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An image of different types of freights -- a truck, container ship, and a plane

Different Types of Freight: A Comprehensive Guide for Small and Medium Business Owners

As a small or medium business owner, understanding the different types of freight and their pros and cons is important to optimize your logistics and shipping processes. Efficient freight management can help reduce business costs, ensure timely deliveries, and contribute to increased customer satisfaction. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the primary types of freight: land, sea, air, and rail, and explore the advantages and disadvantages of each. to help you This guide is created by our team to help you make informed decisions about your shipping and logistics needs. 

Land Freight

A container truck traveling on a highway to make a delivery via land freight

Land freight, which involves the transportation of goods via motorcycles, cars, trucks, and vans, is a popular choice among businesses due to its flexibility and cost-effectiveness. This service is usually used for shorter distances like inter-city or inter-region shipping.  


Advantages of Land Freight


Land freight is generally more affordable compared to air or sea freight, especially for shorter distances.

Door-to-door capability 

Land transportation can pick up and deliver shipments directly to and from the desired locations.


Land freight can accommodate various shipment sizes and types, including less-than-truckload (LTL) and full-truckload (FTL) shipments. This gives you the financial flexibility to manage your costs when shipping fewer items. 


Advanced GPS tracking systems allow you to monitor the shipment’s progress in real-time.


Disadvantages of Land Freight

Limited by geography

Land freight is restricted to land routes and cannot be used for overseas shipments. 

Slower delivery times 

For long-distance shipping like Luzon to Mindanao, ground transportation generally takes longer than air or sea freight, which might not be ideal for time-sensitive shipments.

Weather and traffic

Land freight can be affected by adverse weather conditions and traffic congestion, which may result in delivery delays.


Sea Freight

A container ship transporting multiple container vans.

Sea freight is the go-to choice for businesses that need long-distance transportation of large volumes of goods at an affordable rate.


Advantages of Sea Freight


Sea freight is the most cost-effective option for shipping large volumes of goods over long distances. That’s because ships can distribute the costs around more shipments (and even passengers). This cost-sharing helps drastically reduce the prices you’ll have to pay to ship your packages. 

High Capacity

Ships can carry vast quantities of cargo, making them suitable for large-volume shipments. This makes sea freight ideal for businesses that must transport multiple containers across the country (or worldwide). 


Shipping via sea freight has a lower carbon footprint compared to air freight.


Disadvantages of Sea Freight

Slow transit time 

Sea freight can take several weeks, even months, to reach its destination, making it unsuitable for time-sensitive shipments. This is because container ships take longer to travel than airplanes. Plus, container ships need to refuel, which also reduces their speed. 

Limited routes

Sea freight is restricted to established sea routes and port locations. Because of this, you might have to arrange multiple transportation methods for your shipments to get them to their final destination. 

Customs and regulations 

International shipments may be subject to customs clearance, import/export regulations, and additional documentation, which can delay delivery times.


Air Freight

An airplane used for transporting cargo via air freight

Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation for shipping goods at long distances, making it ideal for time-sensitive shipments.


Advantages of Air Freight


Air freight offers the quickest transit times, often delivering shipments within days or even hours. This is because of how fast airplanes can travel, plus the number of flights available per day which can carry your shipment. 

Global reach

Air freight services connect virtually every major (and a lot of smaller) cities in the world, allowing for greater accessibility. Even our provinces and islands in the Philippines have airports that can accommodate air freight. 

Reliable delivery times

With set flight schedules, air freight offers more predictable delivery times compared to sea or land freight. This makes transporting goods via air freight much more efficient for businesses that need to immediately transport smaller batches of products. 

Disadvantages of Air Freight


Air freight is typically the most expensive mode of transportation due to its speed and convenience.

Limited capacity

Airplanes have limited cargo space, making them unsuitable for shipping large quantities of goods or oversized items.

Environmental impact

Air freight has a higher carbon footprint compared to sea or land freight.


Rail Freight

A train being used to transport cargo for rail freight.

Rail freight, which involves transporting goods via trains. In developed countries, this is a popular option for long-distance, domestic shipments. However, rail freight is not yet available in the Philippines as of writing. Fortunately, there are news reports saying that over the next couple of years, rail freight will become accessible due to the improvements in the country’s infrastructure. 


Advantages of Rail Freight


Rail freight is often more affordable than air and land freight for long-distance shipments.

High Capacity

Trains can carry large quantities of goods, making them suitable for bulk shipments.


Rail freight has a lower carbon footprint compared to air and land transportation.

Disadvantages of Rail Freight

Limited Routes

Rail freight depends on existing rail networks and is restricted to specific routes.

Slower Transit Times

Trains generally take longer to reach their destination compared to air freight.

Limited flexibility

Rail freight is less flexible in terms of shipment sizes and pickup/delivery locations compared to land freight, as it requires transfer to and from rail terminals.


Selecting the most suitable freight option for your business depends on several factors, including the shipment’s size, weight, destination, and time sensitivity. Each mode of transportation—land, air, air, and rail freight—offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages.


Land freight is a versatile and cost-effective choice for domestic shipments, with door-to-door service and flexibility for different shipment sizes. However, there are weight and distance limitations to it. 


Sea freight is the most economical option for long-distance local and international shipments, particularly when shipping large quantities of goods. The downside is the longer shipment times due to various factors. 


Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation, ideal for time-sensitive shipments that require a global reach. But the speed of transportation comes at the cost of high prices and limited shipping size.  


Rail freight is an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative for long-distance, domestic shipments with high-capacity requirements. However, this mode of shipping is not yet available in the country at the moment. 


Understanding the pros and cons of each freight type will help you make informed decisions about your logistics and shipping needs, ensuring cost-effective, timely, and reliable delivery for your customers.