Unfortunately for plant lovers, bringing along some plants can make things tricky in whichever manner they choose to travel. You do not often see people traveling with plants on planes, which begs the question; can you bring plants on a flight?
You can bring plants on flights, but restrictions vary between domestic and international flights. Travelers must ensure to have the required documentation and permits with them when traveling with plants. There are ways to pack your plant so that it is suited for travel in your carry-on and checked-in luggage.
Can You Bring Plants On A U.S. Commercial Flight?
The Transport Security Administration (TSA) does permit passengers to bring plants in their check-in luggage and carry-on bags. It is usually best to take your plant with you as a carry-on because it will not get squashed in your suitcase.
However, the TSA website mentions that those who choose to have their plants as carry-on should check with their chosen airline to ensure that the plant can fit underneath a seat or in a plane’s overhead bin.
Remember that airlines can set their height and weight restrictions on carry-ons. The typical size limit for carry-on is 22 x 14 x 9 inches, but this can vary between airlines. Be sure to check with your airline’s specific regulations before your flight.
Must I Notify TSA That I Have Plants In My Bags?
You must notify an officer that you are carrying plants through airport security, as they want to inspect them.
The plants undergo screening by an x-ray machine as you go through security. This is a mandatory procedure; fortunately, a couple of seconds of exposure to x-ray radiation should not cause any damage.
It is ultimately up to the TSA official to decide whether you can bring your plant through security. You should not have anything to worry about as long as your plant meets some straightforward requirements.
- The soil can be damp but should not hold too much liquid
- Plants larger than height and weight limit of carry-ons must be checked-in
- Your plant’s dimensions meet the specific airline’s requirements
Can I Travel With Any Plant Within The U.S.?
The regulations in the U.S. remain lenient compared to some other countries. However, there are still certain things you should know when traveling domestically with a plant.
When traveling to U.S. states like California and Florida, certain plants require you to have a permit. Know that some areas like Hawaii and the Virgin Islands have stricter rules, so it is recommended that travelers going to and coming from those places should treat it as international travel.
Can You Bring Plants On An International Flight?
Things start getting more complicated when traveling with plants overseas. It is essential to take the time to research and prepare appropriately to avoid delays, confiscation, or fines at the airport.
Fever plants are allowed on international flights, specifically, plants that could act as an invasive species in another country and cause a disruption in its ecosystem.
When bringing an authorized plant from a foreign country to the U.S., you must follow the appropriate guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These differ from the domestic guidelines.
- The Department has not banned your plant species
- Your plant is stripped of its soil
- You have proof that your plant is free of pests through a phytosanitary certificate
- Your plant is accompanied by the appropriate permit and documentation
- Your plant fits the size and weight limit
- You have proof that your plant is free of fungus and disease
You can find all the information you need on the USDA website.
Can You Bring Plants On A Plane To Australia?
Australia is notoriously strict with what people are allowed to bring in. And the rules are indeed strict, as most live plants cannot be imported to the country unless the traveler has a valid permit from the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment.
You can find more information about traveling with plants and seeds to Australia here.
Can You Bring Plants On A Plane To Europe?
The European Union’s (E.U.) regulations regarding travel with plants are also strict. If you are traveling within the E.U., then the regulation is fairly lenient, but bringing in a plant from the outside of the E.U. is trickier.
Much like with the U.S. and Australia, you must have the appropriate permits and documentation when traveling with a plant that is not outright banned. Find out more about the E.U. requirements here.
How Should I Pack My Plants Before A Flight?
Whether it ends up in your checked-in luggage or carry-on bag, it is vital that you pack your plant well when traveling. This will save you from getting your plant confiscated by a TSA officer and prevent your plant from getting damaged or dying during the flight.
How Should I Pack My Plant For An International Flight?
For international flights, you must have your plant bare-rooted for the simple reason that there could be unwanted organisms such as insects or pests hiding in the soil. So, ensure to rid the plant of any soil without damaging it.
Once you have removed all the soil and washed the roots, remove excess moisture using a towel, but make sure that the plant’s roots remain somewhat damp. Too much or too little moisture can result in your plant dying during the trip.
Remember to wrap the roots in a plastic bag to prevent them from drying out, and wrap the plant in the paper. If possible, put your plant in a container inside your suit and surround that container with the softest items you will be traveling with, like socks, for example.
How Should I Pack My Plant For A Domestic Flight?
For domestic flights, you can take your plant as a carry-on which is preferable when flying. In this case, you can keep the plant’s soil, reducing the risk of damaging its roots during the trip. Make sure the soil is not too damp when going through TSA.
You may need to trim your plant to abide by the dimensions set by the airline. It is also preferable to cover your plant with newspaper or plastic to avoid any soil from spilling out during the flight. However, be extra careful when wrapping the plant to avoid damage.
If the plant you are taking is fragile, you can always put it in a cardboard box. In addition, you can keep the plant inside secure by surrounding it with styrofoam. But again, remember that the box will have to fit underneath a seat or in a plane’s overhead bin.