Many people will be traveling over the river and through the air to grandmother’s house this holiday season, packing their family’s favorite treats along with them. However, if visiting family requires passing through airport security, you may not be able to carry your home-made treats on-board with you.
This Thanksgiving, take a minute to do a little planning to make sure your favorite food actually makes it from your kitchen to grandma’s table. (And don’t forget to read our editors’ Thanksgiving travel tips!)
First, the bad news: Cranberry sauce, gravy, and mashed potatoes are too close to liquid to be allowed through security (unless you only want 3 oz. or less of gravy, which is practically un-American). TSA specifically bans bringing creamy dips, spreads, soups, yogurt, salsa, sauces, jams, and jellies as carry-on items to your flight. Look closely at the item you are considering bringing on board and see if it falls into one of these categories of prohibited items.
If you’re absolutely set on flying with these Thanksgiving dinner items, it’s time to pony up for the checked luggage fee. Put the food in plastic containers with secure lids, wrap them in plastic wrap for an additional layer of protection, and put in your checked luggage—ideally separate from your clothing.
Here’s the good news: The TSA does not specifically ban bringing a turkey as carry-on. It’s not a liquid and it’s not explosive, so go ahead and roast your world famous bacon-covered turkey and tuck that bird under the seat in front of you. Cornbread stuffing, roasted Brussel sprouts, homemade Parker house rolls, and even your sweet potatoes (with or without marshmallows) are safe to bring onboard, as long as none of them fall too closely into the forbidden food categories.
Your famous pumpkin cake and apple pie are also good to go, because according to the TSA, pies and cakes are allowed as carry-on luggage. Be warned: meringue, whipped topping, or cream fillings may catch the eye of the TSA as being too close to a liquid or an item on the prohibited list.
This list is just a guide and the final decision on whether an individual item will be allowed through the security checkpoint rests with the TSA officers at your airport. The safest bet is to wrap everything well, stick it in a box or suitcase, and check it in.
Then give thanks for the TSA for keeping the airports and skies safe. Better safe and pie-less than sorry.