the morning. Also, if the package is small enough think of sending it to your hotel and hand carrying it to the show to avoid drayage costs. That 2 lb. Express Shipment could cost you 200lbs. in drayage minimums. Read the show drayage rates and also call the hotel to find out if they charge a fee for receiving packages. Hotels are charging fees more often and general contractors are reducing fees for smaller shipments.
  6. Ask for all costs upfront. These include: per pound fees, zone fees, waiting time hourly rates, inside delivery fees, after hour fees, lift gate services, fuel surcharge fees, and more. Try to be as specific as you can about the shipment content, size, weight and number of pieces when placing the order. No one likes surprises.

And finally, a little secret, if you ship on a Friday for a Monday delivery with a regional carrier it is not automatically an overnight rate. There is some wiggle room. That’s all I’m saying.