Can you take drone on a plane?

It can be a fantastic idea to bring a drone along for your travels in order to take some incredible pictures of your family or to record a breathtaking landscape. There are other restrictions to take into account, though. You can feel more at ease with the aid of our guide.

Can you take drone on a plane?

This will vary according on the airline and the destination country. Before deciding to bring your drone on a flight, it is advised that you confirm with the airline and the local Civil Aviation Authority (or equivalent) of your destination. The following provides an overview of what passengers need to know when flying with drones on select airlines and outlines restrictions on drone usage in certain countries.

Can you take drone on a plane

Airline Policies for taking drone on a plane

  • Southwest Airlines

For those flying Southwest Airlines, including international journeys, drones are permissible but must comply with battery regulations. A limit of 20 spare lithium-ion batteries is enforced, all of which must be carried in hand luggage. Batteries over 100 watt-hours (Wh) are restricted to two per passenger, provided they don’t exceed 160 Wh. Batteries surpassing 160 Wh are strictly prohibited from both checked and carry-on luggage.

  • Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines’ specific drone policy may not be as detailed, but standard battery guidelines and TSA recommendations for drones apply. Passengers are advised to contact Delta’s Dangerous Goods Department via email well in advance (at least 10 days prior) to their flight to ensure compliance with any additional regulations.

  • Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines allows drones to be checked in as baggage, sans batteries, which must travel with the passenger in their carry-on. All batteries must be below 100 Wh and have their terminals securely covered to prevent short circuits. Fully charged batteries are discouraged.

  • American Airlines

Drones are allowed by American Airlines if the drone battery does not exceed 160 Wh. Drones, or their packaging, must fit within the dimensions of 22 x 14 x 9 inches (or 56 x 36 x 23 centimeters) to qualify as carry-on luggage.

  • JetBlue

JetBlue permits drones in both checked and carry-on luggage. Drones carried on must fit under the seat or in the overhead bin, with the battery installed and switched off throughout the flight. Up to two spare lithium-ion batteries ranging from 100 to 160 Wh are allowed as carry-on, provided their terminals are protected or they are stored in plastic bags. Drone batteries under 100 Wh are not subject to restrictions.

Countries with Drone Bans or Restrictions

  • Nicaragua

Drone operation in Nicaragua requires a permit, without which drones may be confiscated by customs officials.

  • Morocco

Only companies with special permits can operate drones in Morocco. Tourists found with drones will face confiscation and possible fines.

  • Fiji

Strict drone regulations in Fiji mandate that anyone wishing to operate a drone must apply for permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF).

  • Zambia

To operate a drone in Zambia, one must obtain several documents from the Zambia Civil Aviation Authority, including an RPAS Letter of Approval and a Pilot’s License, adhering to strict operational guidelines.

  • Cuba

Cuba prohibits drone imports, and any drones brought into the country will be confiscated unless a significant fine is paid for its return upon departure.

  • Saudi Arabia

Drones are generally banned in Saudi Arabia due to perceived public security risks, with few exceptions made for some commercial operations under strict regulations.

  • Egypt

Under the Egyptian Aviation Act, drone operation is prohibited across Egypt.

  • Kenya

Drone use in Kenya is banned unless specific permissions are granted by the Department of Defense and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

  • India

Although India recently lifted a total ban on drones, stringent regulations remain, particularly for foreign operators. Unauthorized drones detected at airports will be confiscated and not returned.

Countries with Drone Bans or Restrictions

How to Prepare Your Drone and Batteries for Travelling

When preparing to fly with a drone, ensuring both the drone and its batteries are properly prepared is crucial for a smooth experience at the airport and in compliance with airline regulations. Here’s a guide to getting your drone and batteries flight-ready.

Preparing Your Drone for Travel

  • Remove the Batteries: If possible, remove the batteries from the drone. This reduces risk and often aligns with airline requirements that batteries must be carried in hand luggage.
  • Secure the Drone: Use a dedicated drone case or a hard-sided suitcase with foam padding to protect your drone from damage during handling and flight.
  • Label Your Drone: Ensure your contact information is on both the drone and its storage case. This can help in the event that it’s misplaced.
How to Prepare Your Drone and Batteries for Travelling

What about traveling with drone batteries in US?

While the TSA does not prohibit drones, it does have regulations regarding the packaging of lithium-ion drone batteries, which effectively limits the ways in which you can travel with a drone.

The Federal Aviation Administration states that any spare, or otherwise uninstalled, lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, including drone batteries, are only permitted in carry-on luggage. It is not acceptable to check bags containing lithium-ion drone batteries.

Watt-hour (Wh) limitations in US

Furthermore, the maximum power of your drone battery has its limitations. Drones typically use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, however these batteries have a 100 watt-hour (Wh) rating. If they go over that, you have to get special permission from the airline. The TSA states that you are only permitted to carry two drone batteries with a capacity of 101–160 Wh.

Usually, the user manual for your drone contains information on the Wh. Furthermore, the majority of consumer drones won’t exceed the air travel cap. Enterprise and other powerful drones, however, frequently surpass that limit. For instance, airline restrictions prohibit the carrying of DJI’s TB65 Intelligent Flight Battery, which is 263 Wh and found in drones such as the DJI Matrice 350 RTK.

Drone travel: guidelines after you arrive

It is generally legal to fly a drone in the United States. While there are undoubtedly limitations on drone flying in National Parks and close to airports, drone flying is generally allowed in the United States. To see whether areas of the United States allow you to lawfully fly drones, visit the FAA’s B4UFLY website or mobile app.

But using drones abroad can be an entirely different matter. Drones are prohibited in other nations, therefore even if you bring a drone on a U.S. aircraft, the country’s Customs and Border Patrol agency may seize it. Don’t think that just because you used a drone to successfully board a flight, you can use it to walk on foreign land.

Excellent country-by-country drone legal master list available from UAV Coach. But regulations are subject to change, so you should constantly double-check the customs laws of the nation you are visiting.

Drones are strictly prohibited in some nations, such as Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Iran, and others, unless the government has granted a special exemption. Antarctica forbids drones as well.

While some nations may not outright forbid drone use, they may have their own regulations regarding drone registration, certification, licensing, drone insurance requirements, and permitted flying locations. Prior to taking off, check the drone legislation in your nation.

Respect other tourists, private property, wildlife, and residents wherever you travel.

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