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Can You Bring Food on a Plane? TSA Guidelines and Tips

For frequent flyers, there are few things as valuable as understanding the intricacies of the Transportation Security Administration guidelines, particularly when it comes to something as vital as food. Airports have long been havens for hurriedly consumed sandwiches and bags full of specialty snacks, but the rules of what you can and cannot bring have seen changes over the years. So? Can you bring food on a plane?

This comprehensive guide to bringing your own food on a plane will not only clarify TSA’s current stance but also provide you with practical tips to ensure a smooth passage through security.

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TSA Food Rules in 2024: Can You Take Food on A Plane?

The TSA is the federal agency responsible for the security of air travel within the United States. Their strict guidelines are designed to maintain safety while balancing the convenience and comfort of passengers. As of 2024, the TSA rules regarding food and air travel are as follows:

  • Non-Perishable Food: Items such as granola bars, sandwiches, dried fruits, nuts, and certain types of candy are generally allowed.
  • Frozen and Fresh Foods: Some frozen or fresh foods are permissible if they are properly packed to ensure they remain below 3.4 ounces and maintain their frozen or chilled state throughout the flight.
  • Liquids and Gels: The 3-1-1 rule applies to food items such as sauces, spreads, and soups. Each passenger is allowed a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in travel-size containers (no more than 3.4 ounces each).

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What Food Can You Bring on a Plane?

Knowing what foods are safe to bring onto the plane is crucial in avoiding any unwanted hitches during your travel. So if you are asking yourself the most important question —can you bring snacks on a plane—here’s a nice little breakdown of every type of food you can and can’t bring with you.

Non-Perishable Foods:

  • Dry Snacks: Pretzels, chips, and crackers.
  • Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: As long as they are consumed on the flight, or are properly prepped and packed if saved for later.

Perishable Foods:

  • Meals and Sandwiches: While certain meals can be brought on, it’s best to keep them in the non-liquid, solid form as much as possible.
  • Cheese and Other Dairy Products: Soft cheeses under 3.4 oz, or hard cheeses could be packed in travel-size amounts.


  • Water and Juices: These cannot be brought through security in larger amounts but can be purchased post-security.
  • Alcoholic Beverages: A small amount is generally allowed within the 3.4 oz limit in your quart-sized bag for carry-on.

What Kind of Food Should I Not Eat on a Plane?

Some foods are best left at home or enjoyed before boarding your flight. Here are a few favorites on the “no-fly” list for their tendency to create disruptions or discomfort:

Foods with Strong Odors:

  • Fish and Seafood: Their pungency may not be well-received in the enclosed cabin.
  • Sauerkraut and Kimchi: The strong smell can be offensive to neighboring passengers.

Messy or Difficult-to-Eat Foods:

  • Burgers and Tacos: Foods that require assembly or are prone to falling apart should be consumed with caution.
  • Soup in Bowls: Opt for a sturdy, secure thermos if you simply must have your soup on the go.

Perishable Foods:

  • Fresh Meats: Unless securely packed and kept very cold, these items are best avoided.
  • Unusual or Exotic Foods: In general, a taste test is not something most passengers are prepared for at 30,000 feet.
can you bring food on a plane


To further demystify TSA’s food rules, here are quick responses to some of the most common questions:

Can You Bring Baby Formula or Breast Milk?

Yes, you can bring baby formula or breast milk for your child. While most liquids must adhere to the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule (which limits liquids, gels, and aerosols in carry-on bags to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters per item), formula and breast milk are exceptions. You are allowed to bring reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces, but you must declare these items to the TSA officer at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process. The officer may require additional screening for these items.

Can You Bring Alcohol?

Yes, you can bring alcohol in your carry-on baggage if it is within the 3.4 oz (100 milliliters) limit and fits comfortably in a single, quart-sized bag alongside your other liquids. If you wish to travel with larger quantities of alcohol (over 24% but not more than 70% alcohol by volume), it should be packed in your checked baggage. 

The total quantity of alcohol in checked luggage is limited to 1.3 gallons or 5 liters per passenger for beverages that are between 24% and 70% alcohol by volume. Beverages containing less than 24% alcohol (such as beer or wine) are not subject to these limitations.

Can You Bring Frozen Food?

Yes, frozen food is allowed in both carry-on and checked bags. However, if bringing frozen food in your carry-on, it must be frozen solid at the time of screening. If the food has melted and any liquid exceeds the 3.4 oz limit, it will not be permitted through the checkpoint. Ice packs are allowed to keep food frozen but must also be frozen solid at the time of screening.

Can You Take Food on a Plane That’s Canned?

Canned food is allowed in your carry-on and checked luggage, but it’s subject to certain restrictions. If the canned food is considered a liquid or gel (for example, soups or sauces), it must comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-on bags. Solid foods in cans are permitted without restrictions. It’s important to consider the weight of canned goods, as heavy cans could add significant weight to your luggage.

How Much Food Can You Bring on a Plane?

There is no specific limit to the amount of food you can bring on a plane in your carry-on or checked baggage, as long as it complies with the TSA’s guidelines. Solid food items do not need to adhere to the 3-1-1 rule and can be packed directly in your carry-on bag. However, all food items should be declared for inspection at the security checkpoint, and TSA officers may need to inspect certain items further. Remember that perishable items should be packed properly to ensure food safety throughout your journey.

For all food items, it’s essential to remember that while TSA regulations allow for certain foods and beverages, individual airlines may have their own restrictions regarding what can be brought onboard. It’s always a good idea to check with your airline before traveling to avoid any inconvenience.

Conclusion – Can You Bring Food on a Plane?

Navigating the airport experience can be a breeze when you understand the current food policies. Remember, while the official rules are important, common sense and consideration for your fellow travelers will always be your best guide.

By preparing in advance, you can enjoy your personal snacks and meals on board and avoid the potential hassle of delays or confiscation at security.

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