Alaska Airlines is a truly wonderful airline. They are consistently renowned for their customer service and excellent rewards program. But, can you take a drone on an Alaska Airlines flight? What is the Alaska Airlines Drone Policy?
We’ve got you covered. In this article we examine the Alaska Airlines Drone policy and explain how to travel with a drone on an Alaska flight.
Alaska Airlines Drone Policy
Unlike many airlines who fail to make any mention of drone at all (thus leaving travelers having to piece together a policy by examining battery policies and other baggage policies) Alaska does speak to drones – a bit anyway.
In fact, as we will find, Alaska has really just bungled their drone policy and made matters far more confusing to travelers than it needs to be.
Checking a Drone – Alaska Airlines
Specifically, Alaska notes that a drone can be included in your checked baggage as long as you remove the batteries and carry them on. Because drone batteries are Lithium Polymer batteries they fall under the airline’s battery policies (this is the case with most airlines, by the way).
Lithium Polymer (LiPo) batteries have to be carried on to an Alaska Airlines flight and this includes batteries for your drone.
They further note:
“All batteries must be under 100 Watt hours, and the terminals covered/insulated to prevent short-circuiting. Original retail packaging is sufficient, or if not in the original packaging, the terminals must be covered with non-conductive tape. We also recommend not traveling with fully charged batteries.”
Most drone batteries will be under 100 Watt Hours (wh) but you can always check the manufacturer’s specifications or simply look at the labeling on the battery.
Note, at the end of the next section we examine some of the confusion that Alaska Airlines drone policy introduces. Keep reading.
If you are interested in buying a travel drone please check out our detailed analysis of the very best drones for travel.
Alaska Airlines Drone Carry on Policy
Alaska Airlines allows drones to be carried on to their flights as long as passengers comply with other carry on limitations (e.g. Alaska’s carry on size limitations)
In fact, Alaska Airlines actually recommends that travelers carry their drones on to the plane instead of checking them:
“Due to the number of batteries most drones travel with, we recommend carrying everything in a backpack or similar case that will fit under the seat in front of you.”
We agree with Alaska’s recommendation but for different reasons. Sure, keeping everything together is nice, but frankly I’ve seen dinged up suitcases come out of baggage claim. The last thing I want to have is my 900.00 drone get broken or stolen so we recommend always bringing a drone on as carry on.
You can easily find a drone backpack that will fit your drone gear and simply carry it on. By carrying your drone on you will get peace of mind as it sits above you in the overhead bin or beneath the seat back in front of you.
If for some reason you decide to check your drone be sure to get a hard case for your drone and a TSA approved lock. And maybe some drone insurance.
Like many airlines who are trying to get their drone policies sorted Alaska makes a good effort, but ultimately bungles it a bit giving travelers cause for confusion. I will try to highlight some conflicting information about the Alaska Airlines drone & LiPo battery policies:
- Alaska notes that drones are allowed
- They note that batteries must be carried on
- They also note that drone batteries must be less than 100 watt hours
- They don’t identify a limit on the # of <100wh batteries you can bring with your drone
- Their general LiPo battery policy breaks LiPo batteries into two sizes: small and large
- Large LiPo batteries can exceed 100wh but be no larger than 160wh (this is common with airlines). Two spares are allowed to be carried on.
- Smal LiPo batteries are <100wh AND are allowed to be “installed in equipment”
- This is the first part of confusion. Alaska says drones are cool as long as they are 100wh or less and you carry the batteries on. But that conflicts with their normal small LiPo drone policy which says that batteries CAN be left in equipment. Huh!?!? Which is it and why the confusion
- It’s also odd that Alaska restricts it’s drone batteries to 100wh while allowing other larger LiPo batteries to be as large as 160wh. Many other airlines allow drones to be no larger than 160wh with no issues. So, why the smaller restriction!??!
All of that is to say that we recommend that travelers do this when traveling with their drones on Alaska:
- Always carry your drones on in a drone backpack
- Have <100wh batteries
- Leave them uninstalled and in original packaging
Thanks for stopping in
Ok, thanks for stopping in for another airline drone policy. Sure, Alaska makes an effort here, but ultimately they bungle it a bit. It’s not horrible, but it’s not clean. Let’s hope the Alaska Airlines Drone policy gets cleaned up a bit in the future. For now, though, happy traveling and droning.
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