So, you're flying somewhere for Thanksgiving, and you've been asked to bring some of the feast with you. What can you take on the airplane? Lots of things.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently posed this question on their website:

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, travelers are eager to bring some of their favorite food items with them for their flights and contribute to the Thanksgiving table. Sometimes the items come from a favorite local shop such as a bakery. Sometimes they are homemade from a long-standing family recipe. And sometimes the items are ingredients in sealed plastic bags to enable an individual to cook the item conveniently upon arrival at their destination. So how do you know which food items are permitted to go through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint?

Having never flown anywhere over the Thanksgiving holiday, I guess I just didn't realize that this was a thing.

But, it is a thing. An important thing to a lot of 31.5 million people expected to be flying over the river and over the woods to grandma's house during the next few days.

So, what's the answer?


Food can travel with passengers. Passengers bring food with them every day of the year. Some foods may be carried through a checkpoint; others should be placed in a checked bag. Generally, if the item is a solid, it can be carried through a checkpoint such as pies, cakes and other baked goods, which still may require some additional screening. However, liquids such as eggnog and maple syrup and gels such as preserves and jellies should go into checked bags. Liquids in carry-on bags must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. The general rule of thumb is that if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then it should go into a checked bag.

Solid food items that TSA officers say are common to see individuals traveling with this time of year include turkey, baked goods, stuffing, casseroles, and vegetable side dishes and these items are permitted through an airport checkpoint. Thanksgiving-themed foods that should be packed in a checked bag include wine, gravy, cranberry sauce, canned fruits and vegetables with liquid in the can, and mashed potatoes. It’s okay to bring uncooked potatoes to be cooked and mashed at a traveler’s destination, but after they are prepared as mashed potatoes, they’re not exactly what one would define as a solid.

So, to recap:

  • Turkey (or ham, or whatever meat you prefer)-Yes
  • Baked goods (pies, cookies, dinner rolls, bread)-Yes
  • Green bean casserole (stuffing, vegetables, side dishes)-Yes
  • Potatoes (whole, not mashed)-Yes
  • Gravy and Cranberry sauce-Yes
  • Your favorite carving set-No

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