Traveling for Thanksgiving? Here are foods you can fly with


When traveling for Thanksgiving, some food items can be carried through a TSA checkpoint while others have to be stored in checked baggage. Here’s what to know.

As Thanksgiving nears, millions are expected to take to the friendly skies to see family and friends.

Those tasked with bringing a holiday ham, turkey or festive side may wonder which items are OK to bring on board and which are better suited for storage. Most Thanksgiving foods and fixings are safe to travel with, but the best mode of transport will depend on the item, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

“If it’s a solid item, then it can go through a (TSA) checkpoint,” according to the agency’s website. “However, if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag.”

Items that can be safely packed in a carry-on include:

  • Meats such as chicken, turkey, ham or beef. Items can be cooked, uncooked or frozen
  • Baked goods including homemade treats or store-bought cakes and pies.
  • Casseroles
  • Stuffing/dressing.
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Fresh vegetables, including Thanksgiving staples like green beans and sweet potatoes
  • Fresh fruit
  • Spices
  • Candy

Items that are best stored in checked baggage include:

  • Homemade or canned cranberry sauce
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Gravy
  • Jams, jellies and preserves
  • Maple syrup
  • Wine, champagne or sparkling cider

Certain foods may require extra inspection, so the TSA recommends travelers place such items in a clear plastic bag or another container when packing. Also, be prepared to remove them from your bag at security checkpoints.

Proper food storage while traveling is also important to ensure your holidays aren’t ruined by food-borne illness. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that hot foods be kept at 140°F or higher and stored in an insulated container.

When traveling with cold foods, keep them at 40°F or lower with ice or a gel pack. Both are permitted at TSA checkpoints; however, they must remain frozen solid and not melted when they’re screened, according to the agency.

“FAA rules allow up to 5 pounds of dry ice in a package properly marked and vented,” the TSA’s website states. “However, the airline has the final say so make sure to check with them to see if they will allow this icy item in either your carry-on or checked bag.”

Tanasia is a national Real-Time reporter based in Atlanta covering news in Georgia, Mississippi and across the southeastern U.S. Her sub-beat is retail and consumer news. She’s an alumna of Kennesaw State University and joined McClatchy in 2020.

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