Air cargo rules and restrictions to consider

Today one cannot imagine global trade or sending goods across the ocean without air transportation. There are many advantages since without a doubt it’s easier and faster than any other mode of transport. However, one should be aware of air cargo rules and restrictions before shipping items by plane. For instance, the national shipping company of Saudi Arabia prohibits the import of alcohol, pork, and weapons, which is not the case with other air companies. Therefore, you have to comply with some global and international rules, and you also have to take into account the policy of the air company you have chosen. If you are not sure that you are sufficiently familiar with this topic, we will try to explain it to you below.

International rules of air cargo transportation

Most of the world’s air transport takes place under the guidance of IATA, an international association for air transport and trade. There are 290 member countries, and 82% of all world traffic takes place in accordance with IATA rules. Although there are legislation and regulations that IATA registered policy presumes, every transportation company has its own conditions that may differ. Also, you should also keep in mind that there are items that the transportation company will refuse to carry in any circumstances.
loading cargo onto the plane is subjected to air cargo rules and restrictions
The cargo must comply with the applicable company rules.
There are also other things that you should pay attention to:
  • Air freight is certainly the most expensive way, due to fuel costs.
  • You must meet certain requirements required by the specific air company.
  • Due to cost, air transport is usually limited to smaller but more valuable cargo.
  • Each company has its own rules and restrictions for air cargo, so read them carefully.
Whatever is the reason for shipping items by airplane, you should consider all the conditions of the cargo transport company. Not only that you could save money and time, but also spare yourself unexpected and not planned nerve-racking.

Consider all costs and money-saving before air shipping

Air cargo transportation includes a special price for that service. So, whatever items you want to ship by plane, think twice before that step. You might want to choose another type of transportation, depending on what are you shipping. The price of this service might make you choose another mode of transportation. So, be prepared for extra costs and charges if you still opt for air shipping. Air companies have air cargo rates and charges which cover the transportation of goods. Air cargo rates typically range between $2.50 and $5 per kilo on a regular basis. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the prices have skyrocketed. High consumer demand and disruption of international road traffic led to disruptions in supply chains. Even intrastate flight prices have gone up, and international relocation service costs even more. So, do not forget to plan the budget before you start searching for a moving company.

What affects the price of air cargo shipping?

Weight and size always affect the price. If your cargo is more massive than common cargo in airplanes, you will pay more. The company will charge you for both the transport and the space your cargo takes up. Sometimes air companies could ship your cargo along with other ones, resulting in a smaller price. In that case, you will maybe have an obligation to prepare, pack or ensure your cargo. It is the official air cargo rule in most companies. In case you bring high-value items, the company will charge more. Not only that you’ll have to pack and secure your items, but you might as well have to insure your valuables. Don’t forget to match the weight of your luggage in accordance with your air company’s regulations. Urgent shipping is also charged for extra, so be careful not to let that happen. We are sure that you will precisely organize your move. However, in case you must move urgently, expect additional charges.
cargo boxes on their way to airplane
Cargo has to be properly packed and secured as required by air cargo rules and restrictions.
The price is mostly influenced by the price of fuel and the distance of the destination to which you are sending the cargo. Another factor that significantly affects the cost of transportation is the economic situation. During times of prosperity, demand rises and so do prices. And vice versa, companies try to compensate for weaker demand with better use of resources and lower prices.

Compare air companies and their conditions

Although air cargo rules and restrictions are usually the same in every air company, prices might not be. On the other hand, you can compare the conditions and offers they have before shipping. You may get an extra discount if you pack on your own, for example. If you’re still not sure, browse customer reviews online, then you’ll have a clearer perspective. Former clients share their comments on prices, services, and overall experiences with air companies. For instance, everything you need to know about air freight to Saudi Arabia is just a few clicks away.

Standard air cargo rules and restrictions

Every company has its rules, so check them first. Some of the companies operate within the government and apply general rules, while other companies have higher standards. You should also know that IATA standards and regulations are improved and supplemented every year. This is done to improve baggage and ground handling and reduce risks to customers and staff. So it’s wise to check them before the next shipment. You still have to pay attention that there are certain items that the company will refuse to transport. The different companies mostly have standardized lists of items that they do not ship at all. This includes guns, knives, axes, all pressure bottles and containers, explosives, lighters, dangerous chemicals, etc. So, if you are sending air cargo to Bahrain, check the latest IATA annual review.
scrabble tiles saying rules
Air companies use a standardized list of rules.

Preparing and packing your goods for air freight

Every company has many rules when it comes to cargo packing. However, most of those rules are the same in every company. You should pay particular attention to packing in every circumstance. Cargo transportation must comply with regulations for the protection and safety of both goods and people. Especially in cases when certain items require special storing and transportation conditions. For example, some items demand special atmospheric conditions, such as antiques or unique materials. Do not worry, you can take them with you, but only under special circumstances. You must warn the company if your cargo demands special conditions when transporting. Special cargo means objects that, due to their dimensions, weight, or value, require special packaging, handling, and documentation. Some companies could charge more for this extra service, but your shipment will be additionally insured and secured.

Potentially hazardous shipments

Every company must care about the safety of its planes and passengers. Therefore, you must inform the company about the content of your shipment. Most air companies will not accept the transport of your dangerous or hazardous items. And if there are fragile and delicate objects in your cargo, you still must inform the company about that as well. The company will surely take additional measures to prevent damage to your shipment. Still, there are items that companies will not accept to transport. On the other hand, they could accept, but they’ll charge you more.
inside of the air cargo carrier
Every air company will provide you with its air cargo rules and restrictions.

A standardized list of forbidden items

Companies must first think about the safety of people and then property. That is why they have made lists of items that they will never ship due to their dangerous potential. Therefore, always check the list of 9 categories of dangerous goods before consulting a company. Specific dangerous goods are not allowed in any air company. You should know that there are items that no company will ever transport. Those items are on the list of hazardous goods, which you can surely guess, but don’t mind repeating it.


There are many liquids that you cannot transport with you in any circumstances. On that list are acids, aerosols, pesticides, and ethanol. Not only that those can damage cargo space in the plane, but they could also release harmful gases and smells. But mainly, the liquid ban was adopted because of the attempted terrorist attack in 2006. Then a group of terrorists brought liquid explosives onto transoceanic flights. This event was the reason for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to adopt the 3-1-1 rule. According to this rule, each passenger can only bring in liquids and gels in travel-size packings that are 3, 4 ounces, or 100ml.

Flammable materials

It’s pretty obvious why we shouldn’t bring flammable in planes, but what all counts in that category? This includes all flammable liquids, such as fuels, paints, oils, and the such. But also any equipment that has ever contained fuel. You cannot transport those materials in airplanes. Due to strict regulations in air traffic, you cannot bring them as personal baggage in a plane either. It is especially forbidden to bring in any explosive devices, or their parts, fireworks, lighters, and not even paint. Speaking of lighters, you can bring Zippo and disposable lighters on the plane.
warning sign with matches crossed
Air companies prohibit the carriage of flammable substances.


You cannot transport a car battery on a plane. The reason is the acid that the battery contains. You cannot control possible leakage from those batteries, especially not in an airplane. For those reasons, car ion batteries are not on the list of allowed items. That is one of the strict air cargo rules and restrictions. However, you can transport alkaline, button-sized batteries, consumer-sized lithium-ion batteries, etc. Batteries used for cameras, laptops, and game consoles are allowed. The only thing you have to pay attention to is packing them well and securing them. It would be best to transport them in the original packaging or covered with tape to avoid a short circuit.

Consider alternative ways of transportation

As we said above, you can refrain from transporting certain items by air and you can opt for another way of transportation. If you choose not to take those items with you think about which mode of transport would be the most adequate for that specific item. In case you’re not sure whether is allowed or not, ask the company for advice. Under certain conditions, they might be able to meet your requirements or propose some kind of solution. In any case, ask before deciding and save yourself the inconvenience and additional costs.
air cargo rules and restrictions does not apply to ship cargo carriers
Consider alternative ways of cargo transportation.

Check the air company website first

Every serious and professional air company lists its air cargo rules and restrictions on its site. Make sure to check that your shipment does not violate any of the company’s rules. Just visit the company’s website and you will surely find all the necessary information. In case you have specific questions or demands, you can contact them via phone or e-mail, which you can also find on the site. Their personnel will do their best to help you and find the best option for you and your shipment.

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