Can You Bring Stuffed Animals On A Plane? (TSA Rules)

Last Updated on October 24, 2021

I feel it’s my duty to start this post with a warning.

In researching this topic I have seen literally hundreds of stories about lost teddy bears and stuffed animals.

It seems that many of the stuffed toys and teddy bears that go on vacation get separated from their loved ones.

Please make a special effort to make sure you don’t end up frantically asking your airline to reunite a favorite toy with a broken-hearted kid.

Take a mental note…

Before you leave the plane think… WHERE IS BEAR OR RABBIT OR WHATSHISNAME?

Watch the “No Bear Left Behind” video at the end of this post to guilt-trip yourself into paying more attention.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest… let’s dig into the main topic and see when and where you can actually bring a stuffed animal on a plane in the first place.

TSA Teddy Bear Rules

The Transportation Security Administration has the following information on their website about flying with stuffed animals:

You can bring stuffed animals on a plane in both carry-on luggage and checked luggage, if your airline’s baggage policy allows it.

The TSA will put your teddy bear through the x-ray machine at the airport security checkpoint to make sure there is nothing hiding inside.

Don’t worry. It doesn’t hurt! 🙂

You can’t carry a teddy bear when going through the metal detector. So have a chat about that before you reach the airport. Instead teddy bear will go through the magic tunnel 🙂

Large stuffed animals might need to be squashed into checked baggage. I bet you never thought you could fly with a body stuffed in a suitcase but it turns out you can!

Remember checked baggage is occasionally lost. It’s probably not a good idea to pack beloved stuffed toys in checked luggage. You might never see them again!

If you don’t love the bear…

You could try using a vacuum cleaner and vacuum compression bags to compress a giant teddy bear down to a more manageable size.

Alternatively you could try to buy a seat, but really large stuffed animals might even be too big for an airline seat. Expect to get some looks from other passengers too!

I tried to research what the main airlines in the US were saying about bring stuffed animals into the cabin on Twitter.

American airlines told one passenger that they could bring their stuffed animal aboard as long as they both fit in the same seat.

Alaska welcomed Lucky on the flight even though Jess was almost 20 years old.

And Jess was also flying with Delta that trip! Customer support gave her a different answer.

Delta wanted to be sure the teddy bear would fit under the seat so it would then count as her personal item.

But remember you can’t bring two personal items. So Jess would need to put her purse, or handbag inside her carry-on. Or maybe she could fit her bear Lucky inside a large handbag.

Robyann wanted to bring 2 teddy bears, baggage, and a violin on a JetBlue flight!

A little bear or toy can always be stuffed in a pocket or up a sweater.

But a big teddy bear needs to qualify as luggage. So you need to check the baggage allowances of your airline and include the stuffed animal as part of that baggage allowance.

When this passenger asked Southwest what size of stuffed animal would be allowed they just replied with the carry-on size limits.

And at one point United Airlines had this to say to Tiffany:

If a large stuffed animal is under the personal item size limits you could choose to not travel with a purse and instead travel with a stuffed toy.

If the toy is even larger than that…

You could not travel with a carry-on suitcase and try to fit your clothes in the personal item bag.

The Bottom Line

You can bring your teddy bear on the plane, the TSA doesn’t have a problem with it.

The only issue is the hand luggage size limits of the airline that you are flying with.

Some airlines are more strict than others, and the size of the stuffed toy really plays a part.

Low-cost airlines like Spirit only allow 1 personal item bag and they make their profits charging for luggage. They might be a little more strict.

Traditional full-service airlines allow both a carry-on bag and personal item and they make their profits from the ticket price. They might be a little more lenient.

I spent more time writing this post than I really should have.

But if one stuffed toy is stopped from being lost it will be worth it!

Remember… no bear gets left behind!

No Bear Left Behind

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