I was chatting with a colleague at work a few days ago who is travelling to Queensland to see his partner for Valentines Day. They’ve been apart for nearly a year and we were joking that if he forgot to take her a present it he could easily use the excuse that it didn’t get through security.
We said it would be easy to say he’d brought her a bouquet, but it got taken at customers, as we both assumed you wouldn’t be able to take flowers on a plane…
…but having looked it up on Google it turns out we were wrong.
You can bring flowers that are not in liquid through a security checkpoint and onto a plane within a country’s borders, but if you travel internationally there will be local regulations to research. Generally, countries state cut flowers should be presented for inspection and free from pests and disease to enter.
In this post I share the rest of the research I did about taking flowers, plants and seeds on the plane hopefully helping to answer all your questions on the subject (and more!)
- Can You Take Flowers on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Plants on a Plane?
- Flower & Plant Import Regulations By Country
- Can You Bring Seeds On a Plane?
- Can You Face Penalties For Bringing Flowers, Plants or Seeds On a Plane?
- Finishing Up
Can You Take Flowers on a Plane?
As we covered in the introduction, yes you can take flowers on a plane.
Internal flights seem to be fairly simple, as long as the flowers are not stored in liquid as airlines have a limit of 100ml of fluids per container, which should be stored in a see-through bag. This amount of water might be enough for a single rose, but still wouldn’t be in a sealed container so is off limits.
Outside of that, as long as the flowers fit in the overhead locker of under the seat in front of you then you should be fine.
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Can You Take Flowers on an International Flight?
Whilst technically you can, there are many factors that probably make it not worth the trouble.
Chances are, when you arrive at customs in your destination country you will be sent to a customer inspector who would check the flowers for insects and signs of disease. If the flowers came with no certification there is a good chance they would be disposed of.
You’ve also then got to factor them being in a climate controlled, dry environment for the duration of your flight. Whilst you can probably get them some water from a shop of fountain after customs, storing them on the plane is not going to be easy and even then they may well wilt due to the conditions.
On top of that, if you’re a good citizen, you probably want to consider the impact to other passengers. Many people have allergies to pollen or specific flowers, something it’s difficult to get away from on a plane.
How to Keep Flowers Fresh on a Plane
If you do decide to take a live bouquet on a plane, one of the challenges you’ll face is how to keep them fresh.
The big challenge is water – a pretty fundamental requirement for keeping them alive! Most security checkpoints have a 100ml maximum limit on water, which is not going to be enough for flowers.
Bring your flowers to the airport in a container full of water, empty the water before security and then refill it again from one of the taps or water fountains.
Once you’ve figured out how to keep them hydrated, the next challenge is packaging. Unless you are taking no other hand luggage, the flowers were probably count as a personal item (like a handbag or laptop bag usually would) which means they have to fir under the seat in front of you or in the overhead lockers.
Please be aware that taking flowers on a plane may be an issue for those around you. People who have hayfever or are particularly sensitive to the smell of a certain flower (my Mum can smell a Lily a mile off!) may struggle if you have them nearby.
In this case, it would be polite to ask the flight attendant to store them safely somewhere else until you depart the plane.
Other Options For Taking Flowers On a Plane
If you were looking to take flowers on a plane as a gift for someone the other end, here are some less complicated options to consider.
- Package: Total 12 pieces come in a pack;* 6 Blooming Roses and 6 Buds.*. Two combinations to meet your different needs and make your bouquet look more realistic.
- Material：Silk flowers head and leaves .The stem is made of metal wire wrapped by plastic. Size: Diameter -- Blooming Rose head ：4.7 inches/12 cm. Bud : 2.4 inches /6 cm. Total Height -- Both...
- Realistic looking: The colors of the roses are subtle so they look real. Advanced technology gives them the look of fresh roses. Not cheap looking ones from a dollar store,you will be surprised with...
- Packages: Each pack with 10pcs full silk hydrangea heads and 10 pcs long stems separately,without any vase,and we need assemble the hydrangea flowers heads and the stems ourselves.
- Size: Hydrangea heads are approx. 7 inches in diameter ,the stems are 9.5 inches long, our full hydrangea artifical flowers heads are bigger than other cheaper hydrangea flowers heads, because there...
- Material: Made of high quality silk cloth and plastic, the long stems are made of plastic with iron wire inside, it can be cutted shorter easily to meet your DIY projects.
You can get some very realistic looking silk flowers now, which make a great gift are longer lasting and will be much easier to transport. I had some silk flowers made up as a replica of my wife’s bouquet at our wedding and they lasted us for years so they are a fantastic option.
Can You Bring Plants on a Plane?
Similarly to flowers, yes you can take plants on internal domestic flights fairly easily, as long as they don’t break the limits for hand luggage or personal item sized and do not have in excess of 100ml of liquid.
On international flights, plants are often subject to more rigorous checks than flowers, as they are likely to be grown which then means they could spread disease or become an invasive species, destroying native plants in their way.
Most countries have policies which prevent the entry of agricultural products which could spread disease, carry pests or harm local agriculture.
It is best to check with customs at your destination country before you try to take any plants on an International flight.
Have a read of this post on invasive species in the USA to see the impact invasive species in a new country can have. Something as beautiful and sweet smelling as Japanese Honeysuckle, brought over in the 1800s, has ravaged the east coast. Its vines smother native species, outgrowing them and taking taking their light before producing tempting fruits which are a favourite of birds and allow the plant to spread quickly.
Now you can hopefully see why countries are so strict on allowing the import of plants…
If you intend to bring plants with you on a plane it is best to do lots of research and contact local customs offices first, as you may require permits which show the specific species and need treatments to remove disease and pests first.
It is a big topic, with laws and regulations that differ across the globe, but I have summarised some of the key aspects below.
For USA imports and regulations check out dontpackapest.com for official guidance.
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Flower & Plant Import Regulations By Country
To save you some time I have collated and linked to the floral and plant restrictions for the some of the most visited countries and areas in the world
This should help you quickly get the information you need before
|🇺🇸 USA||Yes||Permit Needed||Permit Needed||Link|
|🇪🇺 EU Countries||Yes||Generally no from outside EU (health certificate needed, roots must be bare, certain plants restricted due to ‘sudden oak death’ disease)||Permit Needed||Link|
|🇦🇺 Australia||No||No||Yes (but need declaring as only certain types allowed)||Link|
|🇹🇭 Thailand||Permit Needed||Permit Needed||Permit Needed||Link|
|🇨🇦 Canada||Permit Needed||Permit Needed||Permit Needed||Link|
Can You Bring Seeds On a Plane?
On domestic flights there are unlikely to be any restrictions on taking seeds on a plane as the conditions will be the same at your destination as your departure.
The import of seeds is restricted in many countries so that native plants and flowers are not impacted by foreign species.
As an example, here is the statement from the US Government on the import of seeds into America from the incredibly informative dontpackapest.com:
Seeds from trees and shrubs are prohibited. Travelers may bring fruit, vegetable, flower, and other types of seeds for planting if they meet the following conditions:
1) The seeds are not otherwise prohibited, protected under the Endangered Species Act or Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or subject to any special restrictions, such as post-entry quarantine or treatment
2) You have a phytosanitary certificate issued by the National Plant Protection Organization of the country you are leaving indicating the plants are free of pests and diseases
3) U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspects the plants at the first port of entry and determines they are free of pests and diseases and meet all entry requirements
To give a personal example, when we emigrated to Australia we had a picnic blanket that was in our shipping container removed and destroyed by customs because they found British seed pods on it (oh, and it cost is $160 for the pleasure!).
So, similarly to plants, if you’re planning to bring seeds into a country do your research first and make sure you declare them on your customs for so a trained officer can check to make sure they are allowed in the country before you cause damage to native species in the future.
Can You Face Penalties For Bringing Flowers, Plants or Seeds On a Plane?
If you declare all items correctly on your customs for, even if a customs officer deems them not suitable to come into a country, you shouldn’t face a penalty charge.
Where you are likely to face penalties is if you don’t declare items and then get stopped at customs.
Just watch a few episodes of a program like Border Force: Australia’s Front Line and you’ll soon get the idea of what can go wrong!!
To see an example of this policy check out the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services website, which states clearly the United States’ guidelines.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post.
This was a surprisingly broad topic, with a number of intricacies and regulations which differ across the world.
I have collated a lot of this information from sources across the internet but, as always, local knowledge can give a different perspective.
If you have first-hand experience of taking flowers, plants of seeds on a plane or trying to import them then please let us know in the comments as it will help build up the knowledge on this post.
Did you know you can take knitting needles on a plane but not plastic tent pegs? I discovered that in my piece ‘can you take a blanket on a plane‘.