Can you Bring a Drone on a Plane?

Can you Bring a Drone on a Plane?

Carrying your drone when travel is a perfect way of ensuring that you document your experiences. Most people who use drones to document their travels cannot imagine travelling without it and using other alternatives such as GoPro.

However, before you put the drone in your suitcase, its important to check the regulations that govern travelling with a drone on a plane. They include airline policies, drone laws in the country you intend to visit, TSA requirements and the FAA hazardous material regulations.

Make sure that you comply with the regulations to avoid being barred from boarding the plane or your drone been confiscated by the authorities. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to travel stress-free with your drone.

Packing the Drone for Abroad Travel

The first thing that you need to do is come up with a plan on how you are going to carry the drone. Before you put it in your suitcase, make sure that it’s turned off and the switches are covered with padding or any other material to prevent accident activations when dragging the suitcase through the airport alleys.

You can also invest in a custom drone carrying case that is specifically tailored for your drone. Most of the websites that sell drone merchandise online stock these bags. Confirm the features of the bag such as size to be sure your drone will fit in it. Go the extra mile and consult other customers who have previous used the bags to gauge their quality and reliability. The reviews posted online can also help you make the right decision.

Its also important to note that most airlines require clients to pack their drones in a carry-on bag due to the recent DOT ban on transportation of lithium-ion batteries in cargo compartments on passenger airplanes.

How to Carry Drone Batteries on a Plane

Needless to say, most of the drones run on lithium-ion batteries (LIPO). Therefore, you need to comply with the FAA regulations pertaining hazardous materials. One of the regulations is that the batteries should be carried on the traveler’s carry-on baggage.

However, there are circumstances you may be allowed carry them in your other baggage, but its easier to go through the security checks with them in the carry-on baggage. Otherwise, you may be forced to open the bags for a thorough check before boarding the plane.

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Before putting the lithium-ion batteries in the carry-on baggage, you need to first confirm the watt hours of each battery. Here is a list of recommendations on how to pack LIPO batteries with approximately 100 Wh or less.

  • Prevent the batteries from short circuiting by putting them in the retail packaging box from the manufacturer. The battery terminals should be covered with a tape. You could also put them in the battery case. Check if your camera bag as a battery sleeve, if it has one, put them in and snug in a protective pouch or plastic bag to protect them from any external forces during transit.
  • The batteries that you carry should be strictly for personal use. That is, you should use them on your drone and not for commercial purposes. You cannot carry the batteries to sell them to other drone users in the destination.
  • Different airlines have varying regulations and requirements. Take time off your schedule to read these requirements before you even book the ticket and pack the batteries to be on the safe side.

The above three tips apply for LIP0 with less than 100 Wh charge. Here are three additional tips if for packing batteries that have more than 100 Wh.

  • First, you are not allowed to carry more than two spare batteries whose individual charge exceeds 100 Wh
  • Get approval from the airline to bring the battery on board before you get into the plane
  • Use the original packaging, the battery case, or purchase a separate pouch that is specifically designed for carrying the batteries and prevent them from short circuiting.

Final Thoughts

Consult widely to know if the drone laws in the destination country. If the cost of carrying the drone is higher than renting one in the destination, go with the latter option to save money. There are also countries that require drone users to register the drone with the civil aviation authority.

More importantly, don’t assume that just because you are allowed to bring in drone, you can fly it anywhere. Contact the local authorities for a detailed guide on the specific areas that you can fly the drone and take footage.

The goal is to make sure that you follow all the regulations that govern usage of drone in the destination to avoid legal tussles with the authorities. Use the internet and social media platforms to do your research. Ask friends who have in the recent past flown out of the country with their drones for advice to avert any eventualities.