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Random Sound Bites Edition – FCL, FTL & LTL

Episode 1 –

30 years and still learning - Having spent most of my career post leaving the Royal Navy working in consumer goods, primarily in the perishable food sector. I find it fascinating that I still learn every day, sometimes it is a reminder of what I have forgot but for the most part, I learn something new every day… Today’s episode is about FCL, FTL & LTL.

I was recently speaking with a very good customer of mine, discussing importing FCL’s of product for one of their customers and the question came up, how many pallets are on a FCL and consequently how many on a FTL. And why do I even mention LTL, so here is the down & dirty on trucking acronym city.

What is FCL, FTL & LTL?

The key acronyms are:

FCL – Full Container Load

FTL – Full Truck Load

LTL – Less than Truck Load (I know LTTL would be better but hey, I do not make this stuff up)

AKE – Is not an acronym, however what is stands for is.

ULD – Unit Load Device is an AKE or LD3 used for shipping freight on airplanes.

What sizes are they?

Generally, containers come in 2 sizes, 20-foot, and 40-foot

Trucks come in various sizes, from sprinter/panel van’s up to 53-foot trailers (US Sizes)

AKE’s are standard sizes designed to fit in the cargo space below the passengers on the deck. When you look out of the window of a plane at an airport, you will see the odd shaped Lego piece (some are square) metal boxes, that is an AKE (ULD)

How many single stacked pallets on each?

A 40-foot container holds 20 pallets

A 20-foot container holds 10 pallets

A 53-foot trailer holds 26 pallets

A sprinter/panel van holds 1 pallet

What is the single stacked pallet configuration?

40-foot 2 / 10

20-foot 2 / 5

53-foot 2 / 13

Can they be double stacked?

Yes, they can if the product on the bottom level can take the weight and the excess highway load weight is not exceeded.

What are the maximum weights containers can carry?

40 Foot Container = 67.200 lbs.

20 Foot Container = 48,000 lbs.

What is the legal highway/road carrying weight of a container/full load in the US?

44,000 lbs.

Do containers need pallets?

No, they can be ‘floor stacked’ or ‘stuffed’ meaning the whole container is filled by hand and unloaded by hand at the receiving end, usually this method is used for, lighter in weight, goods which do not exceed the weight limits and therefore reducing the price per unit cost on freight.

LTL’s What?

These are any load from 1 pallet to 20 pallets, at 20 pallets trucking companies generally refer to them as FTL’s, you may be charged for FTL prices from 15 pallets and up, it depends on the trucking companies rate card structure, this is all primarily driven by the opportunity for them to fill the rest of the truck at that level.

What are the regular FTL’s pallet quantities depending on weight?

Because of the maximum highway restriction of 44,000lbs very often trucks will run with 24 or 22 pallets to be below the limit, such as eggs, large eggs very often run heavy so a full truck load on interstate shipping is 24 pallets and not 26.

Now it is all clear as mud, need more, please ask.

Thank you reading our Random Sound Bites Edition, we look forward to sharing more knowledge in future episodes here at Beach City Sales.

Interested in finding out more about the CPG/FMCG industry please visit our Chatter page at or our general site at, for more direct interaction please e mail us at

Remember, whatever you know “good luck keeping up”

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