Flying with food for the holidays? TSA has tips

If you can spill, spray, pump or pour it, and it’s more than 3.4 ounces, it should go in a checked bag; people who frequently fly know that golden rule.

But the Transportation Security Administration reminded people that rule applies to Thanksgiving dishes, too.



Traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday can mean bringing your favorite dish along for the flight. According to TSA, food items often need additional security screening, and it’s best to have them in a place in your carry-on luggage that’s easy to access. When it’s time to separate items into bins, TSA advised putting food items in a separate bin.

Other foods that are liquid or spreadable need to be carefully packed in checked baggage. Here are some holiday favorites that need to be checked:

  • Cranberry sauce, homemade or canned
  • Gravy, homemade or canned
  • Wine, champagne, cider
  • Canned fruit or vegetables
  • Preserves, jams and jellies
  • Maple syrup

Other Thanksgiving staples, such as baked goods, meats, stuffing, casseroles, mac ‘n’ cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables are fine to carry though TSA checkpoints.

If you can spill, spray, pump or pour it, and it’s more than 3.4 ounces, it should go in a checked bag; people who frequently fly know that golden rule. But the Transportation Security Administration reminded people that rule applies to Thanksgiving dishes, too.

Flyers with questions on what they can bring should check TSA’s website.

The TSA also said people should expect a crowd at the airport.

Christopher Murgia, TSA’s federal security director for Maryland, told WTOP that BWI Marshall Airport is expecting close to pre-pandemic travel levels this Thanksgiving travel period, with the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday typically the busiest days of all.

“Travelers should expect to see a very busy airport if they are traveling during the Thanksgiving timeframe,” Murgia said. “TSA is ready and prepared for the expected increase in the number of individuals planning to fly out of BWI. Still, we ask that travelers arrive early and pack some patience.”

Murgia’s tips: Arrive at the airport two hours early; have your ID ready, and empty your pockets into your carry-on before you get to security.

Also, if you are packing gifts in your carry-on, make sure they are unwrapped, in case a TSA agent has to search your bag.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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