Losing someone close to us can be difficult, but many people find comfort in saying goodbye to their loved one. If the deceased has chosen to be cremated, it may be necessary to fly with the ashes to disperse them or bring them to a new resting place. Fortunately, most airlines allow you to fly with your loved ones' ashes in checked or carry-on baggage as long as you meet a few basic requirements.
Method 1 of 2: Seeking Your Options
Step 1. Contact the airline directly to find out about the regulations
Each airline has its own rules regarding the transport of burial ash during a flight. You can carry your loved ones' ashes as carry-on baggage, or you may have to check the urn with the rest of your baggage in the cargo hold.
- Some airlines require cremation ashes to be transported in the cargo hold.
- If you have many flight options, call each airline individually and choose the one that best suits your needs.
Step 2. Contact the embassy if you are traveling to another country
Some countries have no restrictions or requirements for traveling with cremation ashes, while others do not allow you to enter the country. When calling the consulate or embassy, ask for a complete summary of travel requirements for transporting crematory ash.
As legislation can change suddenly, and websites are not always updated immediately, it is best to call rather than rely on information found online
Step 3. Ask the funeral home for assistance if you need additional help
If, for some reason, you are unable to purchase a flight that allows you to take the ashes, contact the funeral home that prepared them and ask them to advise you on your next step.
Some countries only allow the sending and receiving of ashes to and from licensed funeral directors. If you are traveling internationally, you may need the funeral director to make arrangements for your trip
Step 4. If you plan to scatter the ashes, get written permission
Before taking a trip to scatter your loved one's ashes, make sure you can scatter them where you want them. Ask for written permission if the destination is private property and be sure to know the restrictions if it is a national park or other protected area.
In Yosemite National Park, for example, visitors can scatter ash as long as they are away from the public and at least 300 feet away from the water
Method 2 of 2: Preparing to Fly
Step 1. Choose a plastic or cardboard container to transport the ashes
The reservoir containing the ash will need to be radiographed prior to being released for flight. The container should be made of a scannable material such as cardboard, fabric, plastic, wood or clear glass.
- If the ultimate container for storing your loved one's ashes is made of a material that cannot be X-rayed, such as ceramic, stone, or lead-based metal, place the ashes in a temporary traveling box and take the ultimate container separately.
- In general, security officers do not open a box containing ash, either out of respect for the deceased or for their own safety, so it is important that they can verify the contents from the X-ray scan.
- The maximum carry-on size for major airlines is 55x35x48 cm, so make sure your container fits these measurements.
Step 2. Ask the funeral director to place the ashes in a sealed plastic bag
To prevent the ashes from spilling, it should be requested that they be placed in a plastic bag inside the travel container.
If you plan to keep the ashes in an urn, you can carefully transfer them from the plastic bag to an urn when you reach your destination
Step 3. Obtain a certified copy of the cremation declaration and a death certificate from the funeral home
You can order these documents directly from the funeral home that prepared the ashes. While some airlines don't require this to fly with the ashes, others do. In any case, the documentation will make it easier for the airline to verify the content.
If you are traveling to the United States and your documents are in a different language, you will need to obtain a sworn translation into English to accompany your cremation and death certificates
Step 4. Arrive early for your flight if you experience any difficulties
You may need to present your cremation certificate and death certificate to customs before you can fly. If your airline or country allows you to carry the urn or ashes in a carry-on bag, it may take some extra time to pass the security check.