Traveling with a drone is not an easy task as there are many rules to respect, even more, if you travel by airplane. Among the most popular questions we get asked there are: can you bring a drone on a plane? Are drones allowed on planes? Can you take a DJI Mavic or DJI Phantom on a plane? Here we’re going to answer exactly this!
With this guide, I’ve collected the most important policies and rules that need to be followed if you want to bring your drone on a plane.
As you’ll see, often the term drone is not even mentioned on their websites, rules or policies – but almost all the time there’s a lithium battery regulation that applies also to personal electronic devices.
I’ll try to keep this guide updated (together with the carry on guide) and if you have any suggestions or spot any errors just leave a comment below. Of course, it’s always highly recommended to directly contact the airline before departing to avoid any issues.
I’ve grouped the rules and policies of airlines in alphabetic order so you can easily find them and use it as a reference.
Airlines Drone Rules and Policies
Tip: click the navigation link to jump to the specific airline section below
- TSA Drone Rules
- Air France
- Air India
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Brussels Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Jetblue Airways
- LATAM Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Swiss Airlines
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
By the way, do you have a drone backpack when traveling by plane?
If not, I highly recommend this one that I have from Manfrotto: it is awesome!
A dedicated review is coming soon… 🙂
TSA Drone Rules
The Transportation Security Administration outlines that drones are considered portable electronic devices with lithium batteries and that the allowance is determined on the watt-hour rating of the batteries.
Up to 100Wh, the batteries are allowed both as checked or carry-on baggage
Over 100Wh up to 160Wh airline approval is required
Over 160Wh is forbidden to be carried on the airplane
TSA also recommends checking directly your airline’s rules if drones are allowed on the aircraft.
AirAsia Drone Policy
AirAsia doesn’t mention any drone policy on its website and also doesn’t have a clear policy regarding lithium batteries on their website.
The only related topic is concerning transportation devices such as hoverboards, which are totally forbidden.
Air France Drone Policy
Air France is very clear with their drone policy – they accept Electronic devices with batteries up to 100Wh. If the batteries are contained in the device they are allowed as hand luggage and checked baggage.
While additional replacement batteries need to be carried with you in the hand baggage and are not allowed in the checked baggage.
Air India Drone Policy
Air India doesn’t exactly clarify the drone policy and also the battery policy isn’t clear.
They state on one page that battery cells in any electronic devices are allowed, while spare batteries may be removed if carried with your hand luggage. Therefore they suggest to carry them in the checked baggage.
But, on another PDF document on their website they state the following: PED (Portable Electronic Devices) are allowed as checked and hand luggage if the lithium battery doesn’t exceed 100Wh without approval. Between 100Wh-160Wh, they are again allowed as checked or hand luggage prior approval. While over 160Wh they are forbidden in all cases.
American Airlines Drone Policy
American Airlines allows to bring drones on board if the battery doesn’t exceed 160Wh, additionally, if carried on, it needs to be (or the box in which it is contained) max. 22 x 14 x 9 inches.
If you’re looking for more details on American Airlines and more specifically:
- What can I carry on American Airlines?
- What is allowed in carry on baggage?
- Can a backpack be a personal item on American Airlines?
I’ve answered all these questions on my guide carry on luggage rules by airlines – make sure to check it out!
British Airways Drone Policy
British Airways states that you can generally take electronic devices in your hand luggage or checked baggage.
However, you need to follow specific rules for lithium batteries.
Up to 100Wh: allowed in checked baggage if kept in the device, allowed in hand baggage up to 4 spares per person.
Between 100-160Wh: approval required.
Brussels Airlines Drone Policy
All electronic devices powered by lithium need to follow specific rules.
Up to 100Wh, they’re always allowed as hand baggage both in device and spare, while only in the device if checked in.
Above 160Wh they are forbidden. While between 100Wh and 160Wh they need to be approved by the operator for both hand luggage and checked in.
Delta Drone Policy
Also, Delta doesn’t clarify exactly what is their drone policy, but they do mention that lithium batteries are allowed up to 160 watt-hours. Anything above that 160 watt-hours is forbidden.
Lithium batteries can be transported in both carry-on or checked-in if installed. Otherwise, all batteries need to be carried in your carry-on baggage. Also, no more than two spare batteries in the 100-160 range can be carried per person.
Easyjet Drone Policy
Easyjet mentions that portable electronic devices containing lithium batteries can be carried on board as hand luggage and checked in if the battery doesn’t exceed 100Wh.
Spare lithium batteries can be carried only with carry-on baggage and protected to avoid short circuit.
Emirates Drone Policy
Emirates doesn’t allow drones as cabin baggage due to safety reasons. They are however allowed as checked-in baggage. Regarding the batteries, you’ll need to remove them and carry them with you or secure them with your drone. The policy applies also to connecting flights.
I’ve recently been lucky enough to try out the Emirates A380 First Class Suites on a long-haul flight via Dubai – make sure to check out my full review!
Finnair Drone Policy
Finnair allows drones as both carry-on and checked luggage without lithium batteries.
While the batteries have a separate regulation. Lithium batteries over 2 grams of lithium or 160Wh are totally forbidden.
Spare lithium batteries up to 2 grams of lithium can be transported as carry-on, while can be checked in only if inside the equipment.
Lithium batteries between 100Wh and 160Wh require approval from Finnair both if spare (max.2) or inside the device.
Iberia Drone Policy
Iberia doesn’t explicitly have a drone policy, but they do mention that spare lithium batteries are forbidden in the checked baggage. While they’re allowed in the checked-in baggage if installed in the equipment. No batteries over 160Wh are allowed.
Between 100Wh and 160Wh you can carry max 2 spare batteries with the hand luggage always isolating the terminals.
Jetblue Drone Policy
JetBlue has a specific drone policy which states the following: drones are accepted as both checked-in or carry on (if it fits the in the overhead bin or if it can be stored beneath the seat in front of you).
The clarify that, of course, the drone needs to be switched off for all the duration of the flight.
Regarding the batteries, two spare batteries between 100Wh and 160Wh can be carried if placed in plastic bags and the terminals isolated with tape.
Below 100Wh there are restrictions in terms of the number of batteries allowed on the airplane.
KLM Drone Policy
KLM has a drone policy, which allows drones to be carried in your hand luggage and your checked-in luggage. Prior approval is required if the battery is over 100Wh and up to 160Wh. Spare batteries can be carried as hand luggage only.
LATAM Airlines Drone Policy
LATAM Airlines has a lithium batteries policy which mentions that batteries are allowed between 100Wh and 160Wh in your carry-on only prior approval from the carrier. Additionally, no more than two spare batteries can be carried with your hand luggage. They don’t mention anything regarding batteries up to 100Wh so it’s probably safe to assume they’re allowed as carry-on without prior approval.
Lufthansa Drone Policy
Lufthansa doesn’t appear to have a drone policy. The only part that mentions something close is regarding portable electronic devices containing lithium batteries.
They are allowed as checked baggage with batteries up to 100Wh, while above 100Wh and up to 160Wh they require carrier approval for cabin baggage and are forbidden as checked baggage.
Malaysia Airlines Drone Policy
Malaysia Airlines defines the drone policy and for spare batteries. Batteries need to be carried with your hand luggage and can’t exceed 160Wh. They also need to be placed in the original packaging or isolated by for example taping the terminals.
While drones aren’t allowed at all (last check November 2018).
Qantas Drone Policy
Qantas has a clear lithium batteries policy.
Up to 100Wh in the equipment: batteries allowed
as both carry-on and checked baggage only as carry on baggage.
Between 101Wh and 160Wh in the equipment: batteries are allowed
as both carry-on and checked baggage only as carry on, but airline approval is required.
Over 160Wh batteries: forbidden in all cases.
Additionally, all spare batteries need to be carried with your hand luggage and only 2 are allowed between 101Wh-160Wh.
Qatar Drone Policy
Qatar Airways has a lithium batteries policy. Batteries up to 160Wh can be carried on the checked baggage inside the equipment and between 100 and 160Wh they also require operator approval. As hand baggage, they can be carried either inside the equipment or as spare. Everything above 160Wh is forbidden.
Ryanair Drone Policy
Ryanair allows drones to be carried with hand luggage if the battery doesn’t exceed 160Wh. While anything above that is forbidden.
Singapore Drone Policy
Singapore Airlines is clear about lithium batteries policies.
Up to 100Wh, they’re allowed both in your cabin baggage and in your checked baggage if inside the equipment. While no spare batteries are allowed in the checked baggage.
Between 100-160Wh: same as above, but spare batteries are limited to 2 per person.
Above 160Wh: not allowed.
Southwest Drone Policy
Southwest allows drones on their airplanes if they follow the general lithium-ion battery regulations. This means that the batteries need to be inserted in the drone and can’t exceed 160Wh. Additionally, any spare battery needs to be transported with carry-on baggage, well protected in a plastic bag with the terminals isolated.
Swiss Airlines Drone Policy
Swiss allows electronic devices with batteries up to 100Wh only in hand luggage.
Spare batteries can only be carried with hand luggage and up to 2 batteries between 100-160Wh with prior approval.
Any battery above 160Wh is forbidden.
Thai Airways Drone Policy
Thai Airways has a few policies mainly regarding lithium batteries.
Below 100Wh batteries are allowed only in hand luggage without prior approval, while between 100Wh and 160Wh they require approval from the airline.
Turkish Airlines Drone Policy
Turkish Airlines doesn’t appear to have a clear policy regarding drones – even though, based on some forum posts, there are folks stating that they have been able to bring a drone on a plane using this airline.
From their website, Turkish Airlines only mentions that portable vehicles (hoverboards, etc.) that use lithium-ion batteries are not allowed as carry-on or as checked baggage. They also don’t mention what is the maximum number of batteries and the capacity that you can bring on a plane.
It’s definitely necessary to contact the airline before departure.
United Airlines Drone Policy
UA doesn’t specifically have a drone policy – or at least I couldn’t find it on the official website. But they mention that some portable electronic devices can be carried in checked baggage.
The lithium battery cannot exceed 100 watt-hours and all spare batteries must be transported in carry-on baggage.
Don’t miss my review of the DJI Phantom 3 Standard with tips on how to fly your drone!