We celebrate Thanksgiving with food, and lots of it! Driving with prepared Thanksgiving side dishes or leftovers is one thing, taking food items on a flight is entirely different. Thankfully, the TSA offers travel tips for flying with food.
Here are some best practices for traveling with food, courtesy of lohud.com.
More than 25 million people are expected to travel over Thanksgiving weekend with the Sunday after the holiday the busiest travel day, nearly a seven percent increase compared to last year. And more people than you may realize are flying with food, from side dishes like yam and stuffing, to fully cooked turkeys. In fact, at least four out of five people travel with some kind of holiday food, according to Lisa Farbstein, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which held an information session at Westchester County Airport on the do’s-and-don’ts of traveling by air with holiday foods.
The Westchester County Airport which usually sees 2,200 to 2,500 passengers a day, will see approximately 3,000, an increase of more than 20 percent, said Farbstein. That is why she stresses getting to the airport two hours early. With all those extra bags — and food — the TSA has a lot to screen.
Pies and pastries are the number one item the TSA sees and screens during the holiday, followed by meats. TSA also sees a lot of wine bottles, canned cranberry, cornbread stuffing mix, sweet potatoes and those crunchy onions that go on top of bean casseroles. Tara Gavin, a TSA agent at Westchester County Airport, said she especially sees packed food from college students travelling back to school after the holiday.
How to Pack Food for Flight
So, when it comes to food, what goes in your carry-on and what goes in your checked baggage? “If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it,” it’s technically a liquid and goes in your checked bag, said Farbstein.
Both she and Gavin suggest tightly packing what you can and wrapping it in a plastic bag (or two) for your checked baggage, to avoid leakage. After all, who wants a gravy spill on a new shirt, especially before the holiday? “I’ve even seen duct tape used,” said Farbstein. Similarly, you should pack carry-on food items in spill-proof containers and wrap them as best as you can, again using plastic bags within your bag.
Gavin said TSA agents won’t open your packaged food but will instead use a wand around it for testing. It’s best to put those items in a bin separate from the rest of your luggage when going through the security check. Note that even if you have TSA-Pre approval, you’ll have to go through the process.
Seeing all those homemade or store-bought goodies may make TSA employees hungry, said Gavin. “We may want to eat it,” she said, “But we won’t.”
If you have any questions regarding traveling with food over the holidays, go to @AskTSA on twitter. You can also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673.