You can bring a plant on a plane, but there are things to consider. First, is the flight domestic in the United States or international? Domestic and international flights will have different rules, which means you should check with the airline and TSA website to understand everything you will need to do when bringing a plant onboard.
Second, can you bring the plant on as a carry-on or personal item, or do you need to pack it into your checked luggage? If you need to have it in your packed luggage, what is the best way to wrap it, so it fits perfectly in your bag? What is the best way to transport the plant if you bring it on via a personal item?
Here is the complete guide to bringing plants on a plane and more!
Does TSA Allow You to Bring Plants on Planes?
According to the TSA rules, you can bring plants on a plane ride. You can place plants in your checked bag or carry-on bag when coming to the airport. However, while TSA agents allow you to bring a plant through security and onto a plane, they also have the final say to ensure passenger safety if it can proceed to the aircraft.
Also, remember that you shouldn’t have the plant in water when going through airport security. Airport security won’t allow that plant to go through security screening since it is a liquid, so you should put it in soil.
Do Airlines Allow You to Bring Houseplants on Planes?
Most airlines follow what TSA.gov does via prohibited items. Since TSA allows passengers to pack plants either in their checked-in luggage or bing the potted plant as a carry-on item, most airlines follow that same guideline. However, check the exact airline that you will be flying to make sure that is also the case, but generally speaking, you should be all set as long as the item makes it through TSA without issues.
Do Plants Count as a Carry-on-Bag or a Personal Item?
You have to check with the airline’s carry-on item size dimensions to see if it is a carry-on bag or personal item. The main thing that the airlines want to see is how you will store the plant on the plant. For example, placing the plant directly under a seat vs. an overhead compartment makes a difference in how an airline will classify this item.
Do Plants Go Through X-Ray Screening?
All plants must go through an x-ray screening at an airport. These strict rules are for all passengers traveling through the airport. If you are concerned about putting the plant through the x-ray machine, your best bet is to leave that plant at home.
Travel Tips with Plants via Carry-on-Luggage on Flights
To transport plants (either domestic or international) when traveling via hand luggage, you can do a few things to make the trip successful. First, if possible, you should keep the plant’s receipts and original packaging when traveling. Keeping the receipts can help with any issues TSA or any other screening service has with the plant so they can check the records.
Second, protect the live plant by placing it into a garbage bag and cutting some holes at the top to allow the plant to breathe. The garbage bag helps protect the plant and also keeps your space clean if the soil becomes messy on the flight. Messy soil is typical if the flight is turbulent, so keeping it in your bag will keep everyone around you happy.
Third, consider removing the plant’s soil and exposing the bare roots when traveling by flight. The bare roots method works by washing down the roots before heading to the airport and placing a plastic bag around them. Next, wrap paper towels around the plastic bag to keep the moisture in place around these roots. Going by bare roots is an excellent option to ensure you don’t create a mess on the plane with soil.
Travel Tips with Plants via Checked Luggage
When transporting a plant in checked luggage, you should do a few things to ensure the plant doesn’t get damaged on the ride:
- Prune away any excessive branches from the plant to keep it smaller.
- Remove some of the soil around the plant to reduce the item’s weight.
- Place a towel at the top of the soil to keep everything compact.
- Wrap the entire plant in a plastic bag with some holes cut out at the top to allow the plant to breathe while in your suitcase.
- Use rubber bands to keep the plastic bag securely around the plant.
Domestic Flights with Plants
Domestic flights with transporting plants within the United States are relatively straightforward. As long as the plant clears the x-ray and manual screening by TSA, you shouldn’t have any flight issues. However, it is worth noting that TSA and the airline have the final say if you can bring a plant onto a plane. For example, a large plant that will disrupt a flight might be one of those items that aren’t allowed on the flight, while a small succulent or pothos plant won’t cause any issue.
Domestic Flights from Hawaii and Puerto Rico with Plants
Flying back from Hawaii to another state within the United States will prohibit some plants from traveling. These prohibited items (plants) include sugarcane, soil, mock orange, cactus plants, and seeds with fruits. Check out the guide from Alternative Airlines to see the complete list of what you can and can’t bring into the mainlands on a domestic flight from Hawaii. You must declare any items that need screening when coming from Hawaii to the airport security.
Puerto Rico, like Hawaii, also has some flight travel restrictions when it comes to plants. When coming from Puerto Rico, you must declare any food items or plants you bring in for full inspection. The complete inspection studies the food and plants to avoid getting these into the destination country.
International Flights with Plants
Bringing a plant on an international travel flight will require some research. For example, in Europe, you need to present a phytosanitary certificate that explains that the plant doesn’t have any diseases or pests.
If the destination country is the United States of America, you must declare these plant products on the U.S. custom forms. From there, the security checkpoint, and if the animal and plant health inspection service are present, will inspect the plant to make sure they meet the Department of Agriculture standards. As long as you markdown on the customs form that you have a plant, you won’t receive any penalty, even if there is an issue with the type of plant you brought.
Conclusion: Can You Bring Plants on a Plane?
In summary, flying domestically in the United States, for the most part, doesn’t have issues with bringing plants on a plane. The plants need to go through a TSA x-ray screening and maybe a manual screening before they can board the aircraft. Most airlines follow the prohibited items list that the TSA has, so if the plant is OK with them, they are fine with it. However, both TSA and the airlines have the final say if a plant can board a plane.
When it comes to international flights, you should be ready to declare all items on your custom sheets for inspection. There is no penalty if your plant has any pests or problems that the international screening discovers. The screening officials won’t allow you to keep the plant if there are issues to make sure these items don’t impact the environment in that country.
Finally, packing a plant in your checked luggage bag is straightforward. You want to prune away excess branches and leaves to allow them to fit into your suitcase. Next, remove some dirt, put a towel over the base of the plant, and then wrap it into a bag to secure it in place.