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Which Thanksgiving Foods Can You Carry Onboard Flights?



Ahead of this week’s Thanksgiving holiday and amid this year’s unprecedented COVID-19 concerns, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued guidelines for holiday gatherings. Among them is a recommendation that guests attending private celebrations bring their own food and drink, and do not share with members of other households.

For anyone who intends to travel by air to celebrate the holiday with family or close friends, this directive presents some unique challenges. So, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also issued a press release detailing which types of foods will need to be transported inside checked baggage and which can be carried through airport security checkpoints.


The standard ban on carrying on any sort of liquid or gelatinous substances in sizeable quantities also applies when it comes to edibles. So, the TSA writes, “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.” Most solid food items are eligible for carry-on.

A TSA spokesperson offered Fox News some further advice pertaining to alcoholic beverages, noting that those with an alcohol content of more than 70 percent (over 140 proof) are not permitted in either carry-on and checked baggage, according to TSA and FAA regulations.

It’s worth noting that food items often require some additional screening so TSA recommends placing them inside a clear plastic bag or other clear container and placing them inside the screening bins outside your carry-on at the TSA checkpoint to expedite the process.

If in doubt, passengers should check the TSA website, which has a helpful “What can I bring?” feature with a category dedicated to foodstuffs. Passengers can also send a tweet to @AskTSA with questions about a specific food item.

PHOTO: Examples of Thanksgiving foods that TSA allows to be carried onboard flights. (Photo courtesy of TSA)

The following are some examples of some of the most commonly asked-about holiday food items and which can be carried-on versus transported inside checked baggage.

Thanksgiving foods that can be carried through a TSA checkpoint:

—Homemade or store-bought baked goods.

—Meats (frozen, cooked or uncooked).

—Boxed or bagged stuffing (cooked or uncooked).


—Mac ‘n Cheese (ready-cooked in a pan or permissible ingredients)

—Fresh vegetables.

—Fresh fruits.



Thanksgiving foods that should be carefully packed in checked baggage:

—Homemade or canned cranberry sauce.

—Gravy, homemade or in a jar/can.

—Wine, champagne, sparking apple cider, etc.

—Canned fruit or vegetables (these are packed with liquid inside the can).

—Preserves, jams and jellies.

—Maple syrup.

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