Travelling with a drone can seem intimidating. After all, you’ve spent a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a small device that could easily break or get confiscated by airport security.
Today we’re going to cover whether drones are allowed on planes and give you all the essential drone travel tips we know!
Yes, drones are allowed on planes. Drones are allowed past the TSA checkpoint but different airlines have different rules and policies regarding drones. If your drone’s battery is 100Wh or less, then you’re allowed as many batteries as you want. If your drone’s battery is 101-160Wh, then you will need approval from the airline. Bringing a battery that’s over 160Wh is prohibited for many reasons.
In most cases, the drones themselves are not the problem. The problem lies within the drone.
By this we are referring to the batteries that you bring in your drone including any spare drone batteries you may have on you. We’ll get into this later.
Disclaimer: This post will primarily be focusing on US laws and regulations but these tips can be applied to most airlines and countries.
- TSA Rules On Drones
- Are Drone Batteries Allowed On Planes?
- Can You Take A Drone In A Carry On?
- Can You Take A Drone In Checked Luggage?
- Which Countries Have Banned Drones Entirely?
- Safety Tips And Tricks When Flying With A Drone On A Plane
TSA Rules On Drones
The Transportation Security Administration(TSA) handles security in transportation services in the United States. It was created in 2001 as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The TSA rules are fairly relaxed in regard to bringing a drone inside an airport. They do not find drones to be a security threat and usually allow you to bring your drone in the airport.
They however recommend you read the airline’s policy to make sure you are allowed to bring a drone and a drone battery on board your carry on or checked luggage.
Are Drone Batteries Allowed On Planes?
One of the leading factors that determine whether you’re allowed to carry a drone on a plane is the drone batteries you bring with the drone.
Different drones have different batteries with different watt-hours(Wh).
The Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) safety rules on carrying a drone or batteries state that you are allowed as many Lithium Polymer(LiPo) batteries as you want as long as they are under 100Wh.
You are allowed 2 batteries if they are between 101-160Wh but you will most likely be required to get approval from your airline before bringing it on board.
You are not allowed to bring a battery that’s over 160Wh on any flight in the US.
Batteries can be very dangerous, especially when exposed to the conditions on a plane flying at 42,000 feet. LiPo batteries have been prone to catch fire and some batteries have even exploded!
This is why some airlines have outright banned drones altogether such as Allegiant air. This is also the cause for the strict rules some airlines have on bringing drones on their flights.
Here is a short list of drones and their battery sizes according to Improvephotography.com:
Does your drone surpass the 160Wh limit?
How to calculate the watt-hours of your drone’s battery
To calculate the watt-hours of your drone’s battery, you will need to multiply the volts by the ampere hours:
Wh= V ⨉ Ah
For example, a drone with a 4,7V battery and 20 amp hours would amount to 94 watt-hours.
Remember, these rules are mainly for the US and if you plan on travelling internationally with your drone, you should check the regulations for that specific country before doing so.
Can You Take A Drone In A Carry On?
When travelling, many prefer packing their drones in a carry on baggage in order to ensure it’s safe arrival.
In most cases, you are allowed to bring your drone in a carry on.
This will depend on whether the airline itself allows drones to be brought on board.
Know that some airlines make you pay extra for a carry on baggage.
According to the TSA, if your airline allows drones on board, then you should treat is just like any other electronic at the security screening.
You should remove the drone from your bag and place it in a separate tray just like you would do for your other electronics that are larger than a phone.
You should think about buying a case specifically for your drone if you want to ensure it stays safe. We’ll take about this later.
Can You Take A Drone In Checked Luggage?
This again will depend on the airline, but most allow you to do this.
Make sure you don’t pack any loose lithium batteries as these are prohibited.
You may be able to have a drone and it’s battery in a checked baggage, but you will not be able to have any spare batteries in the checked baggage. You’ll need to place spare batteries in a carry on.
Checked baggage is usually mistreated and thrown around and in some cases lost. You should be sure to keep all your very valuable items in a carry on baggage.
There have also been many cases where a checked baggage has been put on a different flight entirely and people have also had their belongings stolen from their checked luggage.
These are common occurrences you should be aware of. If you care for your drone and you want to keep it in the best state it can be in, then you will need to pack it very well inside your checked luggage.
Alternatively, you should just bring it in a carry on and invest in a drone case.
If you’d like to know certain airline policies and rules regarding drones such as United airlines, Spirit airlines and more, then click here!
Which Countries Have Banned Drones Entirely?
When traveling with a drone, it is very important to take note of the countries that have banned drones entirely.
Countries that have banned drones include:
These countries may have banned drones in order to learn more about them so that they can create appropriate laws for their respective countries.
Learning the laws on drones in a country is very important when going on vacation for example as you do not want to bring your drone just to get it taken once you arrive in that country.
This is a terrible thing to happen to you. The above countries are just a few of the countries that have banned drones, so doing your own research is essential!
Safety Tips And Tricks When Flying With A Drone On A Plane
Here are a few essential drone travel tips in order to keep your drone safe:
- Plan ahead of time by finding out your airline’s rules and policies
- Keep each battery in a separate compartment to avoid a short circuit
- Cover the terminals on your drone’s batteries
- Travel with a hard shell case for your drone/Drone specific case
If you have to put your drone in a checked luggage, have a smaller hard shell case that has all the equipment, then put that into a larger suitcase and put soft things like clothes in between them
Regular carry on baggage vs hard shell cases for travelling with a drone
Regular carry on baggage does not provide much protection for your drone and accessories. All your valuable items may hit against each other which can lead to damage.
This is due to the sometimes few compartments inside the carry on suitcase which does not properly separate all the items.
Buying a hard shell case made for drones can not only help protect the drone, but can also provide excellent protection for your drone accessories such as controllers or drone batteries.
Travelling with your drone can be stressful, but we hope this post reduced some of this stress and gave you some good ideas on what you could do to make your trip easier.
Remember to check the countries laws on drone use and the rules on bringing a drone on the specific airline you are flying with before travelling with your drone.
Have you ever had a bad experience with your airline when trying to travel with your drone?