7 Pointers for Flying With Ashes in the US & Internationally

Published December 29, 2020
Woman traveling with cremation urn in backpack at airport

If you are planning on flying with ashes, it's a good idea to know how to be prepared so your trip goes as smoothly as possible. While flying with ashes may feel overwhelming, there are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

Flying With Ashes

Aside from being prepared for traveling with the ashes, it's also important to make sure you are emotionally ready to do so. You may consider:

  • Asking someone supportive to travel with you or check in with you
  • Think about different scenarios regarding what may happen at the airport and how you'll feel
  • Consider creating a plan if you feel emotionally overwhelmed at any point during your travel
  • Use a mindfulness or relaxation app to assist you in grounding yourself at any point during your travel

Traveling With Ashes Internationally

When travelling with ashes internationally:

  • Contact your specific airline(s) to find out their regulations and requirements regarding traveling with ashes
  • Bring documentation (death certificate, cremation certificate, and a document from the funeral director)
  • Use an urn that seals tightly and is not made from an easily breakable material

TSA Approved Urns

Using a TSA approved urn can make your experience at the airport a bit more seamless. Consider looking for:

Passengers going through airport scanner and security
  • Urns labeled flight ready
  • Urns that are not made out of an easily breakable material- instead choose a travel or temporary urn made out of wood or plastic
  • Urns that can pass through the X-ray machine
  • Urns that seal completely

Which Airlines Allow Cremated Remains

The following airlines allow cremated remains. Be sure to check in with your specific airline to ensure that they haven't changed their policy, or if they will need any sort of documentation.

  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Jetblue Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Put the Ashes in Your Carry-on Luggage

While it may seem easier to check the ashes with your luggage, checked bags may be handled more roughly. Because of this the urn may break, or the ashes may spill. It's always best to place the ashes in a sturdy and fully sealable urn and keep them in your carry on luggage.

Urn Must Clear X-Ray Machine at Airport

If your urn does not clear the X-Ray machine, TSA may inspect it by other means. They may end up confiscating the urn if they deem it to be a threat to security. Be sure your urn can fit through a machine meant to handle luggage about 24 inches wide and 16 inches tall. If you have any doubts, you can always contact TSA to ensure that your urn will fit.

Get to the Airport a Bit Earlier

Because you may experience a delay in security, it's best to get to the airport a bit early. Leave yourself an extra 30 minutes to an hour of additional time to make sure you can make it through security smoothly with your urn, even if TSA needs to inspect it further.

Speak With the Funeral Home

Contact the funeral home and ask them any questions you may have about traveling with ashes. Funeral homes are often very knowledgeable about transporting cremated remains and may have appropriate urn recommendations or other resources that you may find helpful.

Can You Bring Ashes on a Plane American Airlines?

American Airlines considers cremated remains akin to carry on luggage and subject to the same restrictions and requirements. No documentation is needed when bringing cremated remains on American Airlines, as long as the flight remains domestic.

United Airlines Cremated Remains

United Airlines allows cremated remains to be transported. They recommend bringing a death certificate and keeping the remains in a sealable urn in your carry on baggage.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Cremated Remains Internationally?

While prices may vary, shipping cremated remains is likely to fall in the $200 to $400 range. To ship cremated remains, you will need to use the United States Postal Service to do so.

Ways to Travel With Ashes

While travelling with ashes may add additional steps to your travel arrangements, it's best to be prepared to ensure your experience goes as smoothly as possible.

7 Pointers for Flying With Ashes in the US & Internationally