The TSA Just Shared Thanksgiving Flying Tips to Help You Avoid Travel Nightmares

Expecting to screen 2.5 million passengers the day before Thanksgiving,

Crowds of travelers waiting for Security check, LaGuardia Airport, New York

Lindsey Nicholson/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration is preparing for a busy week ahead, expecting Thanksgiving holiday travelers to even reach pre-pandemic levels. 

Expecting to screen as many as 2.5 million passengers on busy days like Wednesday, Nov. 23, and on Sunday, Nov. 27, the agency is preparing passengers with helpful tips on everything from how to get through security smoothly to what foods they can (and can’t) bring with them in a carry-on suitcase.

“We expect to be busier this year than last year at this time, and probably very close to pre-pandemic levels. We are prepared to handle the projected increase in travel volumes next week,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

To ensure Thanksgiving travel is as smooth as gravy, the TSA reminds travelers flying for Turkey Day that some foods are prohibited from going in their carry-on suitcase. While it’s always ok to fly with solid foods like cake, pie, or cooked meat like turkey, travelers who want to transport liquids like gravy, cranberry sauce, wine, or jam must pack it in their checked luggage. 

“If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, then it is a liquid and must be packed in a checked bag,” the agency warns. 

If a traveler is unsure about which items can fly with them, they can always check the TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” website, which includes a searchable list of both allowed and prohibited items. Additionally, travelers can ask the TSA about any specific concerns by submitting questions to “@AskTSA” on Twitter or on Facebook Messenger. Staff is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET each day, including holidays and weekends. 

In addition to food, the agency warns travelers should pack smartly when it comes to other prohibited items like firearms, which can never go in a carry-on suitcase but may travel in checked baggage as long as they are unloaded, “properly packaged and declared at the airline ticket counter.”

Travelers should also come prepared with the correct ID, which can include a passport or driver’s license. Starting next year, travelers wishing to fly with a driver’s license will have to obtain a REAL ID, an enhanced state-issued driver's license or identification card.

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