As a drone owner, do you love traveling and capturing images with your unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) camera? Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Can I take my drone on a plane?”
Drones are undoubtedly among the important innovations today. Aerial or drone photographers both professional and amateur alike share their experiences about using the electrifying device.
UAVs are primarily used both in the military and by civilians. Drones can be employed during high-risk military missions.
In these scenarios, they are referred to as “unmanned combat aerial vehicle” or UCAV. Moreover, the military uses drones in obtaining necessary information or battlefield intelligence.
During wars, the military use drones as aerial and ground ammunition which imitates a missile or aircraft of the opponent. UAVs can be used to deliver cargo and other essential materials, too.
These state-of-the-art equipment are also used for studying how to develop these types of technologies.
Drone owners who are not in the military usually employ their technology for collecting information, monitoring their vast agricultural lands, and for aerial photography.
As you can see, it is quite exciting to own UAVs. However, there are restrictions involved when traveling with them.
Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Rules on UAVs
Aerial or drone photographers usually travel. They visit exotic destinations which are worthy to be photographed.
Myriads of drone photography landscapes are listed online. Among them are the sunset, snow-capped mountains, and twilight cityscapes.
Also, aerial photographers embark on a journey to capture shorelines where bodies of land and water converge.
Uninterrupted patterns of land and extensive shadows that lead to revealing the actual subject are also popular drone photography themes.
Other intriguing subjects are swamps, lakes, cow ponds, and rivers. Of course, professional drone photographers cannot just stay in one place.
They have to travel with their image-capturing equipment with them. If you are among these professional aerial photographers who are just beginning their journey, you may wonder, “Can I take my drone on a plane?”
The best way to answer this important query is by referring to what the federal government stipulates.
According to the website of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), carrying drones are permitted through the checkpoint of the airport.
Now, to know if bringing them on the plane on your carry-on luggage and checked bags are allowed, you have to check with the specific airline that you will be flying with.
The TSA advises that you check with your airline for their policy regarding bringing drones on a plane.
Examples of Airline Policies about Bringing Drones
According to DroneEnthusiast.com, airline companies have different regulations about passengers who decide to take their drones along with them aboard the plane. Have a look at these significant airlines:
The Restricted Items list of Delta Airlines has no rules or policies regarding carrying drones on their passengers’ luggage, be it the carry-on or the checked bags.
But if you would like to be entirely sure that you can bring your device with you, it is highly recommended to e-mail the Dangerous Goods Department of Delta Airlines ten days prior to your flight.
When it comes to bringing lithium-ion batteries, the airline firm allows passengers to have singular batteries which are up to 160-watt-hours in their carry-on luggage.
However, those batteries will be prohibited if they exceed the prescribed watt-hours. Lithium-ion batteries that are installed on a personal gadget can also be placed in the carry-on luggage, checked, and transported.
The spare of these batteries which are not installed should be placed on the carry-on bag. Travelers should observe the two-spare battery limit between the restrictions of 100 and 160-watt-hours.
Any personal electronic device that comprises either lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries must be transported via a carry-on bag. They should never be put in checked luggage.
If this is not possible, these gadgets should be completely switched off. This will protect these devices against any possible accidental destruction.
American Airlines has a very lucid rule regarding traveling with drones aboard the plane. The company permits a traveler to bring a drone.
But the battery should not exceed 160-watt-hours. Moreover, the UAV is allowed onto the plane provided that the box is less than 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches.
Using a metric system, this translates to 56 X 36 X 23 centimeters. American Airlines has a different battery policy.
Travelers should take off the batteries from any of their electronic gadgets and their drones from their checked baggage. They should be placed in carry-on luggage or a separate plastic bag.
Passengers can bring unlimited lithium-ion batteries aboard American Airlines. But they should be below 100-watt-hours.
Two spare batteries are permitted on carry-on baggage, provided that they are between 100 and 160-watt-hours.
American Airlines travelers have to get in touch with the company’s Special Assistance coordinators if they would be taking batteries bigger than 160 up to 300-watt-hours with them.
Effective January 15, 2018, Southwest Airlines travelers are allowed to travel internationally with a drone.
They are permitted to have a maximum of 20 extra lithium-ion batteries at once. Nevertheless, loose or spare batteries, cells, and power banks are required to be safeguarded from short-circuiting possibilities.
They should be placed only in the carry-on bag. If a battery exceeds 100-watt-hours, only two batteries that do not go beyond 160-watt-hours are allowed.
Batteries that exceed the 160-watt-hour limitation are barred from being placed on both the checked and the carry-on luggage.
Passengers of JetBlue Airlines are allowed to place their drones both on their checked and carry-on bags.
They should ensure that the drone can fit underneath their seats or in the overhead bin. Also, the battery of the drone should be completely installed.
The device must also be perfectly switched off during the whole period of the flight. Regarding the batteries, up to two extra lithium-ion batteries between 100 and 160-watt-hours are permitted in carry-on bags.
But they should be inside the terminal and are safeguarded with tape or within a plastic bag. At this point, there are no quantity limits that have been laid out by JetBlue Airlines if the battery may be below 100-watt-hours.
Guide When Bringing Your Drone In-Flight
Related Topic: 5 Facts On If You Can Fly a Drone over Private Property
Since drones are allowed in most airlines, provided that passengers abide by these companies’ packing and battery policies, it is now time to learn about the tips when bringing your UAV with you on the plane.
Here are some of them which will help you travel with your device with peace of mind:
Tip # 1: Learn about and Obey Your Destination’s Drone Laws.
With the increasing popularity of drones worldwide, new laws are being contrived to regulate their owners.
To save yourself from getting penalized either by fine or jail time for causing damage to property or people, it is best to perform your research.
Before embarking on an out-of-town or overseas trip, read about your destination’s rules regarding drones.
Tip # 2: Be Aware of Airline Companies’ Rules on Drones.
Airline companies have different rules when it comes to bringing drones in-flight.
You should visit their websites or communicate with them by telephone or e-mail weeks before your trip.
Inform them that you will be traveling with your UAV and ask them what their policies are. In this case, you can travel hassle-free with your device.
Tip # 3: Put Your Drone and its Accessories on a Good Casing.
You should invest in a good, dedicated drone bag. This can be a camera bag. You can Google cases which are affordable and durable.
Tip # 4: Remember to Bring Extra Batteries, Propellers, and Tools.
The batteries of UAVs can drain. Hence, you should not forget to charge your drone. Also, never forget to bring spare batteries.
Propellers could be easily damaged when drones crash, too. You should bring essential repair tools or a kit which include a tiny screwdriver, a duct tape, and spare propellers for back-up.
Related Topic: 8 Helpful Tips on Why You Can Fly a Drone at Night
Tip # 5: Be Cordial with Airport Security Personnel.
It is sometimes easy to lose your temper at the airport, especially when there are long queues. But you should be a decent and patient traveler. Be civil to airport security.
When passing through screening, politely answer their questions and eagerly present to them your drone and the batteries.
With all of these comprehensive details, you are now all set to travel with your drone. You can educate more UAV enthusiasts by sharing your insights and this article.
Remember always to stay calm and of course, enjoy your trip! Happy trip and happy drone-flying!