Can I Bring a Drone on an Airplane [2023 Update]

Flying with a Drone on an Airplane

Bringing a drone on an airplane on your next trip is a great way to capture some stunning shots from your travels.  Before packing your drone on your next flight, be sure to read through our guide to bringing a drone on an airplane, with rules and regulations regarding TSA drone rules, FAA regulations regarding flying with drones and drone batteries, individual airline policies regarding drones and batteries, and drone laws for the country you plan on visiting.

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TSA Drone Rules - Can I Bring a Drone through Airport Security?

The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) conducts security screenings at airports in the US.  The TSA says that drones CAN be brought through airport security checkpoints, meaning your drone can be packed in carry-on and/or checked baggage.  However, individual airlines may set their own rules on whether they will accept your drone in your carry-on bag, in your checked baggage, or both.

When packing your drone to bring through security, it is important to consider the batteries.  The TSA, FAA, and individual airlines have special rules for flying with Lithium Ion and Lithium Polymer batteries, which are the types of batteries used in your drone.

Flying with Drone Batteries on an Airplane

The capacity of your drone's battery and spare batteries dictate how you may pack your drone and spare batteries on your next trip.  It is recommended to uninstall the batteries from your drone when packing.  Be sure to check the capacity in Watt Hours (Wh) of your batteries when packing.  Most lithium ion batteries have the Watt Hours (Wh) printed on the battery - if not, you can calculate the battery's Wh by multiplying the battery voltage by the Amp hours (Ah).

If your drone's batteries have a capacity of less than 100 Wh, there is no limit to how many spare batteries you may bring with you.  If your drone's batteries have a capacity of 100-160 Wh, you may need your airline's approval to bring these batteries on your trip, in which case you may be allowed up to a maximum of 2 batteries.  

All spare (uninstalled) batteries may ONLY by taken in your CARRY-ON baggage.  It is PROHIBITED to pack spare lithium batteries in your checked luggage.  If your carry-on bag is gate-checked, you must REMOVE your spare drone batteries from the gate-checked bag and bring them with you into the cabin. 

When packing your drone's batteries, be sure to always protect the terminals to avoid any potential short circuits and risk of ignition. Methods include: leaving the batteries in their retail packaging, covering battery terminals with tape, using a battery case, using a battery sleeve in a camera bag, or putting them snugly in a plastic bag or protective pouch.

Drone Parachute Systems May be Prohibited

If your drone has a parachute system, it may contain items such as pyrotechnics, CO2 Canisters, or batteries, or other materials that may be considered dangerous goods.  If you have a parachute system, be sure to contact the TSA and FAA directly to confirm whether your drone will be allowed to fly with you on your next trip.

Airline Specific Drone Policies

Individual airlines may have their own policies regarding whether they will accept your drone in checked baggage, carry-on baggage, or both. In any situation, spare batteries must ALWAYS be packed only in your carry-on bag. 

Tips for Packing your Drone for Airline Travel

Be sure to completely turn off your drone before packing for your next trip.  We recommend removing the battery completely (packing it safely into your carry-on bag), and protecting any switches from accidentally activating your drone.

Protect your drone from damage by packing it into a protective case, whether it be a hard-sided case or soft-sided case.  Below is a list of recommended protective cases for some of the most popular drones on the market:

Recommended Drone Travel Cases

Travel Case for DJI Mini 2

Hard Travel Case for DJI Mavic 3 Mavic 3 Cine Drone

Travel Case for DJI Mavic 2 Pro / Zoom / Air 2S

Pelican Case for DJI Inspire 2

Travel Case for DJI Mini 3 /Mini 3 Pro RC

Drone Laws for Your Destination

Depending on where you are flying to, you may or may not be allowed to bring your drone into the country, or there may be specific rules regarding whether you will be allowed to fly your drone once you arrive. Be sure to check with the country's civial aviation unit the specific rules regarding drones for that country.  Some things to keep in mind:

Questions to Consider Regarding Flying with your Drone to Another Country

Are drones legal in the country?

Do I need to register myself as a drone pilot to be allowed to fly?

Are foreigners allowed to bring a drone into the country?

Will I be allowed to bring the drone into the country?

Some countries explicitely prohibit drones, in which case you will not be allowed to bring your drone with you, and your drone may be confiscated at the airport.  In most cases, your drone will stored at the airport, and will be returned to you when you leave the country.  However, this is not always the case.  If you are visiting a country where drones are prohibited, we recommend not packing your drone on the trip, to avoid the risk of getting your drone confiscated and not returned to you.



Comments / Discussion / Questions

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