TSA Thanksgiving Packing Tips: Mac ‘N Cheese, Yes. Cranberry Sauce, No.

With a week to go before Thanksgiving, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has released its annual reminder for travelers to think twice before packing some favorite holiday foods in their carry-on luggage.

Most solid foods are approved for clearance through airport security checkpoints. The list includes mac ‘n cheese, stuffing, pies, casseroles, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Turkeys — whether frozen, cooked, uncooked — also get the green light. (Just don’t try to hide a gun inside the bird.)

When going through TSA airport security checkpoints, travelers should remove food items from their bags and place them in a plastic bin for screening.

“If you can spill it, spread it, spray it, pump it or pour it, and it’s larger than 3.4 ounces, then it should go in a checked bag,” says the TSA. In short, foods that are mainly liquid — cranberry sauce, gravy, wine, canned fruits and vegetables, and spreadables like jams and jellies — will not get past security checkpoints. When TSA screeners find these items in carry-on bags, they are confiscated.

The TSA is encouraging passengers to use its online “What can I bring?” tool. Just type in the item in question to find out whether you can pack it in carry-on luggage or or not. Passengers can also tweet their questions to @AskTSA or inquire via Facebook Messenger.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is forecasting air travel to be up nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year.

For travelers who want to dramatically lower the risk of a delayed flight during the holiday period, the golden rule is to book the earliest flight possible on your travel day.

When FlightAware, an flight-tracking app, crunched historical flight data for a decade’s worth of Thanksgiving weeks, it found a clear pattern of flight delays ramping up sharply as the day progressed.

Flights scheduled to depart around 5 p.m. experienced the most delays of all. On the busiest days — the Tuesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving — there were roughly 50% more delays for 5 p.m. departures compared to noon departures.

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