Getting through security can be the most stressful part of traveling. Do you put your shoes on or take them off? A belt, perhaps? Then there’s the matter of food and beverages. You undoubtedly already know (or hope) that bringing a bottle of water through a TSA screening checkpoint is a bad idea.
But what if you’re not going on a carrier with the best meals and want to bring a sack lunch or a healthy snack to avoid overpaying for snacks at the airport? Is it possible to bring food on a plane?
We’ve got the answers you’re looking for, whether you’re wondering if you can carry food on a lengthy journey, traveling for the holidays with delicacies, or returning home with tasty souvenirs.
Don’t fly without first reviewing this list of the top items you might be tempted to bring on a plane, as well as the TSA food restrictions that govern them. Also, before your next trip, sign up for TSA Pre-Check to expedite the security screening procedure.
Can You Bring Food on the Plane? TSA Rules
Yes, you can carry food on a plane, but only certain types of food. According to Next Vacay’s travel specialists, remembering these two fundamental TSA food guidelines will help: If the item is solid, it can pass through a checkpoint. If the item is liquid-based and weighs more than 3.4 ounces, it must be checked.
Things get a little trickier after that. Is it possible to bring food on a plane, such as a sandwich? Yes. How about some cheese? It is debatable. PB&J? Yes, for the sandwich mixture, but not for the individual items. Confused? We understand, and we’ll go over the details below.
One thing to keep in mind: the majority of these restrictions only apply when traveling within the United States; overseas rules may differ. If you’re traveling internationally, check with customs about declaring any meals you bring back from another country.
The Transportation Security Administration’s website contains a comprehensive list of food products that you can and cannot carry on your future journey. You might be surprised to learn that these unusual things got it through security.
Is eating on the plane permissible?
First and foremost. Will you be able to eat a mile-high picnic in the air before you start packing? As you may be aware, the CDC has mandated the use of face masks on public transportation, including airplanes, and at major hubs such as airports, beginning January 29, 2021. According to the CDC, you can remove your mask “when eating, drinking, or taking medication for limited periods of time.” This entails lowering your mask for a quick sip or bite, then quickly lifting it again. So bring acceptable food on board, but remember to follow the restrictions.
Is it possible to bring a sandwich on a plane?
Because PB&Js are cleared for takeoff, feed the family with homemade sandwiches while you fly! Ham and cheese, bologna and mustard, a deli hoagie, avocado toast, and more are all good options.
You can carry it on the airline if it fits in your bag and contains layers of food between the bread. However, your seatmates will appreciate it if you leave the egg salad and other aromatic options at home. (This is only one example of how to be courteous when flying.) Note that stuff you spread on bread, like mayo or mustard, is acceptable on a sandwich, but you can’t DIY in the air with a large jar.
Yes, you can bring food on the plane such as sandwiches.
Is it permissible to bring spreadable meals on a plane?
What if you want to bring peanut butter and jelly, or a container of mayo or mustard, on board to create your own sandwich? Not so quickly. Creamy dips and spreads, as well as jelly and jam, fall within the “gel” component of the “liquid, gel, aerosol” 3-1-1 rule, according to the TSA: One-quart bag contains 3.4-ounce containers. “If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it, or pour it,” says the TSA, “then inspect it.”
So store your PB&J in small containers, inspect it, or discard it. The same applies to your onion dip, hummus, cream cheese, and even brie—yes, brie is spreadable, according to the TSA, though a hunk of cheddar will suffice.
It’s worth noting that if you’re going from one domestic airport to another, you can carry any food purchased in the airport on board to eat. These are the meals and activities that the TSA is more likely to flag you for.
Is it possible to bring alcohol on a plane?
Any liquids in containers greater than 3.4 ounces are prohibited from entering the airport, so you won’t be able to carry a large drink from home or outdoors. However, if you can find little bottles of 3.4 ounces or less that fit in your single one-quart bag, you may be able to take them through security.
Of course, once you’ve cleared security, you’ll have access to the world of high-priced airport beverages. Everything from a cappuccino to a smoothie, bottled Coke, to expensive water is permitted to be brought into the plane and consumed at your airport seat.
There is a workaround for avoiding the airport-drink money grab: ice. Because it’s not a liquid, water or juice in a solid frozen state is allowed through security. So you may freeze a water bottle or juice box, carry it with you, and drink it after it has thawed.
According to the TSA, frozen liquid items must meet the 3-1-1 liquid standards if they are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container. Instead, bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up after you’ve passed through security.
Regardless of their actual state of matter, “medically required gel ice packs in reasonable quantities” are allowed, according to the TSA (e.g., melted or slushy). If you’re bringing infant supplies, the same rule applies.
Is it possible to bring holiday food on a plane?
You’re not alone if you’re getting set to travel for the holidays this year. Searches for “Christmas vacations 2021” have climbed by 5,233 percent in the last year, according to Naveen Dittakavi, founder and CEO of Next Vacay.
It’s crucial to know the regulations, says Dittakavi, whether you’re in charge of providing the gingerbread house, you’re traveling with delicious gifts, or you can’t stop yourself from taking home leftover stuffing.
First, the good news: gingerbread houses, as well as cakes, pies, cookies, and other baked delicacies, are acceptable. Meats (including the holiday ham), fresh fruits and vegetables, and, yes, stuffing are all good choices.
Casseroles are also acceptable (though probably a little tough to transport). Runny frosting, cranberry sauce, eggnog, canned sugar plums, and other canned fruits, on the other hand, must be less than 3.4 ounces to avoid being checked. While you may be your family’s chosen Christmas ham carver, remember that sharp objects will not get through security, so leave them at home, says Dittakavi.
Is it legal to bring alcohol onto a plane?
The only absolute no for food and beverages you can’t carry on a plane? Over 140 proof of alcohol In your carry-on or checked bag, it won’t make it through security. Under 3.4 ounces of less potent mini-bottles can be transported through security; anything greater should be scrutinized.
Alcohol purchased at an airport duty-free shop can be brought on board, but it must be stored for the duration of the journey and cannot be drunk while in the air. It’s technically prohibited to drink your own alcohol that you bring on board the airline while on the flight, so keep those minis safely stored in your carry-on.
Is it possible to bring infant food on a plane?
For parents of small children, the TSA allows an exception to the 3.4-ounce liquid regulation. You can bring formula, breast milk, and juice for babies and toddlers on board in “reasonable quantities” as long as you alert an officer and are ready to subject them to additional screening. “Inform the TSA officer if you do not want the formula, breast milk, and/or drink to be X-rayed or opened,” the TSA advises.
Additional measures will be made to clear the liquid, and you will be subjected to additional screening processes, including a pat-down and a search of your carry-on belongings.”
This is also one of the rare situations when travelers can get away with bringing partially melted ice packs past security. These are the things you should never say to a TSA agent in general.
But, yes of course you can bring food on the plane for babies.