Can I take my drone on holiday? The airline drone policy guide

27 min read Jul 5th 2024

Are you planning a holiday abroad this summer? Thinking about taking your drone? Wondering if you can take your drone on the plane with you? In this article we give you the information you need for a hassle-free pass through check-in and security with the drone policies for the top 23 airlines and holiday operators.

Personal Electronic Device (PED)

Most airlines seem to class drones as Personal Electronic Devices or PEDs. So that would lump your drone in with things like laptops and phones. Most airlines have a 15-device limit on PEDs so bear that in mind. You should obviously apply common sense to the PED classification though; if you're planning on taking a DJI Inspire 3 or a M30T, then clearly calling those a PED is a stretch and you should contact the airline before flying.

You can usually take your drone in checked-in baggage as long as you remove all batteries. You may be able to keep batteries in the drone in your checked-in baggage as long as the device is secured against accidental activation - again, check with the airline first. All your spare batteries will have to go in your carry-on.

The Battery Buzz

A key factor across most airlines is battery restrictions. Lithium batteries used in drones are considered dangerous goods. Generally, airlines allow batteries under 100Wh in your carry-on luggage. And most airlines impose a limit of up to 20 spare batteries. Some airlines may permit larger batteries (up to 160Wh) with prior notification and generally there's a maximum of two of those allowed. If you're travelling with batteries of 160Wh or more, then you're probably out of luck as they're banned. Always check the airline's website for specific limitations - we have the major airline's policies listed below.

Carry-on vs Checked Baggage

Airline policies on where to pack your drone differ. Some airlines, like Emirates and Singapore Airlines, require drones to be checked in with batteries removed and carried in your cabin baggage. Always remove the battery from your drone before packing it in checked luggage. Remember, any limits on the number of batteries you take in your carry-on applies to all batteries, not just those for your drone. So make sure you account for things like power banks and laptops.

Contact is Key

If the airline's website doesn't provide clear drone information, you should contact them directly. They can clarify their policy and any additional requirements. If you can, get them to email you confirmation so that you have some proof of the guidance you were given if you run into trouble at the airport.

Not All Airlines Welcome Drones

Although it's not common, some airlines like Wizz Air, prohibit drones entirely on their flights. Double-check the airline's policy before booking your flight to avoid any surprises at the airport.

Beyond Airlines

Remember, airline regulations are just one piece of the puzzle. Research drone laws in your destination country. Many countries require drone registration and permits for operation.

Here are some additional tips for flying with your drone

  • Pack a secure and padded case to protect your drone during travel.
  • Familiarize yourself with local drone regulations at your destination to avoid any fines or confiscation.
  • Be a responsible drone pilot. Respect privacy laws and fly safely, avoiding crowds and restricted airspace.

By following these tips and researching airline and destination regulations, you can ensure a hassle-free and enjoyable drone experience on your next holiday.

Airline Drone Policies Summary (as of July 5, 2024)

Note: Information may change, so it's always best to check the airline's website directly before your flight - we've included links to the source information where possible.

aerlingus.com logoAer Lingus: Information on drones is not explicitly available on their restricted items list. It's recommended to contact Aer Lingus directly for clarification. All we could find is a response on their X account stating "the drone and batteries will need to be in your cabin bag with a max wattage between 100wh -160wh, you can have a max of 2 spare batteries individually protected to prevent short circuits".

aircanada.com logoAir Canada: Drones are allowed in carry-on baggage only, turned off and safely stowed. Batteries must be under 100Wh. For higher capacities (up to 160Wh), contact Air Canada 48 hours prior to your flight. Read Air Canada's drone policy here.

airfrance.fr logoAir France: Drones are allowed in checked luggage as long as the batteries are removed. You can also opt to take your drone as carry-on. You're allowed to take up to 20 lithium-ion batteries per person as long as they're less than 100Wh or Lithium-metal batteries (not exceeding 2g/0.07oz of lithium/battery). If you want to take more than that you'll need to gain prior approval from Air France. Read Air France's drone policy here.

aa.com logoAmerican Airlines: You are allowed to take your drone on American Airlines. You can take the drone as carry-on if it, or its box, is less than 22x14x9in / 56x36x23cm. Your drone's battery must not exceed 160Wh. Read American Airlines' drone policy here.

britishairways.com logoBritish Airways: There's no specific mention of drones, but battery limitations do apply. Their "Dangerous Goods guide" for Lithium Batteries states that batteries up to 160Wh are allowed but with some specific restrictions. You can put your drone in checked-in luggage but batteries should be in hand baggage. Batteries up to 100Wh are allowed and you can keep one in the device plus 4 spares per person insulated/protected from contact with metal. Lithium metal batteries must not exceed 2g lithium content. British Airways give automatic 'operator approval' for each passenger to carry lithium batteries 100-160Wh subject to the following conditions; max two devices per person with a battery installed, max of two spare batteries per person with terminals insulated/protected from short circuit, you must pack a copy of the policy page with the devices and spare batteries to identify that you have British Airways' 'operator approval' to carry them. You do NOT need to contact the airline or inform staff at the airport that you are carrying these items. Read British Airways' Dangerous Goods guide here.

cathaypacific.com logoCathay Pacific: In common with British Airways, Cathay Pacific make no specific mention of drones. However, battery limitations do apply. Their "Controlled and banned items" guide for Lithium Batteries states that batteries up to 160Wh are allowed but with some specific restrictions. You can put your drone in checked-in luggage but batteries should be in hand baggage. Up to 20 batteries per person with capacity up to 100Wh are allowed as long as the battery terminals are insulated/protected from contact with metal. Lithium metal batteries must not exceed 2g lithium content. You can carry up to two lithium batteries 100-160Wh. Read Cathay Pacific's Controlled and banned items guide here.

delta.com logoDelta: Delta makes no specific mention of drones on their website. They do though provide a guide relating to batteries. Passengers are permitted to travel with lithium ion batteries that contain a maximum of 160-watt hours per battery. Any lithium ion battery containing more than 160-watt hours is prohibited from carriage on all passenger aircraft. Lithium ion batteries installed in a personal electronic device can be transported as checked or carry-on baggage. Lithium ion batteries not installed in a device (spares) must be in carry-on baggage and no more than two (2) spares between 100 and 160-watt hours are allowed. You can take 20 spare batteries up to 100Wh. Read Delta's "Prohibited or restricted items > Battery or Fuel-Powered" guide here.

easyjet.com logoEasyJet: Similar to other airlines here, Easyjet makes no specific mention of drones on their website. The assumption is that you are allowed to take your drone on an Easyjet flight. Typically this would be in your carry-on baggage but you could also pack the drone in checked-in luggage so long as you have removed the batteries. Again, restrictions apply to batteries. Easyjet's "Information on dangerous goods and prohibited articles" states that batteries must not exceed 2g for lithium metal batteries and 100Wh for lithium ion batteries. All spare batteries must be taken in your carry-on luggage. These batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuit. There is a limit of 15 portable electronic devices per passenger. Spare batteries 100-160Wh for portable electronic devices may only be permitted for "portable medical electronic devices only" - check with Easyjet before flying. Read Easyjet's "Information on dangerous goods and prohibited articles" guide here.

emirates.com logoEmirates: Emirates' drone policy states that they don't allow drones on board as cabin baggage. Drones can only be accepted as checked-in baggage. Please note that drones are not allowed on any flights to Jordan. On all other flights, if you have a drone in your checked-in baggage you should secure the lithium batteries within the drone or remove the batteries and carry them in your cabin baggage. This regulation still applies even if you’re connecting to our flights from an airline that has accepted drones as cabin baggage. For lithium metal batteries the lithium metal content must not exceed 2g and lithium ion batteries must not exceed 100Wh. Each passenger is limited to a maximum of 15 personal electronic devices. Spare batteries 100-160Wh require prior approval - contact Emirates before flying. Read Emirates' drone policy here.

etihad.com logoEtihad Airways: Etihad's FAQ hub (Baggage > Travelling with Electronic Devices) states that you can carry your drone as part of your cabin baggage allowance, but there are a few things to keep in mind: you must not operate the drone at any time on board or within any airport premises, Lithium batteries must have a power rating of 100Wh or less, Lithium batteries with a power rating between 100-160Wh will require authorisation at the airport, Lithium batteries with a power rating above 160Wh will not be accepted on board, if the power rating of the lithium battery cannot be established, it will no be accepted on board. You are permitted to carry two spare lithium batteries, with a power rating of 100Wh or less, as part of your cabin baggage allowance. Read Etihad Airways' drone policy here.

jet2.com logoJet2: Jet2's FAQ (dangerous goods and prohibited articles in baggage) doesn't mention drones explicitly so one can assume they are permitted as Personal Electronic Devices (PED). As such you can take your drone in a checked bag (without batteries), or as a carry-on. There is a maximum of 15 PEDs permitted per person. Spare batteries up to 100Wh may be carried as carry-on must have their terminals protected with tape. Batteries 100-160Wh require prior approval so you should contact Jet2 before flying. Read Jet2's baggage policy here.

jetblue.com logoJetBlue Airways: JetBlue's FAQ (Other sports and recreation gear > Drones) mentions that you can take your drone as a checked bag, or as a carry-on if it fits in the overhead bin or beneath the seat with the battery installed. A drone is considered a Portable Electronic Device (PED) and must remain in the off position for the duration of the flight to prevent accidental activation. For batteries 100-160Wh, two spares may be carried as carry on when placed in a plastic bag and their terminals protected with tape. Below 100Wh there are no quantity restrictions on the number of batteries you can carry. Read JetBlue's drone policy here.

klm.com logoKLM: A drone can be taken into the hold or as hand baggage, as long as it meets KLM's standard baggage rules. Spare lithium batteries and power banks are only allowed in your hand baggage. You're allowed to bring 15 electronic devices with an installed lithium battery up to 100Wh, and 20 spare lithium batteries or power banks up to 100Wh. If you want to bring a lithium battery up to 160Wh with you in your hand baggage, either in a device or as a spare, you need to request permission from KLM before flying. Batteries larger than 160Wh are never allowed. Devices and batteries should not be damaged, defective, or recalled. KLM ask you to pack each spare battery separately in their original packaging or cover the contact points with non-conductive tape and pack each battery in a separate plastic bag.Read KLM's guide here.

lufthansa.com logoLufthansa: A drone can be in checked-in or hand baggage, as long as it meets Lufthansa's standard baggage rules. Spare lithium batteries and power banks are only allowed in your hand baggage. You're allowed to bring 15 electronic devices with an installed lithium battery up to 100Wh, and 20 spare lithium batteries or power banks up to 100Wh. If you want to bring a lithium battery up to 160Wh with you in your hand baggage, either in a device or as a spare, you need to request permission from Lufthansa before flying. Note that for checked baggage you may carry a maximum of three devices larger than a smartphone. (Read Lufthansa's drone policy here)[https://www.lufthansa.com/gb/en/prepare-for-your-trip/baggage/electronic-devices-and-batteries#accordion-item-section-withlithiumbatteries].

qantas.com logoQantas: Qantas makes no specific mention of drones on their website. The assumption is that you are allowed to take your drone on an Qantas flight. Typically this would be in your carry-on baggage but you could also pack the drone in checked-in luggage so long as you have removed the batteries. Again, restrictions apply to batteries. Qantas' "Battery powered devices and equipment" states that batteries must not exceed 2g for lithium metal batteries and 100Wh for lithium ion batteries. All spare batteries must be taken in your carry-on luggage. These batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuit. There is a limit of 15 portable electronic devices per passenger. Spare batteries 100-160Wh require prior approval - check with Qantas before flying. Read Qantas' guidance here.

qatarairways.com logoQatar Airways: Qatar Airways published drone policy mentions that you may carry drones with or without batteries in your hand baggage. Batteries in drones and/or spare batteries, 100-160Wh, must be approved by Qatar Airways before you may carry them in your hand baggage. Batteries greater than 160Wh cannot be carried. You can carry drones without batteries in your checked baggage. The removed battery/batteries may be carried in your hand baggage, if they adhere to the regulations regarding spare batteries. Drone battery must not be charged during your flight. Read Qatar Airways' drone guidance here

ryanair.com logoRyanair: Ryanair's policy is broadly in line with many other airlines in that it states that Lithium battery operated devices such as drones and quadcopters are accepted for carriage in the cabin once the battery does not exceed 160Wh. If the battery exceeds 160Wh, the device cannot be accepted on board the aircraft. Lithium-ion powered Personal Electronic Device (PED) are strictly prohibited in checked baggage. Read Ryanair's drone policy here.

singaporeair.com logoSingapore Airlines: Drones are allowed as checked baggage or carry-on. Batteries must be removed and carried in your cabin baggage. Each passenger can bring up to 20 spare batteries under 100Wh each in their carry-on and they must be protected from damage and short-circuit. If your batteries are 100-160Wh, then the maximum number you can take in your carry-on is two and you must gain prior approval from Singapore Airlines. Read Singapore Airlines' guidance here.

southwest.com logoSouthwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines "Traveling with PEDs" guidance makes reference to carrying drones and says that you should pack them in your carry-on bag. If they are too big to fit in a carry-on and need to be transported in checked baggage, the device must be designed to prevent unintentional activation or the battery itself must be removed, protected from short-circuit and transported in carry-on baggage. Southwest Airlines FAQs regarding batteries refers passengers to the TSA guidance here which states that spare (uninstalled) lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, including power banks and cell phone battery charging cases, must be carried in carry-on baggage only. Lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are limited to 2 grams of lithium per battery. Lithium ion (rechargeable) batteries are limited to a rating of 100Wh per battery. Southwest Airlines says "There is no limit to the number of spare lithium-ion (rechargeable) cells or batteries that can be transported if the cells or batteries do not exceed 100 watt-hours. Loose or spare cells or batteries must be protected from short circuit and transported in carry-on baggage only." With airline approval, passengers may also carry up to two spare larger lithium ion batteries (101–160Wh) or lithium metal batteries (2-8g). Read Southwest Airlines' guidance here.

tui.com logoTUI: TUI's policy is pretty clear on their website. It states that "A drone or “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV) can be safely carried on TUI flights provided the following precautions are followed: If lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries are used, the drone can be carried as checked baggage or carry-on baggage, as long as the drone can be protected from inadvertent activation. The size and weight limits of checked or carry-on baggage is not exceeded. Spare batteries must be protected from short circuit and damage, and can be carried in carry-on baggage only.For drones powered by batteries up to 100Wh, prior approval by TUI is not required. For drones with batteries exceeding 100Wh but not exceeding 160Wh, prior approval by TUI is required. In this case, please contact us. Drones and batteries exceeding 160Wh are forbidden from carriage." Read TUI's drone policy here.

united.com logoUnited Airlines: United Airlines policy states that "You can bring a drone in your checked bag if it's packed securely. You can also bring a drone in your carry-on as long as the battery is 160 watts or less." There's no specific mention of batteries other than the "160 watts or less" but we would recommend that you comply with the TSA guidance here which states that spare (uninstalled) lithium ion and lithium metal batteries, including power banks and cell phone battery charging cases, must be carried in carry-on baggage only. Lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries are limited to 2 grams of lithium per battery. Lithium ion (rechargeable) batteries are limited to a rating of 100Wh per battery. Southwest Airlines says "There is no limit to the number of spare lithium-ion (rechargeable) cells or batteries that can be transported if the cells or batteries do not exceed 100 watt-hours. Loose or spare cells or batteries must be protected from short circuit and transported in carry-on baggage only." With airline approval, passengers may also carry up to two spare larger lithium ion batteries (101–160Wh) or lithium metal batteries (2-8g). Read United Airlines' guidance here.

virginatlantic.com logoVirgin Atlantic: In common with the majority of airlines, drones are classified as Personal Electronic Devices (PED) - although Virgin Atlantic done mention drones explicitly - and as such you are able to carry them either in checked-in baggage (with the batteries removed and taken in your carry-on) or take them in your carry-on. You can take a maximum of 15 PEDs on a flight. All spare batteries, including lithium metal (lithium metal content must not exceed 2g) or lithium ion cells or batteries, must be carried in carry-on baggage only. These batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuits. Lithium ion batteries must not exceed 100Wh. Each person is limited to a maximum of 20 spare batteries. Read Virgin Atlantic's guidance here

wizzair.com logoWizz Air: Bizarrely, and seemingly out of kilter with almost all other airlines, Wizz Air appear to lump drones in with hoverboards and state "unfortunately for safety reasons You are not allowed to take such devices neither [sic] on board, nor [sic] as checked in baggage. Read Wizz Air's guidance here.

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