7 Different Types of Air Cargo that Match Your Shipping Needs

7 Different Types of Air Cargo that Match Your Shipping Needs

Air cargo offers a fast, efficient, and reliable way of transporting goods and products over long distances. It is a practical choice for companies that require to deliver time-sensitive items. While air freight is more expensive than other modes of transportation, it is the preferred option for fast shipping. 

With its significant qualities, air cargo is an essential component in the supply chain. A complete understanding of the different types of air cargo can guide your business to identify their distinct features and uses that will suit your company’s specific needs. Check out these 7 types of air freight and their different characteristics.  

7 Common Types of Air Cargo

1. General Cargo

General cargo handles a wide range of goods that do not require specific handling, precautions, or storage conditions while in transit. This includes clothing, books, electronics (without batteries), jewelry, and machinery parts. Many businesses rely on general cargo to deliver their goods efficiently and fast.


It was in 1910 when the first air cargo flight took place. A Wright Model B aircraft flew on air 65 miles (105 km) to transport 200 pounds (91 kg) of silk from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio.

2. Special Cargo

If your business is looking for the types of air cargo that can deliver your goods with  transportation, handling, or storage requirements, then choose special cargo. 

This type of air cargo is suited for pharmaceutical companies, museums and galleries, event organizers, and others with special shipping requirements. These items have delicate nature and require special care and attention which may include:

  • temperature controls
  • security measures
  • custom-designed containers

3. Perishable Cargo

Time is crucial when it comes to transporting perishable goods. This involves a limited shelf life of products, unlike other types of air cargo. Perishable goods include:

  • fresh fruits andvegetables
  • meats, seafood, and dairy products
  • Flowers
  • temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals

Perishable air cargos require careful packaging and handling to avoid spoilage. These products must reach their destination fast and in good condition.

4. Mail Cargo

Among the existing types of air cargo, this one is specific for quick delivery of letters, documents, and packages like small parcels to their intended destinations. Mail cargo has an important role in the worldwide postal and parcel delivery network. 

Postal authorities, courier companies, and online retailers are the ones who often use this type of air freight service.

5. Live Animals

Even live animals can travel by air. Unlike other types of air cargo, this service can transport your furry, four-legged, or feathered companions to another location. It carefully handles pets, farm animals, and rare species that are bound for zoos and conservation centers. They are placed in suitable crates and in a well-ventilated area to ensure that they remain comfortable during the flight.

You can choose this type of air freight if you want to travel with your pets or settle in another country with them. Air cargo providers follow the strict guidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Live Animal Regulations to assure the safety and welfare of every living passenger.


Animals have been shipped by air since the 1930s. In an article, army personnel who wanted to return to the United States with their dachshunds had pushed the demand for transporting pets through planes in Germany in the early days.

6. Dangerous or Hazardous Cargo

Among the various types of air cargo, this freight shipping is intended for goods that pose a potential health, safety, or property risk while in transit. The items need special attention and handling to keep air cargo personnel and cargo aircraft safe during flight.

Dangerous goods are grouped into 9 different types such as explosives, flammable, poisonous, and radioactive goods. Each type has its regulations based on the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), the global standard for carrying dangerous goods by air. 

  • Explosives
  • Flammable Solids
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Flammable Gasses
  • Toxic and Infectious
  • Radioactive
  • Corrosives
  • Oxidizing
  • Miscellaneous, like magnetized materials, microorganisms, or a cargo that needs an elevated temperature.

7. Human Remains, Tissue, and Organ Cargo

The delicate nature of the items requires utmost care, respect, and efficiency. Like other types of air cargo which cater to specific tasks, air transport deals with carrying human remains for funeral purposes or repatriation and shipping life-saving tissues and organs for transplants. 

Funeral homes, medical institutions, and organ transplant organizations are the leading users of this specialized service. 

FACT: The World Health Organization (WHO) and IATA have complete guidelines on the packaging, documentation, and handling procedures necessary for this type of air freight. 

ALSO READ: 6 Important Facts To Know When Shipping Dangerous Goods

Air freight is one of the most reliable methods of transporting goods from one location to another due to its speed. This is a preferred choice if your business requires urgent shipments of products over long distances. Understanding the different types of air cargo is important for companies wanting to move their products by plane. Each type of air freight also has requirements and regulations that address the specific needs of the items being transported.

Worklink Services, Inc. (WSI) is a privately owned Filipino corporation that provides reliable and professional air freight services within the Philippines. Our efficient air freight services will have your shipments delivered on time. Choose from our Next Flight Out option, Next Day or Two Day air freight services. Your goods will be shipped to any key city of the Philippines with WSI’s extensive coverage. Do you have any time-critical shipments? Let WSI assist you.