Bringing food on a plane is hit or miss.
The TSA has specific guidelines, allowing you to carry solid foods in your hand luggage and other foods in your checked bag, but the problems come with how they’re packaged.
Depending on what you use to wrap your food in, you may be subject to additional screening if TSA agents are concerned about the items.
TSA allows you to bring things wrapped in aluminum foil in your carry-on or checked bag. As long as the airline permits the items aboard the plane, you likely have nothing to worry about.
If you’re unsure about something you want to bring, the TSA encourages passengers to send questions to AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or Twitter.
Can Airport X-Rays See Through Aluminum Foil?
Yes, the x-rays at the airport can see through aluminum foil.
There are many contradictory statements about whether or not x-rays see through aluminum, so it’s worth pointing out where the issue lies.
X-rays can penetrate aluminum foil, but the metal can slow down or even bend the radiation.
That doesn’t mean you’ll get away with wrapping an illegal item in foil.
It means x-rays can only produce visible images if the amount of radiation is sufficient, and in airport x-ray machines, there is definitely enough radiation.
Otherwise, the TSA would prohibit the use of aluminum.
Identifying items packaged in aluminum foil becomes a problem if using a metal detector, but even then, modern detectors have settings that can account for this metal.
Should I Fly With Food Wrapped in Aluminum Foil?
It’s one thing to wonder whether airlines allow aluminum foil, but whether it’s the best way to package your food is another story.
There’s no right or wrong answer, but aluminum foil isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how to wrap my snacks.
I would probably advise against it because your food will appear as a dark blob on the x-ray, and security will pull your bag aside and make you unwrap it.
It’s super inconvenient and time-consuming to be asked to stand aside and unpack your bag for snacks.
There are various other ways to package your food while traveling, and one of my favorites is clear plastic zip-top bags.
They’re cheap and well-suited for dried fruits and foods with little to no moisture, including sandwiches.
If your food holds a lot of moisture, clear plastic containers are the way to go. They’re budget-friendly and usually leak-proof, so they allow you to carry most types of food.
Just remember, the TSA doesn’t allow liquids or gels larger than 3.4 oz (100mL) in your carry-on, and this includes food, so don’t think you can bring a tub of soup with you on your flight.
Any food that doesn’t conform to the rules will be confiscated, so be clever about the snacks you bring.
Aluminum foil has its place in food packaging as it’s impervious to moisture and is an overall safe way to wrap your food. It has its drawbacks (but so does everything), so ultimately, it’s up to you how you want to package your snacks.
Can I Carry Canned Beer?
If you’re on vacation and have discovered a new brew you can’t live without, the good news is you can bring canned beer on your flight.
There are some limitations to this, and even though beer cans are made from aluminum, you cannot bring your new favorite six-pack through security because of the restrictions on liquids and gels.
Generally speaking, the TSA allows bottles (and cans) of alcohol to be packed in your checked luggage, but there are specific guidelines on what’s allowed.
Passengers are permitted to pack up to 1.3 gallons (5L) of liquor between 24% and 70% ABV (48 and 140 proof).
Bottles (or cans) must also be unopened and in retail packaging.
The alcohol content of beer is nowhere near 24% ABV, so the main thing you have to worry about is ensuring your cans don’t get crushed or punctured in transit.
Most breweries have strict measures that ensure the cans are well-sealed and prevent the loss of carbonation, but you can take it a step further by using a hardshell suitcase and placing them inside a plastic bag.
If you end up buying your alcohol at the airport duty-free, remember that you can’t drink it on the plane.
When Do Airports Prohibit Aluminum Foil?
Airports prohibit aluminum foil when you shape the item into a weapon.
Foil is pliable, meaning you can bend and shape it into all sorts of objects.
A knife and gun are examples of this, and while they might seem harmless at face value, they are replicas of actual harmful objects, and the TSA doesn’t play in such situations.
It all comes down to why one might mold aluminum foil into these shapes in the first place.
To avoid unnecessary issues at security, I suggest using the foil appropriately.
Aluminum foil is allowed on planes under most circumstances – it just depends on the type of food you want to wrap in it.
The TSA has specific guidelines, but sometimes it’s difficult to know if certain food items are solid or liquid.
You’re encouraged to familiarize yourself with the guidelines or check with them directly to avoid any problems at security.