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Snacks on a Plane

Yes, I know. There's a question with this exact title in the archive from 11 (count 'em) years ago! Not very useful for now.

Many people mention taking snacks on the plane.
I've never done that before, except rarely taking something I purchased on the airside after going through security.

Not yet needing knee surgery or being able to take any standard arthritis anti-inflammatories, my orthopedist recently told me to use tart cherries as a substitute.

I discovered that dried Montmorency cherries work the best for me. I rather doubt these can be counted as OTC medicine.

Assuming that they would be considered a snack, has anyone had any issues with snacks of any kind going through TSA as a carry-on whether flying domestic or international?

I'd be starting out with a sealed, full bag. Later in the trip, the bag would be open, but for the short European flights, I can put them in the bag I'll be required to check.

Posted by
4179 posts

Lo, its not liquid so TSA shouldn't care. My wife routinely takes PBJ sandwiches and trail mix for the plane. I usually take an assortment of candy bars. I am wary, however, of anything high fiber, like dried fruit, for other reasons.

Posted by
1951 posts

TSA doesn't care about snacks as long as they're solids, not liquids or gels. The only thing that might be a concern is importation of fruit into whatever country you will be flying into. You might want to check to see if they have any restrictions.

Posted by
6038 posts

Lo, I take dried fruit on every European trip to help my system adjust to the time difference. Never had a problem bringing the fruit into Europe.

Posted by
1166 posts

We always bring protein type snacks on the plane. Especially like almonds, & protein bars. Just bring ziploc bags to store your leftovers.

Posted by
8102 posts

Snacks on a plane. Hmmm. I never did get to see that movie.

Posted by
202 posts

This is from the TSA website:

“TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving.”

I was asked to separate food from other carry-on items in November for a domestic flight. There was no issue with any of it (granola bars, etc), just had to be placed in a bin at security. You might want to put all snacks together to make it easier.

Posted by
6618 posts

I always take lots of food for the flight over as I never know if the special meal request will be loaded for the International flight. Last spring the TSA guys at my small airport took out my just purchased sleeve of bagels and ran the explosive test swab over them. The lady ahead of me had a tupperware container of cookies (grandma going to visit, lol) and they swabbed her container as well. No problem with the food, I’d just give yourself an extra 5-10 minutes in case you get pulled for secondary screening.

Posted by
7339 posts

Flying on Iceland Air, almost everyone is bringing food to eat since they don't offer free meals. Sandwiches, salads, snacks. Liquids are the only thing TSA cares about. You have to make sure your fresh fruits/veg and meats are eaten before entering some countries.

Posted by
351 posts

I always take a lot of food. Years ago I decided I had it with airplane food.

Posted by
1047 posts

Neither the TSA nor European immigration and customs really care about dried fruit. Depending on your point of entry when you return, USA customs might require you to throw away any leftovers because there are sometimes pest concerns with fruit products and there's no guarantee of where the fruit in an unsealed bag came from.

Posted by
3631 posts

When I flew from DC to Vienna recently, the woman next to me had a pillowcase full of snack size Cheetos. She ate them through the entire flight. I always bring a burrito or cheeseburger with me on the plane. Doesn’t everyone bring food onboard these days?

Posted by
585 posts

We usually fly either Delta or United on our flights to europe because of where we live. I'm surprised that everyone is taking so many snacks with them, on our flights they usually feed you more than you can eat and the food is usually fairly good, not great but good. I used to take dried mangoes in my back pack in case we landed and had to grab a quick train and didn't have time to find a restaurant, those mangoes saved us several times!

Posted by
7129 posts

When I visit my uncle I alway bring him a Gallo salami, as he can't get them where he lives. Going through security I've never had anyone pay any attention to it, until earlier this month. My backpack got taken off the belt and the two TSA agents were whispering to each other as they started opening the zipper. I told them I had a salami. They took it out and felt it to confirm it was in fact salami. I'm not sure what they thought it could be. Lol!

Posted by
2884 posts

Emily, wow, was her seat area covered in yellow Cheetos dust by the time your plane landed?

Posted by
6618 posts

Donald, I fly Delta but am vegan and the vegan special request meals are awful. They apparently think vegans only eat curry-based cuisines so there are usually a meal and snack that are curry. There is usually a 2nd snack that is hot tofu and mushrooms in a soggy roll. This is the mid-flight one. I’m not sure why I still ask for a special meal - living in hope I’ll get plain pasta and tomato sauce, I guess. I appreciate that they offer. BTW, the menu has basically been the same out of Salt Lake City and Seattle since 2013. Return from London, Paris and Amsterdam has been about the same food as well.

Andrea!!!

Jean, burst out laughing at the picture your comment painted in my mind.

Posted by
1166 posts

Remember when liquids were permitted in carry-on? My brother had bought some Kosher Dill pickles that were in a "Chinese takeout carton." He put it in the overhead bin. Shortly after take off I heard someone in the seat behind us say "I smell pickles." I looked back and saw pickle juice dripping from the bin. Needless to say it was a LONG flight back from Fort Lauderdale to Seattle!

Posted by
59 posts

On a Delta flight to Italy last year, the vegetarian meal was pretty good. On the flight back, delta again, the meal was awful. But I often don’t feel like eating anyway, especially on an overnight flight.

Posted by
2966 posts

I'm loving all these responses.

I originally was only concerned about making it through TSA/security with packaged carry-on medicinal dried tart cherries. Now I'm becoming inclined toward carrying on survival snacks as well. No Cheetos though.

Posted by
4308 posts

It's true, there's no problem with bringing dried cherries, no restrictions or anything, but there are SOME airports (but not all!!) which will ask you to remove all food items from your carry-on (as they ask you to take out anything bigger than a cell phone).

Then there are the airports where they won't ask you to take them out, but then will hold your bag for secondary screening and ask if you have food in there . . .

There are a couple of threads from the past few months (beginning in April or so) about this uneven application of requests to separate food stuffs if carrying on. It's not a problem per se — but it is annoying!!

Posted by
930 posts

This has me thinking we should start up some new threads in the Food & Drink section about everyone's tips for which airport kiosks make their favorite carry-on dining items.

For instance, until recently SFO had an outlet of the Boudin bakery that had a turkey/avocado sandwich that I would make a point of carrying on to the flight, even if my gate was a long way from the kiosk. Nowadays I've been getting panini from the stand in the middle of the dining seating area.

I was in one of the flyover states last fall where there was a sandwich kiosk that had something they called the Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich -- turkey with gravy and stuffing and cranberry relish on a roll. That was a bit of a challenge to keep within my own tray table on the plane, but it was worth it.

Posted by
12659 posts

I haven't figured out why, but I'm usually hungry on airplanes. I get veggie meals and even the desserts don't look as good as those of my seat-mates. And it's often a long slog until I get to my hotel on arrival. I take snacks. My last long-haul flight was from Chicago to Istanbul. Turkish Air has reasonably good food and sandwiches and cakes available in the galley most of the flight. I prefer my own snacks - this time it was Trader Joe's peanut butter filled pretzel bits. TSA in Chicago required everyone to take all their food items out of their hand luggage. No one in line was expecting that.

Posted by
2554 posts

You should have no problem bringing the cherries you want for your snack. I typically stop at a bagel shop before a flight out of JFK or LGA and pick up a bagel with cream cheese no matter the time of day. Perfect snack and very filling.

Posted by
1 posts

Well, the Cheetos crunching passenger must have been interesting! We had our vacuum packed Speck from Italy taken at the us customs line that was in our backpack. Very disappointing but I really think they were just hungry and wanted a really good snack! He told us because they only allow canned meat into the country!

Posted by
628 posts

About the canned meat: not in my experience. I had a lovely decorative tin of sausages from Dallmayr in Munich that was confiscated in Philly. I would have been happy to disgorge the meat and keep the tin, but that was not an option. It was disheartening enough that this was (is?) the rule, but the conversation with the customs folks was truly frustrating - they were unable to imagine a sausage in a tin, even though I explained that it was like tuna in a tin, but not tuna. Oh, well.

Posted by
354 posts

Lo, I just finished re-reading your post. I have you to thank/blame for my new addiction to dried Kirkland Montmorency cherries which I started buying and eating shortly after your post. I told myself that I would use them mainly for baking. For some unknown reason the first time I read it I didn't notice the anti-inflammatory comment re: the cherries. So thanks, now I can say that I'm eating them for my health. ha ha!

Posted by
2966 posts

I'm also a great believer in medicinal dark chocolate. We always have some around the house in a variety of forms. And now that I know I can do it, I may take some almonds. Add the tart cherries and that's my three favorite food groups covered right there.

Posted by
1166 posts

Lo, I'm with you, "An ounce of dark chocolate a day keeps the Dr. away!" We always bring almonds as a snack as well. We need to try the cherries!

***Edit: Costco brand of Dark Chocolate covered almonds are excellent!

Posted by
6618 posts

Lo! I just got some Dark Chocolate covered almonds at TJ Maxx last week that were very good. I'm NOT a dark chocolate fan but these were dairy free and I needed a snack and ...blah, blah, blah with excuses, hahaha! Anyway, they are in a ziplock type bag and would be good for travel.

See how I brought that back around to a travel focus?

And now I'm thinking I need to cruise by TJ before my next trip but knowing their supplies they will not be in stock then.

editing to add: Janis! That sounds good too but I'm not sure I want the giant bag!

Posted by
2966 posts

Thanks for the tip, Pam. I've been assuming that I could find both almonds and dark chocolate in Amsterdam, Portugal and Spain, so a small bag would be great. And Janis, I'll look for those at my local Costco. Maybe that bag wouldn't be too big.

Costco had a product recently that I dearly loved and definitely would go with me on the plane, but it came and went very quickly. Having noticed that Amazon has the same dried cherries as Costco, I checked, and of course they have that product. They don't have multiple nuts inside like the big pictures show. It's just one nut, covered by coconut and then by dark chocolate.

Now I just have to make sure that the snacks don't weigh too much for carry-on. And that if I order the dark chocolate-coconut-almonds I get them soon so they don't melt in transit in AZ.

My original question was posted in response to the super salty or sweet or hard snacks normally provided on planes. I tried one of the health bars offered once and couldn't begin to eat it because it was like biting into a rock. At home I eat raw almonds almost daily along with my dried tart cherries. It really is a health thing for me, although I enjoy making fun of myself about it.

Posted by
396 posts

Had to order the cherries just to try them out. Have tried the juice and love it but hadn’t even thought about the actual cherries. :)

Posted by
2966 posts

My husband drinks tart cherry juice every day to help prevent gout attacks. I'm not a big fan of it. I used to get frozen tart cherries at Costco, but my store doesn't seem to have them anymore. So I switched to the dried ones and haven't looked back. They obviously will be much easier for my travels.

Posted by
3 posts

On domestic I almost always take food. Never had a problem or been questioned.
I might buy a salad at the airport, bring one from Trader joes, bring fruit and nuts- anything (not liquid).

My suggestion is no fresh fruit, veggies, nor meat on a plane for biology reasons. Any dried fruit or veggies, meat (jerky) - I would carry on the plane in the original sealed package. Any packaged food like protein bars is a "go" on planes. This is also true of domestic flights.
Packaged food ensures that you will not be the cause of an agricultural biological mess.
I live among fruit/citrus farmers and I learned about the biological problems that can be transferred through shipping - whether plane, boat, or vehicle.

For cherry products - check out for fun The Cherry Republic company in/near Traverse City, Michigan.

Posted by
1166 posts

Okay. For all you dried cherry & chocolate fans, I highly recommend both Chukar Chocolate covered Cabernet Cherries and Dilettante Chocolate covered Cherries. Both made in my home state of WA. These delightful treats can be found on none other than Amazon as well.

Posted by
2187 posts

My meal bars are fudgy and they often are checked by security. Seems fudge looks like C4 explosive. Never confiscated. I regularly take salads from the airport and consume them in air. Last week I took a store salad on a domestic flight. No problems. Do restrict fresh fruit and vegetables. Some people actually carry frozen meat and foot to Grand Cayman from US but it is store wrapped so okay.

Posted by
2966 posts

Hey, Janis. I bet Aplets and Cotlets would fly, too. Of course Amazon has them. That could qualify as not fresh fruit for travel purposes.

Posted by
760 posts

You can bring almost anything you wanted to eat-fresh fruit/veggies with you on transatlantic flight. However, you will have to eat them on the plane or throw them away before you.

Posted by
1166 posts

Lo, yes, why yes Aplets & Cotlets! "A Turkish Delight." (We ate something similar in Stolac, Bosnia & Herzegovina) Interesting story-- Aplets came to America thanks to two Armenian immigrants. They bought an orchard in Cashmere, WA. to find something to do with their excess fruit. The current president is the grandson of both founders. I think the one caveat to eating Aplets on the plane is the powdered sugar coating. Almost as bad as "Cheeto dust." ;)

Maria above - frozen food is okay. It's only fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and fresh meat. (I can't imagine the need for fresh meat on a plane!). Sealed up cheese is probably okay as well.
This is to control transfer of unwanted passengers like insects, vermin, and plant/animal diseases.
Anything sealed up in a store package is okay. (This is probably true of fresh produce that is in sealed containers like salad kits and fruit chunks.). Nothing can survive being sealed up in a store container that I know of.

Posted by
2187 posts

Sun baked, it just boggles my mind to go such an effort to risk frozen food going bad for the purposes of frugality. I am pretty frugal, and just spent a week eating camping dehydrated meals to save money and deal with no kitchen, but to risk having things go bad enroute just doesn't make sense. I certainly can't consider it from Canada to Caribbean when I rarely have direct flights. Also, if you think to precut and portion before freezing, it won't be accepted. Needs to be the original store wrapping. That guy almost cried to have all his expensive beef confiscated after he worked so hard cutting it to his preference.

Posted by
598 posts

I like Clif bars. I learned not to pack a bunch of them bundled together in my carry-on. Turns out the scanner views their density as something that could be explosive. The nice TSA agent told me this as I was pulled aside for secondary screening and all the innards of my carry-on were swabbed. He said it was not uncommon.