Guidelines for Transporting Cremation Ashes Through Airlines

If a person decides that when they die that they want to be cremated, more often than not the topic turns to what to do with the ashes. Some people are content to just have their ashes remain in an urn on the mantle. Others may wish a more spectacular disposal such as scattering the ashes in a Venice canal or even have them launched into space at a cost of approximately $12,500.00. However, unless the final resting place is just around the block from the funeral home, the first question that must be answered is how can the remains be legally transported from one point to the next? If the trip is to be made exclusively by private car there will be no problem. If airline transportation is used, failure to follow particular guidelines may subject the person carrying the ashes not only to frustrating delays, but may even be barred from flying altogether.

Due to the terrorists’ actions of September 11, 2001, the transportation of cremated remains has become an increasingly complicated process. Do not assume that if you put the cremation ashes in checked luggage there will be no problem. Some airlines will not accept cremation ashes as checked luggage. Others will allow cremated remains to be accepted on its aircraft only if you have in your possession a certified copy of the death certificate and an original/certified document or letter from the funeral director or crematorium that performed the cremation.

Even after confirming that a particular airline will allow you to transport an urn of cremated remains, there remains the matter of passing through the airport security checkpoints. The United States Transportation Security Agency has very specific guidelines that must be followed in order to allow the air transport of cremation ashes. These rules include but are not limited to:

-All containers must pass through an x-ray or scanning machine.

-If the container is made out of a material that generates an opaque image which prevents the TSA officer from clearly being able to see inside, then the container will not be allowed to pass through the security checkpoint.

It should be noted that the small amounts of cremation ashes that are sealed in memorial jewelry should not pose a problem at TSA checkpoints as it will be subjected to the same screening process as regular pieces of jewelry.

One of the best ways to ensure that there will be no problems in the air transportation of cremated remains will be to consult with the funeral home that preformed the cremation. They should be able to advice as to local airlines particular rules as well as provide scan-able ash containers that will allow you to fly with the remains with little or no hassle. If in doubt about any of the rules and regulations concerning the transportation of cremated remains, contact the airlines directly.