If you have a drone and are lucky enough to travel, a very logical question is, “Can I bring my drone on the plane?”. Luckily, the answer is yes, but there are a few requirements. In this article I’ve put together my top tips for taking your drone/quadcopter on a plane. Having recently arrived back from a trip myself, I can happily say that by following these tips I didn’t encounter any problems or delays at the airport.
If you’re still considering which drone to get, I can strongly recommend the DJI Mavic. You can read my in-depth Mavic review here. You can find the Mavic at BangGood, on Amazon and direct from DJI. I personally recommend the Fly More Combo, as well as two additional batteries, it has nice extras that are useful when travelling. Read on to find out which of them I particularly like and where you can find them separately if you already have the Mavic.
These tips are split into three sections: before you go, for the flight and once you’re there.
Can I bring my drone on the plane? Yes!
Before you go
- Research local laws. This may not seem immediately obvious, but make sure that you know where you are allowed to fly and any local restrictions. Laws may not be the same as they are for you at home. As a general rule, never fly over or near populated areas, people or private property.
- Print a copy of the airline’s/country’s rules regarding drones/batteries on aircraft and keep these with your drone when going through security. These can be particularly helpful if you are confronted. Calmly point out the rules on the printout from the web page and you should be able to continue.
- Practice flying. You will want to maximise your time away; learning how to fly in a foreign country in unfamiliar surroundings is not a good idea. Make sure you are comfortable with how your drone operates and are competent using it before you travel.
- Get extra batteries and props. When exploring new places, you will find that one pack is simply not enough. This is particularly true if you are visiting multiple potential flying locations each day and don’t have time to recharge. If you fly the Mavic like me, I recommend having three batteries. You can get extras here. Same goes for props, if you have a crash and break a prop, you will be wanting spares!
- Get a case/bag. If you don’t already have a suitable bag, make sure you get one. I find the Mavic bag ideal for it, along with two spare batteries, props and ND filters. If taking a racing drone, I personally prefer a 25 litre hiking backpack, as it fits the Taranis, batteries and drone.
- Get fire/explosion proof battery bags. These are a must for everyday use while charging, and will help get you through airport security with fewer issues. Some countries require batteries to be individually packaged, so getting a bag for each battery is an option if you only have a few packs. If you are travelling with a racing drone, it’s best to still use a bag, but tape up the terminals and use one bag for multiple batteries if this allowed. Click here to see the full range of cheap battery bags.
For the flight
If you want to take a drone/quadcopter on an aeroplane, the likelihood is that you are going to be restricted on the batteries rather than the drone itself. LiPo batteries can be dangerous (read my LiPo battery guide) and so there are rules and restrictions when taking them on a plane. These will vary, so it’s worth doing your research. For my recent trip, I was able to take one battery in the Mavic, plus two spares, but would not have been allowed to take any additional batteries.
It is important to understand that LiPo batteries must be packed inside your hand/carry on luggage and not in your checked bag. What you can’t take in your hand luggage are any tools that you may be bringing along for minor repairs (see my drone building tools list), these will need to go into your checked bag.
When you go along to a drone race, it may be cool to have your drone strapped to the outside of your bag, when travelling you want to remain low key. Pack everything inside your bag, not strapped to it. Make sure you remove your props, both for ease of packaging and minimising damage, but also so that your quadcopter looks less aggressive. Getting stopped is inconvenient when you’ve done nothing wrong.
My preference is to take my charger in my carry on bag, but depending on size and weight this may not be possible for you. If you do have to check your main charger, it is definitely worth taking something compact like the B6AC Balance Charger in your hand luggage. This way, if your main bag is lost you still have everything you need to be able to fly.
Once you’re there
The main thing is to stay safe and have fun! Be respectful of any other people in the area and abide by any local laws.
If you are travelling around or just making day trips, consider when & where to charge and charging safety. Using a battery bag is always advised. I find my Mavic car charger very useful, as it is quicker than the wall charger and means that I can recharge a pack between locations if driving around.
If you have any tips of your own, make sure to comment and I’ll add them into the article. If you found this article interesting or useful, please share on social media.