Glossary Terms for Air Cargo Shippers

Air Express

This is a service level that airlines provide that offers a guaranteed level of expedited service, such as overnight, at a premium charge. It may be restricted as to package weight and size. Favorable reimbursements are provided in the event that their service level is not met. 


Air Freight

Shipments of cargo aside from USPS mail. Expedited cargo or passenger baggage tendered to an airline for transportation.


Air Freight Forwarder

A company that serves the joint role of an indirect carrier and shipper. To the shipper the air freight forwarder is an indirect air carrier because it receives freight under its own tariff, yet does not actually operate the air transportation. The air freight forwarder provides first and last mile service (pick-up and delivery service) to and from the shipper's dock, consolidates shipments into larger units, prepares shipping documentation and tenders shipments to the airlines. To the airlines, the air freight forwarder is a shipper. Ordinarily an air freight forwarder is classed as an indirect air carrier, however, some air freight forwarders operate their own aircraft.

Air Waybill

A shipping document used by the airlines for air freight. The equivalent of a passenger’s boarding pass. It serves as a contract for carriage and includes carrier conditions of carriage such as limits of liability and claims procedures. The air waybill also contains shipping instructions to the airline, a description of the commodity, and applicable transportation charges. This will soon be obsolete as technology continues to evolve and shippers adopt Hangar A’s standard IATA approved electronic air waybill eAWB.

Aircraft Container

A unit load device (ULD) which links directly with the airplane cargo handling and restraint system. ULDs are limited to certain aircraft based on door size. Smaller, narrow body planes, cannot accommodate ULDs.

Airport to Airport

Air cargo service from airport of origin to airport of destination, without first or last mile delivery service (pick-up and delivery service).


A term used to describe allocated space by airlines on behalf of forwarders/shippers.

Articles of Extraordinary Value (A.E.V.)

Commodities identified as high value items.


Actual Time of Arrival


Actual Time of Departure.

Automatic Proof of Delivery (P.O.D.)

Information automatically sent to the original shipping customer with the name of the person who signed for the package with date and time of delivery.

Bonded Warehouse

Customs around the world authorize bonded warehouses for storage or manufacture of goods on which payment of duties is deferred until the goods enter the Customs Territory. The goods are not subject to duties if re-shipped to foreign points.

Break Bulk (B/B)

For consolidated air freight, it is moved under one master air waybill (MAWB) and each consignment designated to a specific consignee or recipient is under one house waybill (HWB).  When the freight forwarder receives the consolidated cargo from the carrier, they will break the consolidation apart per HAWB and then proceed through customs. Such Break-Bulk is normally handled by airlines or their ground handling agent.


Delivery of merchandise from an exporter (the consignor) to an agent (the consignee) under agreement that the agent sells the merchandise for the account of the exporter. The consignor retains title until the goods are successfully sold. The consignee sells the goods for commission and remits the net proceeds to the consignor.


As a way to effectively ship multiple small consignments, a freight forwarding company will consolidate many different shipments into one lot to then be tendered for carriage. Everything would be shipped under one master air waybill or one house air waybill. 


The government authorities designated to collect duties levied by a country on imports and exports.

Customs Broker

An individual or company licensed by the government to enter and clear goods through Customs. The U.S. Customs Service defines a Customs Broker as any person who is licensed in accordance with Part III of Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Customs regulations) to transact Customs business on behalf of others. Customs business is limited to those activities involving transactions with Customs concerning the entry and admissibility of merchandise; its classification and valuation; the payment of duties, taxes, or other charges assessed or collected by Customs upon merchandise by reason of its importation, or the refund, rebate, or drawback thereof.

Customs Clearance

The procedures involved in getting cargo released by Customs through designated formalities such as presenting necessary licenses, permits, payment of import duties and any additional pertinent documentation by the nature of the cargo such as FCC or FDA approval.

Customs Invoice

A document, required by some foreign countries’ customs officials to verify the value, quantity, and nature of the shipment, describing the shipment of goods and showing information such as the consignor, consignee, and value of the shipment.

Dangerous Goods

Commodities classified by IATA according to its nature and characteristics in terms of the effect of its danger to the carrier's flying safety.


Delivery Duty Paid.


Delivery Duty Unpaid.

Denied Party Screening

Denied Party Screening is the process of identifying whether or not any parties involved in a transaction can be found on watch lists maintained by multiple U.S. government and international agencies.

Dimensional Weight

Carrier charge for freight based on the dimensional weight. Length x Width x Height / 166 or 194 multiplied by the total pieces. 166 and 194 vary depending on the carrier.

Direct Ship

Ship without consolidation and under one master air waybill aka non-consolidation.


Drawback is a rebate by a government, in whole or in part, of customs duties assessed on imported merchandise that is subsequently exported. Drawback regulations and procedures vary among countries.


A tax imposed on imports by the customs authority of a country. Duties are generally based on the value of the goods including factors such as weight or quantity (specific duties), or a combination of value and other factors (compound duties).


Electronic Data Interchange (edi) for Administration, Commerce, and Transportation, is an international syntax used in the interchange of electronic data. Customs uses EDI to interchange data with the importing trade community.

eAWB - Electronic Air Waybill

The electronic air waybill (eAWB) is the digital version of a paper air waybill. The main goal of eAWB is to build and implement an end-to-end paperless transportation process for the air cargo industry, where paper documents are replaced with the exchange of electronic data


Estimated Time of Arrival. This does not take into account the available for recovery time which varies based on commodity, service type, carrier, and airport. The additional time prior to recovery can be anywhere from 60 minutes to four hours. 


Estimated Time of Departure. This does not take into account the required dropoff time which varies based on commodity, service type, carrier, and airport. The additional time required for dropoff prior to departure can be anywhere from 60 minutes to four hours.


House air waybill (HAWB) is a transport document, which is used in air shipments, issued and signed by a freight forwarder, generally on a natural air waybill format, evidences the terms and conditions of the carriage of goods as specified by the freight forwarder.


International Air Transport Association (IATA), established in 1945, is a trade association serving airlines, passengers, shippers, travel agents, and governments. The association promotes safety, standardization in forms (baggage checks, tickets, weigh bills), and aids in establishing international airfares. IATA headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

IATA Designator

Two-character Airline identification assigned by IATA in accordance with provisions of Resolution 762. It is for use in reservations, timetables, tickets, tariffs as well as air waybill.

Insurance Certificate

This certificate is used to assure the consignee that insurance is provided to cover loss of or damage to the cargo while in transit.

Intermediate Consignee

An intermediate consignee is the bank, forwarding agent, or other intermediary (if any) that acts in a foreign country as an agent for the exporter, the purchaser, or the ultimate consignee, for the purpose of effecting delivery of the export to the ultimate consignee.


Movement of goods by more than one mode of transport, i.e. airplane, truck, railroad and ship.


Lower deck type 3 container. This is the most commonly used container in passenger aircraft.

Lower Deck

The compartment below the main deck that holds all ULD type containers.

Main Deck

The deck on which the major portion of payload is carried, normally known as Upper Deck of an airplane. The full cargo freighter aircraft has its entire upper deck equipped for main deck type of containers/pallets while Combi aircraft uses its rear part of the upper deck for cargo loading. The main deck on passenger aircrafts is where the passengers are seated.


No Value Declared.

Packing List

A shipping document issued by shipper to carrier, Customs and consignee serving the purposes of identifying detail information of package count, products count, measurement of each package, weight of each package, etc

Perishable Goods

A perishable good is any product in which quality deteriorates due to environmental conditions through time, such as meat and meat by-products, fish and seafood, dairy products, fruit and vegetables, flowers, pharmaceutical products, and chemicals.


Proof Of Delivery, or a cargo/package receipt with the signature of the recipient. This term has been widely used in the courier and express industry and is also gaining more attention and implementation in the air cargo industry.

Shipping Mark

The letters, numbers or other symbols placed on the outside of cargo to facilitate identification.

Shipping Weight

Shipping weight represents the gross weight in pounds or kilograms of shipments, including the weight of moisture content, wrappings, crates, boxes, and containers (other than cargo vans and similar substantial outer containers).


TACT stands for The Air Cargo Tariff. It is published by International Airlines Publications (IAP), an IATA company.

Tare Weight

The weight of a ULD and tie down materials without the weight of the goods it contains.


Trans-shipment refers to the act of sending an exported product through an intermediate country before routing it to the country intended to be its final destination.


Unit Load Device, Any type of container, container with integral pallet, aircraft container or aircraft pallet.


HMA Stall






LD-29 Reefer


LD-3 Reefer





LD-7 folded

LD-7 angled



LD-9 Reefer





M-6 (118”h)

M-6 Twin Car


PLA Half Pallet

PMC P6P Pallet

PNA Half Pallet

Type A Pen

Ultimate Consignee

The ultimate consignee is the person located abroad who is the true party in interest, receiving the export for the designated end-use.