A common question that we receive is, “Can I take my loved one’s ashes on a plane”? The short answer is yes; however, there are many things to consider before boarding a plane with the remains of your loved one. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most relevant regulations, and some of the best ways to proceed.

Cremation has become more and more a favored option in recent years. And because of that, it is common for out of state – even out of country family members to want to transport their loved one’s remains back to their birthplace to be scattered or interred.  Before getting on a plane with human remains, it’s important to have a working understanding of what to expect along the way.

Most US airlines allow for cremated remains (cremains) to be transported within the country, however, there are certain stipulations that each one of them requires you to follow.  It is wise for you to look up your specific airline’s regulations in advance of your flight.

The Transportation and Safety Administration is not allowed to open a container with ashes to determine the contents. And many people transport their loved one’s remains in an urn that cannot be viewed through an x-ray. So it is better in most cases to transport the cremains in a temporary urn that is made out of cardboard or plastic. If the urn that you use is not viewable via x-ray, you will not be allowed to take it on the plane. Here is a link to the TSA’s guidelines for urns and ashes.

If you wish to transport cremains outside of the US, you will likely have to do a little more research and preparation in advance. Each country has it’s own set of rules surrounding the transportation of human remains, and we recommend that you contact the US embassy in the country of your destination to discover what is necessary for you to be in compliance. There will certainly be a need for additional paperwork.

Speaking of paperwork, it is important that you have both a death certificate and a cremation certificate in your possession on the date of your travel. A qualified licensed funeral director will be able to provide these documents to you, and may be able to help with making arrangements for your travel as well.

Most US airlines will require you to carry the cremains in your carry on luggage. It is wise to contact the airline in advance, and let them know that you will be bringing your loved one’s ashes on the plane. Some require at least 24 hours advance notice. Check your local airline’s website for their specific regulations.

So yes, it is possible and even common for people to transport human ashes via the airlines. Just don’t make the mistake of doing so without making the necessary preparations in advance, or you will find yourself in a frustrating situation at the airport.

We hope this has been helpful for you as you handle all the details of the passing of your loved one.  If we may be of any more service, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.