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What Foods Can You Bring on an International Flight?

Wondering what foods you can bring on an international flight? Some plane rides are long and getting through can be hard for kids without full tummies. Understandably, many families want to carry their own snacks, both to keep the kids happy and to save on expensive airport options. However, not all foods are allowed on the plane, either in your carry-on or your checked suitcases. If you’re planning an overseas trip, it’s useful to know which snacks are flight-safe and which you should leave at home.

Snacks on the plane — what you can and can’t bring

Air travel can be an exciting and frustrating experience at the same time. Getting to your final destination is something to look forward to but the process of getting there, especially if you’re traveling with kids, can be a bit tricky. The best thing to do is plan ahead so the travel date will go as smoothly as possible. One question that many passengers ask is whether they can bring food on a plane on an international flight.

According to TSA food regulations, certain foods are allowed in your checked luggage and others won’t make it past the screening process at all. 

Here’s a list of some common foods and snacks and whether you can take them on the plane:

Home-cooked food

As long as your food meets TSA standards, you’re allowed to carry a home-cooked meal. That said, liquid, pastes, or anything not fully solid is problematic. These items have to follow the same rules that are applied to liquids—each item must be packed in a leak-proof container and weigh 3.4 ounces or less. 

Some canned goods won’t make it past security so leave those at home to be on the safe side. 

You’re free to carry your peanut butter sandwich as long as it’s completely sealed. Pies and cakes are also allowed and will pass all the checkpoints. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are generally fine on the plane as long as they are in solid form. Fruity sauces or mashed veggies may be subject to the same restrictions the TSA places on gels, liquids and aerosols. 

There are certain exceptions if you’re traveling with children. The 3.4-ounce maximum doesn’t apply in this situation if you’ve got, for example, home-made baby food, breast milk or formula. but the food will still undergo screening as a safety measure. 

Processed snacks

Candy on the plane is allowed as long as it’s solid, not in liquid or powder form. After all, that white sherbert powder could be mistaken for something else entirely!

Solid snacks, particularly those still in the manufacturer’s packaging, are generally a safe option on the plane.

Dry food items

Almost all dry food is allowed through airport security. Just make sure it’s well sealed before you get to the checkpoints. Use a sealable container or a Ziploc bag.

Try and keep your carry-on bag as uncluttered as possible because you may be asked to separate items such as powders and foods that may obstruct the X-Ray images. 

Frozen snacks

You can carry frozen food in both your checked luggage and carry-on bag. There are, however, special rules that apply to carry-on luggage. 

If your food contains some liquid, such as a sauce, then it must be completely frozen to pass through airport security. Ice-cream is never allowed.

Keep frozen food in your checked luggage in a securely sealed bag to prevent any leaks. 

Bottled water

Water and other consumable non-alcoholic liquids are allowed in your checked-in luggage. 

However, if you want to take water in your carry-on luggage, the volume must be less than 3.4 ounces (100ml). You can carry an empty drink container though. 

Some flights will let you on the plane with a full bottle of water (after you’ve passed security) and others won’t. A lot depends on the carrier and your final destination.

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages are allowed but with limitations. Any beverage with an alcohol percentage of more than 24% and less than 70% is limited to checked-in luggage. It must be unopened and in its original retail packaging. If the alcohol content is less than 24%, there are no specific limitations. 

You can carry alcohol less than 3.4 ounces (100ml) in your carry-on bag. But drinks with an alcohol percentage of more than 70% are prohibited. 

Food bought at the airport

If you purchase food at an airport shop then you can take it on your flight. Even larger bottles of water are generally okay so long as you’ve been through passenger security.

So, what food can I bring on a plane on an international flight?

What foods can you bring on an international flight info graph

As long as you’ve followed the TSA food restrictions, there are usually no extra rules on most international flights. But some countries have specific restrictions

If you’re traveling to Australia or New Zealand, for instance, fresh produce or homemade meals are a no-go. These will be confiscated before you get past customs. 

Island governments have their own restrictions as well. You cannot take fresh fruit in your suitcase because it poses a risk to the local environment. Fruit or vegetables may carry a dangerous pest or disease that could cause real trouble if it got loose.

To be on the safe side, look up the guidelines for the country you’re visiting or finish all your food before landing so you don’t risk confiscation or worse, a fine. 

If you really must carry a snack, it’s always safe to stick to packaged snacks. Crackers and biscuits shouldn’t have a problem getting past customs. 

Always check with TSA before you fly

The TSA website has detailed information if you want to bring food on a plane on an international flight and are not sure where to begin.

If you plan on eating the food before you land, this information should have you covered. But if you would like to get the food past customs, go through your destination’s set rules and regulations concerning foods and international air travel. 

Bon voyage and happy snacking!

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