Can I take a drone on a plane? – ah, so you’re venturing out to record in some new location?! You’ll want to know if you’re airline allows drones to be packed away in your bag, otherwise you’ll be left severely disappointed at the airport. We answer that very question in this article.
Can I take a drone on a plane?
Travelling with a drone really isn’t that difficult but as with anything in life that’s worth doing, you’re going to want to be prepared. So we’ve done the hard work for you to help you plan a little better and answer your question “Can I take a drone on a plane?” So follow our advice and take note.
Due to small cabin sizes, it’s always good to check what you can take on a flight. This is true if you’re deciding on taking a drone on a plane. And depending on the size and weight of your drone, it can often mean that international travel with drone accessories means stowing it away in a safe drone hard shell case. However, there are always risks to this and can get damaged.
On the other hand, if you’re thinking of taking a drone on a plane, there are drone backpacks and bags that are designed for carry on. In fact, DJI have created an amazing Phantom 3 backpack and not to forget the efforts Lowepro have gone to create the Lowepro QuadGuard BP X2 and Viewpoint BP 250. So there are always options.
Can I take a drone a plane because I have a larger drone?!
If you do have a slightly larger drone, much like the Yuneec Typhoon, then you’ll want to think about a drone hardshell case. Many smaller planes simply won’t have room for all of your equipment so it may be worth checking in a bag to store your drone away.
We tend to do both. We pack all of our accessories in our carry on luggage and our drone is checked in underneath the plane. That way, we feel confident knowing that our memory cards, batteries and gimbal are safe with me.
LiPo Battery on Airplane
So can I take a drone a plane – I hear you still say. Firstly, we all know that LiPo batteries can cause a problem. LiPo (Lithium Polymer) batteries are extremely delicate, so much so they can be considered dangerous if not handled correctly. So what is the IATA lithium battery guidance? Due to a number of recent incidents regarding short-circuiting, taking a LiPo battery on airplane carriers has become a small issue.
TSA drone policy regarding IATA lithium battery guidance – taking a drone on a plane can be affected by a recent update of carry on regulations. As of April 1st 2016, IATA have stated:
- All international shipments of lithium batteries are prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft.
So how does this affect taking a drone on a plane? You only want to go on holiday. Rechargeable batteries such as lithium ion batteries must always be carried with your hand luggage, including your drone batteries.
But the IATA have had rules and regulations in place for some time when it comes to sending Lithium batteries up in the air. (Li-Ion and LiPo batteries):
- When carrying spare batteries up to 100WH (watt hours): hand luggage only, max weight of allowed hand luggage
- When carrying spare batteries from 100WH up to 160WH (max): hand luggage only, max 2 batteries per passenger
These regulations only apply to personal use. But what exactly is personal use? This is entirely up to the airline. So what ever their decision is, it is vital that each battery is in a sealed plastic bag/ dedicated fireproof bag, for LiPo batteries. Not to forget covering exposed areas and wires with duct tape as this is mandatory.
In addition, both, Li-Ion and LiPo batteries are strictly prohibited in checked baggage. They are also not allowed to exceed 160WH. Lithium metal batteries are totally prohibited. Lithium metal batteries do require extra measures.
In my honest opinion, this is a positive step as it creates a much more safe environment then flying.
But do remember that each airline carries its own regulations regarding LiPo on airplane.
American airlines drone policy
American Airlines drone policy follows the simple rule. You can take your drone on board as long as the battery doesn’t exceed 160Wh. If you decide to take your drone, it needs to be in a box no bigger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches. So American Airlines drone policy says yes to drones. Can I take a drone on a plane? You can with AA.
United Airlines Drone policy
This is a funny one. United Airlines Drone Policy doesn’t exist. So international travel with a drone should be fine? Not quite. You can take your drone on board but the lithium battery cannot exceed 110Wh and all spare batteries can be carried in carry on luggage. Can I take a drone on a plane? You can with UA.
Delta Airlines drone policy
What is Delta Airlines drone policy? Again, it isn’t specific regarding drones. But, as with most airlines, taking a drone on a plane means that lithium batteries must not exceed 160Wh. If you decide to take more than one battery, pass one of the batteries to your travel friend as it’s 160Mh per person, but it’s worth checking this as IATA state two 160Mh batteries per person can be carried on board. Can I take a drone on a plane? You can with Delta.
Can I take a drone on a plane?
Can I take a drone a plane? Yes. But the biggest issue seems to be with lithium batteries on board. As mentioned, TSA drone policy only allows 160Mh batteries (2 per person). But, always check with your airline whether you can take a LiPo battery on airplane.
Taking a drone on a plane – Get through security
It’s worth planning ahead for this one. Make sure that all of your drone accessories are easy to take out. There’s nothing worse than digging deep for that one battery at security. And we’ve been there. Put batteries in their own separate tray. Don’t be surprised when security take an interest in your drone batteries. So just state what they are for and that you’ve checked with the airline, oh and smile too. We do get asked what the batteries are for but we often receive more hassle with hair curlers and travel hair dryers.
So, can I take a drone on a plane? YES. But check your airlines policy regarding lithium batteries and whether taking a drone on a plane is ok.