What is a Partial Truckload in Freight Shipping

Posted On 30th May 2023

The two most common shipping methods are full truckload shipping (FTL) and less-than-truckload shipping (LTL). However, they are not the only way to transport a load. Another popular arrangement is partial truckload (PTL). This article will explain what PTL means and what makes PTL transport different from FTL and LTL shipping. As you read, you’ll find all the necessary information to determine whether or not PTL is the best option for your shipping business.

PTL Definition - What Does Partial Truckload Mean

A Partial Truckload (PTL) shipment is a partial shipment that isn’t large enough to fill an entire truck. These partial loads usually weigh between 5,000 pounds and 30,000 pounds, and multiple PTL shipments can be added to a truck at the same time.

A truck carrying PTL shipments will likely make multiple stops before reaching its final destination. However, a PTL load will stay on the same truck until delivery.

PTL transportation allows you to move a load without paying for an entire truck. At the same time, you’ll have to share truck space with other loads, and your delivery may not arrive as quickly as an FTL shipment.

What Does Partial Truckload Mean

Comparison of Partial Truckload vs LTL

The LTL method is similar to partial load shipping. Both types of shipments aren’t large enough to occupy an entire truckload, and a driver completing an LTL or PTL route will likely make several stops to unload.

However, LTL and PTL aren’t identical. LTL loads are more susceptible to damage because loading and unloading may happen multiple times before the items reach their final destination. Once a PTL shipment goes on the truck, it won’t come off until it reaches its final destination. In addition, PTL deliveries are often faster than LTL deliveries because the truck holds fewer loads and each load doesn’t require as much handling.

What is the Difference Between Partial and Full Truckload

In addition to the load size, a few factors differentiate PTL and FTL. An FTL load will go straight from its point of origin to the final destination. The route and delivery time are more efficient, which makes it a good option for time-sensitive loads.

However, FTL is generally a more expensive option. You’ll pay the entire cost of fuel, mileage, and labor. If you’re maximizing the space inside the truck, this may not be a bad option. It might not be your best choice if you don’t have enough cargo to fill all (or most) the space in the truck.

How Many Pallets is a Partial Truckload

The answer varies depending on who you ask. Some people will tell you that a partial truckload can hold between five and 20 pallets. Others say that a partial truckload occupies between eight and 18 pallets. Clearly, the number is lower than a full truckload, which normally includes 26 standard-size pallets.

When is LTL better than PTL

If you’re a small business looking for the cheapest possible shipping option and your items aren’t easily susceptible to damage, LTL might be the right option for you. It’s not the fastest option, but it’s more affordable than PTL or FTL. Keep in mind that items will be moved on and off the truck several times before delivery, and the frequency of handling can cause damage to fragile items.

Partial Truckload Shipping - Common Questions

Is there a minimum shipment size or quantity required for PTL delivery?

The size and weight requirements of a PTL load depend on the carrier you’re working with. Sometimes you can purchase PTL delivery with as few as four pallets. Generally speaking, PTL is most cost-effective in scenarios where you have a load that will take up at least a half truck load.

How are PTL pick-ups and deliveries scheduled?

Truckload services providers schedule pick-up and delivery times, taking into account factors such as the origin and destination locations and the shipment size.

In most cases, partial truckload shipment schedules aren’t as flexible as LTL schedules. LTL trucks make more stops and tend to more easily accommodate last-minute requests.

What kinds of goods are best suited for PTL shipment?

Because PTL shipments aren’t handled as much as LTL loads, they are a great option if you are looking to deliver items that are fragile or easily broken. Common examples include jewelry, fine art, and antiques.

How are PTL shipments priced?

When you think about pricing for volume LTL vs partial truckloads, one of the key distinctions is that volume LTL loads require freight classes whereas partial truckloads can vary based on market class. That said, PTL shipping costs usually cost more than LTL, and specific rates can vary between providers.

Can I track a PTL shipment?

Yes! Most partial truckload carriers will provide you with a tracking number so that you can check the status of your delivery online. They may also provide real-time updates via email or text when your item reaches its destination.

What factors are important when choosing a PTL carrier?

You have several things to think about when choosing a PTL carrier. Here are some of the most important factors:

  • Carrier’s reputation. Choosing a reliable carrier will help your company build a positive reputation and meet clients’ expectations. This increases your chances of growing your business and keeping customers satisfied.
  • PTL experience. Ideally, you want to partner with a carrier with significant PTL experience and knowledge of best practices.
  • Coverage area. Obviously, you want to choose a carrier that offers service in your area and any locations where you may run deliveries.
  • One of the benefits of PTL shipping is that you only pay for the space in the truck that you use and not the entire truck itself. However, rates may still vary from company to company. Take time to compile multiple offers or quotes to see where you can find the best deal.
  • Quality of service. Consider reading reviews from past clients to learn about what the customer experience is usually like.


PTL freight service combines some of the best aspects of FTL and LTL shipping. It’s not the perfect option for everyone, but depending on what items you’re transporting and the size of your load, it may be the right fit for you.