Boarding a plane along with the cremated remains of a loved one, acquaintance, or pet can be a somber task that needs to be handled with great care and tact. Whatever your reason for traveling with ashes, protocols must be adhered to if your mode of transportation is via plane. Airlines are adept at handling the transportation of cremains safely, carefully, and above all else, respectfully.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows ashes to be brought onto a plane in both a passenger’s checked and carry-on luggage. It is strongly recommended that the ashes be kept in a container that will not show up as opaque when passing through security scanners to avoid suspicion.
Can You Take Ashes In Your Checked Luggage On A Plane?
If the ashes are contained in a clear and tightly secured plastic bag within an urn that does not run the risk of breaking or opening up, it may be checked in with your luggage. Be sure to declare the ashes to the airline and TSA agent to avoid any misunderstandings.
Can You Have Ashes In Your Carry On Luggage On A Plane?
The TSA actually prefers that ashes be brought onto a plane as part of your carry-on luggage. This lowers the risk of anything happening to the ashes, as the checked luggage can be moved around quite vigorously at times. An unfortunate incident occurred when an NFL player found his mother’s ashes spilled inside his bag.
Can You Travel With Ashes On A Domestic Flight?
Passengers may bring ashes onto a domestic flight in their checked or carry-on luggage. Some airlines may require specific documentation, while others will require the ashes to be declared when checking in.
Can You Travel With Ashes On An International Flight?
Most international airlines do not prohibit the transportation of ashes, but passengers should always check with the airline in question. International flights will require documentation relating to the remains to be presented. You may also need to present them again upon arrival, depending on the country you are traveling to.
Is There A Charge For Flying With Ashes?
There is no added fee for traveling with ashes unless you need to pay for extra luggage. The majority of airlines will include the cost of a checked bag and a carry-on bag within a specific weight limit. If you find that you would prefer the ashes to be in a separate piece of luggage for safety reasons, you may need to pay for the extra bag.
Do You Need To Declare Ashes If They Are In Your Checked Luggage?
Ashes in your checked luggage need to be declared, especially if they are contained in a ceramic or lead-based urn. Your checked baggage may be marked as fragile to ensure extra care. It will also hopefully avoid any further searches of your luggage should the ashes be flagged as suspicious during the x-rays. It does, after all, resemble a large bag of powder on the screen.
Do You Need A Permit To Travel With Ashes On A Plane?
Domestic flights may not require documentation. However, it is better to be on the safe side and have the death certificate of the person whose ashes are being transported, as well as the certificate of cremation. Crematoriums and funeral directors are well versed in the protocols of traveling with ashes, so they, too, can provide guidance.
Can The Ashes Be In Any Container?
As mentioned, they may not be carried in a container that will show up as opaque during screening. The remains do not even need to be in a dedicated urn. The ashes should be sealed in plastic and in a container made from wood, cardboard, or plastic.
Are There Approved Urns For Ashes That Are Taken Onboard A Flight?
A quick internet search will show you a wide variety of urn options that are all TSA-approved. Ranging from temporary, plastic, and even biodegradable urns. There is even a dedicated travel urn that meets TSA requirements available for purchase on Amazon.
Which Type Of Material Should The Urn Be Made From?
TSA-approved urns are made from wood, cardboard, plastic, fabric, and non-lead-based ceramic. Urns made from metal or those with a lead lining are not permitted in your luggage.
Do The Same Rules Apply For Human And Animal Ashes?
The same rules will apply when traveling with a human’s ashes or a beloved pet. The only difference would be that a death certificate for your pet may not have been something you considered. Pet cremations usually come with a certificate, which should suffice.
Are You Allowed To Hold The Ashes While Flying?
No rule states that you may not hold the urn during the flight. However, like with most items, it is preferred that they are stowed away during take-off and landing for safety purposes. Taking the size of the urn as well as the duration of the flight into consideration, the flight attendant may not see an issue with you holding the urn during this emotional flight.
Will It Cause Concern If The Urn Is Visible To Other Passengers?
It all depends on how you feel you could best handle this situation. Some may find it to be uncomfortable, while others will sympathize. If opting to hold the urn, be prepared for glances and even questions from other passengers.
Do Any Airlines Prohibit You From Flying With Ashes?
Most American airlines accept cremated remains on board. Still, they may stipulate that the ashes must be stored in carry-on luggage. As of March 2022, Frontier Airlines were the only airline not to accept cremated remains on a flight, whether carry-on or checked luggage.