The Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. In fact, according to the FAA, there are more scheduled flights in the U.S. on the Wednesday just before the four-day holiday than any other day of the year – with 49,606 of them on the books this time around. (Be forewarned, though: These are the U.S. airports with the most flight cancellations in 2023.)
Although Mom or Grandma (or whoever cooks in the family) will doubtless be serving a full Thanksgiving meal, some people like to contribute to the feast by bringing main dishes, sides, desserts, even beverages along when they take to the skies on the way to this annual family get-together. And more than a few will undoubtedly be sent back home with leftovers. (Here, on the other hand, are nine Thanksgiving dishes you should never make ahead.)
The obvious question, then, is what foods and drinks can you take through a TSA checkpoint and which ones are verboten. In fact, the security agency itself recently reported a 1,179% increase in queries about what’s admissible in just one mid-November day – and Google searches for “can you take homemade food through airport security?” have spiked a reported 110% this month.
That’s according to a report compiled by Daily Meal. The website did the research, and has come up with a list of Thanksgiving foods you can and can’t carry aboard, which they shared with 24/7 Tempo.
As a general rule, solid foods are fine, liquids or soft stuff (like cranberry sauce) are not. Canned fruits and vegetables are banned, too, because they’re packed in liquid. And while you can actually bring a mini-bottle or three of Scotch or vodka in your carry-on – as long as it’s no more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml), as with toiletries – it can’t be over 140 proof, or 70% alcohol. And speaking of liquids, if you’re chilling the foods you bring with cold packs, make sure they’re well-frozen. If they’re sloshing around, they’re going to miss their flight.
Also, says The Daily Meal, “Keep in mind that, according to the TSA, even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.”
Here is what you can and cannot bring:
|Foods You Can’t Bring on a Plane||Foods You Can Carry Through TSA|
|Cranberry sauce (homemade or canned)||Baked goods (bread, cookies – homemade or store-bought)|
|Gravy (homemade, in a jar, or canned)||Pies and cakes|
|Canned fruit or vegetables||Meats: Turkey, chicken, ham, steak (frozen, cooked or uncooked)|
|Maple syrup||Stuffing (cooked, uncooked, or boxed)|
|Preserves, jams, and jellies||Casseroles|
|Wine, Champagne, or sparkling cider||Candy|
|Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof||Mac ‘n cheese (cooked or ingredients to cook later)|
|Fresh fruits and vegetables (from mainland only)|
|Creamy cheeses and dips (≤3.4 ounces)|
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