Tamales is a delicacy, and many love to keep these in stock as homemade tamales are much better than commercial varieties. However, you could be surprised to find you face restrictions when taking this food onto a plane, as the TSA officer states (Transportation Security Administration).
It isn’t just how much food you wish to take yet the type of food items you wish to take on board. Besides this, as foods pass through the X-Ray machine, they could appear to be something else.
Should you wish to take any agricultural products or foods, from Mexico, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands to the USA, with you on your trip to the mainland, you’ll need to know the full extent of what you can carry and how you can do this back into the country.
The TSA website is an excellent place to start, although a little extra help won’t hurt. In our guide, you can learn more about whether can you take tamales on a plane. By the end, you’ll see certain foods, such as tamales, fall into different categories, so they need consideration before airlines such as Southwest Airlines accept them as hand luggage rather than with checked bags or vice versa. (Read Can You Dip On A Plane)
Can I Bring Tamales On A Plane?
There are many factors to consider for eating and carrying your own food while flying. Do you need to know the rules of bringing food through security into the country? While you think of the food you can eat on the trip, what about food that has to be frozen or kept cold?
The answer to whether you can bring completely frozen tamales on a plane is yes!
However, there are a few things to remember.
- First, since frozen tamales are regarded as a liquid or gel, the 3-1-1 Rule applies to them.
- Each tamale is packed into a container that holds only 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters), and all your containers fit into a single 1-quart plastic bag.
- Second, frozen tamales have to stay frozen throughout the flight.
- To ensure this, you’ll have to pack them in a cooler with ice packs, and also, the cooler or other container needs to fit underneath the seat in front of you.
- Be aware that airport security may wish to check inside your cooler and look inside. While this is standard procedure, it means your tamales could thaw a little during the inspection.
- You can find you can take frozen food in your luggage in checked and carry-on bags. However, any thawed food in the airport isn’t subject to carry-on luggage restrictions.
- You’ll see that ice keeps frozen foods fresh once it is packed inside five pounds of ice.
- Instead of ice, you can use ice packs, yet these need to have all the ice completely frozen.
- Much of this is for international flights, and on domestic, you are free to bring frozen food in a carry-on bag and spill-proof container without significant restrictions.
Can I Take Tamales In My Checked Bag?
The Transportation Security Administration advises packing the tamales in checked bags to keep them frozen. They may occasionally fit in carry-on luggage. However, a new regulation requires a closer examination of partially melted frozen foods.
Tamales are frequently permitted as food when flying. However, customs officials have the discretion to accept or reject any items for the plane. Food is also included, in addition to cooked food. As long as it is not tampered with at security, cooked food can be checked in.
Ice or ice packs in a cooler or another container must be completely frozen before they can be screened. Certain foods, such as Pork tamales, may not be available inside the U.S., so that you can import a small amount of them from Mexico. (Read Can You Bring Nail Glue On A Plane)
Can I Bring Frozen Food On A Plane?
Yes, frozen food is allowed in carry-on bags and by the TSA in carry-on and checked bags. You should pack frozen food in a cooler or insulated bag to keep it cold during the flight.
However, if you travel internationally, additional restrictions may apply. For example, liquids, gels, and aerosols are subject to the 3-1-1 Rule. When going through airport security, ice packs should be covered. The TSA limits dry ice to 5.5 pounds and requires proper packaging before going on any airline.
Packaged refrigerated or frozen food and drinks can be brought through security in carry-on and checked bags. Ice packs are classed as foods, and before being screened, liquids must be packaged separately and frozen.
How To Travel With Frozen Food
One way to transport frozen food is to wrap it in a newspaper. Then, you place it in sealable bags or containers to prevent leaking. Before adding other frozen items, place frozen meat at the bottom of the cooler.
Frozen foods defrost quickly if air pockets surround them. Place the food in a tightly packed container to avoid freezer burn. Frozen items wrapped in aluminum foil could face further screening as it could be hard for the x-ray to read the checked baggage.
Can I Bring Tamales From Mexico?
Yes, you can bring tamales filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables from Mexico, yet they must be declared at customs and inspected by the USDA.
Can You Travel With Pasteles?
Because of Puerto Rico’s heat, frozen pasteles can become not-so-frozen. So under new guidelines, TSA will take food containers with liquid for secondary screening. Given that partially melted food is prevalent in warm countries, the TSA gave airports and airlines additional notice about the new policy regarding frozen meat and perishable items.
It turns out that many travelers bring frozen pasteles with them in a carry-on bag, and by the time the plane takes off, these frozen pasteles have thawed out somewhat into not-so-frozen pasteles. The container will be pulled aside for additional screening under the new regulations if TSA scanners detect liquids inside the food container.
The item can be transported after agents confirm it is food. The TSA attempts to inform travelers about the new program because it knows that nobody wants agents looking through their food.
Once agents clear the item to be consumed, it can be transported. For example, fresh fruits and vegetables, plants and flowers, and pork and pork products can enter the U.S. following the above screening.
Can I Bring Frozen Food In Checked Luggage
You can bring frozen food in checked luggage. However, back it in an insulated bag or container to prevent thawing during transit. Meat, seafood, vegetables, or non-liquid food items can be in carry-on and checked bags.
To transport food that has been packed with ice or ice packs in a cooler or another container, the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen during screening. Security personnel will not permit you to transport partially melted ice or ice packs that have liquid at the bottom of the container, in much the same way the rules forbid you from carrying a drink through security.
Officers of the TSA decide which items may enter secure areas of airports. Talk to a TSA officer if you’re unsure if your food is properly packaged or if you have questions. Since these are solid food items, there is no limit on how much of these you can bring through TSA security. You can bring as much as you want.
You must check that the combined dimensions of your carry-on bag and your item do not exceed the maximum dimensions specified by the airline you are flying with. Remember, to pass these items through security; you will need to ensure that they are appropriately packaged in a cooler or another container.
On airplanes, passengers are allowed to consume sandwiches. When we start talking about food items that aren’t solid, things get a little bit more complicated because the TSA’s Rule for liquids may also apply to your food. (Read 11 Fun Things To Do In Bangkok)
TSA Liquids 3-1-1 Rule
According to the TSA’s Liquids 3-1-1 Rule, you are only permitted to carry on liquids in containers that are only 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) in capacity, and all of your liquid containers must be able to fit “comfortably” into one clear bag that is a quart in size.
This quickly means the bag will close without bursting at the seams, even after being stretched. Unless you have TSA Pre-Check, a great program that allows you to get through airport security much more quickly, you will be required to remove this bag from your luggage and take it while you are screening.
The 3.4-ounce limit applies to most non-solid food items because they are classified as liquids and, therefore, fall under this category. The following is a list of food items that may be subject to the liquids rule. This list is not exhaustive.
- Liquid chocolate
- Creamy dips and spreads
- Mashed fruits such as applesauce
- Jam and jelly
- Maple syrup
- Oils and vinegars
- Peanut butter
- Wet pet food
- Salad dressing
- Salsa and sauces
Anything you can pour, pump, scoop, smear, squeeze, slurp, or mash will be considered as a liquid for TSA purposes. Therefore, you may bring any of the items above, provided that they are in 3.4-ounce containers.
And remember that, rather than the amount of food inside, the container’s size must be 3.4 ounces. Therefore, you cannot, for example, bring 3.4 ounces of honey in a 5-ounce jar. To the TSA, peanut butter is a liquid.
When discussing solid foods with liquid-like substances on or inside, things become a little less clear. Would pancakes be allowed but not syrup, for example, if you were trying to enter with a stack of pancakes drenched in maple syrup? (Read What Is The Currency In St Thomas Virgin Island)
At security checkpoints, TSA agents have discretion, so you never really know how they might handle types of in-between foods. However, the TSA has previously given us some guidance that suggests you can probably bring food that mixes solids and liquids if they are primarily solid.
Look at this tweet, where they confirmed cupcakes would be allowed in any number and size—although frosting is considered a liquid.