Airports nationwide will be jam-packed with fliers this Thanksgiving week through Nov. 26, and some of those passengers are going to cart turkey, pies, gravy, Jell-O molds and other holiday goodies with them.
So brace yourself as Transportation Security Administration screeners try to educate airline customers about what foods can go in carry-on bags, and what must be checked — all with more than 2.4 million passengers per day expected to pass through TSA checkpoints each day leading up to Thanksgiving.
Authorities estimate 40,000 travelers a day will pass through Baltimore-Washington International Airport during the Thanksgiving travel period. On a typical day at BWI, about 30,000 passengers and crew members go through security checkpoints, which is why travelers are encouraged to get to the airport early during Thanksgiving week.
From Nov. 19-26, the TSA says more than 25 million travelers — one of TSA’s busiest Thanksgivings on record — will be screened at airport checkpoints during the holiday travel period, nearly a 5 percent increase compared to last year. The busiest travel days will be the Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 20 and 21, and the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, which is expected to break into TSA’s top 10 busiest days ever.
Travelers want to bring some of their favorite food items — bakery items, a homemade family recipe — so how do you know which food items are permitted to go through a TSA checkpoint?
Food can travel with passengers, according to a TSA news release. Some foods may be carried through a checkpoint; others must go in a checked bag. Generally, if the item is a solid, such as pies, cakes and other baked goods, it can be carried through a checkpoint, but may require additional screening. Liquids such as eggnog and maple syrup and gels such as preserves and jellies should go into checked bags. Liquids in carry-on bags must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule.
The TSA says a general rule of thumb is that if you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, then it should go into a checked bag.
Travelers at this time of year often lug along a turkey, baked goods, stuffing, casseroles, and vegetable side dishes, all of which are permitted through an airport checkpoint. Thanksgiving-themed foods that should be packed in a checked bag include wine, gravy, cranberry sauce, canned fruits and vegetables with liquid in the can, and mashed potatoes.
Items that need to go in a checked bag should be packed in plastic tubs that are tightly sealed, perhaps even with duct tape to keep the lids on. Goodies in glass containers, such as a bottle of wine, should be wrapped in bubble wrap.
The most common foods brought to checkpoints are pies and cakes, says the TSA. And after Thanksgiving, it is common to see fliers bringing leftovers home.
Checked bag only foods include: Gravy; cranberry sauce, wine and other beverages; creamy dips and spreads; mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes; whipped cream; canned vegetables or fruit with liquid (yams, green beans, corn, crushed pineapple, etc.); salad dressing; jams, jellies, preserves; egg nog; maple syrup; soup; and Jell-O molds.
Carry-on or checked bag foods include: Turkey, chicken, fish, meat, ham; casseroles; cookies, brownies; cakes and pies; stuffing; breads/rolls; flour, sugar, and other dry ingredients; raw vegetables or fruit (carrots, beets, potatoes, green beans, apples, pears, etc.); nuts; and candy.
Click here to continue.