Air Travel and Cremation Urns

Posted by on Jan 31, 2013

traveling with urns

Updated on August 2, 2019

Traveling with a Cremation Urn

It is difficult enough these days to travel with the necessary added security to ensure our safety. We are not always clear on the rules. When you need to transport a loved ones ashes it can be difficult as best.

The information below has been taken from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

The airlines understand that there is additional stress when traveling with cremation remains. TSA officers are trained to treat all travelers’ belongings with care and respect and will not open containers with cremated remains, even if the passenger requests this be done. If the X-ray operator cannot approve the remains filled urn for ashes for clearance thought the machine the officer may apply other, non-intrusive ways of resolving the situation. If the officer still can’t determine if the urn will pass inspection to allow the item on board, the urn will not be permitted.

It is very important to follow these steps to assist making your travel plans go more smoothly.

You may carry cremation containers with you on airline flights if you follow these two rules:

  • Carry-on: You may bring aboard a cremation container only as as part of you carry on bag, The cremation container will pass through the x-ray machine as will anything you bring on the plane. The container must be made of a material that the x-ray machine can capture an image through. No metal, stone or hardwood containers are allowed. If the container does not allow security to see through the urn, then it will be rejected and not allowed on the plane.
  • Baggage you check: you may transport the cremation container or urn for ashes as part of your checked baggage as long as it too has be x-rayed and passes the security check. It is necessary for all of our safety that security be able to screen and recognize all items boarding the plane either as carry on or checked baggage. You must check with the airline first because the airlines reserve the right not to check cremation ashes as baggage if they choose. cremation urns

Cremation Container Materials:

TSA cannot state for certain whether your particular container will pass through an x-ray machine. If you haven’t purchased one yet, the TSA suggests that you purchase a temporary or permanent cremation container made of a lighter weight material that can be can be successfully x-rayed.

Security and or screening agents will never open an urn or ashes container, even if it is refused and you request they look to confirm they are indeed ashes. This is out of respect for you and your deceased loved one.

Even if you produce the required documents according to the airlines rules that does no guarantee that the urn will be allowed to board with you. The urn must absolutely be able to pass proper x-ray screening.

Most airlines do not allow cremation ashes to be checked in baggage.

These airlines accept cremation ashes as carry-on ONLY:

  • American Airlines: No special documentation is needed if you’re traveling domestically, but please contact your local consulate if you’re traveling internationally to get the regulations that apply for each country.
  • Southwest: No special documentation is needed for Domestic U.S. OR international flight.
  • United: Requires documentation such as a death certificate or document from funeral home or crematorium.

Delta allows checked baggage, shipped as cargo and carry on. However a death certificate and cremation certificated is necessary.

Check with your air carrier regarding other rules and restrictions that may apply.

Published by the TSA – Transportation Security Administration – – 866-289-9673

The above cremation urn air travel material has excerpts from the TSA Security Administration website.