Flying can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re not sure what you can bring and what you can’t.
You might want something to eat on a long flight. Or maybe you’d like to bring food for your trip that would go bad while you’re gone.
So you’re left wondering, “can I bring food on a plane?”
We’ll answer this question for you in this complete article. By the end, you’ll know exactly what foods are allowed and which ones are not. We’ll also discuss how food rules differ on international flights vs. domestic flights. Stick around until the end to hear some of my personal recommendations to ensure you have a stress-free trip.
You can bring most solid food in your checked bag or carry-on bag. Some foods, including canned foods and frozen foods may be subject to additional screening and other requirements. Foods that are considered liquid such as yogurt, honey, or creamy cheese must be smaller than 3.4 ounces or 100 mL to carry on a plane. If you want to bring liquid larger than 3.4 ounces, it must go in your checked bags.
The TSA is more strict with liquids or gels, because they may contain enough explosive material to be dangerous.
Keep reading for a complete list of 1) solid foods with no restrictions, 2) solid foods with restrictions and 3) foods, liquids, and dips that fall under the TSA’s liquid rules.
Note: The lists of food and liquid in this article are pulled from the food section of TSA’s ‘What can I bring’ webpage. I’ve categorized every food and liquid item on the list to help you better understand the requirements before you board your plane.
Solid Foods with No Restrictions
- Coffee thermos (empty)
- Tea (dry tea bags or tea leaves)
- Cheese (solid)
- Dried Fruits
- Solid Foods
- Cooked meat, seafood and vegetable (no liquid)
- Granola Bars
- Protein Powders or Supplements
- Chocolate (solid)
- Pet food (solid)
- Coffee (beans or ground)
- Spices (dry)
- Pies and Cakes
- Fresh Eggs
You can bring all of the solid food above in your carry on bag with no restrictions.
You might encounter an issue if:
- You have something in your carry-on bag obstructing the X-ray screening.
- You cannot lift your carry-on into the overhead bin or fit it under your seat.
Most airlines don’t have weight requirements for carry ons. The bag just needs to fit in an overhead compartment or under your seat.
To avoid getting stopped at airport security, make sure to organize your carry-on bag or suitcase.
For your information: the “Solid Foods” category above likely covers any solid foods that the TSA doesn’t specify on their website.
Solid Foods with Restrictions
Live lobster must be in a “clear, plastic, and spillproof container” according to the TSA’s website. It will be closely inspected at the security checkpoint before you can bring it on a plane. With live lobster, it’s best to check with your airline, as the rules and requirements may vary.
The TSA allows “reasonable quantities” of baby food on a plane. This can exceed the 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters requirement. The TSA isn’t exact about how much baby food is allowed on a plane, but check with your airline for more specific requirements.
Frozen food, fresh meat, fresh seafood, and gel ice packs
These last four items fall under a similar category: they’re all food that may require some ice or ice packs. For frozen food, fresh meat, or seafood, the ice packs must be frozen completely. They cannot be partially or completely melted.
You can also pack food in dry ice, which will stay frozen for much longer. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you can bring a maximum of five pounds of dry ice in a ventilated and appropriately marked container.
Some canned foods may be subject to the TSA’s 3:1:1 liquid rule. This means that you can only bring 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters of liquid on the plane. When flying with liquids, they must all fit in a one quart sized bag.
The TSA coined this the 3:1:1 rule because of the 3.4 ounces, 100 mL, and 1 quart sized bag requirements.
There are a lot of different canned foods and there’s a gray area between what is considered food and what’s considered a liquid. So, you are probably better off putting the cans in your checked bag. Or just leave them at home to avoid unnecessary delays or conflicts with TSA agents.
You can technically bring 3.4 ounces of canned liquid on a plane, but most cans are not that small. Most canned soup and fruit for example will likely be larger than this requirement.
Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, etc.)
Although most creamy food, dips, and liquids don’t fit the 3.4 ounce or 100 mL requirement, toiletries are one of the most commonly accepted items for your carry-on.
I know these are not food, but this may be helpful information for you as you pack for your trip.
Toiletries in travel-sized containers that hold less than 3.4 ounces or 100 mL are allowed in carry-on bags. They must all fit into one quart-sized bag in your carry-on luggage.
If you have larger containers, you can bring them on your trip. But they must be in your checked baggage.
Foods, Dips, and Liquids That Fall Under TSA’s Liquid Rules
- Maple syrup
- Coffee (liquid)
- Jam and jelly
- Oils and vinegars
- Peanut butter
- Cheese (creamy)
- Ice cream
- Alcoholic beverages
- Bottled water
- Creamy dips and spreads
- Salsa and sauces
- Chocolate (liquid)
- Salad dressing
- Pet food (wet)
This list includes the foods, dips, sauces, and liquids that are subject to TSA’s liquid rules. For the foods and liquids listed above, the TSA allows you to carry a maximum of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters on a plane.
What food cannot be taken on a plane?
If you have more than 3.4 ounces or 100 mL of certain foods or liquids at the security checkpoint, you’ll be asked to dispose of the liquid. See above for a complete list according to the TSA.
So, what should you do if you’re stopped by a TSA agent because of food or liquid?
Here are a few options for you.
- Dump the food item or liquid out and carry on the empty container or bottle.
- Pass the food item or liquid to a friend who’s not traveling.
- Transfer the food or liquid to your checked baggage.
- Throw away the food or liquid.
For some liquids, the TSA makes exceptions. These include:
- Baby formula
- Breast milk
- Juice or water for babies
The TSA is a bit more lenient with baby food and liquid products compared to other liquids. In most cases, you’re allowed to bring more than 3.4 oz or 100 mL on a plane. They do not need to fit in a quart sized bag.
But I recommend checking with the airline first. The TSA’s website is a little vague on baby food and liquid requirements, stating that a “reasonable quantity” is allowed on a plane. If you have quite a bit more than 3.4 ounces, you may be subject to additional screening.
Keep in mind that baby formula, breast milk, and juice or water for babies must be screened separately. In some cases, TSA agents may test the liquid for explosives. This involves giving a small amount of the liquid to the agent for testing.
Now that you know the 3.4 ounce or 100 milliliter rule, you might be wondering: can I bring an empty water bottle on a plane?
Yes, you can bring empty water bottles, coffee thermoses, and other liquid containers on a plane. Just make sure they are completely empty before going through security.
You can also pass through security with over 3.4 ounces of frozen liquids. But if they become slushy or liquid before boarding the plane, they may be confiscated.
Packing Food in Checked Luggage
In checked bags, you have no restrictions on the type of food you can bring on a plane. It’s worth noting that your luggage must weigh less than the max requirements outlined by the airline. Most of the major airlines require checked bags to weigh less than 50 pounds. So you’re somewhat limited in how much you can bring.
Similar to food, liquids do not have checked baggage restrictions beyond the weight of the luggage itself. But, liquids are quite heavy, so the weight of your luggage can add up quickly.
When you go through airport security, you may need to remove your food and liquids for a separate screening. This may occur if you packed items with more restrictions, such as frozen food, baby food, or canned food.
Sometimes other items in your bags will obstruct the X-ray machine. This can cause delays at the security checkpoint, and you may have to remove the items for a separate screening. So it’s best to keep your checked bags and carry-on bags organized.
Should I pack food or liquid in checked baggage?
Carry-on bags have many more requirements and exceptions when it comes to bringing food on a plane. Instead of packing food in your carry on, pack it in your checked bag to avoid this hassle.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much food can you bring on a plane?
There are no restrictions for how much solid food you can bring on a plane. You just have to be able to lift the bag into the overhead compartment or fit it under your seat. Most airlines do not have weight requirements for carry-on bags.
However, liquids, dips, sauces, gels, and related items are limited to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. All liquids must fit into one quart sized bag to pass through airport security.
Can I bring food on a plane on an international flight?
Yes, you can bring solid food on an international flight. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are not allowed in your carry-on or checked baggage on international flights. They may contain invasive pests or diseases that can spread to other fruits and vegetables. In some cases, you can bring food on an international flight, but you’ll have to eat it all before disembarking.
Can I bring a Subway sandwich on a plane?
Yes, you can bring a Subway sandwich on a plane. The TSA allows you to bring any type of sandwich on a plane, as long as it’s not accompanied with more than 3.4 ounces of liquid. You can also pack sandwiches in your checked baggage.
Can I bring an open bag of chips on a plane?
Yes, the TSA allows you to bring an open bag of chips on a plane. Just put them in your carry-on before screening. After going through security you can take out the chips and continue eating.
Can I bring pizza on a plane?
Yes, you can bring pizza on a plane or in your checked baggage. But it might be hard to fit an entire pizza in your carry-on bag along with everything else you’re bringing. Pizza has no restrictions on domestic flights, but you might not be able to take it off the plane after an international flight.
From the USA to a foreign country
Some foreign countries have strict requirements when it comes to meat, poultry, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables. They don’t want to facilitate the spread of any foodborne diseases, which may be dangerous to people’s health. So pizza with pepperoni, sausage or other meats may be prohibited.
You may be allowed to bring it on your plane and eat it, but not allowed to exit the plane with your food.
From a foreign country to the USA
If you’re coming from a foreign country into the USA, you might have to throw away your pizza upon arrival. The USA has pretty strict rules about allowing food that may contain foreign foodborne diseases or parasites into the country. But, pizza with no meat or poultry products is often permitted.
Can I bring food wrapped in foil on a plane?
Food wrapped in foil is allowed on a plane, but it may obstruct the x-ray screening at the security checkpoint. You might be subject to additional screenings or asked to unwrap the food. But you can pack food in a plastic container or Tupperware to save time.
Can I bring gummy bears on a plane?
Yes, gummy bears are allowed in your carry-on bags or checked luggage. They fall under the category of “Solid foods” on the TSA’s website.
Can I bring baby food on a plane?
Yes, you can bring baby food on a plane in “reasonable quantities” according to the TSA. If it fits in your carry-on bag, you should be fine.
The restrictions are a little more complicated if you want to bring liquids for your baby on a plane. If you’re carrying baby formula, breast milk, or juice or water for babies, you may be subject to additional screening.
Unlike most liquids, they are not subject to TSA’s 3:1:1 liquid rule. This means that you can bring over 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters of formula, breast milk, or other liquids for your baby on a plane. In addition, they do not need to fit into a quart-sized bag.
It’s unlikely, but the TSA may ask for a small portion of the liquid to test it for explosive material.
Can I bring frozen food on a plane?
Yes, you can bring frozen food on a plane. Just make sure that it is completely frozen. If the ice is melted or a slushy consistency, you won’t be able to board your aircraft. Dry ice works great to preserve frozen food and you can carry up to about five pounds of it on a plane, according to the FAA.
Can I bring fruit on a plane?
Yes, you can bring fruit on a plane. Dried fruits are allowed in your carry-on bags or checked luggage. The TSA does not allow fresh fruits or vegetables in carry-on bags or checked bags from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or the US Virgin Islands. They want to prevent the potential spread of foodborne diseases.
On most international flights, you can bring the fruit on the plane, as long as you eat it all in flight. You likely won’t be allowed to take it off of the plane. The same is true if you are flying from a foreign country to the USA.
I recommend looking up the specific requirements of your destination country. Also check your airline’s website for additional information about bringing fruit on a plane.
Can I bring cheese on a plane?
Solid cheese is allowed in both carry-on bags and checked baggage. If you have creamy cheese, you can only bring 3.4 ounces or 100 mL in your carry on.
Can I bring chocolate on a plane?
Like the requirements for cheese, you can bring solid chocolate in your checked bags and carry-on bags. But liquid chocolate is restricted to 3.4 ounces or 100 mL.
Recap and My Recommendation for Bringing Food on a Plane
Remember, solid foods are subject to little to no restrictions for air travel. However, any creamy food, dip, or liquid must be under 3.4 ounces or 100 mL to carry on a plane.
I recommend avoiding bringing food or liquids on a plane if you can. But, if you plan on eating them on the plane, that’s great.
Otherwise, food can take up space you might need for other items. You might want space for electronics or books to keep you entertained in flight.
Depending on the food, you might be subject to additional screening at the security checkpoint. So, take the food in your checked baggage to save you that hassle.
Be mindful of how much food you bring, though. You might want to save the space in your checked bags for clothing, toiletries, and other items.
Personally, consider buying the food once you get to your destination, especially on international flights. Those rules can be very strict!
Then you don’t have to worry about getting through security or leaving enough space for the food in your carry on. Not only that, but you won’t have to rush to unpack the food and put it in the refrigerator or freezer. It just makes your life a little easier.
We hope that this detailed overview of food and liquid requirements for air travel was helpful. If you don’t see the food you want to bring on any list in this article, feel free to ask the TSA themselves on Twitter.
If you’re curious about other items allowed on a plane, check out the articles below.