Are urns allowed on airplanes?
Yes, urns (and the cremated remains, or "ashes" inside) are allowed on airplanes. Security personnel will not open the urn out of respect for the dead, so the urn container will need to be screened via x-ray. This means that you cannot take some types of urns onto the airplane.
Let's learn more about how and when urns are allowed on airplanes, and which cremation urns are best for air travel.
Are urns allowed on airplanes?
Again, yes, urns are allowed on all major airlines. The cremation urn is just a container designed to hold cremated remains. Any and every cremation urn can always be taken on an airplane with no remains inside.
Here's what that means. If you have an empty cremation urn - any urn, of any material - you can travel with it because it can be opened and inspected by TSA agents.
But what about when you're traveling with the remains? Can you fly with the ashes?
Are cremated ashes allowed on airplanes?
Yes, cremated ashes are allowed on all major airlines. You will just need to make sure that the urn can be scanned by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Some types of urns don't scan well, or at all. These include metal containers, most marble/stone urns, and ceramic urns, which are sometimes made with lead.
Can I fly with ashes as carry-on baggage?
Typically, yes, most airlines allow cremated remains as carry-on luggage. But not all do. Please check with your airline concerning their policies for cremated remains and carry-on vs checked baggage.
Can I fly with ashes as checked baggage?
Yes. All airlines allow you to travel with cremated remains (a.k.a. "ashes") as checked baggage. You'll want to ensure that the remains are securely packed, and if the urn is breakable you'll want to provide plenty of cushioning.
What urns are best for air travel?
The best cremation urns for flying with ashes are plastic, cardboard, or wood. These materials are lightweight and easy to scan, which allows the TSA personnel to x-ray the contents without opening the urn.
Best urns for air travel:
- The temporary urn container you received from the funeral home/crematorium
- Other plastic or cardboard urns
- Wood urns
- Most biodegradable urns
- Our elegant fabric-covered plastic urns
Out of respect for the deceased, TSA officials will never open an urn that contains ashes. So you'll want to avoid traveling with the types of urns that result in opaque scans.
Urns to avoid for air travel:
- Metal urns
- Ceramic urns (for the most part because they are fragile)
- Marble urns
Flying with Ashes: Best Practices
Keep costs down
To avoid paying for two urns, we recommend either 1) traveling with the temporary urn, or 2) buying a wood urn as the permanent urn.
Wood urns are solid, durable, and elegant. They're easy to travel with, and provide a sense of dignity for your loved one's remains while you're traveling. We have many beautifully crafted solid wood urns which will honor your loved one as you travel and beyond. Shop here.
Choose an airline that allows the urn as a carry-on
You don't want the infamous baggage handlers throwing your loved one's urn around on the tarmac, no matter how well you've packed it. Plus, they may need to open up the package anyways, and who knows if they'll be careful when replacing the contents.
So it's best to play it safe and take the ashes with you as carry-on luggage. Plan ahead and choose an airline that allows urns as carry-ons. Call and talk to an agent, or look at their website(s) for clarification of their policies.
See this article for more resources, especially under the heading "Which Airlines Allow Cremated Remains?"
Get to the airport early
No matter how much research and prep you do, there is always the potential for delays or additional inspections. Get to the airport early to make sure you have plenty of time to get the urn for ashes through security.
Bring the death certificate or certificate of cremation. Both, if possible.
Choose peace of mind
Choose the options that bring you the most peace of mind.
Do your research; having read this article, talk to the funeral director and/or the airline for additional specifics.
Then choose an urn you know will pass through TSA. We recommend the temporary urn you may already have, a fabric-covered urn for elegance and dignity while traveling, or a wood urn that provides a solid and secure container for travel along with beauty and durability to serve as the permanent urn memorial.