Trip Planning - 7 min read

Can You Bring Ashes on a Plane? (TSA Rules & Regulations)

Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall, Updated November 10, 2022

It is unfortunate if a loved one passes away and you fly out to bring them back. If they are cremated, their ashes are a precious treasure to you, and flying can be questionable. Will the airline and security let you bring ashes on a plane?

The TSA says you can bring your loved one’s ashes with you on a plane by following some rules. You must carry the remains in a TSA-approved case. Certain airlines allow you to bring ashes on the plane, and transporting them can be easy. You can also bring ashes internationally as long as they are appropriately packed.

An urn with ashes actually makes the list of the top 25 weirdest things found at airport security. But ashes are actually quite common, and people travel from far and near to bring their loved ones home. The TSA and airlines have specific guidelines you will need to follow, but you can bring ashes on a plane.

A Quick Look at the TSA’s Rules for Cremated Remains 2022

The TSA and many others know that losing a loved one can be challenging. Traveling with the remains of your loved one can be a challenge and emotional, but the TSA has rules to help. By looking at the TSA website, you’ll find they have suggestions on how to travel with your loved one’s ashes.

  • Be sure to pack the ashes in a TSA-approved case (wooden box or plastic). A lightweight container will make screening it easy.
  • Call your airline to ensure you can bring ashes.
  • Most airlines do not want ashes packed in checked baggage, so call and check with your specific airline.
  • TSA, out of respect for you and the deceased, will not open any containers that contain ashes.
  • If the container is too opaque for scanning or x-ray, you may not be allowed to take it with you. Check ahead on what you can bring.

Which Airlines Allow Cremated Remains?

Most airlines will allow you to bring the cremated remains on a plane. There may be a few requirements, so understanding what each airline has in place is important. Listed below are some of the airlines that allow cremated remains.

  • Delta Air Lines — Ashes are permitted with a death and cremation certificate. Cremated remains will be accepted with a carry-on, checked baggage, or shipped unaccompanied.
  • American Airlines — Ashes or cremated remains can go on all flights. Traveling with cremated remains will be treated as carry-on baggage, and no special documentation is needed domestically.
  • United Airlines — You can bring ashes on board as a carry-on only. You need all required documentation, such as a document from the funeral home or a death certificate. You must present this during the TSA screening.
  • Spirit Air — You can bring ashes with proper documentation. To transport in checked baggage, they must undergo screening during the checked baggage screening process.
  • Frontier — Ashes can go on the plane but must be in an approved wood or plastic container.
  • Southwest — Ashes are permitted as a carry-on only and cannot go in checked baggage.  You may take cremated remains onboard a domestic U.S. or international flight as a carry-on. 

Related Read: Can You Bring Powder on a Plane?

How Do You Transport Ashes On A Plane?

You will need to have the ashes carried or placed in a TSA-approved case for travel. The TSA recommends a lightweight material that does not interfere with the x-ray or screening process. Most often, it is a container made of wood or plastic.

The TSA has clear rules for transporting your loved one’s ashes with you on a plane. As stated above, you must ensure that your airline permits ashes to be carried on or checked. There are a few things to consider as you plan for your journey ahead to bring ashes with you.

The TSA suggests that you make sure you have all the proper documentation. You can find out if your airline permits ashes by checking on what you may need for transport. For example, you may need a death certificate and cremation record that displays the deceased’s name.

Most airlines do not want you to transport ashes in checked baggage. If they require it, there is a process of paperwork to ensure the ashes are secure and safe. You will need to check with the airline to review its standards for transporting ashes on a plane.

Related Read: How to Choose an 18x 14×8 Bag

What Happens If The TSA Needs To Confiscate Ashes?

The TSA will not typically confiscate ashes; they may not permit the urn or case to go on. You may need a backup plan or extra container for the ashes to ensure safe travels. The TSA, out of respect for the deceased, will not and cannot check to make sure there are ashes.

They may not allow the case or ashes to go through, which means you’re staying behind. They will not take possession or confiscate ashes.

Can I Pack Cremated Remains In My Checked Luggage?

Most airlines prefer you not to pack cremated remains in your checked luggage. For the safety of the ashes, your bag, and other cargo, ashes should be a carry-on item. If you need to put the ashes in checked luggage, there are protocols to follow.

You will need to arrange the transport of the ashes in checked luggage ahead of time. Bring all documentation and travel consent from a funeral for the ashes and have them packed accordingly. The ashes and carrier will need to undergo checked baggage screening, so the case needs to be TSA-approved.

Related Read: What Does 100 ml Look Like?

Can I Bring Ashes On A Plane Internationally?

When it comes to flying internationally, most airlines allow you to bring the ashes with you as a carry-on. You should check with your specific airline and any connecting flight for regulations. Most airlines will require specific documentation to fly internationally.

You should bring a death certificate, a funeral or cremation certificate, and your proof of identification to fly. You may also need to check ahead with your airlines to notify them of your travels. So, whether flying to or from France, Mexico, or Asia, bring all the proper travel documentation. 

Still Not Sure? Ask the TSA

If you are still unsure whether you can travel with ashes, you can check out the TSA website. You can utilize the search bar and type in what you wish to bring to see if it is clear for travel. Whether it is allowed in checked or carry-on, one will see possible tips and tricks.

If you wish to speak to an agent, you can always call the support helpline. The number is on the left-hand side tabs, and you can ask your questions to a TSA agent. The agent will be able to help you navigate or find the answer you need.

If you are still unsure whether you can bring ashes on a plane, you can call the airlines you are traveling with to see their regulations. The TSA will be more than happy to help you at the airport meet your flight requirements. You can check with any TSA agent along the security checkpoint to answer any and all questions.

Related Read: Top 25 weirdest things found by Airport Security/TSA!

Summary

The TSA knows how hard it is to lose a loved one, and traveling with cremated remains can be difficult. The TSA has rules to ensure the ashes are x-rayed and appropriately screened. Make sure to put the ashes in a wooden or plastic case to use as a carry-on.

Most airlines permit you to carry ashes onto the plane for your journey. You may need some paperwork, so checking ahead is not a bad idea. You should rarely pack ashes in checked luggage unless you have approved transport orders.

Be sure to travel with all the proper documentation to fly internationally and pack the ashes correctly. You can contact the TSA via the website or airport security if you have any problems or questions.

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