Over the last few months, we have received a lot of questions regarding how a company can become a known shipper. We are excited about these questions and are happy to help you if you are interested in learning more on the subject matter! Go ahead and reach out to one of our team members to find out the difference between TSA known and unknown shippers and how you can become one.
What is a TSA Known Shipper?
Ever since the dreadful events of 9/11, the Transportation Security Administration has cracked down on the security of passenger aircrafts. Many people don’t recognize that the bottom of passenger aircrafts are filled with more than the onboard customer’s luggage – it’s a housing space for air cargo as well. After 9/11, TSA made restrictions regarding who was allowed to ship cargo via passenger aircrafts by creating a “Known Shipper” list.
The “Known Shipper” list is a list of companies that TSA has screened and identified to be trustworthy for transporting cargo on passenger aircrafts. Even for companies who are registered as Known Shippers, cargo must be 100% screened to ensure passenger and aircraft security. The TSA website states,
“On Aug. 3, 2007, President Bush signed into law the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 legislation requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a system to enable industry to screen 100 percent of cargo transported on passenger aircraft at a level of security commensurate with the level of security of passenger checked baggage, within three years. The impact of the 100 percent screening requirement is that all cargo must be screened at the piece level by TSA approved methods prior to being loaded onto a passenger aircraft.”
What are the Benefits of Being a Known Shipper?
Many companies hear of the known shipper program and ask to be registered without fully understanding what it entails. Although the program is not complex by any means, there are many benefits of being a known shipper. Here are a few:
Cargo Only vs. Passenger Aircraft
The most obvious, and primary purpose of the known shipper list is that registered companies can transport goods on passenger aircrafts. This gives companies more options, as they can choose between transport via cargo aircrafts (as usual), or passenger aircrafts. Since there are a much greater deal of passenger aircrafts than cargo aircrafts, Known Shippers experience the benefit of fast delivery.
Lower Rates and Cost Benefits
Price is by far the most persuasive element of shipping decisions. Everyone wants the best rates without a sacrifice in service quality and transit time. Unfortunately, the two are most often negatively correlated and customers experience unnecessary rate fluctuations. This isn’t the case with TSA Known Shippers.
Known Shippers reap the benefits of faster transit time (since there are more passenger aircraft departures on a daily basis than cargo aircraft departures), and lower rates. Cargo aircrafts are funded solely by the shippers who have cargo aboard the vessel. However, passenger aircrafts are allocating funds from two sources: passengers and shippers. This naturally drives down the cost of freight rates on passenger aircrafts. This is one of the primary benefits of being a known shipper.
As stated before, there are many more passenger aircrafts in existence than cargo aircrafts. There are approximately 5000 airlines globally – most of which are passenger aircrafts. Since these aircrafts depart at very frequent intervals to destinations all around the world, shippers reap the benefits of last minute bookings. For international flights, there may be anywhere from 3-10 departures per day from any U.S. airport to an international terminal.
While air cargo can be transported quickly, it doesn’t excuse you from planning. Cargo aircrafts fill up quickly and depart less frequently than passenger aircrafts. If you find yourself continually wishing you could book faster, more frequent flights on shorter notices, being a TSA known shipper could benefit you greatly.
Depending on the size of the packages you ship, being a known shipper may fit perfectly with your business’s shipping practice. Not all cargo can fit on a passenger aircraft. For businesses that are shipping very large volumes or cargo that is tall, passenger aircrafts may not be feasible.
Palletized shipments on an average passenger aircraft cannot exceed 64”. This may vary by airline and aircraft type, but not by much. These aircrafts can carry a total of 5,330 cubic feet of freight, and a total of 10,000 when configured in “combi” mode. Combi mode refers to the practice of reservicing a section of passenger seating compartments for cargo only. Even though a passenger aircraft can carry up to 2 semi-truck trailers worth of freight, the cargo aboard must meet the height restrictions of the vessels.
Will I Benefit from the Known Shipper Program?
For most companies, the simple answer is yes – there are many benefits of being a known shipper. Greater flight frequency of passenger aircrafts over cargo aircrafts means you have more opportunities to book your freight on an international aircraft. Also, freight rates are lower since passenger aircraft expenses are funded by a combination of passengers and shippers.
When it comes to air freight, there is no doubt that the benefits of being a Known Shipper greatly outweigh the concerns. The only potential downside that Known Shippers should be aware of are the dimensional restrictions. As a rule of thumb, palletized shipments aboard a passenger aircraft cannot exceed 64” in height. For shippers who have cargo that is taller than this limit, your only option is to distribute your tall shipments onto two pallets. You will most likely still experience cost benefits from doubling your pallet count if your palletized cargo would otherwise exceed 64”.
Ready to Sign Up to Be a Known Shipper?
If you are ready to see the transit time and cost benefits of being a Known Shipper, give Interlog USA a call! We have helped many companies with the process of becoming a registered Known Shipper and would be excited to talk with you about how it could benefit your company.
Also, if you are looking to become a Known Shipper for the sake of cost benefits, Interlog USA is well known for having outstanding international air freight rates. Reach out to our team and we’d be happy to quote you on your next shipment.