Can You Bring Snacks on a Plane?

If you’re about to take a flight, it is not surprising that you may want to bring snacks with you to keep you going through the journey. So, you might be wondering if it is just ok for you to bring snacks on a plane in your carry on.

The answer isn’t quite as simple, as the word snack obviously covers a huge amount of different goods, and the rules differ depending on whether your snacks are dry, wet, a paste, fresh food ingredients like vegetables or something in-between.

Generally, you are not limited to the snacks you can bring if they are dried – so things like potato chips, nuts, cereal bars, candy cakes and snack bars are all fine. You should also be fine with cut vegetables and crudites and other hard fruits, for example. If you decide to bring something that is a liquid, or paste such as a dip, humous etc., this will be counted within your carry-on liquid allowance, will need to be under 100ml and fit into your liquids bag.

Below, we’ve outlined country to country if there are any specific rules you need to be aware of when taking snacks on a plane.

can you bring snacks on a plane

Why Wouldn’t You Be Allowed to Take Snacks in Carry-On Luggage?

One of the main reasons you wouldn’t be allowed to take snacks on a plane is because the word ‘snacks’ covers such a wide range of food items you could bring.

It’s a liquid and doesn’t fit within your allowance. Many people don’t realize that if your snack is a paste, or liquid, it will fall under your liquids allowance. Things like hummus, salsa, cream cheese and other such items all fall within this. If you bring a snack and it is not under 100ml, then you will not be able to bring it with you in carry-on. If your snack that falls into this category also doesn’t fit into your liquids bag, you will not be able to bring it either. So, any snack you bring, you should make sure it easily fits both of these criteria.  

It could leak or rupture. This is especially important where things like fruits are concerned. Indeed, there are rules around bringing snacks like fruit and vegetables on board, which you can find out more about in our linked to fruits article here. If this is the case, you’re better of traveling with hard fruits, such as apples.

It isn’t sealed. Some security officers will not let you bring snacks that have an opened bag. This can include things like chips, nuts etc. This isn’t always practiced, but it is best to make sure any bag of snacks you bring is correctly sealed to avoid having them taken away from you at the airport.

So, Can I Bring Snacks on a Plane as Carry-On Luggage?

The answer to this question is generally yes, and the limits are more on liquids, pastes and similar items brought as snacks as opposed to dried snacks like chips and nuts for example. However, this can vary from country to country and below we’ve outlined how these rules apply around the world.

USA – What Does the TSA Say About Snacks?

Snacks are generally considered ok to carry by the TSA and can be carried in both carry-on baggage and also checked bags too. This is applied to solid food items, and any liquids or pastes that are with your carry-on baggage must fit within 100ml and will need to be contained in your liquids bag.

You may need to take any food items or snacks out of your carry-on bag to be scanned separately. This is to avoid any problems with the x-ray scanner being able to read what you are bringing with you.

https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/items/snacks

The UK – What Are the UK Government’s Regulations Concerning Snacks in Hand Luggage?

Solid food items are OK to bring in your hand luggage in the UK, and the gov.uk website says that this is perfectly acceptable. So, anything like crisps, nuts, sandwiches, cakes, snack bars etc. are all fine.

The only rules are around liquids and pastes which must be within 100ml and fit within your single liquids bag to be allowed through security.

https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions

Europe – What Are the EU’s Guidelines Regarding Snacks?

It is possible to bring solid food and snacks on a plane when leaving from the EU, provided it fits within your hand luggage. The only real restrictions are if what you’re wanting to bring is not solid – and if this is the case, it will need to fit within your 100ml liquids allowance and within your 20x20cm liquids bag which contains the rest of your toiletries.

https://transport.ec.europa.eu/transport-modes/air/aviation-security/information-air-travellers_en

Australia – Does the ABF Have Laws About Snacks?

According to the ABF, there are some limits to the kind of snacks you can bring with you on a flight. Generally, things like sandwiches (which must be wrapped up or sealed in a box), fruits and salads, chips, cookies, snack bars and chocolates are fine to take as carry-on. Anything considered a paste or liquid needs to be within a 100ml container and fit within your allowed liquids bag.

You are however not allowed to bring items such as spreads like peanut butter or jam, sauces, dressings or salsa, or soup as some examples. As the rules aren’t quite so simple, it is a good idea to check your specific snack before traveling.

Canada – What Does the CBSA Say About Snacks?

The CBSA of Canada specifically list many different categories or types of snacks within their website with information about any restrictions. Generally, when leaving Canada, you are able to bring most types of snacks in your hand luggage. The only restrictions are on pastes and liquids, which do need to fit within your 100ml and one liquids bag allowance.

https://www.catsa-acsta.gc.ca/en/search/site?search_api_fulltext=snacks&op=Submit&page=0

The Rest of the World

Generally, as you will have seen above, the most observed rule for whether you can take snacks on a plane is related to if the snack is solid or classed as a liquid or paste. There are only a few exceptions to this rule, mainly in Australia for example. How this applies to the rest of the world can be taken similarly, but it is always a good idea to check with your specific country of departure to see what the rules are and if there is anything you need to be aware of.

can you take a snack in your carry on

What’s the Best Advice for Travelling on a Plane with Snacks?

If you want to bring a snack with you for your flight, one of the main areas that comes up time and time again is the restrictions around liquids and pastes. As anything classed as a liquid or paste needs to fit into 100ml and within your 20x20cm plastic bag, you will need to think carefully about the snacks you bring with you.

You are generally ok to bring hard snacks with you, and you are more likely to be allowed through security if this is still sealed. For example, you will be more likely allowed to bring a bag of potato chips if they are not already open.

If you are not sure if the snack you want to bring is allowed, it is generally a good idea to check with your airline or more in depth with your country of departure.

Avoid taking anything that has a strong odor as a snack – and you will likely find that things like durian or even boiled eggs and fish will likely be prohibited by airport staff due to the discomfort they could cause other passengers.

What Happens If Your Snacks Is Flagged by Airport Security?

The main reason your snacks are likely to be flagged by security for further inspection is if they are not recognized by the x-ray scanner and needs to be looked at manually. You should remain as calm as possible, and this will hopefully speed up the process.

You will likely be advised when putting your items through to be scanned what needs to be taken out of your bag and placed in a separate tray. This will often include food items so that they can be scanned separately and avoid any delays. If you haven’t done this, it may be that this causes your bag to be checked in greater detail.

If you are held aside to have your bags inspected, remember that the security officer is just trying to do their job and to keep you and other passengers safe. So, it is important to remain friendly and answer any questions they may have to help you get on your way as quickly as possible.

It is important to remember that the security officer looking over your belongings decision is final and there is no point arguing with them if they decide ultimately not to let you travel with your snacks in your carry-on luggage.

How to Pack Snacks in Your Luggage

There are some general good practices you should adopt to be able to travel with snacks in your luggage, whether in your carry-on or your checked bags. Following these should hopefully help avoid any problems at the airport.

Packing Snacks in Carry-On Luggage

As there are some restrictions around liquids, gels and pastes in regards to carry-on luggage, you should try to avoid taking items that fall into this category as snacks where at all possible as they are more likely to be subject to further inspections or not allowed at all.

If you do, these will need to fit into a 100ml container and also within your 20x20cm plastic bag, which is limited to one per passenger on most airlines and in most airports around the world. You should always check that your liquid snacks fit into your liquids bag before traveling and you will need to make sure you can close this too.

For hard and dried snacks, it is a good idea to make sure any packages have not been opened and are sealed well to prevent any spillage. You should also check that the specific snack you want to bring is not listed as a prohibited item before travel and to avoid any disappointment at the airport.

Packing Snacks in Hold Luggage

You are less limited in terms of size when it comes to the kind of snacks you can take in your hold luggage – especially so when looking at snacks that might be a liquid – anything like oils, salsas or pastes can go in at any size. The main thing you will need to be aware of here is making sure they are well packaged and sealed to avoid any spillages that might damage the rest of your personal items whilst traveling.

You should check that anything like fruit snacks, vegetables or specific items that may be considered unusual or exotic are allowed to be brought into the country. There are quite a lot of rules surrounding certain fruits and vegetables or meat and dairy that would need to be declared depending on where it has come from. With this in mind, you will need to check directly with your country of departure and arrival to make sure you don’t need to declare what you are planning to bring.

Conclusion

It is generally considered ok to bring snacks on a plane with you provided they are hard or dried snacks. This seems to be the rule that is followed over most of the world and made even easier if the dried snack you plan to bring is sealed, such as an unopened bag of potato chips. There are only certain countries where there are more restrictions around hard or dried foods, such as Australia.

Things get a little more complicated when it comes to pastes, liquids and fruit and vegetables, which there can be more restrictions on as liquids do need to fit within the 100ml/20x20cm plastic liquids bag rule. So, something like humus and vegetable crudites might not be the best snacks to bring.

Generally, you’re best bringing an unopened dry snack with you on a plane if you want to clear security with no problem. But, due to the fact that ‘snack’ is a fairly broad term, it is best to check the exact snack you want to bring before travel, just be on the safe side.