An Alaskan’s Guide to LTL Shipping Guidelines and Best Practices

June 28, 2024

Alaska, a land of unparalleled beauty, abundant resources, and… unique shipping challenges. We get it. The distances, terrain, and sometimes unpredictable weather patterns can make transportation a real headache for small businesses across the state. But don’t let logistics put the brakes on your growth. There’s a solution tailor-made for Alaskan businesses: Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping.

LTL shipping is a method where multiple shippers share space on a single truck.  This approach is a game-changer for businesses that don’t have enough cargo to fill an entire truck. Instead of paying for an empty truck, you only pay for the space your freight actually occupies. This results in significant cost savings, making it an attractive option for small businesses with limited budgets.

Understanding LTL Shipping

LTL shipping is a practical solution, but it’s a world of its own. To make the most of it, we need to grasp a few key concepts.

Commodity, Dimensions, Weight, and Packaging

In Alaska, the key factors that determine your LTL shipping rate are the type of goods you’re shipping (commodity), the size and weight of your shipment, and how it’s packaged. These factors directly impact how much space your freight takes up, how heavy it is, and the care it needs during transit. 

Accessorial Fees

These are additional charges that may apply depending on the specific services required for your shipment. This can include things like liftgate services, inside delivery, or residential pickup. The vast distances and remote locations in Alaska make certain accessorial fees more common, such as those for fuel surcharges and ferry fees. Ensuring you give the most accurate pick up and delivery needs can better give you an accurate quote. Don’t get surprised by extra standby fees, or detention, or storage. The more information you give during your quote request, the less likely you are to be surprised by accessorial fees. 

Packaging and Palletizing

Proper packaging and palletizing are essential for any shipment, but in Alaska, they’re non-negotiable. The long distances and variable weather conditions mean your freight might face bumpy roads, extreme temperatures, and even the occasional wildlife encounter. We recommend sturdy packaging materials, secure pallets, and additional protection against moisture and freezing. 

If your freight needs to be moved as temperature control during the winter or summer months, that should be clearly labeled on the bill of lading. Consider that your freight should not have overhang off the pallet, as this will lead to damaged freight. A pallet that is loosely wrapped will shift over the 3000-mile journey and it will damage your freight. Air between the goods, and the packaging will also lead to damage during transport, so consider filler and protection. 

For example, if you’re shipping perishables like seafood or produce, consider insulated packaging and temperature-controlled shipping options to keep your products fresh during transit.

Choosing the Right LTL Carrier for Alaska

Selecting the right LTL carrier can make or break your shipping experience. With so many options out there, it’s important to focus on the factors that matter most for businesses operating in the Last Frontier.


Look for carriers with a proven track record of successful shipments within Alaska. This demonstrates their ability to handle the unique challenges of our state’s transportation infrastructure. Ask for references or case studies to get a sense of their experience and expertise.

Regional Knowledge

Alaska isn’t just another state; it’s a world unto itself. A carrier that understands the local regulations, road conditions, and potential obstacles can navigate them more effectively. This translates to fewer delays, less hassle, and a smoother shipping process for your business.

Specialized Services

Depending on your specific needs, certain specialized services might be a deciding factor. Does your business require cold storage for perishable goods? Do you handle hazardous materials? Ask potential carriers about the unique services they offer that cater to Alaskan businesses. Consider asking a carrier what type of freight they do not handle, how they would move that specific commodity or what their recommendations are. 

These are just a few things to consider when choosing an LTL carrier. Remember, the right carrier is more than just a transportation provider; they’re a partner in your business’s success.

Best Practices for Streamlining LTL Shipping

We’ve covered the essentials of LTL shipping in Alaska, but to truly master this method, we need to examine some best practices. These tips will help you optimize your shipping process, save time and money, and ensure your freight arrives safely and on time.

Accurate Documentation

In the world of shipping, documentation is key. This holds especially true in Alaska, where delays can have a ripple effect due to the distances and limited transportation options. Make sure all your freight documentation is accurate, detailed, and includes all relevant information, such as the correct commodity, dimensions, weight, and any special handling instructions.

Technology Utilization

Shipping software and carrier tracking systems are invaluable tools for managing your LTL shipments. These platforms allow you to book shipments, track their progress, and receive real-time updates. This visibility is crucial, especially with the longer transit times typical of Alaskan shipments.

Planning and Lead Time

Don’t wait until the last minute to book your LTL shipments. Planning is essential in Alaska, where logistical challenges can arise due to weather, road conditions, or limited carrier availability. By booking well in advance, you can secure the necessary transportation and avoid potential delays. If you have a specific intended delivery date, give that date during the quote request, and the carrier will give you different options to route the freight to meet your required delivery date (RDD). 

Carlile Is Your LTL Shipping Partner

LTL shipping offers so many benefits for Alaskan businesses. It provides a cost-effective way to transport goods, especially for those with smaller shipments. It also offers flexibility, allowing businesses to ship a variety of goods without having to fill an entire truck. The ability to partner with carriers who understand the unique challenges of shipping in Alaska can streamline your logistics and help your business thrive.

LTL shipping might seem daunting at first, but armed with the right knowledge and strategies, it can become a powerful tool for growth.

For reliable and efficient LTL shipping solutions tailored to Alaska’s unique needs, consider Carlile. With a deep understanding of the local landscape and a commitment to customer satisfaction, we can help your business navigate the complexities of Alaskan shipping. Connect with Carlile today and never worry about LTL shipping guidelines again (we’ll do that for you).

Key Takeaways

  • Automation is transforming the freight industry: Robots are streamlining warehouse operations, improving efficiency, and enhancing safety.
  • Real-time tracking and visibility are empowering businesses: GPS and sensor technology provide unprecedented insight into shipment location and status, enabling proactive supply chain management and improved customer communication.
  • Big Data and analytics tools are driving smarter decision-making: Logistics companies are leveraging data to predict demand, optimize routes, and set more competitive prices.
  • Emerging technologies are reshaping the industry: Autonomous trucks, drone deliveries, and blockchain technology promise to revolutionize how we move goods.
  • Carlile Transportation is your trusted partner: We’re at the forefront of technological innovation in the freight industry, and we’re committed to helping our customers in this exciting new time.