Peanut Butter, and 15 Other Foods Not Allowed on Airline Flights
Your grandma’s pickles. Your favorite jar of creamy peanut butter. Have you ever had to watch these items get tossed into the trash by airport security? It is extremely upsetting.
Your feelings aside, it is also such a waste of food. Altogether, the guilt and loss can put off your mood for the entire duration of the flight, all because you wanted to carry some food back home, or fancied some snacks on the plane.
Don’t worry. You can do both without getting into a mess at security screening. You just need to know some basic TSA rules, and then go through the list of prohibited foods we have provided here. This list is prepared in accordance with TSA’s food security screening guidelines.
Do You Know about TSA’s Liquids Rule?
Also known as the 3-1-1 rule, this guideline prohibits carrying any liquids onboard except for minuscule amounts. The majority of time your food gets thrown in the garbage is because it broke this rule.
You may be wondering why you can’t bring liquids on a plane. It is because liquids can pose a serious security threat.
So, your beloved jar of peanut butter is making a sacrifice for the greater good.
You can’t fly with substantial quantities of any liquid. But if you really need to, here are some specific guidelines to follow:
- Any liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes you take should be in 3.4-ounce (100-milliliter) travel-sized containers.
- Put such items in a separate bag to avoid any hassle. You don’t want to be digging through your carryon before the screening process. Otherwise, you could see a lot of angry faces.
- Go through the checked baggage guidelines. If there are some large-sized food items that urgently need to be transported, put them in your checked baggage. Avoid items that could cause alarm or cannot be screened.
- If it is an item that won’t spoil easily, just ship it. Avoid the hassle of getting it through airport security.
You Shouldn’t Be Carrying These Items in Your Carryon
Having listed the guidelines for carrying liquids, we strongly suggest that you don’t take along any of these 16 items on board. They most definitely won’t make it through.
1. Peanut Butter
Bad news for peanut butter lovers. Chunky, creamy, or regular—no variety is allowed by the airport security. Don’t bring it if you don’t fancy watching it be thrown into the garbage.
If you’re concerned about what to eat with your bread, ask the cabin crew for available options. They’ll usually have something, and if not, plain bread won’t kill you.
2. Alcoholic Beverages
If you’re trying to take alcohol in your carryon, two factors would be accounted for at the screening. These are:
- The beverage should have 24% to 70% alcohol concentration.
- The bottle should fit into a single quart-sized bag. Any larger quantity is not allowed.
Note that drinks over 140 proof or 70% alcohol concentration are strictly prohibited. This includes grain alcohol. So, say goodbye to your strong vodkas and rums.
3. Bottled Water
If you have flown before, you know that the airlines provide water. There is practically no need to carry water.
Before you board or once you land, you can always buy some bottled water at the airport.
4. Canned and Frozen Foods
It would be prudent to leave your canned and frozen foods behind, or just ship them, instead of trying your luck with airport security. This is because both canned and frozen foods have a high liquid content. You have to understand that:
- Canned items like pickles, tuna, beans, sardines, and mushrooms are preserved in preservative fluids. The staff may even open the can to check the liquid content. In that case, your food will be spoiled anyway.
- As for frozen foods, they will most definitely be packed with ice or gel packs, which is a cause for concern. If the ice melts (which is highly probable), your package won’t be permitted.
Let’s be honest, you are not going to consume something canned or frozen on the flight. You are just trying to transport it to your destination. The purpose of airplanes is to transport you; not your food. You may take your most necessary items along, but canned/frozen food isn’t one of them.
5. Cream Cheese and Yogurt
Semi-liquid food items like cream cheese and yogurt are in unclear territory. They may or may not be accepted during security screening.
Since anything liquid is a no-go on planes, you might have to witness the demise of your favorite tub of cream cheese or yogurt.
6. Liquid Chocolate
It’s the same story for your chocolate as well.
If you are flying from an exceptionally hot country, it isn’t a good idea to travel with something that can melt like chocolate. Also, leave out any chocolate drinks you might be planning to bring on the plane.
7. Ice Cream
A lot of lists on the internet might tell you that taking a tub of ice cream in your carryon is fine. But, we would advise against it. There is no straightforward yes or no answer to the question of ice cream, since it can be quite tricky.
As long as your ice cream is frozen solid, it shouldn’t be a problem. But, being ice cream, it will melt quickly once taken out of the freezer. You shouldn’t take a chance with this, so it’s better to just leave this one out.
8. Liquid Coffee and Tea
As with any other liquid, you can carry liquid tea and coffee in 3.4-ounce travel-sized containers. Honestly, it is such a small amount to drink that you might as well not drink any.
Since most airlines provide tea and coffee, there is no need to carry your own. If the taste is disagreeable to you, just refrain from having any tea or coffee for a few hours.
9. Dips and Spreads
Creamy dips, spreads, and hummus are mouthwatering indeed. But unfortunately, they don’t make the cut for TSA’s allowed foods list.
10. Salad Dressing
Carrying stuff like salsa, sauces, and salad dressings on a plane is unnecessary. They break the 3-1-1 rule, and you are likely to make a mess trying to use these during your flight.
11. Fresh Meat and Seafood
Meat and seafood are not a problem in and of itself. The trouble arises with the packaging of it.
Fresh meat and seafood are inevitably packaged with ice or gel packs to prevent them from rotting. As you realize by now, ice or gel goes against the liquids rule. So, there is no way you can take fresh meat and seafood on a flight. Shipping it would be wiser.
12. Honey, Jam, Jelly
Your sweet tooth is going to have to wait. These are liquid substances by nature, so they won’t be allowed in any more than 100ml bottles. It is better to just buy what you need once you land.
13. Oils and Vinegar
Don’t even think of bringing items like these. They are liquids, so they break the 3-1-1 rule. The airport security staff would be rather irritated if you brought such items. It might suggest that you’re intentionally breaking the rule.
14. Wet Pet Food
Although pet food is mostly dry, if yours isn’t, avoid trying to bring it on board. Anything wet won’t make it onto the plane.
Except for some remote places, you can buy pet food everywhere. So, just buy your furry friend some food when you land, or carry the dry and solid version.
15. Soda/Cold Drinks
People prefer a sip of soda or a cold drink after their meal. But, the amount you can carry is a maximum of 100ml, which is too little for any soda enthusiast.
If your airline provides soda, then you’re in luck. Otherwise, you have to sacrifice this desire when you’re on a plane.
The most common reason anyone would try to take soup in their carryon is that someone back home made it for them. You should probably consume it before you board the plane, because this item is surely not going to make it through security.
Don’t Be Disheartened
Leaving your favorite food behind might not be an exciting thought, but it’s not worth risking your peace of mind. A suspicious food item can get you into trouble and cause a delay; it just isn’t worth the stress.
If you end up with a delay in your travels due to a truly unavoidable reason – like bad weather, or an airplane mechanical issue, you could benefit from buying travel insurance before your trip begins. With this, you can receive reimbursement for nonrefundable expenses that have been affected by the delay, such as hotel bookings, event tickets, and more.
However, don’t assume your travel insurance will reimburse you for an item the TSA threw away due to a broken food rule. It is up to you to understand what is and isn’t allowed onboard the plane before you head to the airport. Besides, you can eat and drink whatever you want once you land!
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