With a more transient population today, and with the size of the United States alone, the need for the transportation of human remains has been growing in demand. As families have moved away from their State of origin for employment, relationships or retirement so has the issue of ‘repatriating’ their remains following death become a flourishing business. In the funeral trade, it is referred to as Mortuary shipping or funeral shipping of human remains.
It is not so uncommon these days for a family member to have passed away, and the family and/or Funeral Home to have to make arrangements to transport the deceased back to their home state for a funeral.
Most of the Airlines operating in the United States do offer cargo services for the transportation of human remains and cremated remains. These services vary depending upon the airline, but all do strive to offer compassionate and specialized service to assist in the transportation of funeral shipments.
The airlines usually employ a specially trained team to address all the travel-related issues that may arise when shipping such very sensitive cargo. These teams can advise on the regulations that relate to the shipping of human remains across states, and even returning human remains from outside of the United States.
In many states and countries, regulations do require embalming, although it is not always a requirement provided the body is transported in a sealed casket. There are fewer restrictions related to cremated remains and these may be shipped in a sealed urn, and carefully packed to protect against breakage. In both cases, the airline transporting the remains will require a death certificate showing the cause of death and may have other hygienic requirements that must be met.
It is difficult to give a definitive guide to pricing for the transportation of human remains, as routes, schedules and cargo regulations do vary between airlines. The transportation of cremated remains is much less expensive due to the need for fewer restrictions and the weight difference. One can expect to transport cremated remains within the U.S for prices starting at around $100, dependent upon airline and the distance of shipping. The costs for transporting human remains do vary significantly in relation to the weight, type of container and distance of shipping. Prices for transporting within the U.S. can start from around $140 but amount to as much as $2,000 (before fuel surcharges and tax). Prices for shipping either to or from outside of the U.S. can again vary tremendously but can start at around $325 and rise to as much as $3,300.
It is recommended that you research the services offered to assess what best suits your needs. You may find that your Funeral Home can handle all of this for you, but be sure to check that you are getting the best value. Although some Funeral Homes may have discounted arrangements with a preferred shipping company, this may not always be the most cost-effective carrier for your personal circumstances.
Many airlines may also offer reduced rates for bereavement travel, so if you are transporting human remains and require travel for family members as well, it is well worth investigating which airlines offer this enhanced service as part of their transportation services package.