From fruitcakes to frozen drinks, TSA’s 12 tips of Christmas

Dec 20, 2021

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It’s one of our favorite trivia tidbits at TPG. Yes, you can take frozen liquids through TSA checkpoints.

As Christmas approaches and millions of travelers embark on holiday flights, the folks at the Transportation Security Administration want to remind you of their naughty and nice list for allowable carry-on items.

We’ve got a few of our own favorites.

Food items are of particular concern since feasting is what the holidays are all about, right? The good news is that the TSA says most foods are on the nice list and can be carried through security checkpoints.

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Others do not fare as well.

Not to worry, the TSA rules are pretty straightforward. For the most part, solid items are good to go through security. Feel free to carry on fruitcake, pastries, chocolates, candy canes, fruit and nut baskets and even a ham (either frozen or cooked) with abandon.

The TSA is more Grinch-like with other items.

Its official release cautions, “If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag.”

Related: There’s a new way to get through TSA screening faster. But do you need it?

That means your holiday egg nog, Champagne, wine, sparkling apple cider, cranberry sauce (it’s spreadable), as well as preserves, jams, jellies and maple syrup should be securely packed and checked.

Any time you’re transporting food, health and safety is a top priority. It’s a good idea to check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture sites, as both have tips on how to travel with food safely.

If you need to keep items (such as that ham) cold, you are allowed to bring ice packs through security. They must, however, be solidly frozen.

For that matter, TSA regulations state that you can bring “frozen liquid items” through security, as long as they have not become “partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container.”

That language falls under a heading that says “ice,” but some TPG staffers have used this provision to successfully bring frozen drinks through security.

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

Whether your holiday bounty is fresh or frozen, make sure to allow extra time to get through security checkpoints. Do everyone in line behind you a favor and remove food items from your bags ahead of time.

If you are in doubt before you pack that carry-on, log on to the “What can I bring” section of the TSA homepage. You can also send a tweet directly  to @AskTSA to ask about transporting those holiday delectables.

The TSA also has some helpful advice when it comes to gifts.

Admittedly, part of the fun of the holidays is festively wrapping up gifts for loved ones. If you’re planning to carry those packages through security, do yourself a favor. Keep them in gift bags, where TSA can inspect them if need be. You can always wrap the presents when you arrive at your destination.

(Courtesy of TSA)

Here’s another tip from TSA: If someone you know has asked Santa for a snow globe, you must pack it in checked luggage unless it holds less than 3.4 ounces of liquid. How can you tell? If it is smaller than a tennis ball, you can carry it on, to ensure that it arrives safely to its intended recipient.

(Photo courtesy Transportation Security Administration)
(Photo courtesy Transportation Security Administration)

Featured image by Michael Kniazev/Getty Images.

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