Not sure what food you can take through airport security? We checked the TSA rules and compiled this handy cheat sheet of what food is allowed on flights (and under what conditions)—and found a few surprises along the way.
Most forms of travel are made better with snacks, but unlike road trips where you’re free to grab whatever gas station treasure you want (including a 90-ounce fountain soda as long as it fits in your cup holder), when you fly, you face restrictions. As if air travel isn’t stressful enough, you have to worry about what you can bring to eat and whether your food will be confiscated by TSA agents. But not anymore. Just refer to the guide below when planning your plane snacks.
Food That Is Allowed On Flights
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), here is a list of all of the snacks that are allowed through the security line—however, no guarantees they will make it that far, especially if the line is long and you’re prone to stress eating.
- Solid cheese
- Solid chocolate
- Coffee beans and grounds
- Cooked meat, seafood, and vegetables
- Dried Fruit
- Fresh eggs (apparently including raw eggs, though you probably won’t be eating those on the plane)
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, unless you are flying from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Frozen food (but beware partially thawed ice packs)
- Pies and cakes (while the list doesn’t mention doughnuts by name, we assume they’d fall into this category)
- Protein or energy powders
- Tea (as in, leaves or bags)
- Wrapped snacks like granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.
Envirogen Reusable Zip-Top Bags, 5 for $16.99 on Amazon
These extra-thick, freezer-safe storage bags are a great eco-friendly way to pack your loose, TSA-approved snacks in your carry-on.
Food Allowed On Flights with Restrictions
Some foods are allowed through airport security with restrictions. The following are allowed but must be less than three ounces (per that pesky liquids rule that also applies to your toiletries):
- Creamy cheeses (no in-flight whole wheel of brie for you)
- Liquid chocolate
- Peanut/nut butters
- Salsa and sauces
- Jam and jelly
- Maple syrup
- Oils and vinegars
- Salad dressing
- Creamy dips and spreads
- Gravy (since it’s on the list, someone must have done it at least once…)
Sriracha Keychains, 2 for $14.23 on Amazon
Can't live without Sriracha? These refillable travel-size containers are TSA-compliant, but still need to be packed in a zip-top bag for the security line.
What About Canned Food?
TSA does allow canned foods through security, however, they may require additional screening. They may also be confiscated if they violate the 3-1-1 rule for liquids, gels, and aerosols. So, you can take your chances with the tuna fish, but TSA (and probably the passenger next to you) would rather you tuck that away in your checked baggage.
Related Reading: The Best Luggage Cubes for Stress-Free Suitcase Packing
What About Baby Food?
What About Pet Food?
Dry pet food is free and clear to carry on, but wet pet food is subject to the usual 3-ounce rule.
What About Live Lobster?
We weren’t even going to ask, but per the TSA website: “A live lobster is allowed through security and must be transported in a clear, plastic, spill proof container. A TSA officer will visually inspect your lobster at the checkpoint. We recommend that you contact your airline to determine your airline’s policy on traveling with your lobster before arriving at the airport.” So whether you’re dead-set on a fresh lobster dinner when you land or you have an emotional support lobster (or both, à la Pinchy), you might just be in the clear.
Now that you know what you can and cannot bring through airport security as far as food goes, check out our picks for best plane snacks—there is an art and a science to it. (And no, lobster is not on the list.)
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock