How to Bring a Drone on a Plane

Coby McKinley Profile image

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Updated June 27, 2022

If you want the best drone to capture travel highlights or family videos, you’ll need to know how to take a drone on a plane. Drone laws can vary wildly, depending on your travel destination or airline you choose. While it is common knowledge that some airlines have restrictions on drone batteries, what about larger drones or spare batteries outside of the original packaging? Stick around, and we’ll show you how to bring a drone on a plane.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Always check your airline carrier website for up-to-date policies on consumer drone batteries.
  • Drone batteries cannot go in your checked baggage, and they must be in your carry-on.
  • Check the drone rules and regulations before bringing it to a new city or country.

Depending on how long it took to get your drone license, provided you know how to get your drone license in the first place, you may be looking to celebrate with the best drone traveling spots. Carefully read this guide so you don’t get your brand new Kizmo K160 drone confiscated at an airport security checkpoint.

How to Travel with a Drone on an Airplane

Whether flying with American Airlines or a different carrier, you should think about drones just like any electronic device. In addition, consider any size or weight limits that may apply to your drone. While some airlines may look twice at your drone built with a raspberry pi, most will not stop it from getting on the plane.

Insider Tip

Make sure to research any foreigner-specific drone laws before doing any international travel.

Ensure that the unit is powered off so you can avoid accidental activation. Additionally, we recommend placing your drone in a case to protect it from damage.

Can I Bring Batteries on Board?

Most airline drone policies focus on the removable lithium batteries that power many of them. The most common drone batteries are Lithium-Ion batteries, and they fall under Hazardous Material Regulations because they can vent or explode on rare occasions. While the TSA has its own battery policy, all carry-on luggage is subject to airline policies and airline approval.

How Many Drone Batteries Can You Take with You?

According to the TSA, drone owners can have two spare drone batteries and two installed batteries in their carry-on baggage if they are 101 to 160 Wh. So, make sure you have enough time to charge these batteries because they’ll be your only pair unless you pick more up at your destination.

Spare lithium batteries can spark or vent if the battery terminal comes in contact with loose change or metal objects in a bag or pocket. As such, you cannot store these batteries in your checked bag; they must be in your carry-on. In addition, you’ll need to keep your lithium batteries in a battery sleeve or their retail packaging.

If your drone batteries are below 100 Wh, you can theoretically carry unlimited batteries on your flight. However, we doubt an airline would allow it.

Warning

Always store your loose batteries in a protective case and discontinue use if there’s a tear in the outer packaging. Lithium-Ion (LiPo) batteries can explode if mistreated.

F.A.Q.S

How do You Determine the Watt Hours of Your Drone Batteries?

You can calculate the Watt Hours (Wh) of your batteries by multiplying the voltage (V) by the amp-hour (Ah). The formula reads as Wh = V x Ah.


What Countries Can You Not Fly Drones in?

There are currently 15 countries where drones are banned, and they are primarily off-menu due to purported security concerns. Among the list of 15, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, and Madagascar are of particular note.


Should I check my drone or carry it on?

We recommend taking your drone in your carry-on luggage. Unless your drone exceeds the carry-on bag dimensions or weight limit, there is little reason to check your drone. In addition, your drone may get damaged by airline staff, or worse, stolen.


STAT: A 2017 poll from Pew Research Center found that 8% of Americans own a drone. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image