All freight quotes have a validity date attached (these are listed alongside your quotes in the Flexport platform).
Once this date passes, the quote expires, and so do the rates associated with that quote. This is because freight rates provided by carriers change frequently and are only guaranteed for a limited amount of time. Shipping rates are subject to both an extremely volatile market and seasonal changes, including General Rate Increase (GRI) and Peak Season Surcharge (PSS).
As a result, ocean FCL rates are generally valid for up to two weeks at a time (expiring on the 15th and 30th of each month). LCL rates may last a bit longer, usually expiring at the end of each month.
Air rates, however, are even more subject to change and usually expire after a week (or sometimes less). Technically, airlines are able to change rates at their discretion up until the flight’s actual departure, despite their validity date -- although rates usually hold until the given date.
What happens if a booked quote expires?
For all US-inbound and outbound ocean shipments, rates are locked in with the carrier once the container has gated in (has been dropped off) at the origin port’s container yard (or, for LCL, gated-in at the warehouse). If the shipment gates-in after the quote expiration date, we will need to re-quote the shipment with the new, updated rate. For FMC (Federal Maritime Commission) compliance, Flexport needs to have a valid NRA (Negotiated Rate Arrangement) before the shipment departs. Once the shipment is re-booked with the updated rates, we are all set for sailing!
Here's an example of a re-quoting timeline for an ocean shipment:
For air shipments, although there is no NRA involved, we will re-quote a shipment if the rates change before the flight departs.
Sometimes, the rate will not change after it technically expires. In these cases, we will re-quote the shipment, and you’ll see the same rate with the new expiration date.
If a quote will expire, should I still book it in advance?
Yes! If you have a shipment that will be ready to ship after the current rates are set to expire, it's always better to book it in advance. The more notice we have for upcoming shipments, the more time we have to secure the earliest possible booking on a flight or vessel. Oftentimes, space on vessels and flights will book up at least a week in advance; in peak season, this can happen two weeks in advance.
Once the quote expires, we will then simply re-quote the shipment and let you know the new rates. In general, providing more notice and time helps us to do a better job of coordinating your shipments.