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How to Carry Urns and Ashes With You on a Plane

In the myriad of emotions that follow the passing of a loved one, the desire to fulfill their last wishes or to feel connected to them in special ways can lead to profound actions. One such gesture, growing in popularity among retirees and the elderly, is the scattering of ashes of a loved one. But, can you carry ashes on a plane?

A Heartfelt Journey: Traveling with Ashes

Whether beaches of Bali, peaks of the Himalayas, or simply a park in their hometown, destinations become sites of remembrance. This article will detail transportation security administration rules for both domestic travel and international flights.

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Traveling for my Brother

When my brother passed away in 2021 I had to jump on a plane from Dominican Republic back to Portland. Within days of his death, someone gave me photos of a trip he took to Chicago the previous year with his girlfriend. I felt called to go to Chicago in order to re-create his happy memories. I took photos in the same locations he took photos. Meals were eaten at the same restaurants. I connected by being in those places.

After cremating him and letting some time pass, my parents decided to move to Tokyo with me. I hopped on a plane and again headed for Portland. We knew that my brothers urn needed to come with us to Tokyo. Thus began the frantic research to transport cremated remains in carry-on luggage to a foreign country.

my brother loved traveling

Healing in Your Own Way

The act of carrying cremation ashes with us to these places isn’t merely about transportation — it’s a pilgrimage of memories and love. Join us as we explore the ins and outs of traveling by air with a loved one’s ashes. I want to ensure that your journey is not only memorable but also hassle-free.

Stay with us to discover airline policies, packing tips, and ideas for scattering or finding the perfect resting place. Through JetSet Sidekick’s expertise, your heartfelt voyage will become a treasured memory, echoing the love and connection you share with those who’ve passed on.

Understanding the Emotional Significance of Scattering Ashes

The decision to scatter ashes isn’t just about saying a final goodbye — it’s a deep-seeded expression of love, respect, and remembrance. Every handful of ash carries with it countless memories, shared moments, and whispers of stories that defined a lifetime. But what exactly drives individuals, especially those in their golden years, to choose such a journey?

A Connection Beyond Words

For many, it’s the sheer essence of intimacy. Holding onto the physical remains of a family member signifies a bond that transcends life and death. You aren’t setting out to scatter ashes for fun. It’s symbolic. It represents the continuation of shared journeys, even if one partner is no longer physically present. Traveling to a special destination with these remains becomes a poignant chapter in a shared story, unfolding tales of shared dreams, promises, or simply, a last wish.

Echoing Testimonials

Consider Martha, an 82-year-old retiree from Florida. She chose to scatter her husband’s ashes along the coasts of Greece, reliving their honeymoon memories from over half a century ago. Or Robert, who at 79, trekked a gentle trail in the Rockies to release his partner’s ashes, honoring a dream they’d both envisioned but couldn’t accomplish together. Their actions resonate with love, respect, and an emotional profundity that words often fail to capture.

A Journey of the Heart

In essence, traveling with a loved one’s ashes is a voyage of the heart. It’s about embracing old memories while creating new ones, ensuring that the tapestry of shared experiences remains rich and vibrant.

Airline Policies and Regulations: Ensuring a Smooth Journey with Ashes

When emotions are high it’s easy to overlook travel arrangements when it comes to specific ruls for human ashes. Not pissing off TSA agents is vital for you to have a positive experience. Complying with TSA officers is not hard but there are specific requirements to pass the screening process. It’s not a matter of “Can you carry ashes on a plane?” You can have peace of mind that all major airlines allow the transportation of ashes as long as you follow their specific rules.

TSA bringing ashes on a plane

Can You Carry Ashes on a Plane?

Yes, with an asterisks. You need to know the rules and regulations in order to carry ashes on a plane.

Screening Requirements

The primary concern of any airline is security. When carrying ashes, they need to be in a container that can pass through an X-ray machine. This is non-negotiable. That means cremated ashes in metal urns, metal containers, or many stone urns are restricted because of the security scanners.

If you are looking for a compliant urn, transparent boxes, biodegradable urns, plastic urns, wood urns, or non-lead-based ceramic urns often make the best choices. It is not necessary to purchase a specific travel urn.

Remember, security screening personnel will never open the urn, but they will need to ensure it’s content through screening procedures. Don’t be shocked if they swab the cremation urn to test for bomb powder or verbally question the container’s contents.

Documentation to Consider

While not always mandatory, some airlines recommend (or require) passengers to have a copy of the death certificate and the certificate of cremation from the funeral home. Always check with the individual airlines for guidance. Be sure to look directly at the specific airline that is operating the planes on your journey, which is not necessarily who you bought the ticket through. You could buy a ticket from American Airlines only to end up on an Alaska Airlines airplane. In such case, you need to know Alaska Airlines specific documentation policies, not the policy from the code-share partner who sold you the ticket.

Communicate Ahead

No matter what the websites say, it’s always a good idea to phone the airlines in advance to ask if there are any additional requirements that you should be aware of. Ask them to make a note on your reservation informing staff that you will have a cremation container as your carry-on item or in your carry-on baggage. This simple act can smooth your voyage because airline staff will prepare and understand your unique needs better.

While carrying a loved one’s ashes presents an emotional journey, aligning with airline regulations is crucial for a hassle-free experience. With this knowledge in hand, and JetSet Sidekick by your side, your pilgrimage with your loved one’s ashes will be as smooth as it is meaningful.

Communicate ahead about bringing ashes on a plane

Choosing the Right Container: Marrying Practicality with Sentimentality

Embarking on a journey to scatter your loved one’s ashes in a dream destination or resting place involves more than just the emotional resolve; it demands practical foresight. Among the primary considerations is the selection of the right urn or container. It’s not just about aesthetics or the emotional connection to the container, but ensuring a seamless journey through airport security.

The X-ray Dilemma

A cornerstone of airline policies worldwide is the mandate for urns to be easily screened through X-ray machines. This ensures safety and respects the privacy of the passenger, as security personnel will not open the urn. Therefore, airlines often prefer materials like wood, biodegradable materials, or transparent containers. Metal or densely constructed containers will create an opaque image leaving tsa staff in a bind.

Sealed and Secure

While the beauty and design of an urn are important, its ability to remain sealed and secure during the journey is paramount. It’s typical for crematory remains to be in a plastic bag which gives an extra layer of protection in case of an accident. No one wants the heartbreak of an accident, so ensure that the urn or container has a tight-fitting lid or seal.

Personalized Choices: Heart Over Matter

Beyond practicalities, many individuals lean towards personalized urns – ones that resonate with shared memories, a loved one’s personality, or the intended final destination. This might mean an urn carved with motifs reminiscent of a shared vacation spot, or perhaps an eco-friendly container for those passionate about nature.

A Journey of Heart and Preparation

Choosing the right container for a loved one’s ashes is a delicate balance between heart and practicality. While it’s essential to have a container that mirrors your emotions, aligning with travel requirements ensures a hiccup-free journey.

Packing the Ashes: Ensuring Safety and Respect Throughout Your Journey

When the time comes to take your loved one on that final voyage, every step becomes a delicate dance of reverence. One crucial phase of this journey is the packing. Knowing how to pack the ashes ensures safe transport and guarantees respect for your loved one’s remains. Here’s our guide to making sure this process is both thoughtful and efficient.

how to pack ashes for a plane

Carry-On Considerations

One of the golden rules for those wondering about transporting ashes by air is to always carry them in your hand luggage. This eliminates the risks associated with checked baggage, like loss or mishandling, ensuring your loved one remains close to you throughout the journey.

Cushioning and Care

Even the most durable urn can benefit from a little extra protection. Consider wrapping the urn in protective padding or bubble wrap, then placing it inside a sturdy box. This not only prevents physical damage but also provides an added layer of privacy and respect.

Documentation at Hand

It’s not just the ashes that need careful packing; having your special documentation within easy reach is equally important. Place copies of the death certificate, cremation certificate, or any other required paperwork in a separate envelope or folder within your carry-on. Always be prepared to present them.

A Note on Respect

While our focus here is on the physical act of packing, it’s crucial to approach this task with a mindset of reverence. Remember, each step you take is a tribute to your loved one’s memory, and meticulous packing reflects the depth of your care.

Preparation Meets Heart

Packing any type of urn for air travel beautifully intertwines the practical with the profound. As you make preparations, always keep the balance of safety and sentiment at the forefront. This may be the one and only time you need to carry ashes on a plane, so let’s make it go smoothly.

bringing ashes on a plane

Navigating the Airport and Security Procedures

Standard airport advice is to arrive 2 hours before domestic flights departure and 3 hours prior to international flights departure time. When traveling with ashes on a plane I highly suggest arriving with extra time just in case. You just never know when you’ll end up with a TSA officer on a power trip and they attempt to ruin your healing journey.

A Compassionate Guide for Traveling with Ashes

The bustling ambiance of an airport can often feel overwhelming, more so when you’re on a journey laden with emotions and memories. Navigating airport security with a loved one’s ashes requires a blend of awareness, understanding, and preparation. Here’s your guide to making this process as smooth and respectful as possible.

Forewarned is Forearmed

As you approach the security checkpoint, take a proactive first step: inform the officers that you’re carrying ashes. Informing them early helps them approach the situation with sensitivity and prepares them for the screening without surprises.

Understanding the Process

Airport security’s primary mission is to ensure the safety of all passengers. While they won’t open the urn or container, they’ll rely on X-ray machines to inspect its content. If the urn’s material obscures the view, they might ask questions, but they will respect the ashes’ sanctity.

traveling with an urn through an airport

Seeking Private Screening

If you don’t want others to see the urn during screening, many airports offer private screening options. You can request this service, allowing for a more intimate and private setting during the security process.

Papers Ready

As highlighted before, keep all necessary documentation, like the death and cremation certificates, easily accessible. Sometimes, officers might want a quick verification, and having them at the ready ensures a seamless process.

Composure and Patience

Although airport staff usually handle such situations with care, maintaining your patience is essential. People carry ashes on the plane daily at major airports, so TSA shouldn’t be shocked.Understand that the officers are doing their job, and any questions they might have are in line with security protocols.

stay calm when bringing ashes on a plane

Treading with Care

Journeys with a loved one’s ashes through airport security might feel daunting, but with the right knowledge and a compassionate approach, the path becomes clearer. Lean on JetSet Sidekick’s experience and guidance, ensuring that every step you take resonates with respect, love, and understanding.

International Transportation Considerations: Crossing Borders with Ashes in Tow

Traveling internationally with a loved one’s ashes adds another layer of complexity to an already emotional journey. Different countries come with their own sets of rules and customs. Prepare for these differences to ensure a dignified and smooth process. Here’s a guide to help you leave the United States without hitches.

Research the Destination

Before embarking on your journey, research the specific regulations and customs of the country you’re visiting. Some countries own laws require additional documentation to get through immigration. Informing yourself in advance avoids last-minute stress and misunderstandings.

Cultural Sensitivities

Beyond regulations, it’s essential to be aware of cultural norms and beliefs regarding death and cremation. Some destinations might have customs or ceremonies that you weren’t aware of. 

If you are going to carry ashes on a plane to Zimbabwe or Colombia you may met with some resistance from local authorities. Respecting these traditions will ensure a more harmonious experience during your stay.

Translating the Documents

If you’re traveling to a country where English isn’t the primary language, consider getting official translations of your documentation. This step ensures that border officials and other authorities can quickly verify and understand the documents you present.

bringing an urn on a plane

Seek Embassy Advice

In cases of doubt or when you need detailed guidance, reaching out to the embassy of the country or consulate of the country you’re visiting can be invaluable. They can provide accurate information on regulations, required documentation, and other essential considerations.

Plan Your Route

While direct flights are often more convenient, they are often more expensive. Remember that layovers before your destination country might come with their own sets of rules. If your journey involves layovers, prepare to navigate the regulations of multiple countries.

A World of Respect

Traveling internationally with ashes requires a fine balance between logistical preparation and cultural understanding. With thorough research, empathy, and JetSet Sidekick supporting you, you can undertake your global journey with your loved one’s remains gracefully and respectfully.

Choosing the Perfect Destination: Honoring Memories in Special Places

The final resting place of a loved one’s ashes can resonate deeply, echoing past memories, shared dreams, or even unfulfilled adventures. Choosing the perfect destination, be it a dream location or an exotic retirement spot, adds significance to the act of saying goodbye. Here’s how to find that special place that aligns with your heart and memories.

Reflect on Shared Memories

Start by delving deep into the reservoir of shared experiences. Perhaps there’s a beach where you both watched countless sunsets, a city that ignited shared passions, or a tranquil countryside that promised serene retirements. Let these memories guide your choice.

bring your loved ones urn with you

Consider Their Dreams

Maybe your loved one had an unfulfilled wish — a desire to visit the Eiffel Tower, trek the Great Wall of China, or simply bask in the serenity of Maldive’s beaches. Realizing these dreams posthumously can offer a sense of closure and homage.

Nature or Nurture?

While some souls resonate with the rhythm of bustling cities, others find solace in the lap of nature. Reflect upon whether your loved one would prefer the whispers of winds in mountains, the dance of waves on shores, or the hum of life in vibrant urban spaces.

Legal and Cultural Implications

As much as the heart might be set on a place, it’s essential to be informed about the legalities of scattering ashes in the chosen location. It is famously against the rules to scatter ashes at Disney Land for example.

Some sites, especially protected natural areas or public spaces, might have restrictions. Similarly, consider cultural norms to ensure the act is respectful to local communities.

Seek Inspiration

If you’re still uncertain, there are numerous locations globally celebrated for their beauty, serenity, and significance. From the pristine shores of New Zealand to the spiritual landscapes of India, the world is replete with destinations that can provide a fitting tribute.

An Emotional Voyage with Practical Footsteps

Traveling with a loved one’s ashes is, without a doubt, one of life’s most profound journeys. When you carry ashes on a plane it comes with a flood of feelings. It’s a path laden with memories, dreams, and emotions, but one that also calls for careful navigation of the practical world. As we’ve explored, balancing these two elements—heartfelt sentiments and the practicalities of travel—ensures a dignified and seamless journey.

traveling with a loved ones remains

The Power of Preparation

The key takeaway? Preparation is paramount. Whether it’s understanding airline regulations, selecting the right container, or knowing the intricacies of international travel, every step you take in preparation is also a step toward honoring your loved one.

Destinations with Heart

Beyond the logistics, it’s the destinations we choose, the memories we honor, and the dreams we fulfill that infuse this journey with meaning. Finding that perfect place is a testament to the bond shared and a tribute to moments cherished.

JetSet Sidekick: Your Compassionate Co-traveler

Remember, you’re never alone in this journey. JetSet Sidekick stands by your side, offering guidance, support, and expertise. Whether you’re looking to scatter ashes in a dream location, retire in an exotic land with your partner’s remains, or simply seeking answers to the question, “Can you carry ashes on a plane?” – we’re here to help.

In essence, this journey, while deeply personal, can be eased with the right knowledge and a touch of empathy. As you embark on this voyage, let your heart guide you, but let preparation be your steadfast companion.

FAQ: Carrying Ashes on a Plane

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