The Ultimate Guide to Air Shipping Heavy & Oversized Items

Cover Image for The Ultimate Guide to Air Shipping Heavy & Oversized Items

Does shipping oversized and heavy items seem like a big headache to you?

Trust us, you're not alone. Many people feel the same way.

But here's the good news - it doesn't have to be that hard.

In this guide, we're going to simplify everything about air shipping for heavy and oversized items.

Stick with us, and by the end, you'll have it all figured out.

Maybe you're moving overseas and need to ship a lot of heavy items. If so, be sure to check out our "Moving Overseas Checklist" article for a comprehensive guide.

Let's jump right in!

1. Understanding Air Freight: Heavy Item Edition

Choosing the right shipping method for your heavy and oversized items can be a game-changer.

But why should you consider air shipping over sea shipping for your bulky goods? It all comes down to three main advantages:

  • Speed: Air freight is significantly faster than sea methods.
  • Reliability: Flights are typically very punctual.
  • Global Reach: No matter where you're shipping your heavy item, air freight can reach most global markets.

Let's say you need to get a big piece of furniture to the USA ASAP. With air freight, it'll be there in a few days, not weeks like sea shipping.

Plus, air freight is pretty reliable – no worries about rough seas or crowded ports messing up your schedule.

2. The Heavyweights: What Qualifies as a Heavy Item?

In the air shipping industry, a heavy item is typically defined by its weight and dimensions.

While the specifics can vary depending on the airline or freight forwarder, a general rule of thumb is any item weighing over 68 kg or exceeding 330 cm in length and girth combined is considered heavy.

You may wonder, what exactly is girth in this context?

Girth refers to the sum of dimensions taken around an item. In simpler terms, it is the sum of the item's width, and height, each taken twice (girth = 2width + 2height).

what is girth
girth formula

To determine whether your package qualifies as an oversized package, use the following formula: length (the longest side of the package) + girth.

formula to determine oversized package

If this sum is 330 cm or above, the item falls into the heavy category.

3. The Cost Factor: Estimating Air Freight Charges for Heavy Items

Working out how much air freight will cost for your heavy items might seem tricky. But we're here to help.

The cost depends on things like how heavy your item is, how big it is (the volume), and where it's going.

This is where “volumetric weight” comes in. It's a fancy way of saying they look at both the weight and size.

Here’s how to calculate the volumetric weight: (length x width x height)/5000

volumetric weight

The heavier one out of the actual and volumetric weight determines the cost.

Remember, there might be other costs too, like customs duties and taxes, and handling fees.

Not sure how much you should pay for duties and taxes? Fret not.

For a quick and easy way to estimate your shipping costs, utilise JustShip’s Instant Quote tool! It does all the maths for you, providing a comprehensive estimate that includes potential additional charges.

Simply select the 'Pre-pay taxes' option, and you will instantly know if your shipment will be subject to taxation.

justship rate calculator

Exceeded your budget? Don't panic.

You might be able to save money by splitting your shipment into smaller packages. Sometimes, this is cheaper than shipping one big parcel and getting hit with extra fees.

4. Preparing Your Heavy Item for Air Shipping

Proper packaging is critical when it comes to air shipping heavy items. Here's a simple guide:

1. Box it Up: Use robust materials like double-walled corrugated cardboard or wooden crates for the container.

type of boxes

image source: Boxed-Up

2. Cushioning is Key: For internal packaging, use materials like bubble wrap, foam, or airbags to cushion the item.

cushioning with airbags

image source: GTI Industries

Remember, well-packaged items not only survive the journey but also help avoid additional fees.

Unsure how to pack? Let JustShip's expert packing services help you out.


There you have it – your ultimate guide to air shipping heavy items.

Shipping heavy and oversized items by air might seem daunting at first, but with the right information, it's totally manageable.

If you still have more questions or if there's something you're unsure about, be sure to check out our "Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions About International Shipping" article.

And remember, JustShip is here to simplify the process even more.

Ready to get started? You can create your shipment now or, if you have more questions, don't hesitate to contact us.

Let's make your air shipping journey as smooth as possible. Happy shipping!

August 21, 2023

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