Here’s What Food You Can And Can’t Bring On A Plane


Airport food sucks. But what sucks more is potentially leaving behind leftovers, gifts or edible souvenirs. Here’s the bottom line on what can go onboard in your carry-on bag, what has to be checked and what you gotta eat before passing through security.

The basic rules are pretty easy. If you’re packing liquid food (think jam, jelly, sauce, etc.), it has to fit into your quart-sized bag of liquids along with any makeup and toiletries. If you want to bring solid food on your flight, it just has to fit into your carry-on bag. However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reps might ask you to take out any snacks and put them in a separate tray as you go through security.

If you really want to carry on a big birthday cake as your carry-on, you can do that. (Or try for a pizza!) But you might want to make sure it fits under your seat. You don’t want to have to gate-check any treats.

But there are some more fiddly rules. Here are the ones we think you want to know (PSA for cravings).

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Can: Mini Bottles of Booze

It’s still got to fit into your bag for liquids, but you can bring small bottles of liquor or wine on a plane. But there’s a catch: you can’t drink them while up in the air. It’s illegal to consume any alcohol on a plane not provided by the airline.

Can’t: Anything Above 70 Proof

No Everclear on a plane, friends. The super strong stuff has to be an at-home indulgence. (And we know you’re not drinking Everclear anymore, but there are some specialty bourbons and vodkas that hit 80-proof or higher.)

Can: Frozen Food

You can actually bring ice packs in your carry-on, as long as they’re completely frozen when you pass through airport security. So if you trust things can stay cold through your flight, pack those frozen foods, except ice cream (see below).

Can’t: Ice Cream

Sadly, there’s no ice cream allowed at 40,000 feet. The Ben and Jerry’s and Halo Top has to be eaten before you check in for your flight.

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Can: Cooked Seafood

If you want to dine on some pan-seared salmon instead of airline food, you can do that. As long as your fish is cooked and not liquid, it can come onto the airplane. But please use proper food safety techniques.

Can’t: Live Lobster

You can, however, bring your live lobster in a checked bag. Although we’re not positive how those stay alive in your suitcase.

This story has been updated to include new information on TSA requests when bringing food through security.