Losing a loved one is one of the emotionally draining experiences of an individual’s life.  With stress and depression in the air, it becomes more challenging when you have to travel with the ashes or remain of the deceased. Understanding what to do as soon as you reach the airport can make the pain less emotionally and mentally exhausting.

What to expect when flying with cremated Ashes

People who have lost their loved ones experiences lots of difficulties when flying with their cremated ashes. If you are going through the same phase, then the first step you need to take is getting in touch with the airline and read their traveling policies with cremated ashes.

Few airlines allow their passengers to carry on their ashes in a closed metal urn that can not scan going through the security scanner.  Most airlines need the ashes to be sent through cargo in your checked luggage only. By contacting the airline, you will have peace of mind that you are not held up for any inappropriate reason.

Every airline has a different carry-on container. When you are traveling with the human ashes, make sure you have secured the ashes in a tight container made of light material like wood or plastic as these materials can easily go through the X-ray machine. However, metal containers may prevent the X-ray machine to perceive what is inside it and they can ask you to open the container, which is undoubtedly a big hassle.


FAQ’s when traveling with human remains or cremated ashes.

What size of a container is suitable for keeping ashes?

The suitable size of carry-on baggage for most of the major airlines is 22”x 14”x9”. Make sure your ashes container is not larger than these following measurements. You can keep the urn in your carry-on baggage onto the aircraft but it can be removed from your luggage at the time of security check-in and passed through the X-Ray.

What documentation is needed when checking with human ashes or remains?

If you have the Certificate of Cremation then you can bring that with you. It can be an authentication that your baggage contains cremated ashes. The airline like Jet Blue just needs this documentation and a certified copy of death. However, not all airlines need the documentation but it can be very helpful to validate carry-on-baggage and contents in it.

What instructions you’ve to give to the funeral director when preparing for ash traveling?

Ask the funeral director to keep the ashes in a non-metallic container. It will make the process easier during airport security check-in and pass x-ray machines at the airport.

What type of containers can pass through the airport’s x-ray machine?

The scan-friendly containers are plastic, transparent glass, cloth, cardboard, fiberboard, and wood. The containers that are prohibited are ceramic, stone and metal.

Is one-day sufficient time to contact the airline?

In case of any notice or emergency, less than 24 hours notice is acceptable. Some airlines have clear set of rules on cremated ashes air travel. However, the protocol of each airline varies, so it is suggested to contact airline a few days before when traveling with human ashes or remains.

What if you don’t want to send the urn via X-ray machine or can’t just bring it through the metal detector?

When it comes to emotional stress, Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is very understanding. They understand what the family members of a deceased are going through when traveling with ashes. Therefore, they take a good care of while handling the remains. The ashes or remains are sent through x-ray when you are going through the metal detector and you can receive them as soon as you walk through the detector. If in any case, TSA asks a question regarding container or content, your baggage will be held with the respect and utmost care.

Important links of Airline and TSA on transporting cremains

  • American Airlines- Providing information on traveling with ashes, human remains in urns, uncremated remains and other shipping needs of the deceased. For any information call on 1-800-433-7300
  • Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) - For any air traveling regulations, guidelines, protocols or prohibited items, acceptable identifications, this website is great to go. You’ll find all sorts of information here.
  • Jet Blue- The website offers all regulations and policies when traveling with human ashes or remains. They just need a certified letter from crematorium or funeral director or certified copy of death certificate. For any information, contact at 1-800-538-2583
  • United- If you are looking for any information when traveling with human ashes or remains, visit the website of United Airlines. The airline only needs a certificate of health care provider or physician. Call them at 1-8—0864-8331
  • Frontier Airlines- This renowned airline is very serious when it comes to traveling with cremated remains or ashes. To know their policies call them on 1-800-432-1359
  • Southwest Airlines – the airlines accept cremated ashes as carry-on luggage but don’t accept as checked baggage. To know more about traveling with ashes on Southwest Airlines, call on 1-800-435-9792.
  • Delta Airline also has certain policies when it comes to traveling with human ashes and remains. To get more information, call on 1-8-221-1212
Michael Hummell