Taking Advantage of Weight and Volume Breaks in Air Freight

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By Louis Perrin

Pricing up the transport of consignments is not as straightforward as you may think. There are many factors that can impact the cost of shipment, including but not limited to the mode of transport, origin, destination, commodity type and consignment size.

When it comes to air freight, the pricing of a loose consignment is always calculated by the “chargeable weight”. The chargeable weight is determined by either the actual weight or volumetric weight of the cargo – whichever is greater.

The volumetric weight is calculated by dividing the cubic volume of the cargo by a dividing factor. In the case of air freight, the dividing factor is 6000. This means the calculation for determining volumetric weight is as follows:

Length x Width x Height / 6000

With this in mind, here is an example of how we would go about determining the chargeable weight of an air freight consignment:

Example shipment: 1 Pallet

Actual weight: 100KG

Dimensions: 120cm (length) x 100cm (width) x 150cm (height) = 1,800,000 cubic cms

Volumetric weight: 1,800,000 / 6000 = 300KG

Chargeable weight = 300KG

In this instance, the shipment has an actual weight of 100KG but a volumetric weight of 300KG. This means the chargeable weight is 300KG because the volumetric weight is higher than the actual weight.

Finding Cost Efficiencies With Air Freight

As highlighted above, the total cost of an air freight shipment is affected more by the amount of space it takes up as opposed to the actual weight. In the example given, the customer would effectively be paying to send a 300KG shipment, despite the cargo weighing 100KG.

In many cases, however, being aware of how chargeable weight is calculated can be a big advantage, allowing customers to send more product at no extra cost. Take our example shipment above. Provided the overall dimensions of the consignment do not change, the customer could send up to 200KG of additional product without the chargeable weight being affected.

This is particularly useful when you have a large volumetric shipment, provided the actual weight stays below the volumetric weight.

Of course, some products will be particularly volumetric by nature, making it difficult to take advantage of potential cost savings. But in other instances, there may be an opportunity to offset the volume by packing and sending some dense cargo in the same consignment.

It’s also advisable to check for empty or dead space within your packaging, especially boxes. Depending on the fragility of the cargo, it might be worth cutting the box to size, or packing products even more tightly within the box to maximise space and minimise cost.

The Benefits of Weight Breaks

Being mindful of airlines’ weight breaks can also help customers achieve cost savings on overseas shipments. Weight breaks, or weight thresholds, are used by airlines to determine their rates. They are typically divided as follows:

-100 KG

+100 KG



The rates get cheaper with each higher weight break, meaning it would effectively be cheaper to send one 600KG shipment than two 300KG shipments. Considering this alongside the chargeable weight of your cargo should ensure your air freight shipments are sent in the most cost-efficient way possible.

Delivering Cost-Savings for Customers

At Hemisphere Freight Services, we always endeavour to minimise potential volume when packing orders, keeping the shipping price for customers as low as it can be. Our team will calculate the chargeable weight on your behalf, saving you the hassle, and will always advise if there’s an opportunity for cost savings.

Please get in touch to find out more about our air freight services and how we calculate the cost of consignments.