Aircargo, also known as air cargo or air freight, is the transportation of goods and products via aircraft. This mode of transportation is often used for time-sensitive or high-value goods, as it can significantly reduce the transit time compared to other shipping methods like road, rail, or sea freight. Air cargo can involve both domestic and international shipments and is commonly used by businesses for various purposes, including importing and exporting goods, supplying inventory to retailers, and delivering products to customers.
Aircargo services are typically provided by airlines, freight forwarders, and specialized air cargo companies. These service providers work together to ensure the efficient and safe transportation of goods, offering various levels of service to accommodate different shipment sizes, timeframes, and requirements. Some of the key components of air cargo services include warehousing, packing, customs clearance, and cargo tracking.
Aircargo Tracking Different Methods
Air cargo tracking is essential for shippers, freight forwarders, and consignees to monitor the status and location of their shipments. Several methods are used to track air cargo shipments, including:
- Airway Bill (AWB) Number: The most common method of tracking air cargo is by using the unique airway bill number (also known as the AWB or tracking number) assigned to each shipment. This number can be entered on the airline’s or freight forwarder’s website to access real-time tracking information.
- IATA (International Air Transport Association) Code: The IATA code is a three-letter code that represents the airline responsible for transporting the shipment. By combining the IATA code with the AWB number, you can track your shipment on third-party tracking websites or platforms that aggregate tracking information from multiple airlines.
- Container Number: For shipments using Unit Load Devices (ULDs) or containers, you can track your cargo using the container number. This information is often available through the airline’s or freight forwarder’s tracking system.
- GPS Tracking: Some shipments may be equipped with GPS tracking devices, providing real-time location information. This method is particularly useful for high-value or sensitive shipments that require constant monitoring.
- Barcode Scanning: Modern air cargo shipments often include barcodes or QR codes on the cargo labels. These codes can be scanned at each stage of the transportation process, providing updated information about the shipment’s location and status. By accessing the tracking system of the airline or freight forwarder, you can view the latest updates on your shipment based on these scans.
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Tags: Some air cargo shipments may use RFID tags to track their movement. RFID tags can be read by scanners at various points throughout the shipping process, offering real-time tracking data without the need for manual scanning. This technology can improve the efficiency and accuracy of tracking information.
- Mobile Apps: Many airlines, freight forwarders, and third-party tracking services have developed mobile apps that allow customers to track their air cargo shipments using their smartphones or tablets. These apps typically require the user to enter the AWB number or other relevant tracking information and provide real-time updates on the shipment’s status and location.
- EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) Systems: For businesses with a high volume of air cargo shipments or complex supply chains, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems can facilitate the exchange of tracking information between parties. This allows for seamless integration of tracking data into existing business systems, streamlining the tracking process and providing greater visibility into shipment status.
By using one or a combination of these tracking methods, shippers, freight forwarders, and consignees can monitor their air cargo shipments
Different Cargo Tracking Status
Air cargo tracking status provides various updates throughout the shipping process, offering insights into the location and progress of a shipment. Here are some common tracking statuses you may encounter when monitoring an air cargo shipment:
- Booked: The shipment has been scheduled with the airline or freight forwarder but has not yet been picked up or received.
- Picked up or Received: The airline or freight forwarder has received the shipment from the shipper and the transportation process has begun.
- In Transit: The shipment is en route to its destination. This status may include additional information about the shipment’s location, such as the departure and arrival airports or any intermediate stops.
- Transfer or Connecting Flight: The shipment is being transferred from one flight to another, typically during international or long-haul shipments with multiple legs.
- Customs Clearance: The shipment is undergoing customs inspection and clearance procedures, which are required for international shipments. This status may include additional information on any holds or delays due to customs.
- Released to Forwarding Agent: The shipment has cleared customs and has been handed over to a local forwarding agent or courier for final delivery to the consignee.
- Out for Delivery: The shipment is with the local delivery agent and is on its way to the final destination or consignee. This status usually indicates that the shipment will be delivered soon.
- Delivered: The shipment has been successfully delivered to the consignee. The tracking information may also include the date and time of delivery, as well as the name of the person who signed for the package, if applicable.
- Exception or Delay: This status indicates that there has been an issue or delay in the transportation process, such as weather-related disruptions, mechanical problems, customs holds, or documentation issues. The tracking information may provide details on the nature of the exception and any potential resolution.
- Returned to Shipper: The shipment could not be delivered to the consignee for some reason (e.g., incorrect address, consignee unavailable, or refusal of delivery) and is being returned to the shipper.
- Damaged or Lost: This status indicates that the shipment has been reported as damaged or lost during the transportation process. In such cases, the shipper, consignee, or freight forwarder may need to initiate a claim process with the airline or cargo carrier.
Air cargo codes consist of a combination of the airline’s IATA code and the unique Airway Bill (AWB) number. The IATA code is a three-letter code that identifies the airline responsible for transporting the shipment. The AWB number is typically an eight-digit number assigned to each individual shipment. When combined, these codes create a unique identifier for tracking air cargo shipments.
An example of an air cargo code using an IATA code and an AWB number would look like this:
For a shipment with American Airlines (AAL), the air cargo code might be AAL 1234 5678.
In this example, “AAL” represents the IATA code for American Airlines, and “1234 5678” is the unique eight-digit AWB number assigned to the shipment. This combination of the airline code and the AWB number allows for precise tracking of the air cargo shipment.
To track an air cargo shipment, you would visit the airline’s cargo tracking website or a third-party tracking platform and enter the full air cargo code, including the IATA code and AWB number. This will provide you with real-time updates on the shipment’s location, status, and any relevant information about the shipment’s progress.
Here are a few examples of IATA codes for well-known airlines:
- American Airlines (AA) – IATA code: AAL
- Delta Air Lines (DL) – IATA code: DAL
- United Airlines (UA) – IATA code: UAL
- Emirates (EK) – IATA code: UAE
- British Airways (BA) – IATA code: BAW
- Lufthansa (LH) – IATA code: DLH
- FedEx Express (FX) – IATA code: FDX
- UPS Airlines (5X) – IATA code: UPS
- Cathay Pacific (CX) – IATA code: CPA
- Singapore Airlines (SQ) – IATA code: SIA
- Cargo tracking
- Freight status
- Freight track trace
- Track awb number
- Airwaybill status