What Food NOT to Bring on a Flight

Food on flights

I am not me when I am hungry. I turn into a grumpy monster. It’s surprising how much calories and a swig of water can affect my mood. Getting on a plane and realizing no way to curb hunger is terrible. The seats are cramped, a baby is crying a few rows back, and you are too hot. Flying is uncomfortable; the least you can do to make the time go faster if you have the right snacks. There are no gas stations in the sky. It can take a while before you eat anything on a long flight. If you need help deciding what food to bring on flights, here are the TSA- approved food to have on your next flight.


 I am just as caffeine-addicted as the rest of America; if I get coffee, I try to finish it before the flight. On one flight, I was flying back to Chicago from Arizona and got an iced coffee from Starbucks before boarding. I got on the plane with no problems and took my seat. After a few minutes, I open my tray table and start reading. My boyfriend, Kerwin, sat beside me and reached down to pull his laptop from his backpack. When he did that, he bumped my iced coffee, and the next thing I knew, my white Nike sweatsuit turned a caramel brown. Now, I try to drink coffee beforehand or fall asleep on my flight. 


Spilling liquids on a plane is a mess; not only that, TSA is strict about what juices and how much you can bring through security. They allow for each passenger to bring liquids no larger than 3.4 oz. Even if your liquid snack makes it through security, risking it spilling through your bag isn’t worth it. It could get thrown around while going through security, and your bag has a layer of applesauce at the bottom. Play it safe and stick with solid foods. 

Fresh Produce 

I was returning from Aruba and forgot I accidentally had a leftover orange in my bag. While it was a simple mistake, TSA didn’t see it that way. We had to go through an extra long line because of it. TSA doesn’t allow fresh fruits and vegetables through security. Just eat the orange before going through security, and you will be fine. 

Granola Bars 

Be kind to the cleaning crew and leave the nature valley bars for the hiking trails. While a great snack, granola bars are too messy for airplanes. They are crumbly. You will end up with crumbs all over yourself and the seat and floor beneath you. Avoid messy foods on flights altogether.

Fragrant Foods (eggs, fish) 

You don’t want to be that person. Flights are already uncomfortable. You’re cramped in a tiny seat, too close to someone you know, and a baby is crying a few rows up. Flying is uncomfortable, and the last thing anyone wants on top of all that is to smell stinky food. 


One jolt of turbulence, and the yogurt is in your lap. If you pack a yogurt in your bag it could spill or sour if you forget about it. Not to mention I try to avoid anything that could spoil overnight.

Peanut Butter 

In college, I packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a trip. When I met my boyfriend, I realized how problematic it can be to bring one on a flight. He is allergic to peanut butter and could flare up if the person next to him is eating peanut butter. While you can’t know every allergy other passengers have, peanut butter is typical. It would be safer to skip using skippy for your flight. 

Soup or Salad 

This should be a given. Soup and salad should not be on the list of what food to bring on flights, but I was really in the mood for the broccoli cheddar soup at Panera once. All was going well. I had the soup in a secured to-go container. After the plane had taken off, I opened up the soup and could eat most of it, but the plane took a sudden dip, and I had a spoonful of broccoli cheddar on my chin and lap. 

Food to Bring on a Flight

You don’t have to miss out on eating and drinking altogether. While there are a few foods I recommend avoiding, here are a few foods I recommend instead. 

Protein Bars 

Protein bars are a great food to bring on flights. They will keep you energized and complete while on a flight, especially if you don’t have time to eat a full meal. 

food on flights- protein bars

Chewing Gum

When flying thousands of feet in the air, the rapid elevation change creates pressure you can feel in your ears. We call it when your ears pop. Chewing gum can help alleviate the uncomfortable feeling. 

food on flights

Dried Fruit & Trail Mix 

Dried fruit is a great snack to keep you full because a small amount can be high in calories. If you weren’t able to grab a full meal before boarding trail mix is a great snack to have on hand. 

Pretzels & Crackers

I like to bring comfort food on a long flight; my favorite is cheese-its. Pretzels and crackers are some of my go-to snacks on an airplane. If you are lucky, a few airlines are on the same page as me and serve pretzels on a flight. Or, if you are fortunate, Delta will serve those biscotti cookies. Just be sure to bring them with you. If you buy them at the airport, you will pay three times as much for them. 


Twistlers, sour patch kids, and Welches gummies are a few of my favorite candies to bring on a flight. Avoid bringing chocolate because if it melts a little, it can leave a brown smear on your bags and clothes. 

Water, Water, Water

The air on airplanes is controlled and is typically at a humidity level. Lower humidity can lead to quicker dehydration, so drink water on your flight. Now, before you pack water bottles in your carry-on, you still can’t bring water through security. I always bring an empty water bottle and fill it up once I get through security. 

Traveling is complicated, but knowing what food to bring on flights can make the trip more comfortable. 

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