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Traveling can be stressful, but having the right snacks on hand can make your flight more enjoyable.

If you’re wondering what food items are permitted and practical to pack in your carry-on bag, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Pack non-liquid foods like nuts, protein bars, dried fruit, jerky, and sandwiches. Avoid messy or crumbly foods, and make sure your snacks are compliant with TSA rules.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about picking the best airplane snacks, from TSA restrictions to food safety tips while flying.

TSA Rules for Carry-On Food

When it comes to bringing food on a plane, it’s important to be aware of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules and regulations.

These guidelines are in place to ensure the safety and security of all passengers.

Understanding the rules will help you pack your favorite snacks and meals without any hassle or delays at the airport security checkpoint.

Liquids, Gels & Spreads

The TSA has specific rules when it comes to liquids, gels, and spreads that you can bring on a plane. According to their guidelines, liquids, gels, and spreads must be in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less.

These containers should be placed in a clear, quart-sized plastic bag.

Each passenger is allowed one bag of liquids, gels, and spreads. This applies to items such as yogurt, salad dressings, peanut butter, and other similar products.

It’s important to note that some liquids, gels, and spreads may be subject to additional screening or may not be allowed at all.

For example, if the consistency of a spread is similar to a gel, it may be subject to the 3.4-ounce rule.

It’s always a good idea to check the TSA website for the most up-to-date information on what is allowed and what is not.

Exempt Baby Foods & Special Meals

Parents traveling with infants or young children can bring baby food, formula, breast milk, and other baby essentials in larger quantities.

These items are exempt from the 3.4-ounce rule. However, they may be subject to additional screening.

It’s recommended to inform the TSA officer at the security checkpoint if you are carrying these items to ensure a smooth and efficient screening process.

Passengers with special dietary needs or medical conditions can also bring their own meals on the plane.

These meals should be properly labeled and may be subject to additional screening. It’s always a good idea to check with the airline beforehand to ensure compliance with their specific policies.

Solid Foods

When it comes to solid foods, the TSA does not have any specific restrictions. You are allowed to bring sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, and other non-liquid snacks on the plane.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that certain foods may be subject to additional screening.

For example, if you have a large container of homemade soup or a dish with a thick sauce, it may be subject to additional inspection.

If you’re unsure about a particular food item, it’s always best to pack it in your checked baggage or contact the airline directly for guidance.

The goal is to ensure a smooth and efficient screening process while still being able to enjoy your favorite foods during your flight.

Best Non-Perishable Snacks for Flights

Trail Mix & Dried Fruit

When it comes to non-perishable snacks for flights, trail mix and dried fruit are excellent choices.

Not only are they lightweight and easy to pack, but they also provide a good balance of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to keep you energized throughout your journey.

Trail mix often includes a mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and sometimes even chocolate or yogurt-covered treats.

Dried fruit, on the other hand, is a great option for those who prefer a sweeter snack. Just be sure to choose unsweetened varieties to avoid added sugars.

Protein Bars

Protein bars are a convenient and filling snack option for air travel.

They are packed with nutrients and often contain a good amount of protein, which can help keep you satiated during the flight.

Look for bars that are low in added sugars and high in fiber for a healthier choice.

With so many flavors and brands to choose from, you’re sure to find a protein bar that suits your taste buds and dietary preferences.

Jerky & Dried Meats

For those who prefer savory snacks, jerky and dried meats are a great option. They are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, making them a satisfying choice for long flights.

Beef, turkey, and chicken jerky are some popular options, but you can also find dried meats like biltong or pemmican.

Just make sure to check the ingredient list for any added preservatives or excessive sodium content.

Nut Butters

Nut butters, such as peanut butter or almond butter, are not only delicious but also a great source of healthy fats and protein.

They can be easily spread on crackers or fruits for a quick and satisfying snack. Opt for single-serve packets or small jars to comply with flight regulations.

Pairing nut butter with whole grain crackers or sliced apples will give you a balanced combination of nutrients to keep you going throughout your flight.

Popcorn & Crackers

If you’re looking for a lighter snack option, popcorn and crackers are ideal choices. Air-popped popcorn is low in calories and provides a satisfying crunch.

Look for individual bags or pre-portioned servings to avoid overeating.

Whole grain crackers, on the other hand, are a great source of fiber and can be paired with cheese or hummus for added flavor and nutrition.

Remember to stay hydrated during your flight by drinking plenty of water, and if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, be sure to choose snacks that meet your specific needs. Happy snacking!

Tips for Packing Perishable Foods

When it comes to packing perishable foods for a plane journey, there are a few important tips to keep in mind.

These tips will help ensure that your food stays fresh, safe to eat, and doesn’t cause any inconvenience during your trip.

Sandwiches & Wraps

Sandwiches and wraps are a popular choice for in-flight meals due to their convenience and portability. When packing sandwiches or wraps, it’s important to choose ingredients that won’t spoil easily.

Opt for fillings like cured meats, smoked salmon, or vegetarian options like hummus and roasted vegetables.

Avoid mayonnaise-based dressings or delicate ingredients that can become soggy or spoil quickly.

It’s also a good idea to pack your sandwiches or wraps in airtight containers or zip-lock bags to prevent them from getting squished or becoming contaminated.

Cheese, Veggies & Hummus

If you’re a fan of cheese, veggies, and hummus, these can be great options for a plane journey.

Hard cheeses like cheddar or gouda can last for several hours without refrigeration, making them a safe choice. Cut them into small pieces or cubes for easy snacking.

When it comes to veggies, opt for sturdy options like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or cherry tomatoes.

These can be paired with some hummus for a delicious and healthy snack. Remember to pack the hummus in a small, leak-proof container to avoid any mess.

Yogurt & Hard-Boiled Eggs

Yogurt and hard-boiled eggs are also great options for packing on a plane. However, it’s important to keep them cool to prevent any bacterial growth.

You can freeze the yogurt the night before and pack it in an insulated bag or cooler.

By the time you’re ready to eat it, it will have thawed but still be chilled.

For hard-boiled eggs, make sure to peel them before packing to save time and hassle during the flight. Store them in a small, airtight container and keep them cool with an ice pack or frozen gel pack.

Remember to check the TSA guidelines for bringing food on a plane, as certain restrictions may apply depending on your destination.

It’s always a good idea to pack your perishable foods in a way that minimizes the risk of spoilage and contamination.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious and safe snacks during your flight!

Food Safety Tips While Flying

When it comes to bringing food on a plane, it’s important to prioritize food safety. Follow these tips to ensure that your food stays fresh and safe throughout your journey:

Keep It Cool

One of the most crucial aspects of food safety while flying is keeping your food at the right temperature. Perishable items, such as dairy products, meats, and salads, should be kept cold to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Pack these items in a cooler bag with ice packs to maintain a safe temperature. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), perishable foods should be kept below 40°F (4°C) to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.

Use Insulated Bags

Insulated bags are a great investment when it comes to bringing food on a plane. These bags help to maintain the temperature of your food, keeping it cool or warm as needed.

They are especially useful for longer flights or when carrying perishable items.

Look for insulated bags that are leak-proof and easy to clean.

Wash Your Hands

Proper hygiene is essential when handling food, whether you’re on a plane or not. Before touching any food items, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

This will help to prevent the spread of bacteria and other harmful pathogens.

If soap and water are not available, you can use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria from one food item spread to another. To avoid this, it’s important to separate raw and cooked foods, as well as different types of food.

Use separate containers or bags to store different food items and make sure to seal them properly to prevent any leakage.

Additionally, avoid using the same utensils or cutting boards for raw and cooked foods.

By following these food safety tips while flying, you can enjoy your journey without worrying about the safety of your food.

Remember to plan ahead, pack smartly, and prioritize cleanliness to ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience.

What Not to Bring on a Plane

While it’s important to pack snacks and meals for a long flight, there are certain foods you should avoid bringing on a plane.

These foods can cause inconvenience, discomfort, or even pose a risk to your fellow passengers. Here are some foods to leave behind:

Crumbs & Messy Foods

When you’re traveling in the confined space of an airplane, it’s best to avoid foods that create a mess.

Crumbly snacks like potato chips, cookies, or popcorn can scatter crumbs all over your seat and the surrounding area.

Not only can this be annoying for your seatmates, but it can also attract unwanted pests. Instead, opt for snacks that are less messy, such as granola bars, dried fruit, or pre-packaged crackers.

Strong Smelling Foods

While you may love the aroma of certain foods, your fellow passengers may not appreciate it.

Strong-smelling foods like durian, garlic, or fish can be offensive to others in the confined space of an airplane cabin. The odor can linger for hours, making the journey unpleasant for those around you.

To be considerate, choose foods that have a milder scent or are less likely to cause discomfort to others.


Bringing alcohol on a plane is generally allowed, but it’s important to be mindful of your consumption.

Excessive drinking can lead to disruptive behavior and create a nuisance for both the crew and fellow passengers.

Additionally, alcohol can dehydrate you, which is not ideal during a long flight.

It’s best to drink in moderation or avoid alcohol altogether while flying.

Remember, the aim is to make your flight as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for yourself and those around you.

By avoiding messy foods, strong-smelling foods, and excessive alcohol consumption, you can help create a pleasant atmosphere for everyone on board.


Preparing great snacks for your next flight doesn’t have to be complicated. Focus on tasty, non-perishable foods that travel well and follow TSA guidelines.

With the right insulated bags and food safety precautions, you can also bring perishable items like sandwiches and yogurt.

Packing smart snacks will make your trip more enjoyable and help you avoid overpriced airport food. Bon voyage!

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