How to Recover and Expedite LTL Freight After it Leaves Your Door (+ When to do so)


Less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipping can be notoriously slow-moving. Similar to shipping a package with UPS, it’s difficult to predict — when a shipment is requested — how long it will take to complete. 

Sure, tracking information is available for LTL shipments. Between checkpoints (facilities, warehouses), however, in-transit data and arrival information is far from exact.

For this reason, LTL shipping is never recommended for freight that has strict deadlines. 

You know this and don’t use LTL service to move time-sensitive cargo. That said, sometimes your business’ needs change after an LTL carrier has already picked up your load. 

In these instances — when an LTL shipment is simply taking too long — things can get out of hand quickly; causing your business to lose money with every passing hour. 

If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you understand how disruptive, frustrating and expensive waiting for an LTL truck to make its rounds can be. 

Here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), we have plenty of experience helping companies like yours recover and expedite LTL freight when it becomes necessary to do so. 

But when does recovering freight, and paying the expense of expediting it, begin to make sense? And, when it does, what will this mean for your transportation budget? 

In this article, we’ll outline the main situation forcing companies to expedite their LTL cargo while it’s in transit, three main steps toward expediting this freight and what you should expect to pay to expedite your LTL cargo when the need arises.

When Should You Consider Recovering Your LTL Freight?

Because expediting your LTL cargo — be it a single pallet or a group of them — will be expensive, this should be done sparingly. In fact, rather than paying to expedite it, sometimes companies are better off just letting their freight arrive as planned and avoiding this expense. 

There are situations, however, when taking this approach is warranted. For example, when the absence of a certain component or set of materials is holding up production, causing significant delays and costing your company money, it can make a lot of sense to recover and expedite this cargo. 

Sometimes companies end up losing far more money in lost revenue and production than it costs to simply speed their LTL freight along. 

This is what you should look for. 

And, if the cost of not having freight at its destination outpaces the price of getting it there, the time has come to take a different approach; speed things up with the help of an expedited carrier. 


What Are The Steps For Recovering Your LTL Cargo?

When you’ve done your due diligence and it’s evident that your freight needs to arrive — and soon — work with your transportation provider to speed things up. 

Though your situation may vary, by and large, recovering your freight will happen in three main stages

  • The LTL Carrier Will Put Cargo Aside

Inform your original transportation provider that your freight needs to be expedited. 

When working directly with an LTL carrier, reach out to them and ask to have your freight removed from its planned course at the next opportunity. If you’re working with a third-party company, like a freight brokerage, have them communicate with the LTL carrier moving your cargo. 

Upon request, the LTL trucking company will set your freight aside and provide its progressive routing order (PRO) number as well as its current location to you and your transportation company

This is the information you will need to arrange the expedited transport of this load. 

  • An Expedited Carrier Will Be Contacted and Dispatched

Once your freight has been removed from its LTL journey, you know where it’s located and have its PRO number, an expedited solution can be arranged. 

With the help of your freight broker (or on your own if applicable), contact a competent expedited carrier and explain your situation. Although your freight broker will have a network of well-vetted expedited companies, you can also find some great options here.  

Once you have a company selected, communicate your cargo’s details including:

  • Where it is currently located (city, state, street address)
  • What its PRO number is
  • Where it needs to go (city, state, street address)
  • How quickly you would like it to arrive
  • What the commodity specifically is
  • What the dimensions and quantities of your freight are (size, pallet count, gross weight)
  • Your freight classification(s)

This information helps expedited providers accurately assess your needs and formulate their plan of attack for meeting them. 

With this information, an expedited company will offer you a solution, priced based on your cargo’s requirements and dispatch a driver toward your location. 

  • Your Freight Will be Expedited According to Its Needs

Expedited transportation services come in a variety of shapes and sizes. And, depending on your expedited carrier’s strengths, load size and timeline requirements, your solution may change. 

Most commonly, expedited LTL shipments will be transported using a hot shot trailer, sprinter van or small box truck. The individuals operating these vehicles won’t need a Commercial Drivers License. As a result, the strict hours of service guidelines governing CDL holders don’t apply to expedited drivers, allowing them to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. 

So, once a driver is dispatched and picks up your load, expect its dedicated solution to get it to your location promptly. 

Note: although expediting LTL cargoes is a great solution for many shippers, hazmat freight weighing more than 1,000 pounds can’t be transported in this way. These shipments will need multiple solutions to complete. 

What Will You Pay to Expedite Your Freight?

You will need to pay both your original LTL carrier and your expedited carrier in full. Since LTL carriers make no transit time guarantees and they’ve rented out a portion of their trailer to your business, you won’t receive a “break” when you need to re-route your shipment. 

As such, expect to pay as if your freight finished its LTL journey. 

Additionally, you’ll need to pay the expedited carrier for your shipment. Expedited solutions can be pretty expensive — especially on short notice. 

For these reseasons, you’ll likely double or even triple your initial spend by recovering and expediting an LTL shipment. That said, sometimes, you have little choice. 

Get Your Freight Delivered on Time by Understanding Transit Timing

As you know, waiting for an LTL load to arrive and paying to expedite its transport can become a costly endeavor. The more you can do to avoid issues from the beginning the better off you will be. 

The last thing you want is to pigeonhole yourself into having to expedite an in-transit load because you thought LTL service was quicker than it is. 

Understanding the strict realities of LTL vs. PTL transit timing will help you avoid making a mistake like this in the future. Here’s an article that outlines why transit timing differs between these services and when utilizing each truly makes the most sense.

Here at ATS, our logistics division constantly strives to ensure the success of every LTL load they work on. For more information on how ATS Logistics can help you avoid costly mishaps going forward, check out our services page today.

Tags: Transportation Solutions, Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipping

Gustavo Rodríguez Barrera

Written by Gustavo Rodríguez Barrera

Gustavo has been working as a national sales representative at ATS Logistics' Greenville, South Carolina office since 2016. Over this time, Gustavo has utilized a skillset formed over more than a decade of sales experience to help his customers reach their transportation goals. Today, as a national sales representative IV, Gustavo enjoys making a difference on the world around him by providing timely, effective logistics solutions catered to the unique needs of every company he has the pleasure to work with.

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