Comprehensive Guide: Traveling with Ashes on an Airplane – Tips & Regulations

You’re planning a trip and want to bring a loved one’s ashes along. You’re wondering, “Can I bring ashes on an airplane?” The short answer is yes, but there’s more to it.

Airlines have specific policies about transporting ashes. Understanding these policies can help you navigate this sensitive issue with ease.

Let’s dive into the details and provide you with some practical tips. This way, you’ll be fully prepared when it’s time to board the plane.

Key Takeaways

  • You can bring a loved one’s ashes on an airplane, but each airline has specific policies regarding this. For instance, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Air France allow ashes in both carry-on and checked luggage, but the container must pass through an X-ray machine. British Airways only allows ashes in carry-on luggage and must be in an official cremation container.
  • Remember to check the individual airline’s current policies before you travel. Also, you’ll typically need a Death Certificate and a Cremation Certificate when planning to transport ashes.
  • The container for the ashes must be scannable, i.e., made of wood or plastic rather than metal. It should also be durable, leak-proof with a secure closure system to avoid spillages during the flight.
  • In addition to packing, you need proper documentation including the Death Certificate and the Cremation Certificate. International travel may require additional paperwork such as a permit for transport of human remains. So, research before you travel.
  • The container holding the ashes will go through an X-ray machine at the security checkpoint. Use a lightweight, scannable container to avoid any issues. Have your necessary papers ready, and consider getting everything double-checked by the crematorium.
  • You should also follow certain tips for a smooth journey. Limit the container size, be organized, have the required documents ready, and double bag the ashes. Be patient and communicate with airport and airline staff as necessary.

Traveling with cremated remains requires careful planning and adherence to airline and security regulations. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides guidelines for passengers traveling with ashes, recommending they be carried in a container that can be X-rayed. Perfect Memorials offers tips for flying with cremation urns, including TSA-approved urns and international regulations. Additionally, the Southwest Airlines Community advises on the best practices for transporting ashes, ensuring they are treated with respect and meet all travel requirements.

Airline Policies on Transporting Ashes

Understanding airline policies is crucial when you’re planning to bring a loved one’s ashes on a plane. Each airline has their own specific guidelines and compliance ensures a smooth journey.

American Airlines, for instance, allows you to transport ashes in both your carry-on and checked luggage. However, they require the urn or container to pass through an X-ray machine. If it’s not capable of being scanned, it won’t be allowed in the cabin. Make sure the urn is made of a material that can be clearly screened.

On the other hand, Southwest Airlines requires the ashes to be in a temporary container made of wood or plastic. Metal and stone containers can cause difficulties in screening and may not be allowed in the cabin.

When it comes to international airlines, you’ll find similar requirements. Air France, for instance, allows ashes in both checked luggage and carry-on. But again, the urn has to pass the X-ray examination. British Airways has a stricter policy and only allows human ashes on board if carried in an official cremation container within your hand luggage.

Do check with your intended airline before you travel, as this information can change and it’s always best to have the latest data. In most cases, you’ll need a Death Certificate and Cremation Certificate at the ready when planning to transport ashes.

AirlineCarry-onCheck-inContainer needs to be scanned
American AirlinesYesYesYes
SouthwestYesYesYes, but can’t be metal/stone
Air FranceYesYesYes
British AirwaysYesNoYes

Now that you’re familiar with some of the policies, you can start preparing for your journey. Keep in mind, it’s always best to have a soft-spoken conversation with the airline representatives.

Guidelines for Packing Ashes for Air Travel

One crucial part of your preparation is to understand how to properly pack ashes for air travel. Given the sensitive nature of the contents, airlines have detailed policies on the container types accepted in order to ensure the safety of the remains.

First, you’ll want to consider the type of container you’re using. The TSA requires that the container must be scannable, which often means choosing a material like wood or plastic rather than metal. A scannable container allows airport security to see its contents without opening it, greatly reducing the potential for a stressful situation at security checkpoints.

To provide additional security, aim to use a durable, leak-proof container with a secure closure system. It’s hard to predict how much your luggage will be jostled or knocked around during the flight. Therefore, it’s best to take every precaution to avoid any unfortunate incidents.

This table outlines the US’s major airlines’ specific regulations about container materials and types.

AirlineContainer Material
American AirlinesScannable materials (wood, plastic)
Southwest AirlinesScannable materials (wood, plastic)
Air FranceScannable materials (wood, plastic), sealable plastic bag
British AirwaysScannable materials (wood, plastic)

In addition to a suitable container, you’ll also need the proper documentation. Air travel rules will typically require you to bring along a copy of the Death Certificate and Cremation Certificate. This documents will serve as a declaration that the contents are indeed cremated remains and not something else.

Lastly, consider each individual airline’s policies about where your container can be during the flight. Some airlines allow cremated remains in both carry-on and checked bags, others only in carry-on bags. Always confirm with your chosen airline’s specific regulations to prevent any last-minute issues.

By following these tips and guidelines, your trip should be less stressful and more predictable.

Required Documentation for Bringing Ashes on an Airplane

Packing cremated remains in a proper container forms just one piece of the puzzle. Equally crucial is ensuring you have all necessary documentation. Navigating an airport is stressful enough without the worry about whether you’re allowed on the airplane with the ashes.

To start, a Death Certificate is essential. Whether from a hospital, a care facility, or a medical practitioner, this document confirms the passing of your loved one and is non-negotiable. In some cases, officials may request to see an original copy, so it’s best to bring it along to avoid any potential disruptions.

Next up is the Cremation Certificate. This document provides proof that the container you’re carrying indeed contains cremated remains. Crematoriums typically issue them, and it’s good practice to request multiple copies in case of misplacement or unexpected needs. The name on this document must match the name on the death certificate.

Lastly, understand that rules can vary depending on your destination. International travel may require additional paperwork, such as a permit for transport of human remains. Such documents often need to be translated and authenticated, and some jurisdictions might require a seal from a consulate or embassy in your home country. Don’t put off researching these specifics until the last minute.

Stay prepared. Double-check the requirements of the airline you’ll be using, and consult with the crematorium if you’re uncertain about any part of the process. It’s better to be over-prepared than risk being denied boarding with your loved one’s remains at the last minute. Regularly updated information can often be found on airline websites or by calling customer service.

Remember, each step mentioned above is not only crucial for keeping the process as smooth as possible, but also for showing respect to the departed. While dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, making the necessary preparations can help lessen the burden during your journey.

Security Screening Procedures for Ashes

Understandably, you may feel apprehensive about the screening process when traveling with ashes. However, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can alleviate most of your concerns.

Airport security might seem like a daunting hurdle to cross. But don’t worry, various organizations have established clear protocols. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), for instance, has regulations that allow you to transport ashes through a checkpoint.

The container holding ashes has to go through an X-ray machine. If the X-ray machinery can’t see through the container, security personnel won’t open it to check the contents. That’s why it’s recommended to have a lightweight, scannable container.

When packing for your journey, remember the following:

  • Choose an appropriate container – TSA suggests using materials like wood or plastic to ensure the contents can be seen with an X-ray scanner.
  • Think ahead – Contact your airline before your flight date to check if there are any special rules that you need to follow.

Being organized and knowing your airline’s approach will help things go more smoothly. Always be ready with the necessary paperwork, which includes the Death Certificate and the Cremation Certificate.

Consider getting everything double-checked by the crematorium. They should confirm whether your preparations are in line with the cremation and airline rules. It’s better to make necessary adjustments beforehand rather than facing a whirlwind at security checkpoints.

After preparing in this manner, you should have a smoother time managing airport protocols. Your careful preparation pays respect to your departed loved one and ensures their final journey concludes in a tranquil way.

Remember, patience and preparation are key to navigating this sensitive journey. By adequately dealing with all necessary arrangements, you’re creating a stress-free experience. Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask questions along the way. Miscommunications could lead to complications or missteps that can be avoided by seeking clarification.

Your loved one’s ashes are carefully packed and ready for the security screening process. Now, your journey can proceed unhindered.

Tips for Traveling with Ashes

Navigating airport security with a carry-on full of ashes isn’t the most common travel scenario. But with knowledge, preparation, and understanding of the process, you’re well equipped to handle it. Let’s explore some key tips to help keep the journey hassle-free.

Limit the variables. Stick with a scannable container made from a non-metallic material, as TSA focuses on the visibility of the contents during X-ray screening. Thus, materials such as plastic, wood, or cardboard can be suitable options. Utilize a temporary urn if you’ve got doubts about your current one.

Be highly organized. This doesn’t mean just packing lightly. Have your vital documents – Death and Cremation Certificates – in an easily reachable location. You might be asked to produce these. Also, always check with your airline about any specific rules they may have.

Mitigate potential issues. Ensure that the ashes are packed securely to avoid spillages. TSA suggests double bagging the ashes to create an extra layer of security.

Contact your crematorium. Having the correct paperwork from the crematorium clarifies if you’re compliant with their regulations. They can also provide packing recommendations to protect the ashes and the urn. Remember, being proactive saves you time and stress later.

Lastly, be patient and communicate clearly. Traveling with ashes can be an emotional journey, and things may not always go as smoothly as planned. Remember, everyone involved is trying to help you get through this process.

Next, we’ll move towards some crucial FAQs about carrying ashes on flights that most people wonder about. These might answer any lingering questions.


Navigating airport security with ashes isn’t as daunting as you might think. It’s all about preparation, organization, and understanding the process. Remember to use a scannable container, have your essential documents ready, and pack the ashes securely. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your crematorium for advice. Patience and clear communication will make this emotional journey smoother. Stay tuned for our upcoming FAQs to help answer any lingering questions you may have about carrying ashes on flights. Safe travels.

What kind of container should I use for transporting ashes?

Use a scannable container made of non-metallic materials such as plastic or wood. Metals obstruct x-ray machines, causing additional checks and delay.

What documents do I need to carry while traveling with ashes?

You’ll need to carry essential documents like the Death Certificate and Cremation Certificate. Keep these easily accessible to prevent any unwanted hassle.

Do crematoriums provide guidance on packing ashes for travel?

Yes, many crematoriums offer packing recommendations to comply with airline regulations. Contact them ahead of your travel time for detailed guidance.

How can I secure ashes during travel to prevent spillages?

Pack the ashes securely in a sturdy container and consider double-bagging. Ensure it is sealed tightly to avoid any spillage.

Why is patience important while traveling with cremation ashes?

Due to the sensitive nature of carrying ashes, you may face additional security procedures. Maintaining patience and clear communication can lead to a smoother experience.