To check or not to check, that is the question

By Hannah Chubb
November 25, 2019 06:01 PM

The TSA is expecting a record number of travelers this Thanksgiving (26.8 million between November 22 and December 4), which means the airport may be even crazier than usual

And while more flyers typically means longer lines, there are a few things Turkey Day travelers should know in order to make it through without a hitch — namely what leftovers you can and can’t pack to avoid stuffing up security.

The TSA has shared a list of exactly which Thanksgiving treats are allowed to make the trek home in your carry-on and those that you should always put in your checked baggage.

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Carry-On: Casseroles

From broccoli to green bean and everything in between, casseroles are good to go in your carry-on as long as they are obviously solid. If you can pour it, consider checking in with TSA before you pack it in your hand luggage.

The TSA has a number of resources to find out how you should pack an item. The “What can I bring?” feature on their website allows travelers to type in the item in question for an immediate answer as to whether it goes in your checked bag, carry on, either or neither. This feature is also available on the free myTSA app. Or, if you tweet a photo of the item to @AskTSA, they will respond to let you know which bag it belongs in or if it should stay home.

Carry-On: Pies and Cakes

Apple, pumpkin, chocolate, blueberry, vanilla, you name it, it’s good to go. 

Carry-On: Turkey and Ham

These main course meats are always solid, so they’re always allowed in your carry-on. 

Carry-On: Stuffing

Stuff that stuffing in your carry-on! This side dish is safe to be by your side at 30,000 feet. Stuffing mix is free to fly as well. 

Check It: Carving Knife

This should go without saying, but a meat carving knife, electric or not, should always be packed away safely in a checked bag. 

Check It: Wine and Other Beverages

As tempting as it may be to pack a bottle of vino for the flight back home (you may need a drink after hanging out with your family all weekend), beverages of any kind containing more than 3.4 ounces of liquid must be transported in a checked bag. In general, remember the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquid policy for carry-ons: Liquids must be in 3-ounce containers or smaller, in one quart-size clear plastic bag, and one bag per traveler.

Check It: Gravy

Although Chrissy Teigen once got away with bringing gravy in her carry-on by mixing it with mashed potatoes (which are a solid), gravy is a liquid and should therefore be checked if it’s more than 3.4 ounces. You may be able to get away with carrying it on if it’s congealed, but it could be taken away depending on your security officer — better safe than sorry.  

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Check It: Jams and Preserves

If grandma has been busy canning, you can definitely bring home some of her wares: Just make sure they go in your checked baggage.

Check It: Cranberry Sauce

According to the TSA, cranberry sauce is not a solid. “Basically if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it . . . then it’s not a solid and should be packed in a checked bag,” they say in their press release.