Taking a drones on airplanes during our travels is certainly possible, but requires some precautions. The latest DJI drones are all small in size and can be easily taken with you, such as the DJI Spark, DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
Most people who own a drone wouldn’t dream of traveling without it, but not all airlines or travel destinations are friendly with drones.
Before you put the drone in your suitcase, you must assess whether it will comply with airline requirements and drone-related laws both in the take-off location and in the destination of arrival.
In this guide we will show you how to legally carry the your drone on a plane. You’ll learn how to pack your batteries correctly and the drone for air travel based on regulations. We’ll also warn you about when to check with your specific airline for further guidelines.
Note: The content of this guide is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace legal advice. If we missed something or if you have any further questions, write a comment to the article, and we will do our best to help you.
Bringing your own drone by plane
When you put a drone in your carry-on or luggage registered, follow these procedures:
- Make sure that the drone is turned off and that any switch is protected against accidental activation
- Consider a special drone case, such as those found on our DJI Store website depending on your drone model, to protect your drone from damage
- Check with the specific airline whether you should put your drone in your carry-on or checked baggage.
Some airlines require that drones be packed in hand luggage only due to the DOT’s ban on transporting lithium-ion batteries into compartments of passenger aircraft.
Bringing the batteries of the drone in the plane
Since most drones are powered by lithium-ion batteries (LIPO), you must comply with the regulations on hazardous materials. LIPO batteries must be stored in your baggage at hand. Under certain circumstances, it may be permitted to include them in the checked baggage; however, we discover that the rules of travel with the lithium-ion batteries are clearer and easier to follow for luggage by hand.
LIPO batteries in hand luggage
When inserting LIPO batteries into your hand luggage, it is necessary to know the wattage value (Wh) of the battery.
When packing lIPO batteries with 100 Wh or less in your carry-on baggage, follow these steps procedures:
To protect LIPO batteries in your carry-on baggage from the short circuit, it is necessary to pack them using one of the following methods:
- Leave the batteries in the sales package
- Cover the terminals of the battery with adhesive tape
- Use a battery container
- Use a photo bag
- Put them comfortably in a plastic bag or in a protective case
The batteries you carry must be for personal use (including professional use). Do not pack batteries for resale or for distribution by a seller.
Check the airline’s specific requirements for carry the LIPO batteries on board in your carry-on baggage.
When packing lIPO batteries with more than 100 Wh but less than 160 Wh in hand luggage, follow these procedures:
To bring a larger LIPO battery (more than 100 Wh) to on board in hand luggage, you must obtain approval from the company aerial.
- Do not pack more than two spare batteries with more than 100 Wh
- Store the batteries in their original packaging, or a separate case or pocket to protect them from a short circuit
LIPO batteries in checked baggage:
LIPO batteries with 100 Wh or less can be packed inside checked baggage only if it is securely installed inside the drone. LIPO batteries with more than 100 Wh packed in the checked-in baggage must be approved by the airline.
Replacement LIPO batteries of any Wh cannot be packed in checked baggage. Only the battery inside the drone is allowed in checked baggage. Instead, pack the spare batteries in the hand luggage and make sure that they are inside their original packaging, a battery holder or a separate pocket.
How to determine Wh of drone batteries:
Most small consumer drone-batteries has less than 100 Wh, but it is important to check the Wh of the specific batteries.
To determine the watt hours just multiply the volts by the ampere-hour (Wh = V x Ah).
Example: A 12 volt battery with 8 Ah is 96 Wh (12 x 8 = 96).
Bringing the drone through customs
In most places, the national authority or civil aviation regulations of the country shall establish and implement the drones regulations. For example, in the United States, drone-related regulations are established by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA); in Canada, they are set by Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA); in Italy by the Civil National Aviation Authority (ENAC). Identify the civil aviation authority in the country where you intend to operate traveling can help you learn about the laws about drones in that particular country.
When you travel in countries where it is legal to fly a drone, you should:
- Research the drones laws of the country. We suggest you to use an online search with a search engine such as Google or Bing
- Check for specific drone-specific laws for foreigners. Some countries require foreigners to obtain special permits to fly a drone their citizens aren’t subject to. In some rare countries prohibit foreigners from bringing drones through customs
- Determine whether or not you are required to register your drone with the national or civil aviation authority of the country
- Follow the requirements for licensing and certification of drones. It may be necessary to obtain an aeronautical knowledge test or demonstrate flight competence in accordance with the laws of the country. This is probably if you’re flying for professional/commercial purposes.
When traveling in countries where it is illegal to pilot a drone:
It is not advisable to bring one’s own drone. It may be confiscated at customs. At the end of trip it may or may not be returned upon departure.
When you travel in countries where no drone-laws have been established
You should not assume that you’ll be able to bring or pilot your drone into that country. The absence of drone-related laws does not necessarily mean that you can fly anywhere or as you please, it might actually mean that the authorities will generally be opposed to the use of drones, especially by the tourists. The same cautionary note applies for carrying a and a drone through customs. Sometimes, when a country has no specific laws on drones, some customs officials choose to confiscate the drones and some choose not to, but it’s almost impossible to know what you’re going to run into until you’re actually there with your drone.
Be sure to follow these tips and precautions when taking drones on airplanes and enjoy your travels!