Direct Cremate

What You Need to Know Before Flying With Cremains

Are you planning on flying with the cremains of a loved one? Find out what you’ll need to have to bring cremains on a commercial flight.
Flying With Cremains
Young man looking out through window of the airplane during beautiful sunrise.

Direct cremation is more common today than ever before partly because of migration. When family members live far apart, direct cremation is the most logical solution for body disposition. Of course, a loved one may also choose to be cremated.

Many crematoriums, including Direct Cremate, can arrange to have the cremains of a loved one delivered, but some people don’t like the idea of the cremains being transported on their own. It’s not uncommon for family members to pick up the cremains from the crematorium and fly back home with them in their possession. Cremains are allowed on domestic flights within the U.S., as long as the requirements are met.

If that’s what you plan to do here are a few things that you’ll need to have on hand to get on the airplane with cremains. 

Certified Copy of the Death Certificate

As with many things related to the legalities of cremation, you’ll want to have a certified copy of the death certificate. The airline will want to verify the identity of the deceased and that their death is on record. 

Cremation Permit

A cremation permit is legal proof that a crematorium was given approval to perform a cremation for the deceased. Seeing the cremation permit assures the airline that the body disposition was legally performed.

Cremation Certificate

A cremation certificate, or certificate to cremate, is issued by the crematorium that performed the cremation. It includes vital information like the name of the deceased and the crematorium’s information. The cremation certificate may even include the name of the next of kin. 

This is the document that is most often required by airlines in order to fly with cremains.

It’s documentation that proves a cremation occurred, it was done legally, who the deceased was and the crematorium that was involved. If the next of kin is listed on the certificate to cremate it even tells the airline who should have possession of the cremains. If that’s the case, you’ll need to provide proof of identity, which is required for flying anyhow. That means the person who is flying with the cremains needs to be one of the next of kin. 

So in terms of documentation that you’ll need before boarding there are four key items:

  • Death certificate
  • Cremation permit
  • Cremation certification
  • Identification

These requirements are in place because the airline wants to ensure everything was done legally before transporting cremains, possibly across state lines. 

Cremation Container That Can Be X-Rayed

In addition to the documentation, you’ll need to have a cremation container that can be x-rayed for security purposes. Materials that can be x-rayed include:

  • Biodegradable paper or cardboard
  • Composites
  • Plastic
  • Wood

Metal urns are going to be out of the question since they can’t be x-rayed. The TSA recommends using a wood or plastic urn while traveling.

When in doubt, ask your funeral home or the crematorium for guidance. You can give Direct Cremate a call or text 24 hours a day. We work with the family to ensure the cremains are received in a timely manner, whether that means making the cremains available for pick up or arranging delivery.