Flying turkeys: Carry-on or checked baggage?

ARLINGTON, Va. — A record number of people are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday, and many plan to do that by plane.

That means that many people are looking to bring their contribution to the holiday meal with them.

“Indeed, we do see lots of food items being brought with them during the holiday season,” Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Friday at Washington Reagan National Airport.

Can you carry on stuffing and potatoes? Yes, says the TSA. (WTOP/Dennis Foley)
Can you carry on stuffing and potatoes? Yes, says the TSA. (WTOP/Dennis Foley) (WTOP/Dennis Foley)
The TSA's Lisa Farbstein says, "If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, it's considered a liquid, gel or aerosol, and that should go in your checked bag if it's larger than 3.4 ounces." That includes cans -- so all these sauces and gravies need to be in a checked bag. (WTOP/Dennis Foley)
The TSA’s Lisa Farbstein says, “If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, it’s considered a liquid, gel or aerosol, and that should go in your checked bag if it’s larger than 3.4 ounces.” That includes cans — so all these sauces and gravies need to be in a checked bag. (WTOP/Dennis Foley) (WTOP/Dennis Foley)
(1/2)
Can you carry on stuffing and potatoes? Yes, says the TSA. (WTOP/Dennis Foley)
The TSA's Lisa Farbstein says, "If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, it's considered a liquid, gel or aerosol, and that should go in your checked bag if it's larger than 3.4 ounces." That includes cans -- so all these sauces and gravies need to be in a checked bag. (WTOP/Dennis Foley)

She says knowing how to properly pack your food will help make the security screening process easier.

Your holiday food must follow the liquids, aerosols and gels rule.

“It needs to be 3.4 ounces each, one quart-sized bag, one bag per person maximum,” said Farbstein.

Not sure whether that can of cranberry sauce or container of mashed potatoes count?

“The rule of thumb is that if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it, it’s considered a liquid, gel or aerosol, and that should go in your checked bag if it’s larger than 3.4 ounces,” Farbstein explained.

For the record, cranberry sauce is restricted by that rule; mashed potatoes are not.

“If you are not sure, tweet us. Tweet us a picture of your item,” Farbstein said. “Tweet us @AskTSA and you’ll get a quick response whether it should go into a checked bag, carry-on, either or neither.”

The TSA website also has a tool to look up whether your turkey can fly with you in first class or must be relegated to your checked luggage.

Generally, items such as gravy, syrup and tools like corkscrews or carving knifes must be packed in checked luggage.

However, cakes and pies can be carried on — though they may be subject to closer inspection.

“We’ll probably do a swab test. We’re going to swab the container, test that swab for any trace of explosives, and then we’ll let you go as long as it’s cleared,” said Farbstein.

But the most important piece of advice on flying this holiday season? Give yourself extra time to get through security.

The TSA recommends arriving at the airport at least two hours before your flight to ensure you get through security in time to catch your plane.

Be prepared to pull whatever food items you are carrying on with you out of your bags and into separate screening bins.  If not, your bag will likely require extra screening, slowing down the process.

The TSA is also reminding travelers that all computer devices larger than a cellphone must now pulled out of bags during screening. Consumer electronics such as hair dryers and electric shavers can stay in bags.


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