Can you bring food on a plane?
Eating at the airport can be time-consuming and expensive. Once you get through security and sat at a restaurant, you are often met with high prices and bland food. If you’re like a lot of travelers, you enjoy bringing a snack or meal from home. But can you bring food through airport security and onto the plane itself?
Yes, you can bring certain types of food. However, food items with a liquid consistency like yogurt, cream cheese, and other similar food items must adhere to the 100ml/3.4oz requirements set by TSA.
In this article, we will cover the most common questions surrounding food and airplane travel, so you can get through security with no problem!
What type of food can get through security?
The simplified answer is that yes, travelers can bring most food items through airport security. However, there are some exceptions. Additionally, your time getting through security will be easier if you have your food items stored neatly and separately, as the TSA agents will want the food items in separate bags.
Dry, solid food is the best bet for getting through security without a hitch. Protein bars, packs of fruit snacks or nuts, and other items of food that are easily identifiable and sealed are great options for this.
Items like cheesecake, surprisingly enough, are not allowed through security because they qualify as a liquid. TSA created the “3-1-1” liquids rule. This means all liquids are limited to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters per item, contained in one quart-sized bag (1), while only one bag (1) is allowed per passenger.
Some examples of "liquidy" food that must follow 3-1-1 requirements are as follows:
· Cream cheese
· Liquid chocolate
· Dips and spreads
· Honey and maple syrup
· Ice cream
· Jam and jelly
· Oils and vinegar
· Peanut butter
· Salsas and sauces
Have you ever sat next to someone on a flight who is eating fried food, and you couldn’t get the smell off of you for the rest of the day? There are no laws against smelly foods, but you should consider your fellow travelers when choosing food to bring. There’s nothing worse than sitting next to someone with a stinky tuna salad or strong garlic spread.
You may also want to avoid food items that may explode with the change in cabin pressure. Soups, yogurt, and even shelled nuts can be spilled and ruin your clothes and other packed-away things.
Though TSA allows plenty of food into the airport, before you start packing for your trip, check your airline’s specific restrictions. You may be surprised to learn that certain airlines will ban items you were planning on chowing down on during the flight.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions people have before traveling by plane:
Anything that has a spreadable consistency cannot be brought in a container that doesn’t adhere to the 3-1-1 rule.
You can bring jam or peanut butter in a clear container under 3.4 ounces, or you can bring them on a peanut butter sandwich. But refer back to the 3-1-1 rule for liquid sizes and amounts.
A sandwich would be no problem to bring on a flight. Fruit and vegetables are also fine, as long as there isn’t a significant amount of water pooling up in the item’s container. Additionally, the salad should be fine as long as there’s no liquid buildup.
One thing to be aware of during flights outside of the continental United States is the country’s laws regarding fresh fruit of vegetables. Countries don’t want you to bring invasive species on their produce that could wreak havoc on their own crops. You can even be fined in certain countries if you bring the wrong items, so always be aware of this.
According to TSA’s website, toddler drinks, baby food like puree pouches, formula, and breast milk are medically exempt from quantity limits. You must let the TSA officer know you have these items above the 3.4-ounce limit, as they will screen these items separately.
The TSA suggests packing any of these items separately in an easy place. Additionally, it is suggested that the formula or breast milk is packed in translucent, clear bottles instead of pouches or plastic bags. When your baby food is screened, the TSA agent may have to open the container to check for gunpowder residue.
The answer to this question is both yes and no. Of course, you always have to abide by the 3.4-ounce limit. So mini bottles can be brought in, as long as they fit in the properly sized bag. However, you cannot bring any alcoholic beverage that is more than 140 proof, or 70% alcohol.
Even though you may be able to bring the alcohol through security, there are regulations against drinking it on board. You aren’t allowed to drink alcohol purchased at the shops in the airport while flying. You may only drink the beverages served by the Flight Attendant on your flight. They can also cut you off, as they are legally not allowed to serve someone who is already intoxicated.
You can bring certain alcoholic beverages, as mentioned above, in your carry-on luggage. You can bring up to 5 liters of alcohol between 24-70% in a checked bag, as well.
Follow the 3-1-1 rule, and you should be fine!
Yes, as long as it follows the 3-1-1 rule, but at that point, are you really getting much soup?
Keeping your food cold is essential to keep it fresh, so are you allowed to bring frozen ice packs through security? Frozen gel packs, freezer packs, and ice packs are allowed in your carry-on luggage, with the caveat that they are frozen when you go through security. You may want to hurry through or bring a lined bag because TSA may take away any of them that are partially melted.
TSA states that the X-ray machines used at airport security don’t affect medicine or food that is scanned. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the amount of radiation that is used to scan items is significantly less than anything that will affect your body.
If you still feel uncomfortable having your food exposed to the radiation waves designed to scan your items, you can also ask a TSA agent to screen the items separately.
There are several reasons why your food tastes different on planes, but the main reason is the change in altitude. At 30,000 feet, the humidity and air pressure are both low. Combined, they affect your taste buds, making them about 30% less sensitive to salty and sweet food and drink.
Cigarettes are perfectly legal on an airplane. Certain types of lighters are, too. You can have Zippo or disposable lighters up to a certain size on your person so you can enjoy a cigarette in designated areas before hopping on your flight.
Lighters that are not allowed include arc, e-lighters, plasma, or electronic lighters. Also, you can’t take the lighter out when you are on the airplane itself, as this is a security risk and can get you into serious trouble.
Toy weapons like swords, squirt guns, or nerf guns are not allowed on carry-on bags. Anything that resembles firearms isn’t allowed on your person. You can, however, check these in.
Advil and Contact Lense solutions are allowed on planes, though contact solution can only come in certain quantities. You still have to refer to the 3.4-ounce limit for these, but travel-sized options are available at most pharmacies.
Stick, powdered, and crystal deodorants are okay to go through airport security. However, anything that includes pastes, cream, liquid, gel, spray, or roll-on styles of deodorants is allowed on your carry-on if they follow the 3-1-1 rule. They are allowed on in your checked baggage.
Fragrances like perfume or cologne are allowed in 3.4-ounce packages or on checked luggage. Remember your fellow passengers when you are applying this, too, and be courteous to anyone who may have allergies.
With tons of food items available to you, there should be no shortage of delicious options you can bring on to your next flight. Remember to always check the rules in your final destination, and your specific airline guidelines. Ultimately, a TSA agent can choose to confiscate any item they deem necessary.