Drones have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people using them to capture stunning footage, both videos and photos, all around the world. However, when it comes to travelling with a drone, it’s easier said than done. There are rules and regulations that need to be followed, and these often vary between airlines. We asked Josh from A Backpacker’s World to help us with the question, can you bring a drone on a plane, and to give an overview of the general rules for flying with a drone and airline-specific rules, both of which are included in this article.
Note: This post is written referencing TSA rules for travel from airports in the USA. Some countries may have different rules, so if you’re flying from an airport in another country, please look up the rules for the authority in that country.
Also, this article this does not replace checking the official sources, such as the airline you’re flying with and the rules and regulations of the destination you’re traveling to. Some locations are heavily restricted, and it may even be illegal to bring a drone into certain countries.
Can you take drones on planes?
The Transport Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for security screening across all airports in the States, and they say that you can travel with drones, as long as you follow your airline’s policies. Nonetheless, you are allowed to take drones through the security checkpoint in airports.
They do advise, however, that drones containing lithium batteries, fuel cells and certain parachute systems may be prohibited in baggage. Again, this is dependent on each airline.
Regulations are to be expected but being allowed to bring drones through security is a great start. The TSA also advise to check your drone is in regulation with the FAA guidelines for travelling with drones.
Without further ado, let’s explore the rules and regulations of the most popular airlines for taking a drone on a plane.
American Airlines have stated that you are allowed to travel with drones, as long as your battery does not exceed 160 Wh. There are also regulations on the size of drones you are allowed to bring on the aircraft.
Their site reads “Drone can be carried on if it or its box is less than 22 x 14 x 9 inches / 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters”.
A statement like this is hard to interpret, but it most likely means that you can bring a drone smaller than these dimensions in hand luggage, but drones larger than these dimensions need to be placed in checked baggage. You can find out more about American Airlines drone regulations by clicking here.
United also allow you to travel with drones on their aircraft. Their regulations state that drones are allowed in checked luggage, as long as they are packed securely.
If you are travelling with an expensive drone, it’s most likely going to be packed securely! United also allow you to bring a drone in your carry-on bag permitting the battery is below 160 watts.
Whether you are spending 2 days in Florida, 4 days in Rome or 2 weeks in Hawaii, flying with United is an easy option for bringing a drone on a plane as their regulations are quite relaxed. You can find out more about United’s drone regulations by clicking here.
Delta does not have a specific policy in regards to flying with a drone. They do have regulations surrounding batteries though, which require the battery to be in hand luggage as opposed to checked luggage.
You are also only allowed to carry two fuel cartridges (batteries). Again, these are required in hand luggage. Delta seem quite lenient in regard to drones, which is good news for drone owners. You can read more about their battery policy here.
Again, Southwest does not have a specific drone policy, but they do have a battery policy. Referred to as “Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs)”, for example, phones, laptops, and drones included, PEDs are allowed in either checked luggage or carry-on luggage.
Under one condition, the battery size requirements are met. You can travel with drones with batteries of up to 160 watts. Lithium batteries are limited to 2 grams of lithium content too. You can find out more about Southwest’s battery policy here.
JetBlue allows drones on their flights, in both checked bags and carry-ons. You can carry 2 spare lithium-ion batteries of up to 160 watts in your carry-on. You are also allowed unlimited batteries if they are below 100 watts, again in your carry-on.
Having such a relaxed drone policy, JetBlue is another great option for flying with drones. You can read more about their policy (weirdly under their sports gear section) by clicking here.
You are allowed to carry drones on a plane in your hand luggage, up to 100 watts. You are also allowed to carry a spare battery, but again, only in your hand luggage. Find Easyjet’s full policies on what you can and can’t bring on their planes by clicking here.
KLM are a Dutch-based airline, and they also have a very lenient policy for bringing a drone on a plane. Again, it’s more a lack-of drone policy.
They allow up to 15 electronic devices with batteries up to 100 watts. You are allowed to bring a drone with a battery of up to 160 watts, but you need to request permission in advance.
They don’t allow batteries of over 160 watts, ever. It’s also worth noting that these batteries that are allowed, can be in hand baggage or checked luggage. Read more here.
Lufthansa also has no specific drone policy and instead has battery policies. You are allowed to bring PEDs up to 100 watts in carry on luggage, and up to 3 in your checked luggage.
However, they have a policy which forbids electric-powered “means of transportation”. It’s unclear if drones are included in this or not.
More than likely, they are not included; there are many forums and reports of people traveling with drones in their hand luggage on Lufthansa. You can find their battery policy PDF by clicking here.
Air France is another great European airline, which thankfully allows the transport of drones on airplanes. Their site says that due to their lithium batteries, drones must comply with their battery regulations.
Drones with batteries over 160 watts are completely forbidden, but drones with batteries up to (or equal to) 160 watts are permitted in either cabin or checked luggage. You are also allowed to carry one spare battery in your cabin luggage, NOT checked luggage. Read more here.
If you want to take a drone on a plane with British Airways, they have a policy for “Lithium-ion batteries of 100 – 160Wh such as those used in video…with a Lithium Metal (non-rechargeable) content of a maximum of 8g.” (8kg = 17.6 pounds.)
The policy requires “operator approval”, but this is given automatically and you do not need to apply or even inform British Airways you are carrying a drone. You simply print out this page, as it says “For your convenience, you must pack a copy of this page with the devices and spare batteries to identify that you have our ‘operator approval’ to carry them.”
In other words, it seems anyone can have approval as long as they carry that page with them. You must carry the drone and a maximum of 2 spare batteries in your hand luggage.
Drones on Planes: FAQ
Check out the answers to some more frequently asked questions about taking a drone on a plane.
How to take drones on planes?
Most airlines allow drones in carry-on baggage. Some airlines allow drones in checked luggage, but to be safe, carry your drone in your carry-on baggage.
You are generally allowed drones up to 160 watts, but some airlines limit to 100 watts, so make sure to check with your airline before traveling.
Are drones allowed on carry on?
Most airlines do allow drones in cabin baggage. Typically, you can bring a drone up to 160 watts, however, some airlines limit this to 100 watts. Make sure to check with your airline for their drone policies before flying.
Can you take a drone through airport security?
Yes, the TSA allow drones through the security checkpoint in airports. However, airlines have their own rules and regulations for how to travel with drones. Make sure to check the rules for your airline before attempting to bring a drone onto a plane.
Can you bring a drone on a plane: Conclusion
And there you have it, a complete guide to “Can you bring a drone on a plane” along with the regulations for the most popular airlines. So to summarize, you most likely can travel with a drone, more likely in hand luggage, mostly up to 160 watts.
However, make sure to check your airline’s specific regulations above, or check their site for the most up-to-date information. Wherever you travel with a drone, have a great trip and make sure to capture some quality footage!
And as a reminder, be sure to research the drone laws of the country you’re going to before you pack for your trip.
About the author: This post was written by Josh Band from A Backpacker’s World. Josh loves to write about backpacking all around the world. From Southeast Asia to Europe, and everything in between, Josh loves to explore and spend as little as possible while doing so. Who doesn’t love budget travelling, right?!
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