Flying with your feast? Here’s what Thanksgiving foods TSA says you can carry-on (and what must be checked)

Nov 20, 2021

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Thanksgiving is on approach, and we all know it is not polite to arrive to a festive meal empty-handed. If you’re flying to that family dinner or Friendsgiving, you may be wondering what you can actually take with you on the plane. The Transportation Security Administration estimates that it will screen about 20 million passengers during the upcoming holiday period. If you’re thinking about flying with the family feast (or parts of it) in tow, here’s what you need to know.

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The TSA has outlined a specific list of Thanksgiving fare that can and cannot go past their checkpoint. A general rule of thumb is that solid food can go in your carry-on. But anything with more than 3.4 ounces of liquid needs to be in a checked bag.

Food items may require additional screening, and it’s a good idea to pack them in clear bags or containers.

Related: These are the TSA-approved foods you can — and can’t — bring with you on an airplane

TSA carry-on Thanksgiving food
TSA carry-on Thanksgiving food. (Photo Courtesy of TSA)

If you’re lugging a turkey, ham, chicken, or any other form of poultry, it can be carried through the checkpoint, whether cooked, uncooked or frozen. The TSA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do advise that you give special attention to packing and storing perishables. Make sure any ice packs you plan to bring through security are solidly frozen. If they’re melting, they’ll not get through.

Related: Brace yourself: It may be a rough holiday travel season — but not for the reason you think 

Moving on to those all-important sides and desserts, you can carry-on pies and pastries. Fresh fruits and vegetables, along with spices are also allowed in your carry-on. Canned fruits and vegetables will need to be checked, though.

You will also have to check items like gravy, cranberry sauce and any preserves, jams, jellies and syrups. Wine, champagnes and other spirits will also need to go in your checked luggage.

TSA checked bag holiday food
Thanksgiving food for checked bag. (Photo Courtesy of TSA)

Related: TSA vaccine mandate looms as busy holiday travel season kicks off

The TSA advises travelers to remember this simple rule. If an item can be spilled, spread or sprayed, then it most likely won’t make it through their checkpoint. Wrap and pack items carefully and don’t try to carry-on something that isn’t on the approved list. Before you know it, you’ll be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade surrounded by food, friends and family.

Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images.

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