What is the Difference Between LTL and FTL Freight Shipping?

June 06, 2022

Not sure what type of freight shipping is right for your business? Don't worry, we can help! In this blog post, we will learn the difference between FTL and LTL freight shipping and get a better understanding of which fits your shipping needs. Finally, we will also provide tips on how to get started with each type of shipping service and, more importantly, how to find the best freight shipping company for your needs. You've come to the right place so keep reading to learn more!

Let's begin by clearly defining the terms FTL and LTL.


What is FTL freight shipping?

FTL freight shipping, or full truckload shipping, is a type of shipping that delivers your goods in a single trip. This type of shipping is often used for larger shipments that need to be delivered quickly. FTL shipping is the fastest method of shipping compared to LTL, while also generally being more reliable than LTL. The reason behind this is your cargo is picked up and dropped off at the same location, which means it will make no extra stops in between. This type of shipping is often used for time-sensitive deliveries or when there are tight deadlines to be met. If you need to send your shipment to reach the final destination ASAP, FTL will be the best option for you.


What does LTL stand for?

LTL freight shipping, or less than truckload shipping, is a type of shipping that delivers your goods in multiple trips. LTL shipments are usually under 15k lbs and will be charged based on the amount of space the shipment takes up on the truck. This type of shipping is most commonly used by smaller companies or for goods that don't need to be delivered urgently. Compared to FTL, LTL shipping is less expensive but also slower and less reliable. Your cargo is picked up and dropped off at different locations, which means that it goes through in-between stops along the way. This type of shipping is often used for non-time-sensitive deliveries or when there is more flexibility in the delivery schedule. If you need to send your shipment on a budget and have plenty of time to get it there, LTL shipping might be the right option for your business.


Pros and cons of FTL vs LTL freight shipping

So now that you know the definition of both FTL and LTL, let's take a closer look into what you should expect to receive when choosing the freight shipping service you will use.


FTL shipping generally has a shorter transit time than LTL shipping. This is because FTL shipments are not subject to the consolidation and deconsolidation processes that LTL shipments undergo. When you ship with FTL, your goods will travel on a truck that is dedicated to your shipment. This means that your goods will not be subject to the delays that can occur when shipping LTL. With LTL, your shipment will be combined with other shipments, so there is a much higher chance of delays. With LTL, if one of the shipments in the truck is missing paperwork, the rest of the shipments will be delayed as a result.


FTL shipping is typically more expensive than LTL shipping. This is because FTL shipping requires a dedicated truck and driver, while LTL shipping consolidates shipments from many customers into one truck.


FTL shipping is generally more reliable than LTL shipping. This is because your shipment will not be combined with other shipments, so there is less chance of delays or damage. This is also due to your LTL shipment arriving at multiple locations where various employees will handle your shipment, creating a higher risk of human error delaying your shipment's arrival.


LTL shipping is typically more flexible than FTL shipping. This is because you can ship smaller quantities of goods, and you have more shipping options. If you're wanting to choose the time and date of your shipment, as well as the route that your goods will take, FTL may be a better option.


When it comes to capacity, FTL shipping is the clear winner. LTL shipments are limited to a certain weight and size, while FTL shipments can be larger and heavier. This can be important for businesses that need to move a lot of goods at once. With FTL, you will have more control over your shipment since it will not be combined with other shipments. This means that you can plan your shipment more accurately and avoid delays.

Pickup and Delivery

When it comes to pick-up and delivery, FTL shipping is far superior. With LTL shipping, your freight will be picked up and delivered by a number of different carriers, which can lead to delays and missed deliveries. FTL shipping, on the other hand, involves a single carrier that will handle everything from pickup to delivery, ensuring that your freight arrives on time.


FTL freight shipping generally offers more documentation options than LTL shipping. For example, FTL shipments can be tracked more closely and often include detailed manifests that list all the items in the shipment. LTL shipments are not usually as closely monitored, and may not include a manifest. Keep this in mind if your business is concerned with keeping track of its inventory levels.


When you ship with FTL, your goods will be more secure since they will not be combined with other shipments, and the trailer doors only open once - at delivery. This means that there is less chance of your goods being damaged or lost in transit. Shipping with FTL can give you greater peace of mind knowing that your shipment will arrive on time and in one piece. Depending on the freight, this added security and your peace of mind may be worth the extra cost of going FTL.


Here is more info to summarise what we've learned so far:


  • FTL - best for shipments above 12 pallets
  • Highly recommended for fragile/delicate products
  • The best option for strict pickup and delivery windows
  • Deliver is time-sensitive? FTL is the option for you
  • FTL trailers are 53' long with swing doors. They are typically 102" wide with a 110" height for clearance.


  • LTL - 12 pallets or less
  • LTL can be a good choice if your products aren't fragile and can handle the frequent handling
  • LTL is a good choice for flexible delivery windows and if you're looking to cut costs
  • 53' trailer x 102" wide. Keep in mind the roll door only allows 96" of vertical space


How to get started with LTL and FTL shipping

Now that you have an idea of what type of LTL or FTL shipping service to choose for your shipping needs, here is how you can get easily started:


If you're interested in FTL and LTL shipping, the first step is to find a reputable freight shipping company that offers this type of shipping. You can use an online search engine or local directory to find a list of companies in your area. Once you've found a few companies that you're interested in, you can contact them to get more information about their services and rates. On the phone call or through email, you'll need to provide the freight shipping company with details about your shipment, including the weight, dimensions, and delivery schedule. The company will then provide you with a quote for the shipping costs. Once you've agreed to the terms and conditions, the company will pick up your shipment and deliver it to your chosen destination.


You can also plug your info into our website (Link) for a free and instant quote to save you time searching.


Tips for finding the right freight delivery service

When you're looking for a freight shipping company, it's important to consider your specific needs. If you need to ship your goods quickly, you'll want to choose a company that offers FTL shipping. If you're on a budget, you'll want to choose a company that offers LTL shipping. You should also consider the size and weight of your shipment when choosing a freight shipping company. If you have a large or heavy shipment, you'll want to choose a company that has experience shipping these types of goods so it isn't mishandled. Finally, you should read online reviews to get an idea of the quality of the services offered by different freight shipping companies. This will help you find a company that is reliable and offers good value for your money.


Are you looking for a reliable freight delivery provider?


You are officially MigWay-certified on your knowledge of FTL vs LTL freight shipping. At MigWay, we offer more than FTL and LTL educational blog posts. Trucker blogging is just a side hustle for us. Jokes aside, for the last 12 years, we have been consumed with providing manufacturers and distributors shipping solutions that relieve pressure and simplify the shipping process. Because while you might be MigWay-certified regarding FTL vs LTL freight shipping, delivering your shipments is what we're certified in.


If you are ready to experience the benefits of FTL and LTL shipping, contact MigWay today. We are available and would be happy to provide you with a free quote to help solve and simplify your shipping needs.

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