What does a can of whipped cream, a self-inflating life raft, and a tank of oxygen have in common? A lot more than you might think. These three items are examples of the many items that are classified as Dangerous Goods.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) considers Dangerous Goods to be any items that have the ability to “endanger the safety of an aircraft or persons on board the aircraft.” There are nine classes of Dangerous Goods: Explosives, Gases, Flammable Liquids, Flammable Solids, Oxidizing Substances, Toxic & Infectious Substances, Radioactive Material, Corrosives, and Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods. Items from each of these classes have the potential to pose a significant threat to the wellbeing of passengers, infrastructure, and the aircraft providing transport.


Explosives are materials that contain molecules that react violently when they experience a chemical change. Examples of explosives include gunpowder and trinitrotoluene (TNT), but they can also include more common objects like airbag inflators, fuses, ammunition, and flares. Because these materials can explode when subjected to certain temperatures or pressure levels, they are considered Dangerous Goods.


Gases, like propane and oxygen, require pressure in order to be contained and shipped. However, a sudden release of this pressure can cause physical and/or chemical damage on an aircraft, including chemical burns, suffocation, and explosions. Items that fall under this classification of Dangerous Goods include fire extinguishers, lighters as well as hair spray and other aerosols.

Flammable liquids and flammable solids

Flammable liquids are those with a flashpoint (temperature at which ignitable vapors are released) above 60 degrees Celsius that are transported in areas that reach temperatures higher than that flashpoint. These liquids pose risk of in-flight fires and chemical damage among other issues. While many people know liquids like gasoline are in this classification, they are surprised to see paint, alcohols, and items with acetone like nail polish remover are Dangerous Goods as well.

Flammable solids, like matches, alkali metals, fire lighters or items that are able to spontaneously combust, also pose a fire, burn, and toxic gas hazard on airplanes.

Oxidizing substances

Oxidizing substances are items that contain amounts of oxygen high enough to react when exposed to combustible materials and high temperatures. Reactions can be anything from explosions to in-flight fires. Goods that fall into this class include chemical oxygen generators, chlorates, and ammonium nitrate fertilizers.

Toxics and infectious substances

Toxics and infectious substances are any toxins that can cause severe damage within the human body. These include goods that have pathogens, viruses, or poisons like biomedical waste, tear gas, dyes, and many pesticides.

Radioactive materials

Radioactive materials are goods that produce radiation like density gauges, uranium, and radioactive ores. Exposure to radiation is harmful for the human body and can cause serious health risks including death depending on the length and activity of the exposure.


Corrosives are materials that can cause significant change and damage when in contact with other substances objects. Their reactive nature makes them especially dangerous for humans, who can experience permanent damage and destruction to their skin and organs when exposed to corrosive material. Batteries and battery fluid, certain paints and dyes, and items with acid solutions are considered corrosives.

Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods

Items might be deemed Dangerous Goods under this classification if they either have the potential to pose a threat that is unique to those already covered in previous classifications, or if they have dangerous elements spanning two or more classes of Dangerous Goods. For example, a self-inflating life raft might contain an oxygen tank and signal flares, which would cause them to be placed under this classification. Other goods that typically fall into this category include perfumes, laptops and other objects with lithium batteries, dry ice, motor engines, and some first aid kits.

Shipping Dangerous Goods

Despite the risks these Dangerous Goods impose, many of them are routinely shipped by airplane to different countries across the world. Over 261,000 tons of Dangerous Goods are transported by air from the United States each year. Those items that are not prohibited require certain measures and rules to be met when it comes to packaging, stowage, and even the type of airplane that can be used to ship them.

Ecommerce merchants that need to ship their goods internationally can choose to use freighter planes or commercial planes.

A freighter or cargo plane is designed to carry goods and other items, and they have no room for passengers. These types of planes work well for shipping Dangerous Goods because they allow crew members more accessibility in the event of an emergency and they can be temperature controlled to help protect the aircraft and crew from reactive materials.

Commercial planes are aircraft designed to carry both passengers and cargo. On these planes, cargo is stored safely in a cargo department at the bottom of the plane. These planes have strict limitations for shipping Dangerous Goods because of the threat these goods can pose to passengers.

While commercial airlines come with challenges for ecommerce merchants that need to ship Dangerous Goods, they are great for businesses that have other products that need to be shipped quickly. With less Dangerous Goods and regulations for those goods, there is more room in the cargo hold for shipments. Additionally, these planes are already in the air and traveling frequently, so they are less expensive and they allow for faster shipping.

When it comes to shipping products to Europe, ecommerce businesses typically must decide whether to use a freighter plane or a commercial plane. However, thanks to its use of British Airways aircraft, Zenda provides the perfect solution for those looking to ship goods to Europe.

Shipping with Zenda

Because Zenda uses British Airways aircraft, they are able to make shipping goods a breeze without all the costs associated with typical air delivery. Here are some benefits of shipping with Zenda:

British Airways

Zenda is powered by British Airways, meaning that it is able to use British Airways aircraft for shipments. British Airways operates one of the largest, most reliable, and most modern aircraft fleets in the world. This means that there is not only plenty of room for cargo, but also plenty of planes available for shipments.

In a world where shipping times can make the difference between a consumer choosing your ecommerce company or one of your competitors, fast delivery times are essential. Zenda can guarantee shipments with delivery times of 4 to 8 days to 28 different European countries.

SKU mapping

In order to ensure safety for passengers, crew, and aircraft, it is important for goods, even those that are not Dangerous Goods or other hazardous materials, to be properly labeled when they are shipped by air. Zenda makes this easy for ecommerce merchants because they map product SKUs to commodity codes.

In addition to proper classification, Zenda’s SKU mapping for commodity codes and Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) shipping means you will have an accurate calculation of taxes and duties as well as landed costs for these goods at checkout.

Cost efficiency

Because British Airways aircraft are constantly flying between the United States and Europe, there are less costs associated with shipping products using Zenda. Because there are no extra shipping and transport costs for Dangerous Goods and using freighter planes, Zenda is between 30 and 50% less expensive than Express providers.

When it comes to shipping your products to Europe, the type of plane you use matters. With Zenda, you can trust that your goods will be delivered to Europe quickly and reliably without costing your business an arm and a leg. For more information about the benefits of using Zenda as a shipping provider for your company, click here to get in touch!