According to the TSA, you are allowed to bring plants on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags.
However, the TSA also have a rule that does not allow you to take plants through security in your carry on bags when transported in water.
When travelling internationally, the rules can also vary.
But does this also vary by airline, and what is the best way of packing plants to ensure that they won’t be damaged when you arrive at your destination.
Bringing Plants On a Plane
Carry On Bags
The TSA will allow you to bring plants on a plane in your carry on bags, just as long as they are not transported in water.
This is because the TSA has a rule that does not allow passengers to bring any liquids in containers that exceed 3.4oz/100ml.
If you want to bring plants on a plane in your checked baggage, you are allowed to, though it usually isn’t the best idea.
This is because plants will damage easily during transportation due to their fragile nature.
Airlines, including all domestic and major air carriers like Southwest, Delta, United, American, Alaska etc. follow TSA regulations.
This means that you can pack plants in both your carry on and checked bags, though will not be allowed to transport them with water when packed in your carry on bags.
Domestic vs. International Travel Plant Restrictions
Domestic Flights (USA)
If you are flying domestically within the USA, you will not have any issues as long as you follow TSA regulations.
The exception is Hawaii that prohibits or restricts certain types of plants and flowers from entry.
You should also note that when flying into the USA, you must declare any plants you are travelling with.
Under the “I am (We are) bringing (a) fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, foods, insects” section, you must tick the “Yes” box.
When flying internationally, the rules for bringing plants on a plane can change quite drastically.
This is down to countries having their own agricultural restrictions for bringing plants into the country due to the pests and diseases plants can carry.
Restrictions may include:
- An outright ban on the plant
- Transporting the plant without soil
- Obtaining permission in advance
- Declaring the plants upon arrival
Passengers who want to bring plants into the UK from the EU must have a phytosanitary certificate (PC).
If the plant originates from outside the EU, a phytosanitary certificate for importation, in addition to pre-notification, are also required.
If you are traveling within the EU, you can bring plants into any country as long as they have been grown in the EU and are free from pests and diseases.
If traveling from a country outside the EU into the EU, including the USA, the following regulations apply:
- Loose soil is not allowed
- Citrus and vine plants are not permitted
- For other plants or tree seedlings with or without soil, you are allowed a maximum of 5 plants unless accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate
You Can Bring Fake Plants On a Plane
Fake plants may be made from plastic, foam, sateen, polyester or paper and do not require water.
This means that you will have no problem bringing fake plants on a plane in either your carry on or checked bags.
How to Pack Plants In Your Suitcase
It’s usually not a good idea to pack plants in your suitcase due to the risk of damage.
But the best way of packing plants in your suitcase is to pack them in a protective container and make sure the soil is held in place.
This can be achieved by wrapping an old towel around the top of the root ball.
How to Pack Plants In Your Carry On Bag
If you want to pack plants in your carry on bag, wrap the stems in damp paper towels and plastic wrap or foil.
This will keep the plant hydrated while being inline with TSA guidelines, which does not permit any liquid greater than 3.4oz/100ml when traveling through airport security.
Placing the plant in a box with a generous amount of cushioning is highly recommended too, especially if you will have to place the plant in an overhead bin on the plane.
You Can Also Bring Flowers on a Plane
If you want to bring flowers on a plane, the same rules apply.
So this means that you cannot bring flowers on a plane in your carry on bags if they are transported in water.