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A ship, a plane, and a truck all delivering different types of cargo

When to Use Each Type of Freight Service: A Detailed Comparison

There are a lot of transportation methods to get your cargo across long distances. So, in this article, we’ll discuss when to use each type of freight service. Our goal is to help you find the right mode of transportation to move your cargo in the most efficient way possible. 

Having the best freight services is a business asset

Freight services are the backbone of global trade, enabling businesses to move goods over vast distances. It helps businesses reach various parts of the world without establishing a home base in every country. This opens many opportunities for businesses to grow by tapping into new markets without a heavy upfront investment. 

When it comes to choosing a freight service, several factors need to be considered, including speed, cost, capacity, and environmental impact. In this article, we’ll examine four key freight services: air freight, sea freight, land freight, and door-to-door delivery, to help you make the right decision for your business.

A head-to-head comparison of the different freight services

An airplane getting loaded with cargo

Air Freight

Air freight is the process of transporting goods via air carriers, typically through chartered or commercial airlines. This mode of transportation is gaining popularity primarily because of its speed and convenience, especially for smaller batches of shipments. Nowadays, you can book an air freight service through different logistics companies and even directly with airlines. 

When to Use Air Freight

Air cargo is best used when time is of the essence. That’s because air freight offers the fastest shipping times, making it ideal for high-value goods, perishable items, or goods with a short shelf life.

For example, you are distributing freshly caught premium tuna from the province. Then, it’s ideal for your product to get to your clients in Metro Manila to receive your products almost immediately after you catch it. The best way to do this is by packing your catch in an insulated container with ice and then sending it on the first flight out. 

Benefits of Using Air Freight


Air freight offers unmatched speed. With most transit times ranging from days to weeks, air cargo can deliver your goods in a matter of hours. 


Airlines tend to have highly reliable and consistent flight schedules and can also offer multiple flights per day. This ensures that you can ship out your goods within the day, reducing the risk of delays.

Drawbacks of Air Cargo


Air freight can be significantly more expensive than other modes of transport, largely due to fuel and maintenance costs.


Planes have limited space, meaning you may be restricted in terms of volume or weight of goods you can send. This makes air cargo unideal for big shipments. 

A cargo ship delivering cargoes across the ocean.

Sea Freight

Sea freight involves transporting goods via cargo ships across the ocean or through inland waterways. Sea cargo is one of the oldest and most used transportation methods because of its ability to move massive amounts of cargo without a hefty price tag. Moreover, it also has the ability to deliver goods long distance (inter-continent). 

This makes it the preferred shipping method of businesses that ship vast amounts of products across the world. 

When to Use

Sea freight is ideal for bulk shipments or large volumes of goods. It’s especially suited for heavy or bulky items that would be too expensive to send by air. Most of the time, it’s used by companies who send out many product quantities per shipment. 

For instance: laptop manufacturers tend to use sea cargo to send hundreds of thousands of units from their factories in Asia to their distributors across America. This is because it’s a lot cheaper to ship bulk items across long distances over sea than by air. 

Benefits of Sea Freight


Sea freight is often the most economical way to ship large volumes of goods. This is because container ships can carry thousands of container vans from different companies in one trip. This allows shipping companies to spread out the costs of transporting the goods. 


Cargo ships can carry enormous quantities of goods, making sea freight ideal for high-volume shipments. Since container ships are massive in sizes, you can virtually ship any product using sea freight. This makes it the preferred method of companies who ship cars, trucks, and heavy equipment and machineries.



Sea freight can be slow, with transit times ranging from a few weeks to a few months. That’s why proper logistics timing is crucial especially when shipping seasonal products. 


Delays can occur due to weather conditions, port congestion, or customs issues. Based on current events, there have been a lot of issues with port congestion across the world. This event can cause massive delays which lead to product shortages. 

A delivery truck traveling to delivery parcels.

Land Freight

Land freight, also known as road or rail freight, involves transporting goods over land, usually by truck or train. This method of transportation is usually used for shorter distances. Ideally, within the island/country. 

When to Use Land Freight

Land freight is often used for domestic transportation or short to medium-distance international trade, particularly when goods must be transported across borders or to areas not served by sea or air freight.

Usually, land freight is used to complete certain shipping projects. 

For instance, a manufacturing company in Malaysia ships its products to the Philippines by sea. Then, to complete the delivery process, they use delivery trucks to send the products from the port to the respective warehouses of their clients. 

Benefits of Land Freight 


Land freight can handle almost all types of goods, including perishables, hazardous materials, and bulky items.


Unlike the two previous modes of transportation, land freight has the ability to deliver goods to more specific locations like warehouses, offices, and even mountain regions. 

Door-to-Door Service

Road freight can deliver goods directly from the sender to the recipient, providing greater convenience.

Drawbacks of Land Freight


While faster than sea freight, land freight is typically slower than air freight.

Environmental Impact

Trucks, in particular, can produce significant greenhouse gas emissions.


Since trucks can only travel on places with roads and trains on places with rails, land freight is not ideal for long-haul freight deliveries. But if need be, trucks can be placed in a Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) boat to get across islands. 

A deliveryman delivering a door-to-door package to a customer.

Door-to-Door Delivery

Door-to-door delivery is a service where goods are picked up from the sender’s location and delivered directly to the recipient’s location. It’s also known as point-to-point delivery. This mode of transportation has gained popularity in recent years due to the rise of e-commerce shopping.  

When to Use Door-to-Door Delivery

Door-to-door delivery is ideal when convenience and ease of use are priorities. It’s particularly suitable for e-commerce businesses, small parcel deliveries, or when the sender and recipient lack the facilities to load or unload goods. This is most prevalent with food delivery services as well. 

An ideal scenario for door-to-door delivery is when you need to send products within the city/region. For example, if you’re a flower shop in Makati, you can use door-to-door delivery to send bouquets to your customers’ homes within the day. 

Benefits of Door-to-Door Delivery


Door-to-door delivery simplifies the shipping process, eliminating the need for senders or recipients to transport goods to or from ports or depots.

Complete Service

The freight company handles the entire process, including customs clearance, reducing the administrative burden on the sender.


Door-to-door deliveries for short distances can be completed in a couple of minutes or hours at the maximum. 

Drawbacks of Door-to-Door Delivery


Door-to-door delivery can be more expensive than other options due to the additional services provided. This is because you typically need to book one courier per delivery. But some logistics companies offer bulk delivery options. 


Most door-to-door delivery services tend to only cover short distances. Doing longer distances like provincial door to doors would incur higher costs than other options. 

Choosing when to use each type of freight service depends mainly on your specific needs and the nature of the goods you’re shipping. Consider factors such as speed, cost, capacity, and convenience to make the best choice for your business. We hope this guide helped you understand what freight service to use for each situation.