The TSA won't swipe your pie – but will they take the cake?
November 23rd, 2010
03:00 AM ET
Share this on:

You can haul a Lady Baltimore cake through BWI airport or a Boston cream pie home via Logan. Just expect a little extra TLC from the TSA, and don't forget to jam that jelly into luggage you'll be checking.

Thousands of jet-setting epicures are on the go for the biggest food holiday of the year - and airport security screening is at an all-time high. Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Jonella J. Culmer weighed in on which edibles can be carried onboard, and which are best transported in your belly or your checked bags.

Culmer told us via e-mail, that unless these items are purchased from a vendor after the security checkpoint, these items may not be carried onto the plane:

Cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.), gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy, jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, salad dressing, salsa, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer

These foods tend to fall under the TSA's 3-1-1 policy governing liquids, gels and aerosols, as liquid explosives are still thought to pose a threat aboard airplanes. A traveler could opt to pack a 3.4 ounce bottle or less, seal that in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag and send that in a screening bin through a checkpoint scanner, but is all that kerfuffle really worth it for a few spoonfuls of your Aunt Francine's giblet gravy?

Okay, yes, we've had gravy that good, but if that's the case, it just makes sense to eat the egregious baggage fee - at least on one leg of the journey - and stock your suitcase with thoroughly sealed, non-breakable containers of foods you'd like to share, or those you'd care to savor once you're back at home. You're paying the big bucks anyhow, so why not make the most of it?

Most solid leftovers will journey well in a hard-sided container, and liquids in tightly-sealed jars, but learn from our pain. Unless you don't mind an entirely sauce-stained wardrobe, take the time to wrap the container in several tight layers of plastic wrap, then seal that in a plastic, zippered bag.

And when it comes to traveling with tipples, we've fallen in love with WineSkin. For $9.99, you get three padded, contoured, double-sealed sleeves that protect checked bottles and keep the contents from leaking all over your clothes.

But back to the sweet stuff. Culmer informed us that, "Pies are permitted through the security checkpoint," and the TSA website amends this to allow for cakes as well and note, "Please be advised that they are subject to additional screening."

When in doubt as to the flying viability of an item, travelers may consult the TSA's mobile website or download the free "MyTSA" app from iTunes. While the breadth of the "Can I Bring" tab of the app seems to be in an early phase, users searching for "bacon," "tiramisu," or "flan" may suggest the addition of these items via a button.

Jerky is entirely permissible for carry-on, so snack away, intrepid holiday traveler. Snack like the wind.

A few more tips to ensure a minimum of TSA fuss:

– Do not wrap food gifts that will be carried onto the plane. Security officers may have to re-open them for closer inspection.
– Food must be wrapped or in a container to avoid messes at screening stations. Unpeeled fruit is permissible, but partially eaten fruit must be wrapped.
– All food must be screened.

Have you planned to haul your cookies cross-country, only to have them nabbed at airport security? We'd love to hear about it below. Share your tasty travel stories in the comments below and for much more, visit CNN Travel's complete holiday travel coverage.

soundoff (379 Responses)
  1. Karl

    Personally, I don't mind the security. We came together as a country after 09/11 and requested that we be protected. They are doing just that. If having someone's hands all over me is what it takes, great, because im happy knowing that the next person is getting felt up too, share the love. Please have respect for the people that ensure our safety, I'm sure they don't want to touch you either. Im certain there are some that just don't belong in the TSA, but that goes with every job. I'm sure these people would be a lot nicer if they didn't have rude, snobby, ignorant travelers coming through all day either. The liquids and foods thing is a bit much, but considering your checked baggage is allowed, ok. The government will never be able to please everyone. Just live with what we have. At least our government cares for us enough to subject us to these measures to ensure we leave in one piece and come back that way. Some countries have governments that just do not care if you live or die. I also would agree with the person before who said parents with children should have their own compartment. The woman got herself knocked up, I shouldn't have to suffer by listening to her brats cry and scream. -+UPS/Fed-Ex Overnight them to the destination, or toss them in the cargo hold.

    November 25, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Noneya

      Re: Your knocked up misogynist comment Karl. Some common, ignorant woman was knocked up in order for you to have been able to be breathed into existence. Should we have a special compartment for you?

      November 24, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  2. Even Steven

    I think that the airline execs have influenced the TSA into what is "legal" and what is not for carry-on. The airlines make big money on booze, drinks, and food, and isn't it convenient that many of these items are the very same ones that are "banned?" Cell phones DO NOT interfere with navigation devices (not even the same frequencies!); rather, the airlines make money on those airline telephones and internet services provided on the plane.

    November 25, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  3. Travelwatch

    Hey our traveling gets slower by waiting for some nut who just has to bring food back home to be screened and then listen to the arguing. SIMPLE..NO FOOD ITEMS..screen'm, pack'm and lets go.

    November 24, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Motherof1

      I'm tired of airline food and am very happy to be able to take a sandwich and piece of fruit with me when I travel. I don't slow down the line and TSA seems to be ok with my food choices which are easily screened. All I get stuck buying is water.

      November 24, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  4. Bill O. Rights

    We live in a world where there is no such thing as absolute security. At what point in this slippery slope downward do we draw the line and say "That's enough"? At what point are further erosions of our freedom not worth the possible increase in security? Is that point when we have to witness children being molested at the airport?

    November 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  5. nytw

    Just another example of big liberal government taking our freedoms away. This is exactly whey we need to elect real conservatives in 2012 not the liberals currently running for the republican nomination. We need real conservatives in office to rid our country of the Taliban Society of America.

    November 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • IggyWolf

      Thanks for your post. I read the article and wondered to myself "are there really people so stupid that they would travel on airplanes with pies and cakes?" But then I saw your post and realized there is indeed a ready supply of incredibly stupid people.

      November 24, 2011 at 9:48 am |
      • Ren

        Or perhaps someone who had a destination wedding and would like to bring the top tier of their cake back...

        June 24, 2014 at 11:42 am |
    • Lock them up...

      Problem is that most of those 'Real Conservatives' you're talking about are in mental hospitals... Where they belong.

      November 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • You're a dope

      There's no freedoms being taken away. No one is requiring you to take a plane anywhere. If you don't like TSA feel free to take a bus, drive, ride a horse or walk.

      November 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
      • Sal

        In Germany, no one "required" Jews to own businesses, travel, live in certain parts of the city, speak out against authorities. Therefore the Nazis were perfectly justified in taking all those things away from them, right? Your illogic profounds me.

        November 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  6. waycist

    Last summer at Sky Harbor Airport (Phoenix) three Muslims were arrested after trying to get past security with jars of sesame paste that had cell phones attached to them. Now I know why, They were testing thew 3-1-1 rule. Oddly, Muslims have also tested the 3-1-1 rule, in remarkably similar fashion, (coincidence I'm sure) at Memphis and Kansas City airports as well.

    November 24, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • waycist

      How come it's always Muslims attempting to get through our airport security with cylindrical containers packed with dense material that have cell phones attached to them?
      It must be a cultural thing.

      November 24, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Talibani

      That's because we are coming after paraniod, Christian fruit-loops like you, waycist... we also like to blow up bigots...

      November 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  7. Bob

    No comment

    November 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Your Uncle

      Did, too!

      November 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  8. Maverick20

    All you must remember something, this generation of people growing up have never had the freedoms that we had in our time. I'm 61 years young and remember being able to walk from my car to the airport and check luggage and walk on an airplane without all this security. This generation has never seen the kinds of freedoms we had and don't know what they have lost. We as a country will never get it back, because this generation will eventually be running our country.

    November 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • DebG

      The problem is that this country and most western countries have lost the plot and become too politically correct. That's why TSA will strip search an elderly white man, yet do nothing to the passing Muslim. Jeez! We cannot profile, yet has there really been a terrorist on a plane other than a Muslim. The answer is no, by the way.

      November 24, 2011 at 12:03 am |
      • grinnninglibber

        Bigotry is live and well.

        November 24, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • waycist

      You can thank a muslim for that, or you can do what I do, point at them and take their picture, they appreciate it.

      November 24, 2011 at 9:08 am |
      • dontdoit

        if you took my picture without asking me i would first ask you politely to delete and if you didn't i would rip it out of your hand and do it myself and give camera/phone back to you. we don't need more racist people like yourself.

        November 24, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • Sydney

      Sorry, but the generation has nothing to do with it. Technology is what has changed. Passengers weren't going to be detonating a bomb with a cell phone in, say, 1965. Nor did the average airline traveler have access to plastic explosives. Life is different, and you're right, it's never going to be the same. But no need to blame it on any particular generation or group.

      November 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
      • Talibani

        Sorry, but GENERATION has EVERYTHING to do with it! People in the latest GENERATION do not have a clue regarding the many FREEDOMS we enjoyed in the 60's, 70's, 80's... You have to put your TECHNOLOGY in some CONTEXT here...

        Fact is, each generation has lost more and more FREEDOMS... all in the name of SECURITY, which, of course, we simply do not have. TECHNOLOGY is both the METHODOGY and the EXCUSE that the GOVERNMENT uses to take away more and still more of our FREEDOMS.

        This is all done under the guise of PROTECTING US!

        November 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  9. us1776

    We have more to fear from TSA, DHS, and the Patriot Act than we ever will from any terrorist.

    I want my liberty and freedom back.

    Disband TSA and the multi-billion dollar DHS boondoogle.


    November 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Chuck

      I agree whole heartedly... not only the TSA a waste of money... so is most of a lot of other government agencies including engergy..... lets save a lot of money and reduce government size by 1/3 and make both house participate in social security and take ALL the special perks AWAY from them.

      November 24, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Talibani

      AMEN... and th UN-Patriotic PATRIOT ACT!

      November 24, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  10. jj

    The TSA won't swipe your pie... But they may swipe your electronics or jewelry.
    I put all my small cables and chargers in a clear zip bag now. If they need to look inside, they can clearly see what's in the small bag. Less likelihood of something being forgotten – or stolen.
    For women, you may want to put your 'personal' items in a bag, too. Who wants some guy pawing through your undies!

    November 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  11. Kerry

    TSA has to justify their job somehow. If they can poke, pat, pull and pet legally why not?

    November 23, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  12. IThinkImMe

    Tes ticle
    As s holes

    November 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  13. Sandy Israel

    its safe to fly with 15 boxes of Berger Cookies out of BWI...

    November 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  14. jj

    If you drive, you will likely meet the other arm of terror – the Highway Patrol. All states are broke, and blue-light taxation is the easiest remedy around. At least the TSA doesn't charge me $150 to pass go...

    November 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Dennis

      Do the spped limit and you won't pay a cent. . . duh. . ..

      November 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
      • Torka

        Also, don't wear any heavy clothing, as they mistake you as a person of interest.

        November 23, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
      • Talibani

        "duh..." IF you drive you may have a tail light out, you may be black or tanned, your license plate may become loose or you might have a turn signal not working... any excuse will do. "duh..."

        You're an idiot... "duh..."

        November 24, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  15. GalaBB

    I had a 4 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer which was 1/2 empty and they would not allow me to take it in my carry-on... where's the logic there? 3.4 ounces is allowed. 4 X 1/2 = 2 ounces . empty thermos or water bottle is allowed, so it's got nothing to do with capacity.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • FauxNews

      The logic is simple: They are paid to hassle you, got it?

      November 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • abrous

      We've been subjected to this 3-3-1 thing for a few years now.. Everyone should be fully aware of the rules. It's never about the volume of the item itself, but the volume of the container that the item is in. Can't explain the reasoning, but think of it like this, a container 3.3oz or smaller requires no mental calculation to determine the volume of the product within, while a container larger that 3.3oz would require either a) a weight of the product to confirm the contents are under 3.3oz or an expert eye to determine the actual volume of the item. With tens of thousands of people passing through a day, imagine if the TSA had to then take the extra 1-2 minutes per person to evaluate the volume of the item, it's not efficient. So to save yourself headaches (and the rest of us standing patiently in line to get to our gates), keep your containers to the legal allowed or pack it in your checked baggage.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
      • Michael Smith

        If the TSA officer can't divide 4/2 in a split second, then they are not of mental capacity to be performing searches of any kind

        November 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
      • BS

        "Is it exactly half? Wait, the container isn't transparent. Gotta peak through the hole. Hey willy, could you peek in here and see if this is half or more like 60%?" Meanwhile, you've just turned the person behind you into a terrorist.

        November 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • Brian

      4 x 1/2 = 4 1/2 (4.5). Simple math.

      November 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  16. marinedad05

    Vist relatives, and go through all the hassle, and expense?

    I'll just use the phone. :-)

    November 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • aa

      visting relatives are the biggeset hassels

      November 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  17. Eric

    Look at how restrictive we are now when travelling. The terrorists have won, even if they haven't attacked us in years.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  18. Jim P.

    You left off the little zinger TSA puts on every announcement: These rules are not definitive or binding. TSA officer may make on the spot decisions about what is and is not permitted in baggage based solely on his or her determination.

    In other words, we don't have to let anything on that we don't want and you can't do a d*** thing about it if you expect to fly that day.

    I'll bet this time of year the TSA break room is *very* well stocked. "Hey, I seized some "suspicious" looking fudge, anyone want some before I take it home?" (General laughter ensues)

    November 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  19. Big Dickie Nickie

    Once again, TSA + public air travel = terrible travel experience!

    November 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  20. Mark

    Be sure if you are visiting relatives out of the country that you check on what you can bring back through customs. It differs from traveling within the US greatly. Meaning, that you may not be able to bring some of those baked goods or other foods back with you.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  21. edvhou812

    Can the TSA makes rules about bringing young kids onto airplanes? I just know that some idiot parents are going to have thier crying toddler on the red-eye tonight.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Mark

      They should be packed into compartments in the back of the plane. That way the rest of us can get some sleep.

      November 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • FauxNews

      Just tell the TSA agent, "I think that kid cried more than 3.4 ounces", and they will not allow them to board.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • lola

      Geez you must not have kids. Sorry but it's hard to control when a baby cries and what are we supposed to leave the kids at home all of the time? I get far more annoyed by people with body odor or strong perfume!

      November 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
      • Brian

        I'm with lola on this one!

        November 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
      • Talibani

        IF you are going to ignore the needs of the PAYING traveling public with your RAT, you at the very least should put the RAT back where it came from!

        No one wants to deal/train or be bothered with YOUR INBRED CHILD, especially on an cramped airplane!

        November 24, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Someone Opinionated

      they should make rules about fat people. no offense, but if you're wider than the seat pay for two. nothing worse than being crammed between an obese man and a window...especially when he's sleeping and taking over half your seat. not to mention the wailing infants behind me... but I guess I don't deserve to complain about the little kids because I hate it when people say little kids shouldn't be allowed. Maybe they should make planes with a second compartment for parents and their toddlers, preferably one in a "safe" area of the plane and SOUND-PROOFED. But the fat people...sorry but unlike the little kids crying, your weight is your fault. you should have to buy two seats because I don't think anyone wants to pander to your overeating issue......... (now, I'm not totally ignorant...I know some people are genetically fat or they have some weird disease or whatever, but still.)

      November 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
      • Someone Opinionated

        *Sorry about the capitalization. Whoopsies :)

        November 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
      • Even Steven

        Maybe the cheapassed airlines should invest in seats that were designed for people bigger than the proportions of the Model T! Airlines are scum, and do not care about their customers, fat and skinny ones alike. So, you might as well get used to it, because fat is here to stay in the U.S.A.

        November 25, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  22. Schmedley


    November 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  23. Ryan

    Or vote for Ron Paul and get rid of the TSA and privatize airports and security. The plane I choose will be the one I choose. But that plane will also be responsible for its actions.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  24. Dave

    Mail it home before going to the airport, if it can survive the process.
    The USPS needs the business.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • lilsfgal

      FINALLY someone says it! I've shipped items home quite a few times that i didn't feel like dealing with w/TSA. Problem solved and it's one less thing to schlep to/from the airport.

      November 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  25. Big Bear

    Culmer told us via e-mail, that unless these items are purchased from a vendor after the security checkpoint, these items may not be carried onto the plane:
    if these items were not purchased from a vendor after security how the hell did they get them through security

    November 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  26. Andrew

    TSA: The George W. Bush Healthcare plan...Thanks to this plan we all receive free prostate exams, x-rays and even MRI's.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Big Bear

      Then why doesn't your boy "Oblame it on Bush" eliminate the TSA
      I personally don't care for the fact that they have these monkeys who make low-wage, don't go through their own security procedures in charge of the safety of our skies. But unless you have a better solution keep your smart aleck comments to yourself

      November 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
      • Talibani

        Everything BAD in AMERCA is BUSH'S fault... the only people that don't understand that are Big Bear, Tea Baggers, the Republic Party and people with an IQ under 80...

        November 24, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • beesucker

      TSA – Only in America. No common sense just plain crazy.

      November 23, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  27. Carsos

    A ten year old suggestion that would have, and still can completely eliminate the need for TSA. Modify all commercial airliners to have the ONLY access to the cockpit via an outside door. Weld shut any passage from the cockpit to the passenger cabin. The pilots cannot be forced to do anything. Put an airline representative in the cabin with authority to do what the pilot/captain would do, if he/she could access the cabin. Worst case scenario – terrorists blow up the plane, but to what end? They can't force the plane to fly into any buildings. They can't hijack the plane to Iraq, or wherever. All they can do is threaten the passengers, but the plane will land in a circle of SWAT officers and the perps will be either off to jail or killed. TSA hassle solved.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
1 2 3
| Part of

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,975 other followers