hawaii tsa drone carry-on luggage

Can I take my drone through TSA in my carry-on baggage?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about taking your drone through TSA in your checked baggage. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m going to Maui in three weeks, and I would love to bring my GoPro Drone.  I was wondering if you know the regulation at SFO regards to having drone in my carry-on.   Any tips in Maui? What spots are good to fly drones at? 

I’m jealous you’re heading to Maui! And yes, it is totally okay to take a drone through a U.S. airport. It’s clearly written on the U.S.’s TSA site that drones are allowed to be brought through security in your carry-on.

That being said, before flying, check with your individual airline’s website to make sure drones are not on the prohibited packing items list.

As a personal tip, before I send my drone through the scanner, I usually give the person working it a head’s up there is a drone inside. Every time I don’t, they also see its weird shape and feel the need to inspect it! This always ends up just saving everyone time.

One important thing to note, there ARE restrictions on flying with batteries. You can only travel with three drone batteries per passenger. If you need to travel with four, give the spare ones to your travel companion to hold onto. Your batteries must also remain below 100 watt hours per battery. If they exceed that, you must receive specific airline approval. You can check your drone’s user manual to check your battery’s watt hours. This site has detailed descriptions of airline battery rules, if you want to go a little more in the weeds.

Remember that all of this applies to domestic flying in the U.S. If you were flying internationally, that would be a different story.. I’ve heard everything from drones being confiscated, to travelers being asked to leave their drone at customs and being told they could pick it up at the end of their trip. Just ask filmmaker Chafic Saad, who arrived at the customs department in Bali, which would not let them bring a drone through despite what they though was the proper paperwork.

“They thought I was going to sell it,” he said. “I had to put down a deposit of $2,000 US dollars and it would not have been returned if I didn’t bring the money back. That was scary.”

If you ever DO take your drone internationally, UAV Coach has a really excellent master list of drone laws by country. There you can find out if you need to register, if you need a license, and if you can even bring that drone into the country. Though, sometimes it seems laws change on an almost-daily basis, so I would also check with each country’s aviation regulatory agency’s website as well.

As far as flying specifically in Maui, I haven’t been to Hawaii since I was 5 years old! That was pre-drone life. I can’t speak from personal experience, but make sure you check Know Before You Fly to make sure you are legally allowed to fly in those areas.

If you have personal experience flying with a drone in Hawaii, or have broader drone travel tips, please leave a comment below!

8 Comments

  • Tulinda J Larsen says:

    I just flew with my P4P from BWI. No problems! I put my batteries in the fire proof bags in case they exploded, but that was not necessary. The TSA guy said they get a lot of drones. The consumer drones are no problem. He said they take the military drones for special inspections.

    I was so nervous! But turned out to be a breeze!

  • Mavic_is_us says:

    It’s not the drone but the battery(s) that are the concern. Visit the airlines website for handling instructions and specific rules – and PRINT them out – bring these with you in your carry on since there are numerous cases of pilots and airline staff arbitrarily banning drones on their flights in contradiction to what their airlines stated policy. Some pointers – batteries must be removed from the drone during travel, they MUST be carried on, not in checked luggage, tape over the battery contacts with painters tape to prevent any chance of shorting the contacts. ( Be sure to also not exceed the limit for total battery power you can carry on .). We travel frequently with both a Mavic and Phantom – TSA doesn’t bat an eye. Good luck and enjoy !

  • Jack says:

    I was in Maui in the pre-drone era. Maui can get very windy. That can be a problem for some drones. Like my P2+. 😊 Rain can be steady during certain times of the year. Have fun!

  • Ernest S. says:

    Great article! I also haven’t had any issues traveling with my drone. However, I do recommend getting a LiPo bag for batteries. It’s not required, but it’s a best practice, and in the event that you’re questioned about your batteries, you’re at least showing the intention of traveling as safe as possible.

  • Bruce Stein says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience in carrying the drone in the flight. I have no personal experience to carry the drone in a bag. But your experience helps me a lot. Thanks again, SALLY FRENCH.

    Bruce Stein, Owner of https://www.dronesquery.com/

  • minidrone says:

    Live Streaming of Air Mini Drone
    This article discusses important considerations for live streaming from Air Mini Drone. The popularity of consumer drones is on the rise, and there is a huge demand for aerial videos taken from Air Mini Drone. In the very recent past, it was a very expensive exercise to capture the images from the sky. However, Now these little flying machines made it very convenient and cheap. Drone filming is finding new applications on a daily basis in various fields such as agriculture, industrial inspection, and real estate.

  • Steve says:

    When going through security, where you forced to remove the drone and/or the batteries from your bag, or was it fine to leave in the bag?

  • Ernestmac says:

    Great educational topic. Though always fine tune depending on your destination. Thanks guys

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