Air freight from China: price, delay and process


It is important to note the difference between 2 types of air cargo: the so-called "classic" air cargo and the so-called "express". Naturally, each type of freight have their advantages and disadvantages and this will vary depending on several factors that we will discuss later in this article.


Classic air freight from China

Conventional air freight is now one of the most popular methods of transporting goods. It allows, in particular, to send products from one end to the other of the world with an unbeatable delay. Conventional air freight, unlike a so-called "Express" solution, allows goods to be transported via traditional airlines: Air France, Air China, Thai Airways, Etihad, etc. Products are shipped on conventional flight lines, in a dedicated space. You should be able to find further information directly on the official website.

For example, you will find more information on the official websites:

Express services in China

Express air freight involves shipping products through large multinationals, more commonly known as "couriers companies". Everyone knows them, here is a non-exhaustive list (with links to go to the site if you need more information):

  • TNT (Chinese branch)
  • FedEx (Chinese branch)
  • DHL (Chinese branch)
  • Aramex (International website)
  • UPS (Chinese branch)
  • EMS (Chinese branch)

fret maritme vs aerien vs ferroviaire chine europe

DocShipper Alert : DocShipper is an international freight forwarder that organizes the transportation of your goods from the supplier's warehouse to the final destination. Relax, because we take care of everything: from packing, to organizing the transport, to customs clearance and administrative procedures, regardless of the shipping method (air, sea, road, rail).

Contact us to receive a free estimate in less than 24 hours. You have a question ? Call our consultants for free.

rail vs sea vs air freight china

You want further information about these 2 freight methods: Sea freight & Rail freight


Air freight between China and the world – Estimated delay

How long do I need to ship from China?

In order to give you a real idea of the transit times for conventional air freight, we have therefore considered all of the shipping steps in order to give our estimates: pick-up and delivery by truck, export declaration on departure, the customs clearance phase on arrival and of course the freight… Note that the freight does not vary greatly in terms of time, the difference between a direct flight and a flight with a stopover would only be a few hours (a few days at most), but can sometimes save money.

*Important note: The above schema displays transit times (1 to 10 days for air cargo). Keep in mind that this delay does not include all the stages before and after transport by plane (trucking, customs clearance, airport charges ...)

In order to give a fairly brief table, we have based ourselves solely on departures/arrivals in the city of Shanghai:



6 - 8 days


4 - 6 days

Hong Kong

2 - 4 days


3 - 5 days

Los Angeles

6 - 8 days

New York

6 - 8 days

Buenos Aires

4 - 6 days


3 - 5 days


7 - 9 days

Can DocShipper China book a space on the plane the same day?

If time permits, that the request is processed in the morning or at the start of the day, it is sometimes possible to ship the cargo urgently the same day. Note however that this kind of operation can be very expensive, we always advise our customers to start the process as soon as possible to avoid any problems on the D-Day.


What are the main airports in China for air freight?

Here is a list of the 10 busiest airports in the country with the airport code:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport: PEK
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport: PVG
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport: CAN
  • Kunming Chang Shui International Airport: KMG
  • Hangzhou International Airport: HGH
  • Hong Kong International Airport: HKG
  • Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport: CTU
  • Xi’an Xianyang international Airport: XIY
  • Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport: CKG
  • Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport: SZX
  • Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport: SHA

How to receive an air freight quote?

What does Docshipper China need to know to give you a price?


Incoterm is a term that defines the responsibilities for the transportation of cargo between a seller and a buyer. We will return later in this article to this notion and the pitfalls to avoid.

*We will cover this subject in more detail later in this article.

Volume in m3 and weight in Kg

The volume (or the dimensions) as well as the weight of the cargo are the 2 factors that most influence the price of your shipment. It is therefore important to understand these 2 terms which may seem simple at first sight…

Nature of the products

Some products are more difficult than others to transport, this is the case in particular for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, dangerous ... In this case, security procedures have been put in place in order to comply with international standards.

Departure and arrival address

This is one of the basic pieces of information that is needed to be able to provide an air cargo quote. Note that some details are important, including the conditions of access from departure to arrival. Indeed, the smallest detail forgotten can be expensive, so it is important to plan everything to avoid this problem. Perfect, that's our role!

Packing needs

Some cargoes require a packing service, either because the products are fragile like glass for example, or in compliance with international standards like with certain dangerous products. Anyway, this is an important point not to skip.

DocShipper Alert : Are you planning to ship goods from China by plane? Whether it's a groupage shipment or a full container, DocShipper takes care of all the procedures with the various players in the logistics chain.

A single point of contact, dedicated service, peace of mind, expertise... DocShipper makes importing and exporting more pleasant.

Contact us to receive a free estimate in less than 24 hours.

You have a question ? Call our consultants for free.



Required licenses

Some specific products require appropriate measures in order to comply with the country's import laws generally, but this can also be for export. Until your cargo is up to standard, we will not be able to ship.

The packing list

This document represents the inventory of your cargo, namely the products, the quantity, the unit price, and the total. Finally, this document also mentions the name of the owner of the goods as well as the details to contact him (telephone, email, address).

Others (depending on the nature of the products)


How to find the cheapest air freight prices in China?

We have made a list of the 7 points which we consider to be the most important if you wish to make an expedition by air freight.

  1. Have a good understanding of your business
  2. Know the market and prices
  3. Use the correct shipping method (Express vs Classic)
  4. Audit your quotes
  5. Plan effectively
  6. Optimize the packaging of your cargo
  7. Don't consider everything urgent

DocShipper China - Our Scope of work

  • Products sensitive to temperature variations
  • Dangerous products
  • High-value products
  • Perishable goods
  • Personal effects
  • Pets

Air freight services for E-Commerce


E-Commerce is today an important part of everyday purchases. The majority of people have already tried the experience and it will become a standard in the coming years (if not already).

DocShipper China wishes, as a key player in Chinese logistics, to take part in this E-Commerce Golden way by operating on several phase:


B to B

In B to B, we generally talk about purchasing or buying wholesale. It is therefore necessary to go through a conventional air freight solution (or even sea / rail freight if necessary) since shipments should logically be large. In addition to the freight service, we also manage the whole process: documentation, obtaining licenses (if necessary), declaration of products to local customs, etc.


B to C 

B to C is different, we usually talk about small parcels that you want to ship directly to your customers in China or elsewhere. Our Express service will take over and process your request in order to deliver your customers.


3PL and more

Finally, in order to have control over all operations, we offer so-called “3PL” (Third Party Logistics) services. In other words, we manage all the logistical processes of your business: from the storage of your products in our warehouse, the establishment of an inventory updated in real-time, the preparation of orders and shipments. Stop wasting time on your operations and focus on your marketing!

Air freight insurance: the DocShipper Care plan

Why subscribe to air cargo insurance?

International logistics is not an exact science. The multiplication of operators and the numerous manipulations from start to finish gives space for human (or material) error. It is therefore recommended to cover yourself in case of breakage, theft, or loss. Whatever happens, it's best to let your plot go free.


How much does air cargo insurance cost?

It is difficult to give a precise figure since insurance costs depend on the nature of your project. Indeed, the costs are not the same considering the risks of litigation: a fragile and expensive product is not as easy to insure as a common and not very fragile good.

Declared value - Show the happy medium

As mentioned above, the insurance will be based on the declared value of the goods (customs duties apply the same rule), so it is necessary not to take this detail lightly.

Why should you work with a local freight forwarder like DocShipper China?


It is obvious that working with a local forwarder is easier and more effective for an importer/exporter. Communication, which is one of the most important points, is one of the primary factors in the selection of a local freight forwarder.



A local freight forwarder is generally more competitive than a foreign freight forwarder. Indeed, while the local forwarder will call on these own operations, the foreign forwarder will subcontract the maneuvers to a partner, which adds a step in the procedure (and therefore more costs).



It is really necessary for a forwarder to adjust operations as quickly as possible in order to better meet needs and also to offer flexibility in order management.

Foreign freight forwarders are forced to use partners to transport your shipments, which is sometimes not the best option because their partner may not have the expertise for you.


Dedicated service

A foreign forwarder will (in general) require you to do business with several interlocutors while a local forwarder will process your request from start to finish. It allows you to provide a more intimate (and personalized) relationship that can help you optimize your operations.


Air freight advantages and disadvantages

International air freight - The step by step process

Incoterms and air freight 


Documents required when sending products from China by air freight

Airway bill 

An "Airway bill"  is a receipt issued by an international airline for the goods received. It is also a proof of the contract of carriage, but it is not a title to the goods. Therefore, the air waybill is not negotiable.

airway bill air freight


Commercial invoice

Document required by customs to determine the actual value of imported goods, in order to assess duties and taxes. A commercial invoice (in addition to other information) must identify the buyer and the seller and clearly indicate (1) the date and conditions of sale, (2) the quantity, weight and / or volume of the shipment. , (3) the type of packaging, (4) full description of the goods, (5) unit value and total value, and (6) insurance, shipping costs and other costs (if applicable).


Packing list

The "packing list" is a document that represents the inventory of the cargo. This inventory must be detailed so as to include the same information as the commercial invoice.

Certificate of origin (C/O) 

A certificate of origin (often abbreviated as C/O) is a document used in international trade. In printed form or as an electronic document, it is completed by the exporter and certified by a recognized issuing body, attesting that the exported goods have been produced, manufactured or processed in a given country. A "certificate of origin" is also called a "Form A"


Insurance certificate

An insurance certificate is a document used to provide information about specific insurance coverage. The certificate confirms the insurance and generally contains information on the terms and conditions, the insurance company, the contract number, the name of the insured, and the effective periods of the contract.

Air freight Vs. Sea freight – The comparison


Sending bulky goods (generally more than 2 m3) is much more cost-effective by sea freight. On the other hand, air freight can sometimes be cheaper than sea freight, this is particularly the case for small parcels (less than 2 m3).

Rates also vary depending on the price of oil, the destination of departure, and arrival ... For more information, do not hesitate to contact our experts.



In terms of delay, air freight is undoubtedly the fastest method of transport we have. For example, the transit times between China and Europe would be:

  • 6 to 8 days by air freight
  • 40 à 45 days by sea freight



In addition to the advantages of pricing for small parcels and delays, air freight also has the advantage of being very reliable. Litigation in the air cargo industry is fairly low:

  • Little breakage because of less handling than with sea freight
  • Little loss/theft because the industry is more opaque than sea freight
  • Little delay because the overhead lines are very precise

DocShipper Alert : DocShipper assists small and medium-sized businesses and individuals in importing or exporting, by arranging all the steps in international transport, including customs clearance. If you are looking for assistance from A to Z, request a quote. We look forward to learn more about your needs!



DocShipper China | Procurement - Quality control - Logistics


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