Even with high prices and tight security, there’s a simple reason business shippers love air freight — it’s fast. There’s no traffic up in the air, right? Of course, air shipping and air freight tracking are more complicated than that. Also, the lanes are getting more crowded, with air freight demand “going crazy,” according to one carrier.
It’s true that, once it’s flying, aircraft move cargo more quickly than train, truck or ship. However, while a ship might be able to cruise or a truck gets ready to roll, you might check your air freight tracking tool to find your cargo is still sitting at the hangar.
The sometimes confounding aspect of air freight is that it offers unique timeliness benefits and also singular challenges vis a vis delays. You can get ahead of the problem by utilizing an air freight tracking tool and understanding what delays can stand in the way of your cargo. Here are the real-life reasons your air freight tracking might be in the red.
Air freight tracking issue #1: Your cargo is waiting in line
Just like passenger flights can get backed up, sometimes freight aircraft stacks up on the runway, waiting to take off. Especially if passenger aircraft is waiting to take off, it’s not uncommon to see via air freight tracking that your plane has been pushed to the end to alleviate this congestion first. Or, you might be waiting for your plane to land at your departure airport. Nearly 7% of all commercial flights were delayed in 2017 due to aircraft arriving late, and air freight tracking won’t help you here.
Issue #2: The weather is bad — anywhere
All commercial transportation falls victim to the effects of bad weather at its departure and destination points, and everywhere in between. But cargo lanes in the air are susceptible to weather-related delays unlike any other. Anyone familiar with air freight tracking knows shipments are affected by weather around the world. If the plane you’re waiting for is caught up in a storm halfway across the globe, you might be out of luck.
Air freight tracking issue #3: Another customer is late
You’re checking your air freight tracking system and your cargo still hasn’t taken off. The weather’s fine and there’s no one in line ahead of you. What gives? For most small and mid-size shippers, your cargo is traveling on a plane with other companies’ shipments. You could be suffering from someone else’s delay showing up on your air freight tracking report.
Air freight tracking issue #4: You’re in the dark down below
While some air freight moves via dedicated cargo craft, other shipments will be placed in passenger aircraft, in a separate hold near the suitcases. Passenger aircraft can be delayed for a whole host of unique reasons, including late travelers, medical emergencies, crew changes and more. If the timing of your shipment is critical, secure a dedicated flight and a reliable air freight tracking system.
Issue #5: Security issues with people or packages
Airline travelers know that long security lines can greatly impact their travel times, and air freight tracking experts can sympathize. All freight shipments are subject to scrutiny by security and customs officials, and procedures are even more stringent for air freight. Global events also can affect air freight more quickly and dramatically, such as recent heightened security for Middle East shipments due to bomb threats. Air freight tracking can’t do anything to ease security concerns, unfortunately. You’re at the mercy of the system.