A record number of Americans are expected to fly for Thanksgiving this year.
The Transportation Security Administration (or TSA) said it expects to screen 30 million passengers during a 12-day stretch from Nov. 17 through Nov. 28, including 2.9 million on the Sunday after Thanksgiving — which would be the most ever screened on a single day.
A lot of people will be bringing food with them to and from Thanksgiving dinner. And believe it or not, some holiday travelers will have fully cooked turkeys in their luggage.
“I have no idea how many people actually do it, but I’ve seen people travel with fully cooked dinners,” TSA Uniformed Advisor Eric Guthier told Yahoo News. “It’s not uncommon.”
And it’s not against the TSA rules, as long as it’s packed correctly.
The trick is in the preparation.
“If I were packing side dishes or leftovers, the first thing I would do is put everything in containers with locked or snap lids,” said Guthier. “And I would freeze everything solid.”
The reason for that, according to Guthier, is things like cranberry sauce or gravy would ordinarily be subject to the TSA's so-called 3-1-1 rule, which allows you to bring a quart-size bag of liquids, gels or aerosols, limited to 3.4 ounces or less per item. But if the gravy or cranberry sauce is frozen, they are not considered liquids.
“If they’re frozen solid, they’re fine,” Guthier said. “So I would do that.”
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While people traveling with holiday meals is not uncommon, Guthier has come across some unusual foods in transport.
“I had somebody send a box through and I open up the box on the other side and there’s two live king crabs, pinching their claws staring at me,” he said. “Those are fine to carry too.”
Guthier also urged holiday travelers to remember to pack patience and gratitude, especially on busy travel days.
“If you’re packing the whole dinner and you’re flying to meet your family, just realize that that stuff can be kind of hard to see through. So there’s a good chance we may look inside the bag or inside the cooler or whatever the heck you’re bringing,” he said. “We’re just making sure everybody is safe and we’ll get you on your way as soon as we can.”
“People traveling to meet their families should remember the officers in the airport, we all have families too,” Guthier added. “So as long as everyone stays safe, we’re all gonna get to where we need to be.”
Here’s a quick guide to Thanksgiving foods that you can bring on a plane in your carry-on luggage, and those that you should put in your checked bags.
Foods that can be carried through a TSA checkpoint
Baked goods, including cakes, cookies, brownies
Homemade or store-bought pies
Meats, frozen, cooked or uncooked
Stuffing, cooked, uncooked, in a box or in a bag
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Foods that should be carefully packed with your checked baggage
Gravy (in a jar or can)
Wine, champagne, sparkling apple cider
Canned fruit or vegetables that have liquid in the can
Preserves, jams and jellies
You can also check the TSA's "What Can I Bring?" page for any prohibited items. Safe travels!