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Shipping Perishables

Southwest Cargo® knows some of the most important shipments are perishable items. Whether you are sending fresh-cut flowers from the Northwest to the heartland or live crabs to the east coast, we've got you covered.


We ship your catch! When shipping fresh seafood, our Employees provide the exceptional care and handling required to ensure that the shipments will arrive ontime and fresh. We understand the urgency of time critical shipments and know that sometimes overnight is not an option. Here are some shipping tips to consider before you ship.

  • Seafood shipments must be packed according to the Contract of Carriage guidelines.
  • Seafood cartons should be secured with two nylon bands around the width of each carton.
  • Protective absorbent materials should be placed between polyethylene bags and the inner wall of the shipping carton.
  • The outer cartons should be constructed of corrugated paperboard or solid fiberboard.
  • Seafood shipments to/from Washington must follow all regulations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife..

Fresh Flowers and Plants

Shipping fresh flowers and plants should never be a thorn in your side. Let us take care of your needs-we will get your perishables to their destination and keep them fresh. Here are shipping tips to consider before you ship.

  • Fresh flowers and plants must be packed in a container sturdy enough to provide protection from customary handling and inclement weather, while in transit.
  • Containers should be marked with the description of their contents and indicate if they are of a fragile nature.

International Shipping

  • Perishable shipments cannot be packaged in dirt (flowers, herbs, roots, vegetables).
  • Perishable USDA shipments (fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, and herbs) can only be shipped to the following approved gateway cities: Atlanta (ATL), Baltimore/Washington (BWI), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Houston (HOU), Los Angeles (LAX), Orlando (MCO), Chicago Midway (MDW), Oakland (OAK), and San Diego (SAN).

Live Tropical Fish

If you are shipping live tropical fish, we can make sure they get to their destination safely.

  • Live tropical fish must be enclosed in a flexible plastic inner container of sufficient strength (at least 3 mil) to prevent puncture, and adequately sealed to prevent leakage.
  • Heat packs should be utilized whenever the live fish may be exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for extended periods of time.

Shipments Requiring Refrigerants

To keep your perishable shipment cool and fresh, we recommend using a refrigerant. Just follow these packaging tips and leave the rest to us.

  • Refrigerants should maintain temperature for a period of not less than 48 hours.
  • Use chemical coolants such as dry ice or frozen gel packs for refrigerated shipments.
  • The maximum amount of dry ice allowed in a package is 5.5 lbs (2.5kg), and it must be shipped in a ventilated container. The container should be marked with the words "DRY ICE" and the exact weight of the dry ice (1-5.5 lbs).No Dry Ice of any quantity is allowed on international shipments
  • Coolers for perishables are available at select Cargo locations.

Southwest Airlines assumes no responsibility for spoilage due to delay, thawing or freezing unless it is the result of Southwest Airlines own negligence. Southwest Airlines will not be liable for any loss or damage of perishable goods tendered on Thursday or Friday to a destination whose cargo facility is closed all or part of the weekend.

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