Flying Ashes (Cremated remains); What you need to know

Flying Ashes: When a loved one passes, the last thing on your mind is how to transport their remains. Airlines are used to helping passengers fly with ashes. Read on for how to do it.

Introduction – Flying Ashes

When you are grieving, flying with ashes may feel like a stressful thing to do, but it needn’t be. Flying with ashes is allowed by most airlines, who will likely have a policy on it, so you know what you need to do. There are also companies that will fly ashes as cargo if you need to return a loved one home, or if you plan to have a ceremony at a favorite international spot.

Can you take cremated ashes on a plane?

Yes, generally, you can bring cremated remains on a plane. This applies to flying with animal or human remains. As a passenger, you can fly with ashes. However, there are also companies that arrange for cremated ashes to be transported nationally, or internationally.  

Most airlines will have a policy that you need to follow. This is to ensure compliance with security, as well as protecting other passengers.

flying ashes
Most airlines are used to helping passengers with the transport of ashes

What are the rules and regulations for flying with ashes?

In Australia, there is no legislation that covers flying with cremated remains, but each airline will have its own policy on how passengers can fly with ashes. Different countries may also have declaration rules when it comes to arriving with cremated ashes, and the paperwork that needs to accompany the flying ashes.

Check with your airline before departure to ensure you know the rules and can adhere to them.

Our Guide to Sending Human Ashes Abroad – Urnsforashes.co.uk

Flying with Ashes – how much does it cost?

If you are flying with the ashes as a passenger, there is usually no additional cost. You can have ashes in your checked or carry-on baggage, so the cost of transport is included in your luggage weight allowance.

There may be a cost when organising the correct documents, such as a copy of the death certificate, which is about $50 in Australia.

If you are flying ashes via a transport company, then a fee applies. As a guide, flying ashes from Australia to the UK starts at about $1,300.  

Are there particular airlines that allow cremated remains onboard?

Most airlines allow flying with ashes and are likely to have a policy on it, that you must follow. It’s best to contact the airline before flying, to check on what their requirements are for flying with human ashes.

flying ashes, urn
You will need to check with the individual airline as to what their rules and policies are

Can you take cremated remains on international flights?

You can take cremated ashes on most international flights, but you should check the rules for any countries you are passing through to ensure you adhere to local laws when arriving and departing. This includes countries you may only be stopping over in during transit.

Flying with Ashes: How to Take Ashes on a Plane » Urns | Online (usurnsonline.com)

Flying Ashes – How do you do it?

Most major airlines permit flying with ashes, both internationally and interstate. While you may not have to include it on a declaration card, some airlines may require documentation, such as an official document or copy from a funeral director, identifying the contents as cremated ashes. You may also need the death certificate as evidence.

You can fly with the ashes as part of your checked baggage or carry-on luggage. You will have to meet a number of requirements, such as the container containing the flying ashes must be free of soil. It also must be a sealed container to prevent leaks. Plus, you are not allowed to open the container while you are flying with ashes.

The container should be scannable by security x-ray. This means metal urns are out. The funeral director will usually package the remains in a sealed plastic container, or temporary urn and this is the best way to fly with ashes. You can also purchase a travel urn, that will comply with airline requirements.

Travelling with cremated remains or ashes | Jetstar

“The container holding the ashes must stay closed throughout your journey.”

JETSTAR – Australia
flying ashes
Most major airlines will allow you to transport your loved one’s remains safely

How much do ashes weigh?

Cremated remains average between 2kg to 2.7kg. they consist of mainly bone ashes, so the height of the deceased is likely to influence the weight of cremated remains. When flying with ashes, it’s important to factor in the weight of the packaging.

If you are transporting ashes as part of your baggage allowance, it’s important to factor in the weight of the packaged ashes. Some airlines set a weight limit for flying ashes, for example, stipulate a maximum of 7kg.

Travelling with Ashes (cremated remains) and Coffins (qantas.com)

What else do I need to know about Flying with Ashes?

Grief can make the thought of flying with ashes overwhelming, but airlines are well versed at helping to make it happen. Contact the airline before departure and they can help get your loved one to the right destination, for the send-off they deserve.  

  • Tell your funeral director you plan to fly with ashes so the ashes are in a suitable container that is sealed and strong
  • Check with the chosen airline, and inform them well in advance that you plan to fly with ashes, so you have enough time to meet their requirements
  • Organise the required documents (death certificate/cremation certificate etc)
  • Ideally, have the ashes in your carry-on bags, rather than your checked bags, so they don’t go missing
  • If you are flying with ashes on an international flight, check their border requirements in advance, including any stopovers
  • If you plan to scatter ashes at an overseas destination, check local laws

“There are no requirements for bringing human ashes into Australia or exporting ashes out of Australia.”

Aust Govt – Dept of Health

Travelling with human ashes | Bethel Funerals

flying ashes, urn
If you’re flying with ashes, the ashes need to be in a sealed container, and ideally, not made of metal

If you’re looking for cremation urns, Amazon have a few options:

Wood Urn, Professional Wooden Urns for Human Ashes...
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Airline Safe Plastic Temporary Travel Cremation urn for...
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Airline Safe Plastic Temporary Travel Cremation urn for...
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Secure Cremation Urn Bag and Temporary Urn TSA Standard -...
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Secure Cremation Urn Bag and Temporary Urn TSA Standard -...
  • Secure Cremation Urn Bag with temporary urn
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Flying Ashes – Summary

The loss of a loved one can be a stressful time. If you need to transport your loved one’s ashes by plane, it’s important to check on the airline’s requirements. Airlines are used to helping passengers fly with ashes and will likely have a policy on it. It’s important to check in advance what those requirements are, so you have enough time to organise things like a suitable urn and supporting documentation. 

Alternately, if you can’t fly with the ashes as a passenger, some companies can help transport your loved one’s remains safely, on their way to their final resting place. 

You might want to read our other articles on:

How To Become A Pilot In Australia

A Layover Guide To Changi Airport, Singapore

Airlines That Pay For Pilot Training

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Ken

Ken is a passionate aviator, a professional pilot and flight instructor. He has over 17 years of flight experience across hundreds of aircraft ranging from recreational, aerobatic, historic, commercial and military aircraft, training hundreds of students along the way. Find out more.

Ken has 93 posts and counting. See all posts by Ken

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