What Is The Maximum Height Allowed For Air Freight?

Transporting oversized cargo by air can be a logistical challenge. If you need to ship a large or tall item, knowing the maximum dimensions allowed on aircraft is crucial for planning. So what exactly is the max height for air freight?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the maximum height allowance for air cargo shipments is around 244 centimeters or 96 inches. This height restriction applies to main deck containers on large wide-body aircraft.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dig into all the details around air freight height limits. We’ll look at key factors like aircraft types, container dimensions, and how to ship overheight items. Whether you need to transport industrial machinery, works of art, or oversized vehicles, understanding cargo height restrictions is essential.

Standard Height Limit for Air Freight

When it comes to air freight, there are specific height limits in place to ensure the safety and efficiency of the transportation process. These limits vary depending on the type of aircraft being used and the specific compartments where the cargo is stored.

Let’s take a closer look at the standard height limits for air freight.

Main Deck Lower Hold Containers

The main deck of an aircraft is typically used to transport larger and heavier cargo. In this area, the standard height limit for air freight is determined by the aircraft’s cargo door size and the internal dimensions of the cargo compartment.

This limit can vary between different aircraft models, but generally, the maximum height allowed for main deck lower hold containers ranges from 64 to 96 inches.

Lower Deck Belly Containers

The lower deck of an aircraft, also known as the belly, is used to transport smaller and lighter cargo. The standard height limit for air freight in this area is typically determined by the height of the aircraft’s cargo door.

The maximum height allowed for lower deck belly containers usually ranges from 48 to 64 inches.

How Height is Measured for Air Shipments

To determine the height of an air shipment, it is measured from the base of the cargo to the highest point of the cargo. This measurement is taken while the cargo is properly secured and ready for transport.

It is important to note that the height limit includes any necessary packaging or containers that may be used to protect the cargo during transportation.

It is crucial for shippers to adhere to these height limits to ensure that their cargo can be safely loaded and unloaded from the aircraft. Failure to comply with these limits may result in delays, damage to the cargo, and even safety hazards for the airline crew and other passengers.

For more detailed information on the specific height limits for air freight, it is recommended to consult the regulations and guidelines provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Aircraft Types and Cargo Door Dimensions

When it comes to air freight, understanding the maximum height allowed for cargo is crucial. The maximum height can vary depending on the type of aircraft being used for transportation. Let’s take a look at the different aircraft types and their cargo door dimensions.

Narrow-Body Aircraft

Narrow-body aircraft, also known as single-aisle aircraft, are commonly used for domestic and short-haul international flights. These aircraft are typically smaller in size and have cargo door dimensions that limit the maximum height of the freight that can be transported.

While each narrow-body aircraft model may have slightly different cargo door dimensions, the general maximum height allowed for air freight on these aircraft is around 64 inches (1.63 meters).

Wide-Body Aircraft

Wide-body aircraft, also known as twin-aisle aircraft, are larger in size and have more spacious cargo holds compared to narrow-body aircraft. These aircraft are commonly used for long-haul international flights and can accommodate larger and taller cargo.

The maximum height allowed for air freight on wide-body aircraft can range from 96 inches (2.44 meters) to 120 inches (3.05 meters), depending on the specific aircraft model.

Comparing Freighter and Passenger Aircraft

It’s important to note that there are differences between freighter and passenger aircraft when it comes to cargo door dimensions and maximum height allowed for air freight. Freighters are specifically designed for cargo transportation and have larger cargo door dimensions compared to passenger aircraft.

This allows for the transportation of taller and bulkier items. Passenger aircraft, on the other hand, prioritize passenger comfort and have smaller cargo door dimensions. As a result, the maximum height allowed for air freight on passenger aircraft is generally lower compared to freighters.

For more detailed information on cargo door dimensions and maximum height allowed for air freight, it is recommended to check the specific aircraft manufacturer’s website or consult with air freight experts.

Options for Shipping Overheight Cargo

When it comes to shipping overheight cargo, there are several options available to ensure your goods reach their destination safely and efficiently. Here are some of the most common methods used for transporting overheight items via air freight:

Using Air Charter Services

One option for shipping overheight cargo is to utilize air charter services. These services allow you to rent an entire aircraft for your specific cargo needs, giving you more flexibility in terms of size and weight restrictions.

Air charter services can accommodate overheight cargo by providing enough space on the aircraft to accommodate the height of the items being shipped. This option is particularly useful for large or irregularly shaped items that may not fit within standard cargo planes.

Loading Overheight Items on the Main Deck

Another option is to load overheight items on the main deck of a cargo plane. Most cargo planes have main decks that can accommodate taller items, allowing for more flexibility in terms of height restrictions.

This option is often used for shipping items such as machinery, construction equipment, or oversized crates. By utilizing the main deck, you can ensure that your overheight cargo is securely transported without the need for additional handling or repacking.

Specialized Packing and Handling

For overheight cargo that cannot be accommodated by air charter services or loaded on the main deck, specialized packing and handling techniques can be employed. This involves carefully packing the items to reduce their height and ensure they are securely transported.

Additionally, specialized handling equipment may be used to safely load and unload the cargo. It is important to work with experienced freight forwarders who have expertise in handling and packaging overheight cargo to ensure its safe delivery.

It is worth noting that the maximum height allowed for air freight can vary depending on the type of aircraft being used and the specific airline’s regulations. It is essential to consult with your freight forwarder or the airline directly to determine the maximum height limitations for your particular shipment.

For more information on shipping overheight cargo and the options available, you can visit websites such as International Air Transport Association (IATA) or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Regulations and Restrictions

Pre-Shipment Inspections and Approvals

When it comes to air freight, there are specific regulations and restrictions that must be followed to ensure the safety and security of the cargo. One important aspect is pre-shipment inspections and approvals.

Before air freight can be transported, it must go through rigorous inspections to ensure compliance with safety standards. This includes checking for any hazardous materials, proper packaging, and correct documentation.

Additionally, certain types of cargo may require specific approvals or certifications before they can be shipped. For example, perishable goods may need to meet specific temperature control requirements, while dangerous goods may require special permits.

It is crucial for shippers to understand and comply with these regulations to avoid any delays or penalties.

Country-Specific Restrictions

Another factor to consider when determining the maximum height allowed for air freight is the country-specific restrictions. Different countries have their own regulations regarding the size and weight of cargo that can be transported by air.

These restrictions can vary based on factors such as runway length, aircraft capabilities, and airspace limitations.

For instance, some countries may have limitations on the maximum height of cargo due to infrastructure constraints or safety concerns. Shippers must be aware of these restrictions and ensure that their cargo complies with the regulations of both the departure and destination countries.

For more detailed information on country-specific restrictions, it is recommended to consult the official websites of the relevant aviation authorities or regulatory bodies. Websites such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provide valuable resources and guidelines for air freight shipments.

Liability Considerations

Liability is another important aspect to consider when determining the maximum height allowed for air freight. Airlines and freight forwarders have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the cargo during transport.

If a cargo exceeds the maximum height allowed and causes damage to the aircraft or other cargo, the liable party may face legal and financial consequences.

It is essential for shippers to understand the liability limits and exclusions set by airlines and freight forwarders. These limits can vary depending on the type of cargo, the carrier’s terms and conditions, and any additional insurance coverage.

Shippers should carefully review their contracts and insurance policies to ensure they are adequately protected in case of any incidents or accidents during air freight transportation.

Tips for Measuring and Preparing Overheight Shipments

Measuring Height, Width, and Length

When preparing overheight shipments for air freight, it is crucial to accurately measure the dimensions of your cargo. This includes measuring the height, width, and length of the shipment. To measure the height, use a measuring tape and ensure it is placed vertically from the base to the highest point of the cargo.

For the width and length, use a measuring tape or ruler to measure the widest and longest parts of the shipment. It is important to note that some airlines may have specific guidelines or restrictions regarding maximum height, so it’s always a good idea to check with the airline beforehand.

Designing Proper Packing and Crating

Proper packing and crating are essential when shipping overheight cargo. To ensure the safety and stability of your shipment, it is important to design a sturdy and secure packing and crating system. This may include using strong and durable materials, such as wooden crates or metal frames, to protect the cargo during transit.

It is also important to consider the weight distribution and balance of the shipment to prevent any potential damage or accidents. Additionally, labeling the package as “overheight” will help alert handlers and ensure proper handling throughout the shipping process.

Providing Accurate Dimensions

One of the most important aspects of preparing overheight shipments is providing accurate dimensions to the airline or freight forwarder. This includes not only the height, width, and length but also the weight of the cargo.

Accurate dimensions are crucial for the airline to determine if the shipment can be accommodated on their aircraft and to calculate the applicable charges. Providing inaccurate dimensions can lead to delays, additional fees, or even the rejection of the shipment.

Therefore, it is vital to double-check and verify the measurements before providing them to the airline or freight forwarder.

For more information on air freight regulations and guidelines, you can visit websites like IATA or FAA.


When it comes to air freight, height truly matters. Understanding maximum dimension allowances is key for smooth transport of oversized items.

While the standard max height is 96 inches for LD3 containers, numerous options exist for shipping taller cargo. Working closely with your freight forwarder and carrier, using specialty loading, charters, or carriers with larger cargo doors can enable you to fly items above the typical height restriction.

Careful measurement, packing, and communication of dimensions allows overheight freight to be handled efficiently. With smart planning and preparation, even unusually tall cargo can successfully reach its destination by air.

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