How to Calculate Costs In Air Freight Shipping

What is Gross and Dimensional Weight?

When it comes to shipping goods anywhere the weight and dimensions (among others) are important variables that will influence a great deal in the cost of the transportation service being provided.

When moving cargo, they may charge you based on the “dimensional weight” of your shipment rather than the actual weight (gross weight). By using a “weight equivalent” conversion formula based on the dimensions of the cargo, carriers will determine the dimensional weight and this becomes the chargeable weight if it is greater than the gross weight.

This is to ensure that the carrier gets paid fairly for the space being utilized. So, if you are shipping one ton of feathers, it may cost more than transporting one ton of books – assuming the packaging for the feathers takes more room.

Calculating Dimensional Weight for Air Shipments

In air shipments, due to the fact that the aircraft needs to adhere to strict weight restrictions, you
need both gross and chargeable weight on the AWB (Airway Bill) and you will be charged for
whichever amount is more.

To calculate the dimensional weight, you must first calculate the cubic inches of your cargo then divide this total by a factor of 166 to obtain dimensional weight in pounds (for air shipments). To obtain the dimensional weight in kilos the factor to use is 366.

So, in conclusion:

  • Chargeable weight, is the weight the carrier uses to charge you. This will be determined by which one of the weights (the gross or the dimensional) yields the higher amount.

New Changes Implemented June 2019

One of the most popular shipping services for air cargo in the US is the United States Postal Services (USPS), and now more than ever it is used for e-commerce. In June 2019, they made slight, but significant, changes to the way dimensional weight (DIM weight) is calculated for shippers using their services. In the past, DIM weight was only applied to certain services, excluding things like Priority Mail. Since their recent update, the DIM weight has been extended to Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and non-lightweight Parcel Select. The latter, however, only applies to packages larger than one cubic foot.

In addition to extending the use of DIM weight to these USPS services, the company has also updated the DIM weight divisor to 166 (down from 194, previously). With their services, package dimensions are calculated by multiplying length x width x height. If it results in more than 1 cubic foot (which equals 1728 cubic inches), the result is divided by 166 to determine DIM weight. This change helps to make things more uniform, like other popular shipping services, like FedEx and UPS, use the 166 divisors.

International Air Freight Experts

Struggling to understand the way dimensional and gross weight work? Not a problem – we are here to assist you. Our expert freight forwarders can help you understand why chargeable weight is used in air shipments, and assist you in calculating the cost and determining the most cost-effective way to ship your goods. With over 15 years of global logistics experience, our team is knowledgeable and dedicated to providing top customer service to all of our clients. Plus, we offer customs brokerage to help navigate CBP requirements and fees. Contact us today at (305) 687-1405 for a quote for our services!