How Does LTL Freight Work?

Does your business need to ship items affordably but you do not have the volume required for a full truckload? If so, less than truckload (LTL) freight is the answer. With LTL freight, companies are able to ship smaller loads of 150 lbs up to 15,000 lbs while splitting shipping costs with other shippers.

Here we will look at everything you need to know to answer “how does LTL freight work?” and if it is right for your business.

Overview of How LTL Shipping Works

Combining Shipments

With LTL shipping, smaller shipments are combined to create a single full truckload. The primary advantage of this is that you do not need a full truckload worth of items in order to take advantage of courier services.

Multi-Stop Routes

Typically, these smaller shipments will be picked up at multiple sites, from businesses and warehouses,  and then combined into one truck. Sometimes all the shipments will have a single destination, but it is more likely that the route will have multiple stops.

Last-Mile Delivery

Another important part of the time and costs of LTL freight is last-mile delivery. Typically, the freight truck will deliver shipments to a warehouse. Another truck or vehicle is then required to take the shipments to their final destination. This is known as “last-mile delivery.”

At RoadLINX, we work to provide end to end delivery service options including strategizing the logistics of last-mile delivery. To receive a custom quote on LTL last mile delivery, fill out an estimate request form.

ltl shipping works

Ways to Ship LTL Freight


Standard shipping time can vary based on many factors though anywhere from 3 to 7 business days is most common. Difficult weather conditions and high volumes of shipments during certain times of the year are the most common factors that could slow a standard shipment.


Though LTL freight may not have as direct a route as FTL, there are options you can select to make LTL faster and more secure. Choose expedited shipping to reduce shipping time. For example, if a shipment normally takes 5-7 days, an expedited package will likely be delivered within three.

Expedited shipping is accomplished by having multiple drivers. With multiple drivers, a shipment can be driven throughout both the day and night with minimal stopping.

Guaranteed Shipping

Guaranteed shipping adds an additional layer of protection by guaranteeing when a package will arrive. With guaranteed shipping, you will usually get a guarantee of by 5:00 p.m. on a specific date.

How are LTL Freight Costs Calculated?

Freight classification is a standardized way for shipping costs to be calculated. It takes into account the weight and volume of a shipment along with any special handling that may be needed.

Shipments that can be easily handled and stacked will have a lower shipping rate while more delicate or dangerous materials will be higher. Additionally, dense shipments will have a lower per lb rate compared to lighter, more voluminous freight.

For more information on chargeable weight, visit our blog on LTL Freight Shipping Rates in the USA & Canada

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Accessorial Fees / Special Services for LTL Freight

One important cost factor to consider when choosing LTL freight is that your shipment may require special services for an additional fee. When budgeting, it is important that you inquire about these fees ahead of time as they will not be added until they are actually used.

For example, a liftgate charge will likely not be added to the initial cost estimate. Instead, it will be added once the lift is used at the pickup and/or drop off locations.

Some of the most common special services include:

  • Liftgate Service:  Liftgate service is required when items are too heavy or large to lift by hand. If there is a loading dock or forklift available at the pickup and drop off locations, a liftgate will not be required.
  • Special Pickup/Delivery Access Services: Does your shipment require the carrier to come into the warehouse to retrieve it? If so, an “inside delivery” fee will be required for the additional time this will take. Similarly, if your shipment is in a hard to access area or needs any other special care, a special pickup and/or delivery fee will be needed.
  • Measurement/Weight/Classification: Weight, volume, and shipping class play a major part in determining fees and how items are handled. If your shipment does not have this information available or it is inaccurate, recalculation will be needed.

Is LTL Freight Cheaper than FTL Freight?

LTL freight is a cost efficient practice that allows you to ship items at a fraction of the cost of a full truckload worth of freight. However, the cost per pound/per kilogram is higher for LTL shipping.

This rate is higher because there is more processing and handling  involved with LTL freight. Instead of loading items from one source the way FTL does, LTL typically involves loading items from several sites, transferring items to a second truck and possibly multiple stops along the way.

However, for companies who do not ship the volume required for FTL freight, LTL is an invaluable resource that allows for greater flexibility and cost savings.

ftl freight

How Heavy Can an LTL Shipment Be?

LTL shipments most often fall between 150 lbs and 15,000 lbs. There may be some differences depending on the shipping company and the volume of your items. It is possible that if you have items that are light for their size, you may be able to use LTL shipping even if the shipment weight is lower.

The weight of an LTL shipment can be distributed on anywhere from one to 23 pallets as needed. At 24 pallets, this is likely to constitute a full truckload.

Request a Free LTL Freight Estimate

LTL freight shipping is an effective tool for many businesses. At RoadLINX, we understand how important it is for your company to have reliable, cost effective shipping methods available. We welcome you to contact our team with any questions you may have about LTL freight.

You can also request your free LTL shipment estimate by filling out our quick shipping rates form.

Get a quote today!

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