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Can you Travel with Memorial Jewelry & Human Ashes Keepsakes?

Traveling with memorial keepsakes or cremation jewelry can be stressful for those experiencing the loss of a loved one. Recently in the news, a traveler discovered his mother’s ashes had spilled inside his checked bag once he retrieved it at baggage claim in Los Angeles. This is truly heartbreaking and something no one should have to experience. The unidentified object in the bag set off an alarm during routine scanning by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Upon opening the bag for inspection, the TSA agent discovered that the object was an opened, unmarked ceramic container; it was loosely wrapped in aluminum foil. Because it was unmarked, the agent didn’t know that the contents were cremains. The container was carefully repacked, and the bag continued on its way. Safeguarding your precious memorial jewelry or keepsakes when traveling takes proper planning and care. Having a clear understanding of air travel expectations will allow you to fly confidently and safely with your memorial jewelry and keepsakes.

Travelling on a plane

Air Travel with Memorial Jewelry

Memorial jewelry includes a variety of unique and creative options to memorialize your loved one, such as cremation jewelry, fingerprint jewelry, and personalized jewelry. The TSA has no restrictions on passengers wearing or traveling with memorial jewelry. In general, small jewelry such as necklaces, rings, and earrings do not need to be removed when passing through the screening process. These items are highly unlikely to set off any alarms. This is certainly true of memorial jewelry as well. Even memorial jewelry containing a small portion of ashes is totally fine. If you have concerns that a TSA agent may ask you to remove the jewelry, it's best to safely pre-pack it into your carry-on bag before going through the screening process.

Because it is a beloved and priceless possession, it’s advisable not to pack it with your checked luggage or even gate-checked luggage. Even though TSA and the airlines make every effort to see your bag safely through to its destination, there are a number of things that can happen:
  • The bag could be lost
  • The bag could be opened for inspection, and the item can be moved or misplaced
  • The bag or items therein could be at risk of theft
  • The memorial jewelry could be damaged along the handling process

The Living Urn offers several beautiful pieces of memorial jewelry that can be carried with you just about anywhere you go. Unique and discreet, they are a lovely way to honor your loved one. Here are three radiant examples:

Made of sterling silver, this high-quality cremation jewelry pendant comes with an 18” chain to wear as a necklace. Handcrafted with care, you can place a small portion of your loved one’s ashes inside.

Handcrafted with care from 925 sterling silver, this piece is great for either men or women and can hold a small amount of your loved one’s ashes.

This beautiful cremation pendant can either hold a small portion of your loved one's ashes, soil from the burial site, or soil or water from the scattering site. It can also be engraved and comes with a stainless steel key ring as well as a 30” beaded chain to wear. If you don’t wish to wear it, a 4” chain is offered to add it to another urn or special place.

Air Travel with Memorial Keepsakes

Memorial keepsakes are small-sized urns or pieces of art that are designed to hold a small amount of ashes. This does include memorial jewelry, but we will focus on the slightly larger small-sized urns in this section when we speak of memorial keepsakes. Like memorial jewelry, memorial keepsakes are able to pass through TSA and accompany you onboard your flight. As noted above, it can be packed in checked luggage; however, it is not advised.

In terms of flying, the part to pay attention to is the construction of the small-sized urn. TSA has a clear process for screening crematory remains. TSA officers routinely conduct these types of screenings throughout our nation’s airports. Cremated remains in carry-ons must pass through the X-ray machine to be screened. Memorial keepsakes usually hold about 15-20% of a single person’s ashes. If the X-ray operator cannot clear the remains, TSA may apply other, non-intrusive means of resolving the alarm. The officer is not allowed to open any cremation container, even if given permission by the owner. If the officer cannot determine that the container does not contain a prohibited item, the remains will not be permitted. Naturally, if the memorial keepsake can’t be permitted, neither can you. It is important to consider flying with a TSA-compliant urn such as bamboo, wood, plastic, or glass. The Living Urn has a vast array of beautiful keepsake urns to represent your loved one. Here are three exquisite examples:

This eco-friendly urn is made of recycled compressed paper. It is TSA-compliant as it can easily be x-rayed and screened for human ashes. The cotton bag it comes packaged in provides a discrete and added layer of protection during transport or travel.

These beautiful small urns are made from glass and designed to hold or scatter a portion of your loved one’s ashes. They are very fragile and require extreme care when traveling. Since they are glass, it will be easy for TSA to screen them.

Created to symbolize honor and vitality, the solid wood Living Urn Planter is made from only premium wood with a smooth surface expressing the vibrant grains and natural beauty of the wood. The TSA will have no problem screening a wood-based urn.

Other Reminders for Traveling with Cremation Jewelry and Keepsakes

Although TSA policies on traveling with cremains don’t currently show any signs of impending change, it’s always a good idea to double-check them for any updated adjustments. In general, it's helpful to have documentation from the funeral director to alleviate any confusion should you need to interact with any authorities. TSA and most airlines encourage you to keep cremains with you throughout your flying experience. In fact, some airlines will only allow you to fly with them as a carry-on. That story of the spilled cremains in the luggage is something airlines do not want to see happen again. Check in with your intended airline to see if there are any policies on traveling with cremains that you should be aware of. For example, Jet Blue has this to say as of the date of this article:

“Urns will not count as part of the customer's personal item or carry-on item baggage requirements. The urn must fit completely stowed under the seat in front of the customer or in an overhead bin. The urn may not be held by a customer for taxi, takeoff, and landing.”

If you are flying internationally, it's important to check the rules in the country you’ll be traveling to before flying. It will be helpful to know if there are any special rules or documentation needed. You can call your consulate or embassy in the destination country to help get answers. Visit our blog to learn more about travel-friendly memorial jewelry and keepsakes!

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