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What Kind of Food Can You Bring on a Plane?

Let’s face it: Airlines are not making any progress when it comes to serving edible food onboard. It’s bad enough for some first-class passengers, but if you’re flying in economy, you’re lucky if you get a pack of peanuts on a transcontinental flight (I’m looking at you, Southwest). So it’s understandable that some folks will pack a sandwich or stop by the food court before boarding a flight. But what kind of food is acceptable to bring on a plane? There are a few key rules to keep in mind.

Follow TSA Regulations

If you’re bringing your own food on the plane, the TSA has a list of what’s allowed and in what quantities. For the most part, these restrictions apply to liquids (i.e. drinks, yogurt, dressing, peanut butter), which can’t be more than 3.4 oz. Passengers traveling from Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Island, can’t take most fresh fruits on a plane. The Department of Agriculture website has more details on which fruits are restricted.

Be Mindful of the Smell

Once you’ve got TSA approval, let’s talk about the most important thing when it comes to bringing food on a plane (or any public place): the smell. With hundreds of people sharing a relatively small space and breathing the same air, it’s important to be mindful of that when bringing food onboard. I would stay away from any strong-smelling foods. That includes foods cooked with onions, fish, or even a McDonald’s meal. You read that right. As much as we all love the Golden Arches, let’s be real: McDonalds’ food smells really bad. Even the fries. Think of it this way: If it’s not food you would leave in your car for an hour, you shouldn’t bring it on a plane. Because the smell will drive everyone around you (including yourself) crazy.

Avoid Food With Common Allergens

Peanuts are pretty common allergies, but did you know some people can’t even inhale peanut particles without experiencing severe allergic reactions? The same goes for fish allergies. Sometimes the mere smell of fish is enough to incite a life-threatening allergic reaction in some people. I get it – allergy sufferers are responsible for bringing their EPI pens and whatever medications they need. But what if they don’t? Or what if they’re traveling alone and the meds are in their bag under the seat while they’re having a reaction and they don’t get to them in time? I’d rather play it safe and avoid bringing commonly known allergens like peanuts and fish on a plane.

The Mess Factor

Economy class cabins offer very little in the way of personal space nowadays. When it comes to bringing food onboard, it’s best to bring something that is simple to assemble (if at all) and doesn’t take up too much space. Do you know what’s not fun? Elbowing your fellow passengers while you’re cutting your steak up into smaller bits. It may seem like an over-the-top consideration, but most of us would find it annoying to have our small bit of personal space violated by someone eating a large meal. Even worse? If turbulence hits or you make a wrong move, it could end up all over your neighbor.

With airlines cutting back on in-flight service and offering nothing but stale snacks, passengers bringing food onboard is inevitable. As long as we all follow the rules of common courtesy, we’ll all be fine. That being said, I’d like your thoughts on this. What kind of ground rules do you think people should follow when it comes to bringing food on planes?

[Source: Shutterstock]

Comments are Closed.
Dhamal March 25, 2019

So Coney Island Chili Dogs are out of the Question in LAX, they are the only outfit open @ 6 am... I'll wash it down with a 30 oz beverage... and share my grievances * fart * with the rest of the economy class passengers.. Hey the one that smelt it dealt it..

kkua March 3, 2019

Be polite and bring enough to share with fellow adjacent seatmates! They can decline but it’s always a good gesture to offer. That way, you won’t feel guilty eating in fheir presence.

eng3 February 25, 2019

When has it ever been scientifically proven that peanut particles can become airborne and cause an allergic reaction? It is far more likely to come in contact with peanut particles left over in your seat from the previous flight.

AsiaTraveler February 25, 2019

The Southwest comment is COMPLETELY uncalled for. While they may have phased out peanuts as a snack, they have the best selection of free snacks in economy out of pretty much any domestic airline.

tvhead February 24, 2019

This article does not actually suggest what a traveler should bring, it only discusses what people should not bring on board. How about some actual, practical suggestions?