There are many airlines with different regulations regarding cremated remains, but with Alaska Airlines, you are able to fly with cremated remains. While the company does not have a clearly stated policy about it on their company website, it is worth calling customer service prior to heading to the airport to receive proper guidance.
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It will also help to request to have a copy of your conversation be emailed to you at the end to make sure you have proof that those specific guidelines were given to you by a representative of the company.
Aside from consulting with Alaskan Airlines, make sure you consult with the Transportation Security Administration to travel with cremains without issue.
As families are now spread out across longer distances, it is not unexpected that you may need to fly with your loved one's cremains. If you’re curious about how to travel with an urn containing the remains of a loved one, here's what we learned from Alaska Airlines representatives.
Alaska Airlines' Cremated Remains Policy
Both human and pet remains are allowed on Alaska Airlines. The airline understands that you may be traveling with cremains to scatter your loved one's ashes in a preferred location. They also understand that your loved one may have died away from home, and you may be flying the remains home for the funeral.
Regardless of your reasons for flying with cremains, take care to read and understand the airline's policy before you head to the airport.
Here are the general policies that we learned about bringing cremains on Alaska Airlines flights. The TSA will screen the cremains (inside the urn) at the security checkpoint. It is recommended that you use a TSA-approved urn, so that the screening machines will easily see the contents of the container.
If the urn is made of a material that prevents the TSA from clearly seeing the contents, the container will not be allowed through security. This means that the container must travel as checked baggage, so you won't have access to it during the flight.
With this being said, if the container does not clear the x-ray machine by the TSA, it may not clear the x-ray machine that looks at checked baggage. If the container does not clear as checked baggage, it won't be allowed on the flight.
Most crematoriums use a standard container when returning the cremains to the family. First, the staff first puts the ashes inside a durable plastic bag, and is sealed and placed inside a sturdy cardboard container. If you know that you will be flying with the cremains, make sure the crematorium staff knows. They may be able to secure the package to make it safer for travel.
The most important thing to remember is that the urn should be a leak-proof container. Having the cremains first placed inside a plastic bag before being put in the urn will ensure this.
No documentation is needed to travel with cremains. This is a change of the original policy, as the airline used to require that cremains were accompanied with death certificates or a document from the crematorium. However, even if the airline does not require that you bring paperwork, it is always better to be safe than sorry if someone asks.
If the TSA agent clears the item for on-board travel, know that Alaska Airlines will count this as one carry-on. Please plan accordingly and check other bags if you want to have the cremains stay with you during the flight.
Like all other carry-on bags, the urn must be able to be placed in either the overhead compartment or under the seat during takeoff and landing. Urns that do not fit in either location must be checked, as you are not allowed to hold bags in your lap either time.
If you're wearing a memorial diamond from Eterneva or other memorial jewelry, this should be fine. These aren't treated in the same way as an urn carrying larger portions of ashes.
Alaska Airlines says that ashes from most international locations are accepted. The policy was fine-tuned in 2018, to say that travelers coming from Canada, Costa Rica, or Mexico cannot travel with powder-like substances 12 ounces or larger as a carry-on unless the substance is cremated human remains. Screening officials will inspect these remains at the security checkpoint and boarding gate.
This doesn't mean that if you are traveling with cremains on an international flight that they will be accepted at your destination. Make sure you research the other country's policies before boarding your flight.
Special rules for members of the military
If a military escort is accompanying human ashes of a fallen soldier in an urn, email FallenSoldierGlobal@alaskaair.com with the record locator, locations, and travel dates.
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Quick Tips for Traveling With Pet or Human Cremains
We know that these regulations may give you pause. After all, they aren't clearly written on the airline's website, and your experience is also dependent upon the TSA agents in charge.
Here are some tips for traveling with pet or human cremains.
Do not open the urn during the flight
You may be curious to see the cremains inside the urn. This is only natural, especially if you have never seen cremated remains.
Do not peek in the urn during the flight, even to check if they were first placed inside a plastic bag. Unexpected turbulence may occur during the flight, which may cause some of the cremains to spill.
Make sure the urn can be turned on its side
Do not expect to be able to hold the urn during the entire flight. If it does meet the standard that enables it to be brought on the plane as a carry-on, it will still need to be stowed in either the overhead compartment or under the seat.
For this reason, consider traveling with the urn inside a sturdy bag or box to keep it from getting damaged.
Travel with a lightweight urn
Lugging heavy, awkward containers is difficult during travel, even if the container holds your loved one's remains.
Make it easier on yourself and use a lightweight, travel-ready urn during the trip. Transfer the cremains to a more permanent receptacle when you arrive.
If you plan to travel with your urn or a transportation urn, talk to your urn provider. They're the ones who are best equipped to help you through this process. If you're working with a custom urn provider like Foreverence, this would be worth discussing based on your travel needs.
Consider shipping the cremains
You may be able to save time and money by shipping cremains with the USPS. It may feel a bit unsettling, but it can make all the difference in certain situations where you may be unable to travel with cremains.
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Other Considerations When Traveling With Cremains
Of course, some people may have a small amount of cremains with them wherever they go. Some mourners purchase small urns to be worn around the neck as a pendant on a necklace. Others wear cremation jewelry that has hidden compartments where cremains are placed.
No special consideration needs to be made when traveling with this small amount of ashes. However, when traveling with an urn containing your loved one’s cremated remains, you may feel emotional while in transit. Rest assured that airlines and airports have dealt with these kinds of scenarios, If you prepare ahead of time, you can make it less stressful.