These are the TSA-approved foods you can — and can’t — bring with you on an airplane
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
We all know that airplane food isn’t exactly fine dining, especially if you’re traveling at the back of the plane. I mean, how many times can you decide between chicken and pasta?
Frequent flyers and travelers with food restrictions or allergies have long packed their own provisions for flights. But more travelers than ever may be thinking about bringing their own meals, especially since so many airlines have reduced or altogether eliminated meal service due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
But just because you want to bring your own food from home on the plane doesn’t mean it’s OK, at least in the eyes of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Yes, you can take your “emotional support casserole” with you, but what about live lobsters? And French onion dip?
Even if you do bring Thanksgiving leftovers on the plane, you may also want to think twice about feasting during the flight, as that would require you to lower your face mask.
Still, to make sure you don’t have to part ways with your beloved jar of Nutella or Tupperware of gravy at security, reference this guide before your next flight.
For TPG news and deals delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
TSA-approved foods you can pack in your carry-on
Get ready for some good news: You can bring virtually all food past security, as long as it’s not a liquid exceeding 3.4 ounces.
This means bread, cakes, candy, cereal, solid cheese, solid chocolate, coffee, cooked meat, cooked seafood, cooked vegetables, cookies, crackers, dried fruits, fresh eggs, gum, nuts, solid pet food, pies, pizza, protein powder, salt, sandwiches, snacks, spices, supplements and tea are all good to go.
You can even bring an empty water bottle.
Keep in mind, though, that your protein powders and canned foods might be subject to additional screening. (In fact, the TSA suggests you might want to pack canned foods in your checked bags, ship it to your destination or, better yet, leave them at home.)
Oh, and as for those live lobsters? They’re probably fine, as long as they’re in a clear, sealed, spill-proof container, though you’ll want to check with your airline first.
Can I bring baby food and formula on a plane?
The TSA allows “reasonable quantities” of baby food in your carry-on bag. You’ll just have to remove it, along with baby formula or breast milk from your carry-on bag, so those items can be screened separately.
This is where the TSA liquids rule comes into play: You can’t bring any item that is in liquid or cream form over 3.4 ounces on the plane with you. Think: creamy cheeses, liquid chocolate, liquid coffee, creamy dips and spreads, gravy, honey, hummus, ice cream, jam, jelly, juice, syrup, peanut butter, salad dressing, sauce, salsa, soda, soup and yogurt.
That means your French onion dip must be below 3.4 ounces, or you’ll have to give it a tearful goodbye at the airport.
Booze rules and other final notes
As far as alcoholic beverages go, you can’t have anything that’s over 140 proof, including grain alcohol, in either your checked baggage or carry-on. You could carry on your own mini bottles, but many airlines won’t let you drink your own alcohol on board. In fact, many airlines are now making a specific boarding announcement that you are not allowed to drink your own alcohol on board.
You can bring an ice pack to keep foods chilled, as long as it’s still fully solid when you get to the airport. If it melts, it will be considered a liquid and subject to the liquid rule.
When in doubt, consult the TSA’s list and check with your airline.
Featured image by Robert Alexander/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.