As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly!

Paul Ausick

The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) expects more than 25 million travelers to pass through airport screening checkpoints during the Thanksgiving holiday travel season. And because Thanksgiving is about food, lots of travelers will be packing family favorites to take along to the festivities.

And, in case you didn’t know, turkeys can fly, even in your carry-on luggage. Of course, the bird would need to meet airline carry-on size regulations and the TSA officer at the gate is the final arbiter about what gets on the plane.

What about stuffing and all the fixings? That depends. The revered family cornbread stuffing may be packed in a carry-on bag. For that matter, any kind of stuffing is okay. So are pumpkin pies and side dishes like yams and green beans.

Where you might run into a problem is with food items that could be categorized as liquids. Wine is an obvious item that needs to be put in a checked bag and not carried on. The TSA allows you to bring as many alcoholic beverages as you want as long as the alcohol content is less than 24% (48 proof). For beverages with alcohol content between 24% and 70% (140 proof), the maximum allowed is five liters and bottles should be in unopened, original packaging.

The TSA considers some food items as liquids that you may not think of as such. For example, cranberry sauce. In a carry-on bag, cranberry sauce is limited to a container of no more 3.4 ounces that must be placed in a one-quart plastic bag along with your mouthwash and toothpaste. That’s barely enough sauce for a single person. If you plan to take more than just enough for your own enjoyment, put it in checked luggage.

Remember that the TSA gate officer has the final word about what items fly in carry-on luggage. You will make no friends among your fellow travelers if you get into an argument over cranberry sauce.

The TSA has a web page describing what Thanksgiving travelers can put in their carry-on bags and what needs to be in checked baggage. And there’s a reminder on the liquids rule.

The Thanksgiving travel season officially begins tomorrow, Friday, November 16, and runs through November 26, the Monday after the holiday.

Oh, and we should point out, that traveling with leftovers is subject to the same rules.