Air shipping is the fastest mode of transportation available, but that speed comes with a hefty price tag.
Shipments that are sent from China to the US via air typically take approximately one week to arrive, much less time than ocean shipping, which takes approximately six weeks to get finished goods from the factory to your door. For an additional charge, air shipping time can often be cut down even further and a guaranteed delivery date can be hit, which is never the case with ocean shipments.
Air shipping is the most direct shipping pathway. Once the goods are finished, export documentation and paperwork are submitted, and the goods are delivered to the carrier’s warehouse. From there, they’re loaded onto a plane and flown to the airport closest to their final destination, where they go through import customs. After clearance, they’re taken to the carrier’s local warehouse and dispatched via one of the carrier’s trucks for delivery.
Small air shipments (under 50kg) go through a much faster and simpler customs process, removing one potential obstacle in the logistics timeline. Larger shipments (over 50kg) have to go through a more extensive customs process, similar to ocean shipping.
Some companies (including PrintNinja) offer partial expediting services, meaning you can send some small portion of your goods using expensive, fast air shipping, while the bulk of your order travels via more cost-effective, slower ocean shipping.