How to Calculate Chargeable Weight for Air Freight Shipments

The Chargeable Weight of Air Freight shipments are calculated as the Actual Weight (Gross Weight) or the Volumetric (also called Volume or Dimensional) Weight of the shipment, whichever is the greater. This uses an estimated weight that is calculated based on the dimensions (length, width and height) of a package (shipments are always shown in the order of L x W x H). Typically, large items with a light overall weight take up more space on an aircraft than a small, heavy item. That’s why the Airlines charge according to Chargeable Weight.

Chargeable weight is commonly used by air freight forwarders, domestic motor carriers and brokers to calculate their air freight and/or domestic trucking charges.

For those of you who simply want the formulas without a detailed explanation, here you go:

The formula for calculating the volume/dimensional weight for all commodities is 166 cubic inches per pound or 6000 cubic centimeters per kilogram or 366 cubic inches per kilogram.

Multiply the length by the width by the height to obtain the cubic inches, then:

  • To obtain the dimensional weight in pounds using inches, divide the cubic inch result by 166
  • To obtain the dimensional weight in kilograms using inches, divide the cubic inch result by 366
  • Using Dimensions in Centimeters: To obtain the dimensional weight in kilograms using centimeters, divide the cubic centimeter result by 6000

Some definitions and formulas to start:

Chargeable Weight: the greater of actual weight vs. volume weight of a shipment. Chargeable weight is an equilibrium point where the actual weight and volume weight of cargo balance out for the airline, BUT, keep in mind that if the actual weight of the cargo is higher than the “equilibrium point”, the air freight charges are billed on that actual weight.

Volume/Volumetric/Dimensional Weight: Cargo weight based on dimensions of the cargo

Actual Weight: Actual weight of the cargo weighed on a scale
Lb or lbs:   pounds
Kg or kgs: kilograms
Cft or ft3: cubic feet
Cbm or m3: cubic meters
Tonne or mt: metric ton 1,000 kgs / 2,204.6 lbs

Basic Conversions:

1 inch = 2.54 centimeters (cms) / 1 cms = 0.393701
1 lbs = 0.453592 kgs / 1 kgs = 2.20462 lbs

Imperial shipping factor examples:

167 in3/lb = 10.4  lb/ft3

Metric shipping factor examples:

5000  cm3/kg = 200  kg/m3
6000  cm3/kg = 166.667  kg/m3
7000  cm3/kg = 142.857  kg/m3

Note: all dimensions and weights are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Combining dimensions in inches and weight in kgs: (L x W x H)/366 (this is commonly done in U.S. exports since dimensions are provided in inches but charges for air freight are always in kgs)

How do you calculate volume weight?
  • Multiply the parcel's three dimensions (length x height x width)
  • If you are using centimetres then divide the result by 5000 (or 4000 for EU economy services). ...
  • The resulting figure represents the volumetric weight of your parcel.
How do you calculate freight rates?
Is the volume the same as weight?

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