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turkey tsa It’s official: we’re blogging! Welcome to “Have Tips, Will Travel,” where we’ll bring you quick takes on travel news, need-to-know info for travelers, and discussions on travel-related controversies and issues of the day (click here to read more about our new blog). Let’s get started.

On IndependentTraveler.com, we have travel deals, trip planning ideas, community forums and packing tips galore. But did you know we answer travel questions as well?

Our readers can send their burning questions to travel wizard (and Editor) Sarah Schlichter at feedback@independenttraveler.com. While we’ve been asked about everything from passports to pet travel, the most popular questions we’ve received, by far, are about which foods can be carried through airport security. Ever since the TSA declared that all carry-on liquids and gels must be in 3.4-ounce containers within a single clear, quart-sized zip-top bag, countless readers have been e-mailing us to ask what kinds of foods they can bring on a plane. Is tuna salad a “gel”? (It’s close enough that it could be confiscated.) What about a mushy banana or a slice of cheesecake? (Probably ok.) Here’s a question we received last fall:

“I’d like to take Thanksgiving dinner to my son. I thought I would take cooked turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, but a friend said I probably can’t take it on the plane. Please let me know.”

These kinds of questions make us hungry for lunch. They also make us chuckle at the bizarre issues that come up in trip planning. Here’s Sarah’s answer:

“Thanks for writing to IndependentTraveler.com. You’d probably be okay to bring the turkey and stuffing, since those are both solid, but because the mashed potatoes are a gel-like substance, they would be subject to the 3-1-1 rules. That means you could only bring 3.4 ounces or less, and the container would have to fit inside a quart-size plastic bag. I’m sure your son will appreciate two out of three!”

Did our reader bring her son a zip-top bag filled with tiny containers of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and gravy? We’ll never know. But we do hope that her Thanksgiving bounty wasn’t confiscated by some hungry TSA agent. After all, checkpoint clearance is always subject to the discretion of individual TSA agents, and the TSA’s lists of approved items are not set in stone.

Those of you struggling with similar questions should take a look at the TSA Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers page, which has a list of foods that can be taken on a plane. Or you can post your travel questions or comments below — we’ll be happy to answer!

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5 Responses to “Dear Mom, Thank You for the 3-Ounce Container of Mashed Potatoes”

  1. SeaMarmot says:

    3.4 ounces sounds like a portion size, no? Three ounces of pate would be plenty. On another note, it’s interesting to see how the TSA’s liquid rules have transcended airport security. I was in the port security line to board a cruise ship, and there was an enormous pile of medium-sized water and toiletry bottles (perfume, shampoo) by the x-ray machine. The 3.4-ounce liquid policy didn’t apply here, but people were still unburdening themselves out of habit … I asked the security guy about it and he just smiled and shrugged. He made off with quite a haul.

  2. ACruiseGuy says:

    @SeaMarmot: Bet you my last dollar those bottles were full of alcohol!

  3. bob85446 says:

    Save yourself a lot of greif. Ship the goodies Fedex, next day delivery.
    Do you want those TSA people sticking there finger in you sons dinner. They will probably tell you that you cannot take it on the flight, AND then eat it later.

  4. davenycity says:

    great blog thank you

  5. Ian says:

    When it comes to airport security, never assume anything.

    There is no reason why explosives couldn’t be hidden in stuffing or mashed potatoes.

    Security staff have the right to pretty much confiscate anything that they suspect.

    Whether they have the right to eat it is another issue.

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