TSA Lays Out the Rules for Carry-On Charcuterie on Its Instagram

The agency's social media feed is full of helpful travel tips and cheesy dad jokes.

Charcuterie board
Photo: Anna Janecka / Getty Images

You don't necessarily expect TSA, the government agency responsible for making airport travelers take their shoes off and throw their full-size tubes of toothpaste away, to have a gloriously punny sense of humor, but maybe that's how they deal with the rest of it. The verified @TSA Instagram account describes itself as "Travel Tips & Dad Joke Hits," and honestly it delivers both of those things on the regular.

In one of its most recent posts, @TSA addressed the question "Hey TSA, can I take my [charcuterie] tackle box on the plane?" Although the photo of an actual charcuterie tackle box — complete with individual compartments for sliced meats and cheeses, olives, and nuts — may or may not be a real thing, TSA's response is serious. (Well, it's as serious as you can be when you're trying to fit a half-dozen charcuterie-related jokes into your answer.)

"You better brie-live olive it can board the plane with you! So whatever solid food meats your needs go ahead and pack it," the agency wrote. "Do you know what else pears well with this gouda idea? Our 'What Can I Bring?' tool of course! You'll be grapeful for all the supportive information."

Honestly, the point of all of these lighthearted posts seems to be to direct travelers to its "What Can I Bring?" page, which is an educational (if admittedly less fun) database that tells you whether or not you can take hundreds of things with you on your flight, whether it's allowed in a carry-on bag or has to be checked, or whether it's forbidden altogether.

For example, you'll learn that any alcohol over 70 proof, including grain alcohol and 151 rum isn't allowed to travel at all; cream cheese has to be checked if you're carrying more than 3.4 ounces; and you should probably ask the airline directly what to do with your live lobster. (Unfortunately, the guy eating a tuna sandwich in the seat beside you isn't breaking any of the TSA's rules, no matter how much you wish that was illegal.)

The TSA's Instagram feed does a pretty great job of imparting serious information in a memorable way, like in its post reminding everyone that a "Soup Flask" isn't allowed if it holds more than 3.4 ounces, or in the one where it explains that any "diced, fried, baked or scalloped" potatoes are acceptable for carry-ons, but mashed potatoes must be checked.

"We're not in the entertainment business, but mixing humor with our messaging has been a very successful formula for us, and I'm glad [the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences] as well as our followers have recognized and appreciated that," the TSA's late social media lead and Instagram-captioner Bob Burns said in 2018 when the agency won three Webby Awards for its social content.

That's probably why the @TSA account has collected over one million followers. Well, that and maybe because scrolling through their feed gives you something to do while you're waiting for them to tell you that you can put your shoes back on.

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