How To Transport a Body via Airplane

If the body will be air-shipped either from one state to another or from one country to another, the funeral home can (and, legally, must) handle these arrangements.

Working with a "Known Shipper"

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration requires that funeral homes that wish to transport human remains via air be approved as “Known Shippers.” If you are planning on air-shipping the body (either from one country to another or from one city to another), ask the funeral home you're working with if it's an approved “Known Shipper.” If it isn't, you will want to consider finding a funeral home that is.

Escorting the body

Commonly, bodies are shipped via cargo planes and are collected by a funeral home representative at the airport’s cargo terminal. However, you have the right to escort the body (that is, ship the body on a passenger plane that you are traveling on), and you may be able to collect the body at the destination yourself.

To learn more about escorting the body, see our article Escorting a Body and Bereavement Fares.

Preparing the body for transport

Be aware that some states require that the body be embalmed if it will leave the state, and some states require that the body be embalmed if it will enter the state. In addition, some states require that a body be embalmed if it will be transported via “common carrier,” such as an airplane, train, commercial bus, or trucking line. If your religion has prohbitions against embalming, it's a good idea to speak with your local religious leader to get a sense of how your community feels about this issue, or see our article Religious Perspectives on Embalming.

Cost of transporting the body

The cost of shipping a body is based on the weight of the shipment and the distance from the place of origin to the destination. In addition, you will have to pay for the cost of the shipping container, as well as any fees to the funeral home(s) for the coordination of the shipping.

The fee for forwarding remains to another funeral home usually ranges from $1000.00 to $3000.00. The fee for receiving remains from another funeral home usually ranges from $800.00 to $2500.00. You will likely have to pay both of these fees, in addition to any other funeral home costs.

To learn about transporting the body via ground, see our article Transporting a Body via Ground.

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