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What Is LTL freight? Process, And Freight Rates

Less than truckload shipping is one of the best flexible and cost-effective forms to launch your cargo delivery. Before starting LTL transport, you should familiarize what is LTL and how to use it. In this article, you will find an exhaustive guide about LTL freight, which covers the LTL definition, shipping rates, handling process, and how to optimize your LTL shipment to the greatest extent.

What is LTL freight?

LTL freight means the transportation of your goods that can not take up an entire trailer container for the cargo weight, packing shape, or shipping volume. Generally speaking, the typical load materials of freight shipping LTL is crates or pallets, and the load ranges from 150 to 10,000 pounds.

LTL shipment also can be classified based on how many pallets or linear feet your cargo occupies. For instance, less-than-truckload shipping uses 12 linear feet and pallets between one and six with no more than ten pallets in a truck. If the shipment encompasses ten linear feet or more, it will cost 1,000 pounds per foot. Though specific standards will vary from the carrier, it would not be more different.

How does it work?

The process of the LTL freight works is easy to understand. You can imagine it as a jigsaw puzzle game when several shippers’ goods combine to fit one truckload. It works the same as LCL shipping.

After an LTL carrier takes your goods while it cannot be enough to fill up the truck, they will shift or transit to pick up others’ goods that are shipping into the same direction or destination.

An expert LTL freight carrier will tailor cargo delivery depending on your expectation. It also provides expedited freight and head to limited-access locations such as campsites, construction sites, rural areas, shopping centers, etc. Airsupply, a reputable freight forwarder, can ramp up your international trade with one-stop LTL shipping and various transportation.

What is the benefit of LTL freight?


For LTL transport, you only pay for the space your shipment has used. It aims to work on small loads that head to the same vicinity from multiple entrepreneurs, resulting in economies of scale. What’s more, the NMFTA has published the freight class code as the specific rates for LTL freight quotes.

Friendly for small businesses

Not every company has large goods quantity to stuff a whole truckload especially small or start-up companies. Working with LTL freight shipping, these businesses not only can operate the fund more efficiently but also get the flexibility needed during cargo shipping.

Eco-friendly transportation

During freight LTL shipping, the carrier will consolidate several batches of cargo from different shippers into one truckload rather than haul the goods no more than one-third of the trailer. A truck shipping only half or less cargo capacity will waste room, time, and money. Filling LTL transport with more freight in one truck will reduce the trailer quantity. The fewer trucks on the road, the fewer carbon emissions. Thereby, LTL is an eco-friendly way to protect the environment.

ltl trucking freight

Value-added services

LTL shipping also provides some additional service options that other shipments can not use. First, LTL will give you access to areas with a limit for delivery carriers, such as strip malls and construction sites.

Second, hauling LTL shipments usually offer a lift gate service when cargo freight doesn’t have a shipping dock to unload from the truck. Furthermore, if you want the carrier to enter a building to load the shipment or direct delivery indoors, you can apply for this inside pickup and delivery services.

Easy tracking

LTL freight shipping has a formidable tracking system that will support the PRO number, bill of lading, shipment reference number, and more to track your cargo.

To get in on the action, Airsupply is here to help you gain the best LTL transport to start your international trade and e-commerce business. Their professional team will step-by-step guide you through the whole shipping process. For example, it will point out the paperwork you should prepare as commercial invoices for air or ocean freight. If you have any questions, contact them whenever you are free!

How do you calculate it?

Normally, you pay for LTL freight according to the shipment’s weight/volume, shipping mileage, and other extra charges for cargo transportation. The basic calculation formula is as below:

Less-than-truckload shipping rate = billable weight (kg) x billable mileage (km) x less-than-truckload freight (price/kg·km) + other freight charges

In addition, you should determine your freight class first to get an LTL freight quote. It is mainly formulated by the NMFC based on your cargo shipment difficulty. If your shipment does not have or includes the wrong freight class during an inspection, the carrier will reset your class and update the shipping rate accordingly. Mistaken LTL freight class may increase your shipping charge.

Airsupply shipping agent has deep insight into LTL shipping and international freight. Working with ASL can help you get a prompt quote and freight class of LTL shipping rate.

What factor affects LTL shipping rates?


There is no doubt that distance is a vital factor affecting shipping freight also the price of fuel. The farther the distance, the higher the LTL shipping rate will be. Most LTL carriers have multiple transshipment depots within a specific area. The rates will be lower if your goods pickup location is closer to the carrier’s depot.

Transportation mode

If your cargo shipment requires special services such as indoor delivery and pickup or shipping to limited-access locations, the LTL rate will change based on the freight carrier. Sometimes, you even need particular shipping trucks or equipment as your goods are sensitive, fragile, or perishable.

Freight Class

Your cargo freight type, weight, and dimensions ordinarily decide the LTL freight class. There are numbered 50 to 500 in 18 classes. The lower the class number, the lower the shipping rate will be.

Season effect

Shopping online has busy and off-season which will also influence cargo shipping. During the busy season, there is a potential for shipping delays and freight increases that impact LTL rates.

ltl truck on load

When to cooperate with LTL carriers?

LTL freight shipping is economical for your cargo shipment if you want to maximize cost savings. But not all situation suits LTL shipping. You can choose LTL transport when:

  • The goods are less than 10,000 pounds
  • The delivery timeliness is flexible and not urgent.
  • The cargo type is ordinary and doesn’t ask for exceptional temperature control services and more.
  • The shipping items are not high-value and expensive. Such as electronic products and precision instruments.

How to optimize LTL shipping?

Minimizing the shipping size is one of the best ways to optimize your LTL shipment. For example, large volume but lightweight cargo shipping fees will cost more expensive even than a small one because they take up more space. Below are some ways that can improve your LTL freight shipment.

Minimal package

Use decent size packing materials and boxes. You can fill them with bubble wrap to avoid crushing.

Manage pallets

Organizing pallets to maximize usable space. Load the shipping pallets evenly on the top and sides to create horizontal rows on the truck.

Technical packing and loading

Professional staff following clear and consistent packing and loading standards will help reduce overall costs. You can easily tap into the shipping network of Airsupply. It will help your shipment at an optimal LTL rate.

Why should you choose ASL as your shipping partner?

Airsupply beats other freight forwarders and ranks at the top of the list for many reasons. First, it provides diverse transportation, such as basic air freight, sea shipping, and railway transport. What’s more, it has direct charter flights for your option.

Second, Airsupply’s official team will accompany you from the documentation prepared to delivery. Particularly it focuses on booking and customs clearance on your behalf. Third, it offers e-commerce shipping and door-to-door transportation. Such as shipping to Amazon FBA or DDP delivery.

Airsupply also values dangerous and sensitive goods shipping. It has rich experience in shipping lithium batteries and vape cigarettes. Its competitive prices and comprehensive services help start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs to start global shipping hassle-free. Click the below button to get in touch with ASL now!

FAQ of LTL freight shipping

Q1: What is the difference between LTL and FTL shipping?

The biggest difference between LTL and FTL is loading volume. In contrast to LTL, FTL is more suited for cargo shipments of 20,000 pounds or much more. For more details, you can check the article: LTL vs. FTL

Q2: How to properly package LTL freight shipping?

Though you have packed your cargo on rigid pallets or in crates, it also needs the plastic film to wrap and fix your outside pallets. It can avoid any shifting during transit.

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