What To Consider While Packing Food For Air Travel?

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Thousands of people fly through airlines domestically and internationally, and they sometimes carry consumable products for themselves or their loved ones, especially on holidays like Christmas or New Year.

Most people carry homemade food like a jar of pickles or expensive cheese they bought from France. It becomes unfortunate for them when these items are not allowed in their destination country. 

In the article below, I have provided a simple guide on what to consider while packing food for air travel, what to expect from customs, and what to do to avoid hassle at the airport. 

Pre-Flight Food Considerations

Before boarding either a domestic or international flight with food, there are some important considerations that you must know to avoid unnecessary hassle at the airport.

Different types of food are based on multiple categories like solid or liquid, sealed or open food, and perishable or nonperishable food. 

You need to consider the rules of your destination, like state or country, and item restrictions by airport authorities and airlines.

For example, carrying food on domestic flights is relatively easier than on international flights as every other country has its own set of rules based on cultural, religious, and security reasons. 

On the good side, most airlines and authorities like TSA, AFB, CATSA, and others have almost similar guidelines and I have provided their official page links on food regulations. 

Traveling With Food Domestically

While traveling domestically, you must focus on whether the food item you are carrying is considered liquid or dry solid. Liquid items like gel, alcohol, or any other drink that can be spilled are subjected to go in a checked bag if it is not stored in a container with a volume of up to 100 ml. 

On the other hand, you can carry solid food (like cake, fruits, and nuts) as much as you want without worrying; make sure items like sandwiches and others are not poured with a lot of sauce, which is again a liquid. 

Like canned/processed food, you can carry it in the cabin if it is solid, like ham. Items like canned tomato sauce that have fluid consistency must go in checked baggage. 

Traveling With Food Internationally

International traveling makes it difficult to carry food items across different borders. These rules can vary from country to country and you can do nothing about it. You must adhere and respect the guidelines of the destination country. 

Below are major reasons why airport authorities allow or confiscate your food at the airport. 

Risk of Pest or Disease Transmission

Most countries restrict food items that can carry pests or diseases, especially food like fruits, nuts, and other unprocessed or open food. It may not sound like a lot, but these diseases in food items can cause significant damage to the country. 

For this reason, most security personnel are given duties to confiscate items like organic veggies, fruit, and stuff. It is recommended not to carry them if you are traveling internationally. 

Processing Level

Processed food items are less likely to pose risks and smoothly pass through customs like packaged snacks. On the opposite side, fresh cheese or meats could cause a hold-up. It’s all about reducing the risk of those unseen hitchhikers.


Some countries have specific bans or restrictions based on where the food comes from due to known diseases or pests in those areas. It’s like having a “do not fly” list for foods.

Permits and Documentation

The right paperwork can mean the difference between entry and rejection for certain foods, especially those moving in larger quantities or for commercial purposes. It’s a bit like having a passport for your food.

It is not common but permits on specific dietary products might be required that contain controversial ingredients like supplements.

Cultural and Legal Factors

Sometimes, what’s allowed isn’t just about health or agriculture but also cultural sensitivities and legal restrictions. For example, products containing CBD or alcohol might have restrictions based on local laws. 

Likewise, halal and haram are two different food concepts, and most Islamic countries might not allow foods without halal labels on them, if required.

How To Pack Food In Luggage?

Luggage experiences a lot of jerks while walking or due to plane turbulence in air. It is better to pack your food in such a way so your food remains intact as it does not spread and ruin your other stuff. 

First, food more than 100 ml with liquid consistency must go in checked baggage. Small solid items like nuts, cookies, and similar items should be packed in sealed plastic bags with air suction and then kept between clothes, which is the preferred method.

For larger items like cake or turkey, keep them in a tight box and then put this box in the middle of clothes to give it a tight cushion so it does not toss around. 

Note: Unlike turkey, the cake’s upper cream layer might be ruined on a rough journey. As an alternative, you can buy it at your destination, use a professional delivery service, or assemble the cake layers at your destination if you are a backing expert. 

Declare The Food

For international trips, you must declare the food you carry. For that, you need to fill out a declaration form offered by the respective country’s customs and fill it out before the flight, on a flight, or at the airport, and submit it to customs. 

If you do not declare the item you are carrying, it may result in confiscation, or you may be charged a fine. 

Customs Agencies On Food

Every country has different sets of rules for packing food in your bag. For example, if you travel within Europe from one country to another, these rules are soft.

On the contrary, If you are visiting a European country from the USA or other non-European country, these rules get harder.

That is why, I have provided you with a list of custom agencies of different countries to check the item you are carrying from their official sites. 

USA: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/food

Singapore: https://www.sfa.gov.sg/food-import-export/bringing-food-for-personal-use

Europe: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/carry/meat-dairy-animal/

Canada: https://www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca/en/what-can-bring/liquids-non-solid-food-personal-items

Australia: https://www.abf.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/can-you-bring-it-in/categories/food

Thailand: https://www.customs.go.th/list_strc_simple_neted.php

Dubai: https://www.sharjahairport.ae/en/business/cargo-centre/food-import-requirements/

Pakistan: https://caapakistan.com.pk/security/sec-lags.aspx

India: https://flightstoindia.com/list-of-food-items-allowed-through-airport-security/

Can I Eat Food On the Plane?

You can eat your food on the plane on international and domestic flights. However, it is not common, and most people prefer to eat meals provided on the plane. 

From an ethical point of view, ensure your food is fresh and does not smell bad, which can annoy a person sitting beside you.

The Bottom Line

A person should know small details before packing food in luggage like allowed food items, baggage policy, customs and country regulations, and more. 

It is better to plan and follow the proper guidelines of each country so you don’t get mad and avoid fines. Also, share your experience in the comment section, which will help others as well. 

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