Freight classes are classifications that are used to identify shipments. These classes are based on multiple factors involved with a shipment including the weight, length and height. The shipment's ease of handling, density, value and liability is also considered when assigning a freight class.
Freight classes are set by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association and are accessible through the National Motor Freight Classification. Knowing which freight class a particular shipment belongs to is important, as the wrong rate can result in a significant increase in cost. The freight carrier does have the ability to reclassify the freight class, and the business or consumer is then charged the difference in cost.
The lowest cost freight class is Class 50, which refers to clean freight. Shipments in this category can fit on a standard 4x4 pallet and can be shrink wrapped at this size. These shipments are also considered very durable in terms of what they can withstand. The weight range per cubic foot in this freight class is over 50 pounds.
The highest cost freight class is Class 500, which is known as low density or high value. The weight range per cubic foot for this freight class is less then 1 pound, and it can include items such as ping pong balls or containers of gold dust.