What is LTL Freight?

LTL Freight

LTL freight is a type of trucking service used to transport smaller shipments.  The term LTL stands for “less than truckload.”  It’s the best type of shipping for freight and packages too big for parcel carriers like the USPS, Fedex and UPS, but not big enough to fill a full truckload trailer.

Here are some simple ways to identify if your shipment is LTL freight.

LTL Shipment Weight

LTL shipments typically run from 90lbs to 16,000 lbs or so.  The average size of LTL freight is about 1,000 lbs.

LTL Shipment Size

Most LTL freight must sit on a pallet and be wrapped as well.  A standard pallet is 48 inches x 40 inches.  Average size for an LTL shipment is about 8 feet.

One note…in recent years partial truckload also known as volume LTL has become a popular way to transport freight of 6 pallets or more, or with a weight of greater than 1,000 lbs.  Click here to read more.

LTL Trailer Size

The trailers for most LTL carriers measure 28 to 52 feet in length.  Trailers for standard city deliveries are 48 ft, the slightly shorter size making movement through densely populated areas easier.  The 28 foot trailers are used for deliveries to areas with extremely limited space and are often called “bob tails” or “pups”.

Special Freight Needs

Aside from truck services like lift-gate or inside delivery, LTL freight does not have special needs.  Deliveries with special handling needs like flatbed freight, hazardous materials or perishable goods often are best suited for full truckload shipping.  In some cases, large or long freight is still best shipped LTL and qualifies as over dimensional, but these often incur extra surcharges.

Packing Services

Go to a parcel shipper and they’ll provide (sell) special boxes or packaging to make shipping easier.  LTL carriers expect you to provide all packaging.  This includes all boxes, tape, pallets and “shrink” wrap.

Same Day Shipping

Most LTL freight ships same day, assuming you meet the LTL carriers deadline.  This makes LTL ideal when you need to get a shipment out the door.

Is LTL freight right for you?

You can click here to read more about how to choose the best LTL carrier.  Whoever you choose, make sure they are ready to walk you through your shipping.  While shipping might seem as simple as arranging a truck to come pick-up, transport and deliver your freight, customer service plays a big part.  Hopefully problems like damage never come up for you, but if they do, you want to make sure whoever who choose will make the claims process easier.