Sky Over Sea: 4 Reasons to Ship Goods from the Philippines to the US by Air

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Welcome to the BOB blog! It’s great to have you here.

After years of shipping boxes all around the world, it’s time for BOB to share some stories and expertise.

Here on our blog, we hope to offer a regular digest of tips, tricks, and relevant news to help you understand how to efficiently ship goods from the Philippines to the US, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and the 200 other countries we cover.

Why Doesn’t BOB Ship by Sea?

In today’s post, I’d like to focus on one of the most common questions I get from my clients: Can’t you ship by sea?

The answer to this question is multifaceted.

The reason people ship by sea instead of air is, of course, to save money.

It makes good sense that it would be cheaper to put heavy boxes on a ship than on a plane. That’s what makes it so affordable to ship balikbayan boxes to the Philippines.

In fact, an LA Times feature on Balikbayan boxes claims that it can be cheaper to ship such a box from the US to the Philippines than to send it across the street with a standard carrier.

Sending boxes from the Philippines to the US—and Beyond

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work the other way around. If you want to ship goods from the Philippines to the US, or any other country for that matter, it’s a whole different ball game.

Luckily, it’s also BOB’s game.

BOB packages, processes, and sends boxes from the Philippines to almost anywhere in the world. Today, we’d like to share our biggest reasons for shipping your goods by air.

4 Reasons to Ship Goods from the Philippines to the US by Air

1. Air Freight is Dependable

Last week, GMA News announced the vanishing of 600 shipping containers from the Port of Manila.

How it was possible is a question that has yet to be answered but reports tell us the containers disappeared between April and August of last year. The missing boxes went unnoticed until January.

In response to the discovery, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs formed a special investigation committee. This happened on February 22. Coincidentally, there was a fire in the Bureau of Customs building that same evening.

When you ship goods from Manila to the US, you may encounter port congestion.
An aerial shot of Manila’s North Harbor
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Port of Manila isn’t the only one with problems. Port congestion is an issue the world over—another factor that makes shipping by sea unpredictable.

Ports, at times, can be as temperamental as the seas they trade across. If you put your goods in a container, one small change in policy could result in delays and hefty fees for the entire shipment.

When you put your goods on a plane, they travel with their own ticket and are monitored closely. There’s a much stronger guarantee that they won’t get held up, mishandled, or worst of all, lost.

2. Air Freight is Timely

Typically, sending a balikbayan box to the Philippines takes two or three months. If you want to flip it around and send a box from the Philippines to another country, options are fewer and farther between. 

There’s PhilPost’s sea freight, but shipping takes five months and isn’t tracked. The postal company itself doesn’t recommend it. 

So what do you do if you want to send an Alisbayan box to your family abroad?

Imagine sending shoes and clothes to your niece. If it takes almost half a year of waiting, she could outgrow everything before it arrives. 

Conversely, picture trying to run a small business from home that relies on unique products from the Philippines, and having to plan orders months in advance. 

One of our regular customers was in this exact same boat. She has created a line of Philippine-made products to sell through her Etsy store

Then she moved to Canada. Now her locally made items are delivered to the BOB warehouse every month and shipped for sale in North America.  

She is one of many who can count on BOB to ship goods from the Philippines to the US and other countries in a reliable amount of time. In fact, her last box arrived in three days. 

Read more stories like hers on our testimonials page.

3. Sea Freight Contains Hidden Costs

It’s no surprise that the speed of air freight comes at a cost. But how much do you actually save when you ship by sea?

While you’ll pay less per pound or kilo, sea freight options carry such hefty port fees that you might end up losing what you thought you’d gained by taking the slow route—especially for smaller packages.

Unfortunately, the only way to know what the receiving port will charge is to actually send the shipment.

Companies that ship goods from the Philippines to US seaports such as Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and Houston are unwilling to quote these fees because there are simply too many variables. 

For example, if the receiving port were to request a random inspection, you would have to pay for it.

If your shipment is big enough, these fees can be negligible. But without an accurate quote, it’s impossible to tell whether you’ll win or lose when choosing to send, say, a medium-sized box by sea instead of air.

4. Less is More

Everyone likes the idea of sending a balikbayan box by sea because you don’t have to worry about weight. And it’s a beautiful thing: these boxes have fulfilled a need in the Philippines for decades.

However, the lack of predictability still makes air the better option. And in a world of clutter, there’s one more reason to choose sky over sea: it can help you adopt a more efficient and minimalistic approach to what you send abroad.

You can always count on BOB to efficiently provide quotes that help you make your boxes smaller and get the most value for your money.

In Summary, shipping by air can be the better choice because:

  • Port congestion makes sea freight unpredictable.
  • Unknown fees at the receiving port can drive up cost.
  • Shipping by sea takes 1-5 months; air can get it there in 1-5 days.
  • It’s the minimalist and efficient way to go!

BOB is always on the lookout for the best ways to move boxes from A to B.

Today, we ship by air because it’s our responsibility to take your goods and your time seriously.

As our country grows and its needs change, we are looking to the future and developing ways to introduce small-scale sea shipments for convenient personal exports from the Philippines to the US and the world.