Air Freight CutOff Times

December 23rd, 2016

One of the questions I am asked all the time from shippers is “when is the cutoff time for air freight?” The short answer is it depends on who you use. A more detailed answer is provided in the post below.

First things first. What is a cutoff time? A cutoff time is the latest time you can tender the freight to the carrier or airline to ensure it is placed on the transportation asset. In the terms of air freight this dictated latest time really depends on who you use. If you are using an integrator such as UPS or FedEX, they have very strict cutoff times. This usually ranges sometime between 5PM-7PM. Many times this makes shippers feel they are out of options if they miss that days Cutoff. However When using a company such as ExpeditedFreightQuote.Com there are many more flight options. There is no standard cutoff time because whether or not the cargo makes the flight is completely dependent on when that flight leaves. The general rule of thumb is for domestic flights you need to drop your freight at the airlines cargo facility at least 2 hours before the scheduled departure time. For International flights it is a good idea to double this and arrive at least 4 hours prior to flights scheduled departure. For example, if you are trying to make a 10PM flight and your office is 30 min drive from the airport, your “cutoff” time should be 7:30PM at the latest to ensure the driver can pick up the freight and deliver to the airline by 8:00PM. If there is a flight at 1:00am ten your cut off time becomes 10:30

There are ways to give yourself more time if it is a really urgent shipment. You can move the freight “over the counter” with many commercial airlines (Delta, United, Southwest, etc…) This allows you to drop the freight only an hour before the flight instead of 2 hours. Keep in mind this mode of booking air freight has dimensional and weight restrictions which is usually 99 inches total dimension and 100 lbs. Anything over this would be subject to a drop 2 hours before the flight.

In conclusion, don’t ever feel that because you are past a UPS or FedEX cutoff you are out of options. There are many late night and red eye flights available to ensure your shipment is delivered to its destination on time. Request a free online quote with me today at and I can walk you through the options available.

By: Erik Bendiksen-Senior Account Executive- ExpeditedFreightQuote.Com


Expedited Freight Quote.Com

3000 E. Las Hermanas,

Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221