How to Bring a Bridal Dress on an Airplane
Destination weddings can add an extra layer of stress to your plans if you must fly with your wedding gown. If you must fly with your dress, it's best to keep it with you at all times to minimize the danger of it becoming lost or damaged. Properly packing the dress and preparing for travel issues before you fly simplifies the process.
Verify Airline Rules
Contact the airline ahead of time and verify that you can pack your dress as a carry-on item. Most planes have closets available to hang wedding gowns. If the airline does not allow you to bring the dress on the plane, it may be better to change your flight plans to an airline that will allow it to avoid the chance of it becoming lost during transit. If a closet isn't available and you can't change flights, pack the garment bag inside a hard-sided suitcase in the largest size allowed as carry-on luggage. The dress may arrive requiring professional wrinkle removal, but it won't be checked luggage that is at the mercy of baggage handlers.
Hang the dress inside a sturdy travel garment bag. Fold the train once at the bottom so it fits inside the bag, if necessary. Stuffing the dress with acid-free tissue paper or plastic dry cleaner bags helps the dress retain its shape. The bodice and sleeves are the areas most likely to suffer from crushing, so they should be stuffed until almost full. Once stuffed, enclose the dress in one or more plastic dry cleaner bags inside the larger garment bag. The dry cleaner bags provide extra protection from moisture and damage during transit and inspections.
Arrive at the airport early to allow for extra time during security screening. Security personnel may need to open and unpack the dress for screening. You will need the extra time to repack the dress correctly. Adding 30 minutes onto the recommended check-in arrival time for your flight is usually sufficient, although you may need an extra hour at busy airports and those in larger cities.
Unpack the dress and hang it up promptly upon arrival at your destination. Most wrinkles fall out within 24 to 48 hours. Some wrinkling will occur during travel even if the dress is packed perfectly. Make an appointment with a local dry cleaner prior to arriving for a steaming or pressing just in case more severe wrinkling occurs. Select a cleaner that has experience in bridal gown care to ensure it handles the dress correctly.