You can bring a full Thanksgiving turkey on an airplane — just check the cranberry sauce

You actually can fly with a turkey in your carry-on, according to the Transportation Security Administration. (Photo: Getty Images)
You actually can fly with a turkey in your carry-on, according to the Transportation Security Administration. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you’re traveling for Thanksgiving and you’re in charge of bringing the all-important turkey or some side dishes, there’s good news: Certain airlines will allow you to fly with a cooked turkey and more in your carry-on. Yes, you read that right.

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), “the cooked avian creature can tag along in your carry-on at the airport.”

But it’s not only a full turkey that you can take with you — you can also bring some side dishes and desserts, including the Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin pie, as long as they’re all in tightly-sealed plastic containers. “Whether it’s pineapple cranberry stuffing, vegetarian blueberry stuffing, or whatever other gourmet powerhouse stuffing concoctions you’ve created, these are welcome guests in your carry-on bags,” said the TSA.

Since you never want to leave meat (or dairy) unrefrigerated for more than two hours, pack turkey and other perishables in dry ice — which is typically allowed on flights — or use gel ice packs (which need to be frozen solid, per the TSA) to keep the turkey and side dishes from spoiling on a long-haul flight. “FAA rules allow up to 5 pounds of dry ice in a package properly marked and vented,” according to the TSA. “However, the airline has the final say, so make sure to check with them to see if they will allow this icy item in either your carry-on or checked bag.”

Allowances aside, you still need to follow a few rules. If the food you’re bringing is a liquid, such as cranberry sauce, whether it’s homemade or from a can, it has to follow the 3-1-1 rule — meaning each liquid container must be no more than 3.4 ounces. (The exception: fresh cranberries, which are a solid and can be brought in a carry-on.) The containers then need to be placed in a 1-quart size, zip-top bag. Keep in mind that, along with sauces, creamy, spreadable foods, such as gravy, mashed potatoes, jam and dips are also considered liquid and need to be in 3.4 ounce containers, which means you won’t be able to take much of them.

Not sure if the Thanksgiving dish you’d like to bring would be considered a liquid or not? The TSA recommends playing it safe by packing it in your checked bag. You can also check the food items you’d like to bring and see what the TSA has to say about them in the “What Can I Bring?” section of its website.

If you’re planning on bringing a bottle of wine to toast your relatives at Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll have to pack that in your checked luggage (unless it’s 3.4 oz). According to the TSA, “You can pack as many alcoholic beverages as you want as long as they contain less than 24 percent alcohol.” You can even bring a corkscrew in your carry-on as long as it does not have a blade. If it does, it needs to be safely stored in your luggage.

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