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Traveling with Thanksgiving Leftovers: What You Need to Know

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The TSA's Challenge

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means millions of travelers will be making their way home to celebrate with their loved ones. But for those who plan on bringing Thanksgiving leftovers with them on their flights, there are some important things to know. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expecting to see a wide variety of carry-on items this year, which can make their job even more challenging as they navigate through the massive crowds.

Follow the 3-1-1 Rule

As always, the TSA's 3-1-1 rule governs what can and can't be brought on the plane. This means that each liquid you bring through a checkpoint must be in a 3.4-ounce or smaller container, all containers must be placed in one clear quart-size plastic bag, and each passenger is only allowed one plastic bag. This rule applies to everything from toiletries to Thanksgiving dishes.

Thanksgiving Entrees and Side Dishes

When it comes to Thanksgiving entrees and side dishes, there are some guidelines to follow. Solid foods like turkey, ham, chicken, and cakes and pies are generally allowed. However, it's important to pack and store perishables properly to ensure their freshness. Any ice packs you use must stay frozen as you make your way through the checkpoint. Half-melted ice packs or liquids in frozen items can cause issues.

Safe Bets and Obvious "No-Gos"

Stuffing, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, pies, pastries, and fresh fruits and vegetables are generally safe bets to bring through the checkpoint. However, for other classic holiday dishes, it's important to consider the ingredients. If it can be pumped, poured, sprayed, or spread and it's more than 3.4 ounces, it should go in your checked bag. Gravies, sauces, jams, jellies, wine, and spirits will also need to be checked.

Use the TSA's "What Can I Bring?" Feature

If you're unsure about whether a specific food item can be brought on the plane, the TSA has a helpful "What Can I Bring?" feature on their website. Simply type in the item, and you'll be able to find out if it can be carried through a checkpoint or if it should be checked.

Consider Checked Luggage

If your food item falls into the "no" category for carry-on baggage, don't worry. You can still pack it in your checked luggage. This is a good opportunity to take advantage of free checked bags and airline credits available on travel credit cards.

Plan Ahead to Avoid Delays

Remember, every time the TSA catches a prohibited item while scanning a bag, it causes a delay at the checkpoint. With Thanksgiving being one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, it's important to plan ahead and ensure that the size and composition of your items are eligible to pass through security.

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