There is so much misleading information on internet about traveling with drone on plane. That’s why we decided to sum up the airlines rules and our experience consisting of many flights when traveling with drone on plane.
We traveled with drone with Wizzair, Ryanair, Emirates, AirAsia, LionAir, NokAir, Qatar, Eurowings, AirBerlin and Cebu Pacific.
How to pack when traveling with drone on plane
In 99% of the cases the rule of thumb is to put the drone into your carry-on luggage. This is for 2 reasons:
- Battery ALWAYS needs to be in carry-on luggage because of potential fire hazard. This is what every single airline rules state. It is also regulation of EASA.
- Drone is quite fragile and expensive equipment, so you want to have it with you at all times.
The only exception to this rule of thumb is when you fly with Emirates airline and newly also Malaysian airlines. They have written in their regulations that you have to put your drone into checked-in baggage, except of your battery. Battery should be removed and stored in your carry-on baggage. Because the remote control has also in-built batterry, it also needs to be stored in your carry-on.
There is actually one more exception, which is not written anywhere, but in our experience (and many other drone travelers) Budapest airport crew will NOT let you pass security check with drone in your carry-on luggage. They will force you either to put it in your checked-in luggage or to leave it in Budapest. Batteries need to be stored in your carry-on as mentioned above.
How to handle batteries when traveling with drone on plane
The safest way to avoid any problems when traveling with drone on plane is to put the batteries into Li-Po safe bags. This is not mandatory by every carrier, but it is a good practise. You can put several batteries into 1 bag, just make sure they fit and the bag can be properly closed.
In case you don’t want to invest into the safe bags, first check the rules of the carrier you travel with if they require them or not. If they don’t require safe bags you can just cover the battery contacts (for example with duck tape) or place battery into plastic bag to prevent short circuiting the batteries.
Safe bags are rarely checked at security, but we strongly advise to get them. You can also use them when charging batteries and they cost few dollars. We ordered these from Aliexpress. Here is the example of what such a small battery can cause when ignited. You don’t want this to happen in plane.
Restriction factor for any Li-Po battery on board is watt-hour rating. Airline companies usually don’t put any restrictions on batteries up to 100Wh. And all common consumer drones (Spark, Mavic, Phantom, Anafi,…) are in this limit. That means that amount of spare batteries you have in your carry-on baggage is usually not restricted.
We traveled several times with Mavic Pro and 2 spare batteries and it was always fine.
The more remaining capacity is in your battery, the more damage it can cause in case of ignition. That’s why airline companies (and common sense) require batteries to be discharged. Of course you don’t discharge the battery totally, that would only damage it. Anything between 30-50% will be fine.
To be honest nobody has ever checked how much remaining capacity is in our battery, but we usually transport them at storage capacity (around 50%).
Best travel drone
We traveled with many different drones and if you wonder what is in our opinion The best travel drone, read our full article.
Country of visit
Very important factor whether or not you will face problems when traveling with drone on plane is the drone law of country you are traveling to. There are countries which will not even let you enter the country with drone, so better always check the situation about the country you are visiting.
Comprehensive and updated list of Drone laws per country is written here.
It is fairly easy to follow the rules when traveling with drone on plane, but they are changing and every airline company has slightly different rules. To be 100% sure you have everything set right, check the baggage policy of airline you are traveling with. If unsure, contact your airline.