TSA's Top Tips For Traveling With Your Thanksgiving Essentials

Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the busiest times to fly in the United States, with many passengers booking flights months in advance. According to a study conducted by IPX 1031, 44% of Americans plan to travel to a destination for Thanksgiving in 2023. Needless to say, those who are flying can expect long TSA lines in the days before and after the holiday. For reference, TSA reported in 2022 that they expected to screen more than 2 million people nationwide the day before Thanksgiving. With that said, if you want to make this stressful part of travel as painless as possible, your best course of action is to be well-prepared for security.

If you plan on traveling with a carry-on, you should know what you can and can't bring, especially regarding Thanksgiving food-related items. TSA guidelines allow solid foods through security. Stuffing (cooked or not), pies, bread, candy, spices, green beans, casseroles, cookies, cakes, pastries, and frozen food can all travel with you in your carry-on without issue. This also applies to fresh fruits and vegetables.

In fact, even a cooked or frozen turkey can go in your carry-on. To prevent any hold-ups with TSA, store food items in clear bags or containers so that when you reach security, you can easily place them in a bin. However, liquids are when things can get tricky.

Holiday goodies that must be placed in checked bags

If, for some reason, your Thanksgiving food has liquid or happens to be creamy, it can still pass through security as long as there are 3.4 ounces or less of liquid. If not, it has to be placed in a checked bag, or it will be confiscated. Thus, cranberry sauce, jam, canned foods, and syrup must be packed away. The exception is frozen liquids. For example, gravy, ice, and ice packs are acceptable to travel in a carry-on as long as they are frozen during security. Otherwise, in the checked bag, they must go.

Want to use dry ice to prevent your food from going bad? Contact your airline: different airlines have different rules regarding dry ice. As for alcohol and other beverages, they must also go in your checked bag. Keep in mind that if you have any beverages that have 24% to 70% alcohol, only five liters are allowed in your checked bag. This does not apply to alcoholic beverages with 24% alcohol or less.

Sharp tools, including carving knives and corkscrews with blades, will also go in your checked bag (blade-less corkscrews and bottle openers can go in your carry-on). Take note that you are not allowed to fly with cooking spray at all. One final word of advice? Arrive at the airport early to avoid any TSA and Thanksgiving-related snafus.