How to pack a pie for air travel, according to the TSA. Alan Richardson/Getty Images

Gravy can get through security if it’s still in powdered form.

Mike Pomranz
November 09, 2018

Two of the biggest parts of Thanksgiving are food and travel – and whether it’s bringing a regional favorite to family for the holiday or prepping your favorite dish before you arrive at dinner, plenty of Americans combine the two. But what if that combination includes travel by plane? This week, some TSA employees held an information session at New York’s Westchester County Airport, and thankfully, a reporter for the Rockland/Westchester Journal News was there taking notes on how you should pack all your edible goodies to minimize the hassle.

The TSA’s top tip: Know going in which foods can make it through security in your carry-on bags and which need to be stashed away in your checked bag. Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson, offered up this helpful advice for what won’t pass the “liquid” test. “If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it,” put it in your checked luggage, she said. Sure, some items are obvious: That special bottle of wine or local craft beer obviously won’t clear security, but what about something like a can of Libby’s 100 percent Pure Organic Pumpkin? According to the TSA, that needs to be checked—probably because you can “spread it.”

Speaking of the spread it test, however, pumpkin pies themselves appear to be cool in most cases. The TSA said pies and pastries tend to be the top items they see and screen over the holidays. And though they said they won’t open your packaged foods during screenings, they may still have to wand them—which could slow you don’t regardless. However, here’s an unexpected tidbit you may never have heard: These TSA agents suggested tossing your edible carry-on items like that pumpkin pie in a separate bin from the rest of your screened luggage. Apparently, that can help speed up the process. So no, it’s not just your laptop that requires its own bin; pull those pastries out as well!

Oh, and here’s one other carryon tip: Though you can’t take liquid gravy through security, powdered gravy is totally cool. But come on: If the best thing you have to bring home for Thanksgiving is a packet of powdered gravy, maybe you shouldn’t come home at all.

In the end, if you aren’t sure about an item, the TSA suggested its Ask TSA Twitter account where you can tweet questions and photos.

Lastly, the TSA wasn’t afraid to answer the big questions either. When asked whether seeing so much holiday food makes them hungry, agent Tara Gavin responded, “We may want to eat it… But we won't.” Pretty sure that’s TSA lingo for your pie isn’t as good as you think it is.

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