Optimizing air freight: understanding priority categories

Knowing which types of cargo are prioritized on commercial flights can be crucial to designing a truly efficient logistics operation and choosing the best product or type of flight for your specific need.

Let’s review the types of cargo, in order of priority:

  1. General cargo. Yes, indeed. Airlines often give priority… to general freight! Since its handling is less complicated, this type is uploaded first.

But what is “general” cargo?

It is the one that does not have any special needs, such as temperature control or has a short shelf life. General cargo is also not oversized, not too heavy, and does not have special dimensions.

General cargo can get an even higher priority

Most airlines offer a service called “Next Flight Out” (or Air Priority), which consists of positioning cargo on the first available flight to a given destination.

Your xpd global Time Critical Cargo executive can design an urgent plan for your freight, considering your specific logistic need and potential routes that lead your cargo to arrive sooner than following a traditional plan.

  1. Medical and pharmaceutical freight. Fortunately, we have already come out of the global pandemic situation, but medicines, vaccines and essential medical supplies still have priority in boarding.
  2. Perishable products. Fresh food, flowers, and other perishable products have a high priority due to the need for fast delivery to maintain their quality. At xpd global we have a vertical called xpd global Fresh, with experts in developing plans for this type of goods.
  3. Temperature-controlled products. In addition to medical and perishable products, the list includes other products that need temperature control.
  4. Hazardous materials. Hazardous materials (or “dangerous goods”) are flammable, poisonous, radioactive, explosive, etc. cargo that might put life at risk, in some way.

These items have very specific packaging needs and must travel isolated on the aircraft – for all of this, the price of transporting this type of material is higher as well.

  1. High-value items. High-value cargo, such as electronics and luxury goods, usually has priority due to their high cost and market demand.
  2. Spare parts and maintenance. Industries that rely on replacement parts for quick maintenance, such as aerospace and manufacturing, can prioritize transporting these parts to minimize downtime.

Please note: some of these parts may be considered hazardous material – or require documents attesting that they do not contain hazardous materials (such as gasoline) at the time of shipment.


Related challenges:

Storage requirements: Some cargo, such as pharmaceuticals and electronics, have specific storage requirements that must be met during transportation.

Microchips, for example, can’t be stacked, so they’re relatively small payloads with more expensive transport rates because they use a lot of space inside the aircraft.

xpd global, your best strategic partner in logistics consulting

Prioritizing cargo on commercial flights is a complex science that combines delivery urgency with operational efficiency.

Our time-sensitive and time-critical logistics teams have the knowledge and experience to create customized strategies to ensure your products reach their destination at the right time.

Contact us right now to discuss your most specific logistics needs and rely on us to develop customized plans.

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