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The TSA Kindly Requests You Keep Jars Of Gravy Off The Plane This Thanksgiving

As a former newspaper journalist, I've spent my fair time covering media events put on by low-level government agencies. These productions are innocuous affairs ("Flinty the fire department guinea pig sez change your smoke detectors!") but they're also usually not particularly newsworthy. It was something the summer intern got sent out to cover.

Wednesday was TSA show-and-tell at the Westchester (New York) County Airport, and the Rockland/Westchester Journal News was on the case. But this media event was particularly relevant to our Takeout interests, because it was about the prepared foods people bring on airplanes during Thanksgiving season.

Travelers bring all kinds of food with during the holidays, some more inexplicable than others—including uncooked turkeys, crunchy onion toppings, and gravy (this better be damn delicious gravy if you're bringing it on board). As the Journal News informed us, the TSA policy is: "If you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it, or pour it," it goes in your checked bag. And when it comes to carry-on food:

You should pack carry-on food items in spill-proof containers and wrap them as best as you can, again using plastic bags within your bag. [The TSA spokeswoman said] agents won't open your packaged food but will instead use a wand around it for testing.

The Takeout staffers are experienced travelers during the holidays, and we have some advice to offer:

  1. TSA Pre-Check is the best $85 I've spent all year. You don't take off your shoes, no laptop removal necessary, the lines breeze by (I've never waited for more than three minutes), and it's effective for five years. I travel a lot for work, so maybe your company too would cover the expenses.
  2. Get yourself some vacuum-sealed bags. They've gotten much cheaper over the years. The ones I use don't even require a plug-in vacuum, but a hand-pump, and you can get a whole set for like $20 on Amazon. I use these for cooking sous vide in my immersion circulator, too.
  3. Obvious point, but if you can buy it at your final destination, don't bring box stuffing mix or fried onion toppings on the plane. It's just something extra for TSA to wand-screen. Do your part and make the airport experience less of a pain, pretty please?
  4. The @AskTSA Twitter account is just someone from the department standing by and answering your questions seven days a week.