Travel Issues

While Cremstar is not a law firm and we are not licensed to provide legal advice, * we can guide customers regarding certain legal issues that come up when someone dies.

Though most airlines will try to accommodate the needs of grieving passengers, only a select few offer special fares to those dealing with a sudden loss. These bereavement flights, also known as bereavement fares, are discounted flexible fares offered by an airline to passengers who need to travel in the event of the imminent death or sudden recent death of a loved one (typically an immediate family member).

Please check the airline to see their specific requirements.

  • Alaska Airlines - 10% discount
  • Air Canada - discount on all economy class fares except for economy basic.
  • Delta - discounted fares vary
  • Hawaiian Airlines - discounted fare only for travel between islands.
  • WestJet - discounted fares vary
  • Lufthansa - In the event of a death abroad Lufthansa offers immediate family members special fares for outbound and return flights to attend the funeral if their journey starts in the USA or Canada. Customers from the USA or Canada are kindly requested to contact their Lufthansa reservations office in the USA or Canada before the start of their trip for further information and to make a booking.

TSA allows cremated remains (cremains) to be transported by air in both checked luggage and carry on. Check your individual airline for their specific requirements.

Ashes on planes - Below are a few airlines policies on traveling with cremated remains.

Delta: Permitted with a death and cremation certificate. "Cremated remains can be accepted as either carry-on, checked baggage or shipped unaccompanied as cargo. The passenger must have a death or cremation certificate."

American Airlines: Permitted. "When you travel with cremated remains, they'll be treated as carry-on baggage. No special documentation is needed if you're traveling domestically, but please contact a local consulate or burial advisor if you're traveling internationally since the rules vary."

United: Permitted as a carry-on only, with required documentation. "If you're traveling with cremated human remains, they need to be transported as carry-on baggage. For travel within the U.S., it's highly recommended that you travel with appropriate documentation (such as a document from the funeral home or a death certificate) to present during TSA screening."

Spirit: Permitted. "Documentation from the funeral home is not sufficient to carry a crematory container through security and onto a plane without screening. To be transported as checked baggage, the crematory container must be successfully screened during the checked baggage screening process."

Frontier: Permitted. "The container must be made of a material such as wood or plastic that can be successfully screened by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)."

Southwest: Permitted as a carry-on only. "Southwest Airlines will not accept human remains as checked baggage; however, a customer may take cremated remains onboard a domestic U.S. or international flight as a carry-on item under certain conditions. A customer or funeral/cremation facility may choose to transport either cremated or uncremated remains via Southwest Airlines Cargo. Advanced arrangements are required for this service."

Ashes on planes - Foreign.

To travel with ashes, you will need:
  • The death certificate
  • The certificate of cremation

It's also best to have:
  • A document from your funeral director or the crematorium stating that the urn contains the ashes of the person who has died (no one else)
  • Proof of your relationship with the person who died. The guidelines on taking ashes abroad vary considerably depending on your destination and how you're getting there. So, your next step after gathering the paperwork is to contact the airline you'll be traveling on and ask what their guidelines are. Usually, they will tell you:
    • Ashes can be taken on the plane in your carry-on luggage
    • They will be x-rayed, and should be kept in a suitable non-metal container (see below)
    • You may need to declare the ashes at Customs with the paperwork above
    • It's best to arrive at the airport early to allow time for security checks

That done, your final step is to contact the consulate, embassy or high commission of the country you are headed to and ask what their requirements are. This is very important, as all countries are slightly different. They should provide you with the documentation you'll need to enter the country of destination.

Once you've settled and the cremation and Life Celebration Event (either IRL or virtual via MemoryBox in the Metaverse) are behind you, it may be time to travel.

According to the 2016 census, 24 percent of people 65 and older are widowed. The statistics on younger generations are limited, but people of all ages and relationship statuses pass away. A loss often feels impossible to overcome. Travel becomes an important part of the grieving and healing process, particularly for women.

Grief therapist Claire Bidwell Smith, LCPC, has seen this pattern. "Community shows up a lot in the first few months, then they drop off," she says. "But [those who have suffered a loss] are still not ready to go back to everyday life." Travel can become an escape route, she adds, or a liberation from the weight of the loss of a partner. For the avid traveler, it can also be an important return to something they loved before - a way to reclaim a piece of who they are.

Of course, it's all about finding the trip that's right for you. Group trips have been a way for many people to continue traveling on their own. A travel agent can be an invaluable resource when you decide to travel during the grieving process. Whether traveling for a memorial or to process grief a travel agent can help make the planning and traveling much smoother.

Travel, like everything else, gets easier with time. "I think that grief can be transformative. It asks something of you, it asks you to be a new person," says Bidwell. "But you have to let it break you open and break you down."


If you have any questions, please contact us:

  • By phone: (888) 802-0999, available 24/7. (Se Habla Español.)
  • By email: [email protected]
  • By chat: 7AM - 10PM Eastern Time, seven days a week; click on the round red chat button on the bottom right of the screen.

If you are in immediate need because a death has already occurred, order a direct cremation now. If a death is imminent (a matter of days or weeks), visit the Cremstar Cremation Cost Calculator for an estimate and to email yourself a customized "Order Now" link. If you are preparing for the future, visit our Planning Ahead section.