If you plan on traveling with your loved one’s ashes, here are three helpful tips for flying with cremated remains.
We often talk with families who have suffered a loss about what they plan to do with their loved one’s ashes.
With cremation relieving some of the time constraints of traditional funeral services, many families choose to travel with their loved one’s ashes to bury them in their hometown, or to scatter them in a location that was meaningful to them.
We are asked regularly how to best fly with ashes, so we have organized some helpful tips for flying with cremated remains:
The first thing to note is that while the policy of the TSA states that they will “under no circumstances” open a cremation container (tsa.gov), the container will still need to be screened using X-ray machines.
Your safest bet for getting through the screening process as easily as possible is to select an urn or container that can be scanned, such as one made of a lightweight material like wood or plastic.
It is also wise to make copies of the cremation/disposition permit and death certificate to have on hand and attach to the container if it ever leaves your sight so that there is no question about the contents.
The second important consideration is the restrictions of the individual airlines.
Most airlines, such as United, Southwest, and American Airlines, do not allow the ashes to be a part of checked baggage, but do allow them to be carried on. Others, such as Delta, accept cremated remains as either carry-on luggage or as checked baggage.
As always, it is wise to call the airline you plan to fly for confirmation of their policies before you leave for your flight in case anything has changed. Plan ahead and have extra copies of permits and certificates ready should you need them.
The third consideration pertains to international travel. There are too many rules and regulations for each individual country to list, but if you call the US Embassy in your destination country (visit usembassy.gov), they should have up-to-date rules and be able to get you any applicable paperwork that may be necessary for your travels.
If you are traveling abroad with cremated remains, it is critical to start the process early. Some of the forms may need to be completed or signed by a funeral director, and if the process has multiple steps it could take a while to complete.
The Cremation Association of North America recommends allowing a minimum of two weeks to complete the process (cremationassociation.org/transport).
While this is not a comprehensive guide to traveling with cremated remains, these three steps are a great starting point for beginning to plan your trip if you intend to take the ashes of a loved one with you.
The most important thing to remember is to start planning early, and have your paperwork organized and prepared.