Improving Inconsistent Documentation of Cargo Handling Through Transportation

Client Basics

Client: (Undisclosed) 
Destination: China
Project Scope: Single Incident
Unique Factors: Master Air Waybill


Proper control and handling of cargo documentation are essential for successful importation and exportation of goods. Each country has its own procedures that everyone must follow; industry-specific requirements apply. It is every involved party’s responsibility to know how to process all documentation. Improper documentation will not only cause customs clearance delays but potential mishandling of goods.

For temperature-sensitive products, this documentation is critical because it identifies at which temperature the cargo needs to be stored. Airline and ground handlers reference the master air waybill for cargo handling. 

LifeConEx experienced an instance in which the master air waybill stated that the temperature of the products was 2° to 8°C. This was an error because the goods could only be stored at a temperature of 15° to 30°C.


How does a master air waybill work? (Source: IATA Manifest System Introduction)


Inbound manifests should be transferred to customs in advance → Customs verify the inbound manifests → Customs clearance manifests → Analyse manifests → Master air waybill report for all the inbound cargos → Compare master air waybill report with inbound manifest → Apply to customs → Import cargo’s arrival reports for master air waybill → Cargo’s clearance reports for house air waybills → Compare cargo’s clearance reports for house air waybill with house air waybill manifests → Apply for customs paper work procedure

The majority of the data of inbound manifests should be transferred to customs four hours in advance, in this case, before the flight arrived at the first destination in China if the flight duration was more than four hours. The rest of the original manifest data should be transferred before flight arrival.


Estimated manifests should be transferred to customs in advance → Customs accepts the applications of export cargos → Supply reports of house air waybill once cargo arrived → Customs checks cargo and release procedure → The reports for arrival cargo on the master air waybills → Onload cargo as per manifests → Transportation allowance to leave → Reports of master air waybills → Reports of house air waybills → Compare the reports of master air waybill and house air waybills with cargo’s arrival reports → Finalise customs paperwork

Airlines or ground handling agencies should supply a final export manifest to customs through the system by the time dictated by customs after aircraft fly-out.


When the mistake was discovered by a LifeConEx cold chain specialist, it was immediately communicated to the trucking company en route to the airport. The driver was instructed to raise the set point of the truck. In addition, the booking of the cargo was corrected to reflect the proper temperature range, and LifeConEx confirmed the product was stored in the appropriate temperature condition upon arrival.


By being proactive, LifeConEx was able to intervene and take the necessary actions to correct the inconsistent documentation. Because the error was caught in advance, the goods were not delayed or stored in incorrect temperature storage.

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