TSAPizza

Can You Take Pizza on a Plane? The TSA Says, “#PieCanFly”

By Arthur Bovino
March 7, 2018

No hot dogs, no hamburgers, no tacos. No bagels, barbecue, fried chicken. None of those foods are currently listed on the Transportation Security Administration’s list of vital vittles approved to go through airport security. That’s not to say that burgers and the like aren’t allowed, but they aren’t officially sanctioned foods. List or not, ultimately, “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.” But it can only help to be on the official list. So good news cheese and crust lovers asking the question, “Can you take pizza on a plane,” according to the TSA’s National Press Secretary Matt Leas, “The TSA is pro pizza.”

If you’re curious about other foods you can take on board, include the following: baby food; formula; bread; candy; canned food; cereal; solid cheese; chocolate; coffee beans; cookies; crackers; dried fruits; fresh eggs; cooked and fresh meat, seafood, and vegetables; whole fruits and berries; nuts; pies; sandwiches, and spices.

If the amount is less than 3.4 oz (0.42 cups), the TSA’s list includes: creamy cheese, liquid chocolate, creamy dips and spreads, gravy, honey, hummus, jam and jelly, juices, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, peanut butter, salad dressings, salsa and sauces, soups, and yogurt.

Mini bottles of alcohol (containing more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol) are also allowed but are limited in checked bags to 1.3 gallons (5 liters) per passenger. According to FAA regulation 49 CFR 175.10(a)(4), you can also take them in carry-on but they have to be unopened and they “must be able to comfortably fit into a single quart-sized bag.” That’s something that could save those you like to take the edge off a few bucks, but you might want to either memorize or print out the regulation (and again, remember, TSA discretion).

Ice cream is allowed in checked bags but not in carry-on, and live lobsters are allowed in checked bags but you need to check with your airline about carry-on. If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you can pack a certain item, the TSA encourages you to “snap a picture and tweet it to @AskTSA or send it via Facebook Messenger.” They say that their our team will respond “promptly with an answer.”

According to the TSA’s National Press Secretary Matt Leas, “The TSA is pro pizza.”

But back to what’s important. The TSA seems to have had an affinity for pizza going back at least to 2010 when they were advertising job openings at the agency on pizza boxes in the Washington metropolitan area. And as you can see on the TSA’s “What Can I Bring” pizza page and Instagram account (@TSA), whether it’s a slice or a whole pie, pizza is permitted as a carry-on item. “Carryout is now carry-on.”


People have been trying to get pies through security for years, but according to Bob Burns, Social Media Lead, and Public Affairs Specialist for the TSA’s Office of Public Affairs, pizza was added to the official list in April 2017. And search results for the page have been increasing ever since. “That list is formulated from things that people have asked us about,” Mr. Leas added. “People are concerned about their pizza, which, you know, makes perfect sense to me.”

Amen, Matt! But how and why did pizza make the list?

“About a year or so ago, someone sent us a picture of a pizza going through the X-ray, saying, ‘It’s just crucial that I could bring my pizza,’ so I shared that with our audience and I said, ‘This is Christmas. Bring your pizza. Your pie can fly,'” Mr. Burns explained. “It blew people’s minds. They had no idea that they could bring pizza or other solid foods on the plane.”

Mr. Burns speculates that some people who ask about pizza aren’t planning on taking it onboard, but are likely bringing it from nearby to avoid high food costs at airport food courts. But he also suggested pizza nostalgia plays a key role.

“Everyone has their favorite brands when they go back home, and a lot of times they want to bring them home with them or take it to the gate for a snack before they leave,” Mr. Burns said. “You know, every town has its two or three staple pizza joints that everyone just loves when they go back home. So that’s usually what the questions are about.”

Okay, but are there any caveats? Can pizza savers, those three-pronged plastic stands that prevent the box from sagging into the cheese as it steams, make it through security? According to Bob, “Those are fine.”

And do they have any recommendations for how best to transport pizza? For the record, Al Santillo of Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza in Elizabeth, N.J. suggests wrapping individual slices in wax paper, then plastic wrap, then stacking slices in tied-up plastic bags.

“Everyone has their favorite brands when they go back home, and a lot of times they want to bring them home with them or take it to the gate for a snack before they leave,” Mr. Burns said. “You know, every town has its two or three staple pizza joints that everyone just loves when they go back home. So that’s usually what the questions are about.”

“For your own hygienic reasons, you probably would want to have it in something, and not just try to bring a slice,” Bob said, laughing. “It could come through in the box. It could come through in plastic, plasticware, it could be wrapped in cellophane. However you prefer to pack it.”

How about styles? Are any more difficult to get through than others? Deep dish has to have at least a cup of tomato sauce on top of it, and is melted cheese is creamy cheese, well, there’s at least a cup of that too. Some comments on Instagram indicate there’s a good chance that despite official TSA rules, you run the risk of a TSA officer making what will probably feel like an arbitrary contradictory decision.

Yet more proof from travelers that your pie can fly. #PieCanFly- This is a screenshot of a tweet sent to the @AskTSA account on Twitter. Have you ever wondered whether or not you can pack a certain item? Fret no more! Now you can simply snap a picture and tweet it to @AskTSA or send it via Facebook Messenger and our team will get back to you promptly with an answer. If you’re a regular follower of this account, I’m sure you can think of many situations where it would have behooved somebody to send us a picture first. And that’s not all. Contact us about any TSA related issue or question you might have. We can even help you with TSA Pre✓® issues. We look forward to answering your questions, 8am-10pm ET weekdays; 9am-7pm weekends/holidays. #AskTSA #TSATravelTips

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) for its part, was an airport documented by the TSA’s feed showing pizza making it through security. But Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) was singled out as an airport with a reputation for making passengers throw out their pizza at the security checkpoint. “They said, ‘No food, no exceptions,” cmishmom noted, bemoaning the pie her husband was trying to bring her from Regina Pizzeria. And while a deep-dish pizza is featured on Instagram going through security in front of local Chicago hot dog chain Gold Coast Dogs, commenter staycee915 bemoaned a similar experience, “No fair, I had pizza taken away at Chicago Midway airport. It’s not liquid!”

What could that discretion be left to? What are the determining factors?

“Pineapples are pretty controversial,” Bob noted. “It’s a pretty controversial subject on the internet. So I don’t know, that might cause an argument at the checkpoint with somebody. I can’t speak on behalf of the agency on that, but personally, I’m pro pineapple.”

It couldn’t hurt to tee up the link on your phone for the specific food you hope to bring. For the record, the officers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) didn’t blink last year at individually plastic-wrapped slices from Deniro’s Pizzeria going through the X-ray en route to New York City. Officially though, Mr. Leas and Mr. Burns said the TSA doesn’t discriminate by regional style. When they say #PieCanFly, they mean all kinds of pizza. And the TSA declines to endorse any one style over another.

“I’m from Chicago,” Matt Leas explained, “so, I think you know where I come down on that. From an agency perspective, I can’t endorse a particular city or region as far as the best pizza. But I think we all know who makes it.”

— 🍕🤠

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *