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Flying with food — the do's and don'ts


Flying with food — the do's and don'ts

Advice from TSA to help make security line move a little more smoothly this season
Flying with food — the do's and don'ts
Photographer: Shutterstock

It’s natural to want to share food at the holidays, especially homemade gifts you can bring to friends and family. You can bring just about anything onto a plane as long as it is in checked luggage, but all the jostling that your luggage gets may cause you to rethink packing gifts like homemade cookies made from Grandma’s recipe. They’re better off safely on your lap.

But what is allowed on board, and what goodies must be packed? If you’re not checking a bag, you have to follow the rules.

Here is some advice from Lisa Farbstein, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, that will help make the security line move a little more smoothly this holiday season.

“Many foods can travel,” Farbstein said. “Some foods can go through a checkpoint and some cannot.”

Travelers must follow the 3-1-1 rule: no more than 3.4 ounces of liquid, in a 1 quart bag, 1 bag per person. A liquid, aerosol or gel would have to fit in the bag.

“If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then it’s a liquid/aerosol/gel,” she said. By that reasoning, she said, mashed potatoes have to go in the bag. “But you can bring raw potatoes and cook them later,” she suggested. Cranberries can be carried on, more than 3.4 ounces of cranberry sauce cannot.

“People love to bake favorite desserts and bring them,” during the holiday season, Farbstein said. “Sweet breads, cookies, pies and cakes are solids,” so they are OK to carry on. They will probably get extra screening, though. Many food items alarm the machine. “It doesn’t mean anyone is going to bite into it.” She recommends that if you’re bringing food and want to carry it on, take it out of your bag and put it in the bin. That will lessen the chances that your bag will get flagged.

And forget the maple syrup, unless it’s a teeny bottle. Doug Myers, spokesman for Albany International Airport, said “People try to bring bottles of maple syrup on board all the time.” The syrup ends up joining all the other liquids that the Transportation Security Administration confiscated this year.

Any more questions? Check the website at www.tsa.gov, and click on the link “What can I bring?” at the top of the home page. There’s an alphabetical comprehensive list, several pages long, of what is allowed to be carried on. It’s easy to use.

Or check out their Twitter account at @asktsa. You can send a photo or ask a question about a food item. Or use Facebook Messenger. There’s even a free, downloadable app for your smartphone, MyTSA, that has the “What can I bring?” search feature.

You might keep in mind the comfort of your fellow passengers. It’s understandable that some folks, for reasons of economy or dietary restrictions, would bring a meal with them to eat on the plane. But take into account the fact that others have to live with the smell of your food and in such a confined space, it can be a lot of people.

And consider what you stow: My brother Bob brought several rings of awesome fresh kielbasa from Cleveland with him on a flight to Albany and stowed it over his seat in a front row. By the time he arrived, its garlicky odor made its way all the way to the back of the plane. Our family loved the keilbasa, but I’m sure there were passengers who did not find it pleasant.

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