Is it Allowed?
Yes! Most airlines let you travel domestically with cremated remains. Internationally, it depends on the country. It's a good idea to call your airline and double check; some require a certified copy of the death or cremation certificate. Most airlines do not allow cremated remains as checked baggage, however, they may allow you to pack it in your carry-on.
Getting Through Security
TSA may have different equipment at each airport and agents are under strict orders to never open a cremation urn. It's important for containers to be x-ray compatible. TSA will not allow materials that an x-ray cannot see through, including metal, stone, and ceramic.
TSA RULES FOR TRANSPORTING URNS AS CARRY-ON LUGGAGE
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in 2004 implemented a rule for transporting urns as carry-on luggage, requiring that urns must pass successfully through the x-ray machine. According to TSA, many urns generate an opaque image and will not be permitted through airport security, and urns will not be opened by security personnel.
TSA recommends that consumers purchase a temporary container made of wood, plastic or non-lead lined ceramic for transporting their loved one’s remains.
TSA also asks that cemeteries, crematories and funeral homes communicate to customers who plan to transport cremated remains via carry-on luggage the need to purchase a temporary urn along with their permanent urn or to purchase a permanent urn that meets the TSA requirement. It asks that suppliers who offer these types of urns and manufacturers who are able to create metal or standard ceramic urns with a removable container that can be successfully x-rayed also take note of the rule.
Following is the text of a letter received by the ICCFA General Counsel Robert Fells, Esq., from Bob Kapp of the Department of Homeland Security:
April 15, 2004
If the x-rayed image is opaque then the next option is to transport the remains in the belly of the plane as checked baggage. The crematory container will undergo testing for explosive devices and, if cleared, will be permitted as checked baggage.
The Transportation Security Administration has implemented a new procedure affecting those passengers attempting to transport a crematory container on an airplane as carry-on baggage. You are still allowed to carry-on a crematory container, but it MUST pass through the x-ray machine. If the container is made of a material that generates an opaque image and prevents the security screener from clearly being able to see what is inside, then the container will not be allowed through the security checkpoint. In respect to the deceased, under NO circumstances will a screener open the container at any time, even if the passenger request that this be done.
Most travelers carrying an urn are understandably hesitant to check the remains of their love ones in checked baggage. For these reasons the TSA strongly recommends that you suggest to your patrons planning on traveling with an urn that they purchase a temporary crematory container made of a material that CAN be successfully x-rayed, such as wood, plastic, or NON-lead lined ceramic. Even if they want to purchase a permanent metal or lead lined urn, they MUST have a temporary container that can be x-rayed for air travel.
As part of our outreach and education we have contacted the main funeral home associations on this matter and they have promised to make their members aware of our policy changes. Your portion of this outreach and education is important and will curb many of the urn related customer service problems.
Thank you for your support and participating in our goal of "Providing World Class Security and World Class Customer Service."
Please let me know if I can provide any additional information.
Department of Homeland Security
Transportation Security Administration
Denver International Airport