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Airline Drone Policy (Read This Before You Travel)

For the past 2 years or so, air travel to many places around the globe has had a giant question mark looming over it, as the world continues to battle with the pandemic and the variants that oftentimes develop.

Despite this, travel has increased over the past few months, and even though this current variant has caused concern, major airlines are indeed preparing for future travel to pick back up soon.

Many have partially resumed vacation travel to great locations, and this has brought to the foreground the age-old question: “what do I need to know about bringing a drone on a plane”?

Before you travel with a drone, check with your airline to know their specific policies on how you need to pack your drone for travel. It’s recommended to bring your drone in your carry-on luggage, and always pack your spare batteries in LiPo fire-safe bags. 

Some of the areas we will discuss are:

  • The TSA’s (Transportation Security Agency) view on travel with drones aboard airlines
  • Requirements for bringing drones on airplanes
    • Southwest
    • Delta
    • American 
    • Spirit
    • United
  • What are LiPo bags?
  • Popular Drone Battery Power list (based on Watt Hours)

TSA views on travel with drones aboard airlines

In the United States, the Transportation Security Authority was formed after 9/11 with its mission being to “Protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce” ( 

As this mission stresses, the TSA is ultimately concerned about the well-being of passengers and threats to said passengers.  It is also a security bridge between the US and other nations.

Considering this mission, the TSA takes seriously anything that can harm or threaten individuals in the air.  Since drone batteries have the potential to be dangerous at high altitudes, the TSA wants to be sure passengers are safe from any potential or accidental consequences of them exploding or catching fire mid-flight.

The interesting thing is, instead of policing airlines and enforcing policies, the TSA has opted to give control of drone policies to the individual airlines.  As you’ll see below, some of the more well-known airlines in the US have either slightly different policies or no policies at all.  

This does add a bit of due diligence on the part of those who want to bring drones to their vacation destinations, to research and contact individual airlines to find out their drone policies.

The TSA, according to their view on drones being transported on planes, has ultimately left the final decision making to their TSA officers on whether a drone or its accompanying items can board the planes.  This isn’t unprecedented either, as the TSA officers have the final say in the admittance of all items boarding the planes.

Requirements for bringing drones on airplanes

In this section, we will focus on a few different airlines and their policies, if any, and any additional information, in general, that may prove useful when bringing drones on airplanes.

Note: Since policies change quite regularly, it is still best to confirm the airline’s policy by calling their 800 number, as their policy might have changed since the writing of this article.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is one of the airlines that has a drone policy for their passengers.  See below for a high-level takeaway from their policy, followed by a summary.

Passengers who wish to bring drones on board are encouraged to do so as carry-on and not checked luggage.  The drone can either be in a suitcase or bag measuring 10x16x24in, or as a Personal Item no more than 18×8.5×13.5in. 

Although the policy doesn’t specifically state you cannot check your drone, most individuals would like to have the peace of mind that their drone is safe, within eyeshot, and not thrown from 100 feet into the cargo hold of the plane.  If you do decide to check your luggage, ensure that it is in a rugged, protective case (ie Pelican or a similar case).

The policy mentions that passengers can have no more than a total of 15 Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) on them and a maximum of 20 lithium-ion batteries.  Loose batteries must be stored in a protective container, such as fireproof LiPo bags for drone batteries.  

We will discuss what LiPo bags are and their importance, later in this article. 

The biggest concern comes with the batteries.  The policy specifically mentions that if the batteries exceed 100 watt-hours, only 2 batteries can be brought aboard and if the batteries exceed 160 watt-hours (Wh), they are not allowed on the plane at all.  Thankfully, many Consumer and Prosumer drone batteries are a bit less than that.  

In doing research on Drone Batteries and Airlines, it would seem most airlines loosely follow a “no more than 2 drone battery” policy, however, based on the verbiage from Southwest’s policy, the no more than 2 batteries with a 100+Wh rating, is a little ambiguous, leading one to possibly decide if you are able to calculate how many batteries you should bring aboard your next Southwest flight, although I’d personally stick with just 2 to be on the safe side.


  1. There IS a drone policy
  2. You can either check the drone or bring it as a carry-on 
    1. It’s highly suggested you bring your drone as carry-on
  3. Bring no more than 2 individually stored 160Wh (or less) batteries
    1. LiPo safe drone bags are best

Delta Airlines

This is one of those Airlines that doesn’t have a specific drone policy of sorts.  What it does have, though, is a policy on LiPo batteries.  

Just like with many airlines, battery safety is a top priority, so if you do fly Delta, bring no more than 2 batteries, carry them individually in LiPo safe bags and bring the drone aboard as carry-on, although Delta does not have a policy against checking-in drones.  

As was earlier mentioned, although you can check your drone, would you want to?  It is most likely safer (regarding your expensive investment) for your drone to be brought aboard the plane in your carry-on luggage.  


  1. There IS NO Delta drone policy
  2. You can either check the drone or bring it as a carry-on 
    1. It’s highly suggested you bring your drone as carry-on
  3. Bring no more than 2 individually stored 160Wh (or less) batteries
    1. LiPo safe drone bags are best

American Airlines

Like Southwest Airlines, American Airlines also has a drone policy in effect.  Also like Southwest Airlines, American Airlines is mostly concerned with the Watt Hours that the drone battery is.  There is a theme amongst the airlines when considering batteries.  However, American Airlines is slightly stricter when it comes to drone batteries.

American Airlines allows passengers to bring 2 LiPo batteries aboard their planes if they are less than 160Wh.  Again, most popular drone batteries are significantly less than that.  

As with other airlines, the drone batteries must be stored in plastic or LiPo safe battery bags.  Also, the batteries are not allowed in checked luggage, so bring them aboard in your carry-on bag.

Note: Drone batteries cannot be installed in the drone while in an American Airlines airplane, they must be removed and safely stored in plastic or LiPo safe bags, prior to entering the security scan.  If your drone does not have removable batteries, it is best to leave it home.

The second consideration when bringing your drone on American Airlines is that the drone, the case, bag, or luggage it is carried in must be less than 22x14x19in.  Unless you are trying to bring a DJI Inspire aboard, you should be ok.  There are plenty of drone cases that are smaller than this and many photography bags and backpacks as well.


  1. There IS a drone policy for American Airlines
  2. You CANNOT check drones and batteries, they must be in carry-on luggage/bags
  3. Bring no more than 2 individually stored 160Wh (or less) batteries
    1. LiPo safe drone bags are required
  4. Batteries MUST be removed from drones prior to the security scan
    1. Do not bring drones with non-removable batteries

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines has a very specific drone policy as well, with slightly different parameters than the previous airlines.

As with other airlines, Spirit does allow you to either check your drone or bring it aboard as a carry-on, in a bag or case that falls within Spirit Airline’s size restrictions.  

However, IF you do decide to part with your expensive drone and check it in, the drone must be in a hard-shell case.  Honestly, if anyone checks a drone as luggage, it would most likely be in a hard case anyway, for protection.  If you go this route, having a TSA lock on it might provide extra security.

Now, this is where there are slightly different parameters when it comes to batteries on Spirit flights: LiPo batteries cannot exceed 100Wh.  The previous airlines had a maximum of 160Wh.  It is advised you check your manufacturer’s Watt Hours for your specific drone, although many are under that 100 mark.  There is a list further down in this article that tells the specific Watt Hours for many of the more popular drones, but not all. 

Also, regarding batteries, unlike the previous airlines, there is no specific number of batteries that can be brought aboard, although the policy does say a reasonable number.  These must all be in separate protective bags as well.  You cannot check these batteries in, they must be carry-on items.


  1. Spirit Airlines DOES have a drone policy
  2. You can either check or carry on your drone
  3. Batteries cannot be checked, must be in your carry-on
    1. must be stored in LiPo safe bags
    2. under 100Wh
  4. There is no set number of batteries you can bring on board, just a reasonable amount

United Airlines

If you were to look up United Airlines flights, you will see the airline flies all over the world, which is a great thing for travelers looking for vacation destinations outside of their home countries.

Unlike Southwest, American, and Spirit, there is no written drone policy in sight for passengers to review.  Like Delta, though, there is a policy pertaining to LiPo batteries and carry-ons.

If you have a drone that has non-removable batteries that are 100Wh or less, you can carry the drone on the plane, but it cannot be checked.  However, like other airlines, if you have removable batteries, you can only bring 2 that are under 160Wh, individually wrapped and as carry-ons.  The drone, minus the batteries, can then be checked.

Regarding transporting the drone as a carry-on, you can pack it in one of the following sized carry-on requirements: Luggage 22x14x9in or Personal Item 17x10x9in.  It is highly suggested that you do not check your drone. Pack it and bring it aboard the plane with you for safekeeping.


  1. There IS NO United Airlines drone policy
  2. You can either check the drone or bring it as a carry-on 
    1. It’s highly suggested you bring your drone as carry-on
  3. Bring no more than 2 individually stored 160Mh (or less) batteries
    1. LiPo safe drone bags are best
    2. Uninstalled batteries cannot be checked

What are LiPo bags?

LiPo bags are small pouches/squared bags, made of fire-resistant materials, specifically designed to contain a fire caused by LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery failure.  Because drone batteries are Lithium Polymer, they need to be protected, especially when in high altitudes, where they might fail and cause a fire.  

Because of drone batteries’ potentially volatile nature, airlines require them to be stored in separate fire-proof bags, to minimize the possibility of a cabin fire.  LiPo bags are easily found on the likes of Amazon.

Below is a listing of watt-hours for the batteries of a few popular makes of drones:

DJI Mavic Mini/Mini 2/SE17.28Wh
DJI Mavic Air/Air 2S40.42Wh
DJI Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom 59.29Wh
DJI Mavic 377Wh
DJI Phantom 4 Pro89.2Wh
Autel Evo II82Wh
Autel Evo Nano17.32Wh
Autel Evo Lite68.7Wh
Parrot Anafi20Wh

Final Thoughts

As can be seen, traveling with drones on airplanes is not as difficult as would initially be thought.  The individual airlines have been given the authority to write their own drone policies, although the TSA officers have the final say if your drone can get through security and onto the plane.

Regarding physically bringing drones aboard airplanes, the consensus of the airlines highlighted here would be that protecting the drone batteries is a top priority, and it is suggested to put them in Fireproof Drone LiPo Battery bags.  

If you want to physically protect your drone as a carry-on item, rugged cases built specifically for your drone are suggested, if they fit within the airlines’ size policy.

This was a brief look into only a few airlines and their drone policies if they have any.  It is suggested that before you travel, check with your airlines to see their specific drone policies and restrictions.  

If traveling outside of your home country or within the US, it is advised to research the drone laws and restrictions for drone flights in whichever country/state you will be visiting, as different countries, as well as states within the United States, have varying drone policies and local laws.