Air travelers are increasingly aware of the virtues of patience and tolerance especially during the hectic holiday season. When it comes to traveling with food gifts, it is the informed airline passenger who will avoid the inconvenience of being flagged, and possibly delayed, at security checkpoints.
This Thanksgiving my friend, Elizabeth is traveling from her home in Virginia to spend the holiday with family in Illinois. “This year I’m bringing my brother’s favorite cranberry orange sweet bread,” she recently mentioned. “Luke is on leave from Iraq. I know it will bring back memories of Thanksgiving when Mom was alive.”
Baked with Love
As a retired Flight Attendant and Travel Agent, I once knew the airline industry’s policies for traveling with gifts of food by heart. But polices change and I wanted to make sure Elizabeth would arrive in Illinois with her brother’s gift. The first step was to visit the Transportation Security Administration’s ( www.tsa.gov ) web site. The TSA lists food items that “should” be “put in your checked bag, ship(ed) ahead or (left) at home.” These items include, but are no t limited to, cranberry sauce, gift baskets with food items, jams, jellies, soups, oils, vinegar, wine, liquor and beer. It is noted that pies and cakes are permissible at the security check point, but are subject to further screening.
The TSA emphasizes that passengers should not wrap gifts to be taken on any airline. If deemed a potential threat, gifts may be unwrapped by security officers for closer inspection. This additional scrutiny takes time and can be a major inconvenience when the rest of your carry on luggage is thoroughly inspected item by item.
Pack wrapping supplies with your gift and wrap it when you reach your destination. Alternatively ship your gift before leaving home, or consider purchasing a gift in an airport terminal store after passing through security. These items have been pre-screened.
Don’t forget 3-1-1
Keep in mind that the 3-1-1 rule applies. That means that the total liquid volume each passenger may carry on the plane is 3.4 ounces (100ml). Exceptions include liquid medications and baby formula. Remember, each air traveler is allowed one quart size, zip-top, clear plastic bag for carry-on liquids and gels.
As for the Airlines
To minimize the potential for stress while traveling with your food gifts, be sure to check your airline’s carry on policy. It is important to know that airlines may differ in their carry on allowances and rules.
According to Senior Flight Attendant, and Huffington Post Travel Contributor, Susan Fogwell, “Passengers will find it much quicker to go through security if their cookies, cakes and breads are stored in a Tupperware type container or tin. Security Personnel can simply lift the container lid instead of unpacking and possibly compromising your food gift. Furthermore Susan advises, “If you are assigned a bulkhead seat remember that you do not have the space to store your belongings beneath the seat in front of you. Make sure your packaging can withstand the cramped conditions of the overhead bin.”
As for the Cranberry Orange Sweet Bread
“I’m just glad to know with a little planning, I’ll arrive at my parent’s home with my brother’s favorite comfort food in hand!” exclaims Elizabeth.