Can you bring your own food on an airplane?

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You know that feeling you get when your plane takes off? Of course you do. The nervousness, the anticipation, and the excitement all commingle together in a potent cocktail of emotions that seemingly will never end. But then things go wrong:

When you’re boarding they tell you to put away all liquids, after takeoff they make an announcement about safety instructions – and yet again, right when it’s time to land.

It’s a combination of annoyance, frustration and plain old nerves. As the hours count down, the tension builds. And when you board you grab your seat – only to find out that in order to sit down, you’re not allowed to take water with you…

Sure enough, at the end of your flight safety instructions come on over the loudspeaker. And so does something else:

“We ask that you do not consume food or drinks during takeoff and landing due to safety regulations.”

But does that mean that I can’t bring my own food on an airplane?

The answer is yes and no. The official policy from most airlines is no (more on this later).

Depending on the airline, you may find a few options.

The Departure (Gate)

First thing you want to do is check what the airline’s policy is for carrying food made from airfood recipe on board. The most common ones can be found by searching those airlines’ websites and/or by looking through their e-mail newsletters. If you know someone who flies regularly with them, ask them which policy they recommend. If you happen to have a friend or relative that works for one of those airlines, ask them as well (they’ll probably be glad to help!).

Many planes today already have small luggages in the overhead compartments (check your ticket so you won’t end up in one of these sections), but many do not.

What Foods You Can and Can’t Pack for Your Next Flight

If you want to pack in your luggage, you’ll need to pay attention to the three-ounce rule:

You may not pack liquids or gels in your carry-on baggage exceeding 3.4 ounces. But the TSA does not consider food a liquid or gel, so if you want to pack snacks (or even sandwiches) in your luggage (or for that matter, in your checked baggage), you are free to do so.

While the airlines will let it slide if they catch someone with food on their flight (after all – who wants to start a fight over some peanut butter and jelly?), be prepared for the worst.

Although it’s less likely to happen, you might be surprised at how people react if you’re caught with food on your flight. A bag of potato chips or the last bite of your sandwich might seem innocent enough but remember that some people are taking their first-ever flight and will probably be nervous.

Plus, a lot of people will probably just find it annoying that someone has snacks they can enjoy (but they can’t) while waiting for the plane to take-off or land.

The one place where airlines will definitely enforce their no-food rule is in case of an emergency landing or in case of turbulence.

Does a plane allow certain foods?

Foods that spread easily and cheese

Cheeses and other spreadable foods, such as peanut butter, peanut butter spread, or Nutella, need to be packed according to the 3-1-1 liquids rule. But if you have wrapped individually each cube of cheese, you can keep them in your carry-on luggage with the rest of your snacks.

Foods and drinks that can spill or leak

Although the 3-1-1 liquids rule and the no take off food rule apply to both checked and carry on luggage, there is an exception for foods. Although they are not allowed to be packed in checked baggage, they can be packed in carry on (and yes – you may bring a sandwich). Pack them separately, plastic or air tight containers or zip lock bags. Do not pack dried foods in these. If you are bringing dried food, keep them sealed inside an outer container like a ziplock bag.

Foods such as seafood and meat

Onboard your flight, you are welcome to bring cooked, raw, whole, or sliced meats. Keep any smells or juices contained whenever you travel with meat, and seal it up well. You may not bring deli meats or cheeses that are on the TSA’s prohibited food list.

Do you know what these are?

Dried or dehydrated foods

Dried fruit, popcorn kernels, dried nuts, trail mixes, etc. are allowed as long as no liquids (other than water) has been added during the preparation. You can enjoy those on board too! Other exceptions include pemmican (dried buffalo meat) and jerky.

Your own food and drinks

You are allowed to bring your own food and drinks on board but if the airline discovers that you brought something that contains liquid, they’ll ask you not to eat it.

Tip: Bringing food with you is not a good idea if you have to use the bathroom on-board since it can attract unwanted attention from the flight attendants. But don’t worry! You can always ask one of the flight attendants to watch your stash for you, or better yet, ask them for permission to bring in some water for yourself when you’re ready.

Wait after all…

 

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