There could be a variety of reasons that you need to fly with the cremated remains of your loved one. Perhaps your family plans to scatter the cremains over the ocean, and you need to travel to a coast by plane to get there.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- JetBlue’s Policy for Flying With Cremated Remains
- Tips and Alternatives to Flying WIth Cremated Remains
Maybe your loved one died in one location but wanted their remains to be interred in a mausoleum across the country. Or perhaps you are moving across the country, and you don’t want to entrust such precious cargo with anyone else.
No matter the reason, it can be hard to know how to fly with cremated remains, specifically if you’re looking to fly with JetBlue. Not all airlines share the same policies for flying with cremains, but as long as you review them and the TSA regulations ahead of time, you will be able to make the journey as stress-free as possible.
JetBlue’s Policy for Flying With Cremated Remains
Before even buying a ticket to fly with JetBlue, it is essential that you know that only human cremains can be brought with you on the aircraft. Pet remains, cremated or otherwise, are not allowed.
Flying with human remains requires that you have the appropriate documentation handy, such as:
- A certified copy of the death certificate.
- An original form or letter from the funeral director or crematorium that performed the cremation.
Give these documents to the JetBlue employee at your flight’s ticket counter. Please note that photocopies of these documents are not allowed.
It is also worth noting that these are the documents that JetBlue requires for domestic flights. If your travels eventually lead you to an international destination, it is up to you to know what documents you need to bring human cremains into another country. Do your research before you book your travel, or you may find yourself having a difficult time going through customs in a foreign land.
Cremated remains must be transported in an urn. TSA agents will screen the urn and its contents. Because of that, the airline’s website suggests that you use a lightweight urn, perhaps made of heavy cardboard, wood, or plastic. Another type of receptacle may be difficult for agents to screen.
You may consider transporting the cremains in the temporary urn that you receive from the crematorium. Usually, the ashes are first placed inside a durable plastic bag before being placed in the heavy cardboard container when returned to the family member. If you're purchasing a custom urn, like through a specialized provider such as Foreverence, you can ask them about their travel recommendations.
The airline’s website clearly states that urns and cremains that do not pass through the TSA screening checkpoint will not be allowed on the plane. Learn more about TSA-approved urns before attempting to fly with your loved one’s ashes.
Your loved one’s cremains cannot be checked and stored with other pieces of luggage, as the urn will be considered a carry-on item. JetBlue will allow you to have your regular number of carry-on items in addition to the urn.
Once you board the plane, the urn must be placed underneath the seat or in the overhead storage compartment. Travelers are not allowed to hold the urn during takeoff or landing.
For more information, visit JetBlue’s website. You may also find yourself in the position of having to travel for a loved one’s funeral or cremation ceremony, which may give you access to JetBlue’s discounted bereavement flights. Make sure to check before you book your travel.
Tips and Alternatives to Flying With Cremated Remains
Losing a loved one is stressful, and traveling during this time may be particularly trying. Here are some tips to consider if you find yourself having to fly with cremated remains.
Don’t open the urn during travel
It’s normal to be curious about what human remains look like, especially if you have never had the opportunity to see any. While you may want to take a reverent moment to peek inside the urn, do not do so while you are on your flight.
This may be the first opportunity that you have had with your loved one’s cremains, especially if you just picked them up and are returning them home. Regardless of the timing and your curiosity, trying to open an urn in flight can be a real recipe for disaster.
Travel with a lightweight urn
We already mentioned that TSA agents might not allow an urn on board if they cannot verify that the contents are safe for travel. They may have a more challenging time doing so if the urn is metal or made of a ceramic material.
Additionally, traveling with a carry-on that is heavy or awkwardly-shaped can also be cumbersome and difficult. Travel with an urn that is as light as possible and transfer the contents to its forever home when you arrive at your destination.
Make sure the urn can handle being turned on its side
The urn must be placed underneath the seat or in the overhead compartment during the takeoff and landing. Make sure the urn can be tucked into one of these niches without receiving damage.
Place the urn inside a bag or a box
Carrying an urn onto a plane may cause you to gain unwanted attention from other passengers. Some people may have an issue with sitting next to someone who is traveling with human remains. Even though most say that cremains are sterile, seeing them may cause another person to become uncomfortable.
For this reason, consider placing the urn, whether it looks like a traditional urn or not, inside a box or a bag.
Place the cremains in a plastic bag inside the urn
Even if the urn is sealed, damage may happen to the container during a turbulent flight. For this reason, make sure that your loved one’s cremains are protected by first putting them inside a sturdy plastic bag.
Most crematoriums place cremated remains inside a plastic bag before putting them into a permanent or temporary urn. To ensure that the remains are secure, make sure that the crematorium employee knows that you attend to fly with them. Perhaps they will be able to take extra steps to make sure they are secure enough for travel.
We all know how traumatic it is to lose a loved one, and people express grief in various ways. If you think that you may have a difficult time traveling with your loved one’s cremains, consider other options.
For example, you may want to learn how to ship remains with the USPS or another transport service. This may be a less expensive option, and it may also be easier on your mental health.
If you're flying with memorial jewelry, you don't need to worry about being stopped by TSA. In addition, if you purchase a memorial diamond from a service like Eterneva, you can use any official documentation or jewelry holders to make sure your wearable memorial jewelry arrives safely.
Having your loved one close while you fly in the form of a memorial diamond is a way to feel more peace during this difficult time. For many, it's a source of comfort and support.
Flying With Cremated Remains
If you are dreading flying with your loved one’s cremains, consider what you can do to make it as stress-free as possible. Consider bringing an engrossing novel or downloading multiple episodes of your favorite tv show. Block out the daylight with an eye mask and try to take a nap while in flight.
Remember, you are traveling with your loved one’s cremains because you are trying to fulfill their final wishes, which is a lovely thing to do.