Whether you are moving or you want to bring cactus as a Christmas gift to blossom someone’s day, you need to know what happens when you travel with your prickly friends, so can you take a cactus on a plane? Will the TSA let you take off with them? Or will they confiscate them and leave you heartbroken?
In this short and sweet post, I will tell you everything you need to know about flying with cacti, from the TSA rules to the best tips and tricks to keep your plants happy and healthy.
- The TSA do permit cactus to go through the security checkpoint
- You can take any type of cactus on board the airplane as long as it fits the airline carry-on allowance
- It is better to avoid packing potted succulent, cactus in checked bags
- If you are traveling internationally ensure that you check your destination country rules for importing cactus and succulent
Can I bring a cactus through TSA?
While initially the thing that you need to know is what the TSA rules for taking a cactus on a plane.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is the agency that is responsible for screening passengers and their luggage at airports in the United States.
They have a list of items that are prohibited or restricted on planes, and cacti are not among these items.
But here is the rule that covers cactus on their website.
So cactus and succulent are ready to take off, in both carry-on and checked bags.
However, they also claimed that you should confirm with your airline to ensure that it will fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.
Use this airline luggage calculator to get the right dimensions of your airline’s carry-on and personal item.
I went further and searched the TSA social media (mainly X) to find more answers and clarification.
Shannon (@a22shannon) wanted to take her Christmas cactus on her next flight.
The AskTSA team response was “Your cactus is allowed through the security, but she may want to check with the airline about bring it on board”.
Because it looks giant in the picture!
Keep in mind that “the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”
This means that even if the @AskTSA team confirm on X that your cacti or item is good to go, the TSA officer at the airport might still decide to deny your cactus, depending on the size, shape, condition, and packaging of your cactus.
For example, if your cactus is too large, too sharp, too wet, or too suspicious-looking, the TSA officer might not let you pass with it.
Therefore, to increase your chances of taking your cactus on a plane, you need to follow some best practices like taking a small and compact cactus that can fit easily in your carry-on or personal items, remove any soil or dirt from your cactus, and be polite and cooperative with the TSA officers.
You can also ask the TSA on X if you have a specific question or item that isn’t mentioned, just Tweet the @AskTSA followed with your question and they will reply as soon as possible.
The risks of taking a cactus on a plane checked baggage.
While taking a cactus on a plane is possible, it is not encouraged to pack them in your check bag.
The downside of sending your lovely cactus in the airplane hold is that it might get squashed, lost, or even stolen during your flight.
The cactus might get infected, infested, or diseased during your flight.
This can happen if your cactus comes into contact with other plants, pests, or pathogens that might harm it.
To prevent this, you should take your cactus with you on board (in the overhead bin or under the seat), to keep your eyes on it at all times.
Bringing cactus on international flights
If you are taking your cactus across borders like Nick, you will need to consider the customs and rules regulations for your destination country .
You can check with your destination country or ask the airline to provide the information or the right department especially if you are taking a significant amount of cactus.
For example if you are traveling to the U.S the Customs and Border Protection is responsible for controlling items that enter the country.
And if you are traveling to U.K you can visit gov.uk website for more guidance.
How to care for your cactus after your flight?
After you have successfully fly with your cactus on a plane, you need to take good care of it to help it recover from the stress and trauma of the flight.
- Unpack your cactus as soon as possible, and remove any wrapping or covering that might suffocate or injure it.
- If possible repot your cactus in a suitable container with fresh soil or substrate.
- Water your cactus sparingly, and only when the soil is completely dry.
The TSA folks or any airport security won’t stop you from packing your prickly pear, Lithops or Barrel cactus in both carry-on and checked bags.
It is always better to travel with small cactus that will fit easily in your personal item or carry-on bag.
A potted cactus or succulent will not be 100% safe in checked baggage.
when traveling internationally, ensure that you contact your airline prior to your flight to provide you with the right guidance for traveling with cactus.
I hope this helps