How Much Does It Cost To Transport a Dead Body by Plane?

Unfortunately, we can’t always be with our loved ones when they pass away. Tragic accidents happen every day, and we aren’t always living as close to our loved ones as we may want to. These factors can force people to consider transporting a dead body by plane – and the costs of doing so. 

It costs $1,200 to $4,500 to transport a dead body by plane domestically or $4,000 to $10,000 internationally. However, the price will differ depending on the airline, location, availability of flights, and other factors that might raise the price. 

Let’s break down these costs to help determine how much you will need to spend to have your loved one shipped to you and what the process will be like. I’ll help you understand what shipping a body entails and how to save money on these transportation fees. 

Why Does It Cost So Much To Transport a Dead Body by Plane?

It costs so much to transport a dead body by plane due to the time, permissions, and paperwork associated with the process. The overall cost of transporting a body by plane depends on the body’s weight, the container to ship in, and the fees associated with sending and receiving the body. 

Shipping a body on a plane may not be ideal for many people, but sometimes it is the only way to get your loved one to you safely. So, let’s talk more about the costs of shipping a dead body. 

Sending and Receiving

Funeral homes charge to send and receive bodies to their locations. The cost can vary depending on the funeral home’s policies, but you can expect to pay at least $1,000.

Funeral homes charge these fees because they take care to ensure that the body arrives safely. They also must ensure that staff members are there to receive the body when it comes. So, much of this cost goes to transportation and time for the funeral home staff who must travel with the body.


Depending on the amount of time shipping takes and the state’s rules that will receive it, you may need to embalm the body of your loved one before you can ship it. 

The funeral home will help with this process if necessary, but it is also your responsibility to ensure that you meet all state requirements. So, make sure you research the rules for your state. 

Embalming costs on average $500 to $700 depending on the funeral home, staffing, and the size of your loved one. If you don’t plan on embalming your loved ones, you may need to have them cremated before shipping them if the state has rules about embalming. 

Funeral homes typically ship bodies on cargo planes that don’t have passengers, but this is not always the case. No matter how they transport the body, it can begin to smell quickly. Funeral homes combat this with embalming or refrigeration, but refrigeration is not an option for long-distance shipping. So, many turn to embalming to help preserve the body during the trip. 

Save Money on a Funeral by Buying the Casket Online

Shipping Container

Shipping containers for dead bodies have two variations: air trays and combination trays. 

The one you choose depends on whether or not you have already selected a casket. If you have already picked out a casket for your loved one to be shipped inside, an air tray is all you need. A combination tray will act as an air tray and casket for your loved one. 

You will need to buy whichever corresponds with your individual needs. If you are transporting the body of your loved one for burial, then you will need to purchase a casket either way. So, it may be best to buy the casket ahead of time so you can ship them in an air tray compared to a combination tray. 

An air tray won’t set you back too far on costs as they only cost on average $60 to $175. You will spend a lot more on the casket for your loved one than the tray to ship it in. Manufacturers design these trays to protect the bodies and ensure caskets arrive safely without damage. So, it is worth the cost of ensuring your loved one’s body is safe during transportation. 

Keeping the Body Onsite

Depending on how long it takes to ship the body of your loved one, you may need to pay the funeral home for storing your loved one. This storage can factor into the overall cost of shipping the body as they may not be able to get the body sent the same day. 

Funeral homes can charge anywhere from $100 to $300 just to store the body on the premises. If the funeral home can’t ship the body the same day they receive it, then you will most likely be charged for them to store the body until they send it to you. 

How To Save Money on Transporting a Loved One by Plane

Just like other funeral expenses, you can save money when transporting a loved one by plane if you shop around for other, cheaper options. You can also save money by having your loved one cremated before the shipment and not flying with them. 

Overall, the price of having your loved one shipped to you can be overwhelming. Death is not a cheap process, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money along the way. So, let’s talk about some ways you can save money when shipping the body of your loved one. 

Shop Around

It is essential to shop around when considering the cost of transporting the body of a loved one by plane. Just as I recommend shopping around for a casket, the same applies to this process. Some funeral homes may offer lower prices for shipping a body, which also applies to receiving the body. 

The best way to ensure you are saving money during this process is to contact different funeral homes to ensure you are getting the best price. In addition, some companies will set a price and make all the necessary arrangements for you. So, consider all your options before making a decision. 


If you haven’t considered cremation for your loved one, this might be the right time to weigh your options. Some people may want to consider cremating their loved ones before shipment to save on costs. It is easier to transport ashes than a body. 

A lot of time may pass between when your loved one dies and when you can receive their shipped body, significantly slowing down the funeral planning process. If you are concerned with the timing and cost of sending the body, cremation may be the next best option. 

Instead of rushing to have your loved one embalmed or refrigerated and then transported by plane, you can save time and money with cremation. Cremating your loved one will allow you to choose the right shipping company, find the best price, and receive the ashes by mail. 

The speed of delivery and lower fees can take away the stress of trying to receive the body in time for a funeral or viewing. 

Not Flying With Them

One option you have for the transportation of your loved ones is to fly with them. You can choose to fly in the same plane carrying your loved one to ensure they arrive safely. The only downside to this process is that it costs more than allowing the body to travel on a cargo plane. 

If you feel like you need to travel with the body, this may not be debatable. However, if you have some flexibility with the transportation, it can save money. The best way to confront this cost difference is to speak with the funeral director and ask for a price comparison between the two options. 

Overall, there is little need for you to fly with the body. You won’t be next to the body during the flight, but it can bring some comfort knowing that the body made it safely and you know where it is at all times. However, cutting this cost by allowing the body to travel alone can save you money.

Why Would You Need To Transport a Body by Plane?

You may need to transport a body by plane if your loved one passes away overseas, if you are living a significant distance from them, or if they had to relocate for medical care. There will always be a need to transport bodies on a plane, whatever the reason. 

There are many reasons that shipping a body may be necessary, just like there can be many reasons that you do not live close to your family. In short, life happens. New job opportunities, vacations, relationships, and medical care relocation can force us to move further away from our loved ones than we prefer.

Whether you moved away or they did, death can bring about the urge to be together again. Studies like this have shown us that seeing the body of a loved one is an essential step in grieving and accepting the loss of a loved one. So, many people choose to ship the body of their loved ones to say goodbye.

There is a reason this process is well-known in the funeral industry. People may travel or move to other locations, but families tend to want the bodies of their loved ones to return home when they die. So, the body shipping industry is in high demand and a popular choice for many people.

What Are Some Other Options for a Loved One Dying Far Away?

Some other options for a loved one dying far away are burying them at their current location or having them cremated and flying to gather the remains. If the distance is driveable, then there is also the option to have them driven to you. 

Let’s discuss these options further and figure out what may work best for you and your loved one. 

Bury Them There

One option to consider is burying your loved one where they died. If your loved one has lived far from you for a while, they might have already established friends and family ties. So, burying them in that location may not be a bad choice. 

Most funeral homes will allow you to make funeral arrangements over the phone since not everyone lives close to those we love. You may need to take some extra time off work to account for flights and hotel stays if necessary. However, this will be much cheaper than flying your loved one’s body to you and preparing a funeral far from where your loved one died.  

Save Money on a Funeral by Buying the Casket Online

Have the Body Driven

In most states, it is legal for families to carry the body of their loved one across state lines, given that they are in a proper container. You can choose to drive them yourself, or the funeral home can arrange transportation. Either option you choose is cheaper than flying the dead body of your loved one on an airplane. 

Closeup shot of a funeral casket in a hearse or chapelsor burial at cemetery

If you transport the body yourself, you will need a container to transport them inside. Usually, this is a casket, though you have other cheaper options such as coffins. Other than that cost, the only other thing to consider is gas prices. 

Also, there may be further fees associated with having the funeral home do it for you. So, get a price estimate before deciding. 


I talked above about how cremation can save you money when getting your loved one back home to you, but let’s take it a step further. Rather than just having your loved one cremated and their remains transported to you, you can also consider getting them yourself.

Get a price estimate for the funeral home to ship the cremated remains of your loved one. If they are too high with servicing fees and other price increases, you may want to get them yourself. You are permitted to fly with cremated remains as long as you have proper documentation. 

To make this go smoothly, alert the airport that you are bringing these remains, bring the death certificate to show who they belong to, and allow X-rays. The TSA agents will need to X-ray your loved one’s ashes to ensure you haven’t hidden something in them. 

This screening process is standard procedure for traveling with cremated remains. Overall, it can save you a lot of money. 

Final Thoughts

It can be costly to transport the body of a loved one via plane, but it is a common way to transport the deceased. While the high costs are understandable given everything that goes into transporting bodies, you may be able to consider some other less expensive options. 


Was this post helpful?

Useful? Save information for later by printing or sharing.

Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

Recent Posts

Table of Contents