Some things need to be inside checked luggage, and there are many things you can't have on a plane at all, but you can bring most food. However, solid foods are allowed in carry-on luggage. The trouble is that planes already serve food. Can you eat the food you brought with you? Is it rude to bring your own food onto a plane? Airlines and passengers often have different ideas about manners. Before taking your next trip, it's essential to understand flight etiquette for bringing your own snacks.
Why Take Food On A Plane
If you will only be on your flight for an hour or two, it's usually best to eat before you leave or grab a meal after you touch down again. However, for longer trips, you'll probably need a meal. Especially when you're making a transatlantic flight, it's uncomfortable to fly so many hours without food. Drinks are a different issue. Alcohol is frequently not allowed. Even when it's in the tiny bottles that don't exceed the size limit for liquids, you may need to leave them in your bag or carry them in checked luggage. It's always worth asking, but many airlines will say no. Similarly, bottles with juice and water are liquids, which means there are strict limits on how much you can have, and they may need to remain sealed.
Can You Take Food Through Airport Security
Before you can even consider eating food you packed, you have to get it through security. Most of the time, you can expect this to cause a short holdup as you go through the airport. Security may require you to place all food items in a separate area so they can inspect them more closely. Always plan ahead and arrive further in advance if you want to take food on a plane. Since it takes longer to check foods, you will probably have to deal with delays and longer check-in times. Additionally, you might need to answer questions about the food you are bringing. The most accessible foods to get through airport security are those in the original sealed packaging. Since these are typically easy to identify, they're less likely to cause trouble. However, once you open the package, it may require further inspection. Doubtless, you are a good person, but people have tried virtually every method of smuggling there is, and putting contraband items in a chip bag has almost certainly been done before. For all other foods, you should make sure it's solid and place it inside a sealed container. Clear plastic is the best because it will show the contents clearly. Items like bread, cookies, sandwiches, and even burgers are easier to get past the checkpoint than more obscure items.
Foods You Cannot Take On A Plane
What if you want to take a cup of soup, a bowl of homemade chili, or a bagel with cream cheese? In these cases, you are out of luck. Liquids and semi-solids like pudding, runny cheeses, and even cheesecake filling fall under the regulations for liquids. The TSA has a specific standard for liquids known as the 3-1-1 Rule. The short version of this rule is that you cannot have more than a hundred milliliters or three-point four ounces of any liquid. The liquids must be in sealed containers, and the total amount of liquid you can carry must fit inside a one-quart size bag. A surprising number of foods are considered liquid such as cream cheese, sauces, peanut butter, and hummus. Technically, you could probably use a funnel and make some liquid foods fit inside smaller carry-on-sized containers. Unfortunately, security will not be amused if you try to explain that you have a quart bag filled with hundred-milliliter bottles of your favorite gazpacho and pie filling. More importantly, officers can refuse to allow your bag through at their discretion. Worst of all, any liquid, cream, paste, or similar item that sets off the alarm will need further inspection. It is not worth potentially missing a flight so the TSA can verify that you're really bringing yogurt in your bag. If it's even slightly liquid, consider it too rude to bring on the plane, and pick something else.
Airlines Have Changed The Food Policy
There have been many changes to airline policies since COVID became an issue. According to UP, flights under two and a half hours long typically do not serve food. You can expect prepackaged foods on longer flights instead of the meal trays that once graced the skies. Even first-class diners will see severely limited options because water droplets can carry the virus. Steam from hot food puts moisture in the air. Alaskan Air flights under three hundred and fifty miles also usually have no food, and they also may not serve drinks in some cases. Doing this helps limit contact between staff and passengers, which is safer for all parties concerned. The upside to these policy changes is that many airlines openly recommend that guests bring their own food.
Etiquette For Bringing Food On A Plane
Whatever the past standards, it is now considered acceptable, and in many cases, necessary to bring your food from home or the store when you fly. Though some airlines offer overpriced snacks and pre-fab meals, they prefer guests tend to their own needs whenever possible. Before you bring anything, always check with your specific airline to ensure it is allowed. Generally, it's considered rude to eat on shorter flights because doing so requires pulling your mask down. Since any mask removal is discouraged and can even get you removed from the flight or banned from flying if you don't put your mask back on when asked, it's not worth bringing food on these quick flights. Expect other passengers to be openly upset if you eat on short flights and avoid doing so unless it is medically necessary. On longer flights, a short meal break with your food is allowed. However, since this also necessitates mask removal, be sure you don't spend too long over your meal. If the airline staff ask you to put your mask back on, do so promptly. Mask restrictions are no joke.
There was a time when smoking was allowed on planes, and bringing your own meal was considered low class. Things have changed a lot since then. Not only can you bring outside food, but you should when flying. Just make sure your food is a solid, and plan to skip the snack on short flights.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson