What You Need to Know Before Traveling With Food on an Airplane

November 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News & Tips

This is the time of year when the eating gets good. You may want to bring your favorite dish with you or perhaps you want to take some delicious food back home. This can be challenging when you’re flying to and from your destination. Traveling by air with a fruit cake (and I’m not talking about the person sitting next to you on the airplane), or any kind of food takes planning. Whether you want to take food with you or bring it back home, when you travel by airplane you really have three options.

1. Ship the item to your destination or in the case where you want to take food home, ship it home. You can use your preferred shipping method to make sure your items arrive at their destination. Package your items appropriately. You don’t want to end up wasting any of that delicious homemade goodness (or store bought – whatever works). Allow yourself plenty of time so that you don’t end up paying expedited shipping prices and/or your food does not arrive on time.

2. Ship it directly from the manufacturer. If you’re purchasing food from a company, this is a great option to take advantage of. The company will not only produce the food but ship it for you. Again, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to save on shipping fees and to ensure your items arrive on time.

3. Carry it on the airplane or in your checked luggage. This may or may not be the best option. Anything you choose to carry on the airplane is subject to additional screening. This includes cakes and pies – another reason to consider shipping. TSA warns that cakes and pies are subject to additional screening. (This may involve taste testing so bring plates and extra utensils.) Be sure not to wrap food to the point where it cannot be removed and inspected if necessary.

If you’re putting something in your checked luggage, think about how it will impact the weight of your luggage. If it puts your luggage over the weight limit, it might be better to ship it. Also if it’s something that can break open during handling and dramatically change the color or smell of your clothes (i.e. cranberry sauce on white shirts), you might want to ship it. Secure food items appropriately.

On the other hand, traveling with your dish can be the best way to ensure it reaches it’s destination and into your stomach. If this is the option you choose, check with airport security ahead of time to confirm you can bring your food with you.

Here are some food items the TSA recommends should be in your checked luggage:

    Cranberry sauce
    Creamy dips and spreads
    Gift baskets with food items
    Maple syrup
    Oils and Vinegars
    Salad Dressing
    Wine, liquor and beer

When you’re traveling by airplane, packing food with you can be a challenge but it can be vastly rewarding. Whether you ship it ahead or stuff it in your checked bag, you and your family will be sure to enjoy it.

Sima Kimble

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