The difference between ground shipping and air shipping is something most people don’t think too much about. However, these two shipping methods have some surprising differences when it comes to cost, speed of shipment, security, destination and the size and type of shipments handled. Let’s take a closer look:
Air shipping is when your package is loaded onto a cargo plane and flown to the intended destination. Aside from a cargo ship (boat), air shipping is the only other shipping method for shipments that cross oceans or seas. Typically, packages are flown direct to the intended destination city non-stop (or closest airport), which makes it faster than ground shipping. And because airports are involved and there are less people and stops, air shipping generally has tighter security and less worry about tampering or theft of packages.
Faster delivery and more security does add cost, making air shipping more expensive in most cases vs. ground shipping. Air shipping can also experience significant delays due to weather, and depending on how extreme the weather event is, those delays can be anywhere from a few hours to several days. Winter weather isn’t the only weather woe that impacts air shipping, hurricanes, tornadoes, sand storms, wildfires and flooding can also keep planes grounded at their gates.
Ground shipping is when your package is transported to the intended destination via truck. Ground shipping is generally less expensive and can transport even very large items, such as cars, which are too large and heavy for air shipping. Ground shipping is limited to places where trucks can actually drive to, which rules out overseas destinations. Ground shipping also takes longer as it’s common for trucks to have multiple stops to unload or pick up packages at various destinations along the route. With more stops and more people potentially having access to packages during transit, ground shipping is also less secure and carries a greater risk of theft or package tampering.
Lower cost is the trade-off for longer shipping time, however, weather-related delays are often shorter for trucks than for planes. As soon as roads are safe to drive on, trucks keep on trucking, whereas planes have to wait until the weather for the entire flight plan is clear enough for safe arrival at the intended destination. Trucks can also be delayed by accidents, unexpected road closures and detours, however, most drivers are experts at navigating such issues as quickly as possible.
Both air shipping and ground shipping have pros and cons regarding cost, security, destination, speed of delivery and the types of items that can be shipped. Understanding the difference in these two shipping methods and the trade-offs of each give you the information you need to choose the option that best meets your needs. And of course, ShipOnSite is always available to answer your questions about the best shipping choices for your items.