Yes, you can bring your turkey in carry-on. 5 TSA tips for Thanksgiving travelers

Travelers wait in a TSA Pre-Check line at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Wednesday. There's a new online tool to help Pre-Check members find expedited lines.
(Alex Wong / Getty Images)

The Thanksgiving travel period is on, and it will be the busiest ever nationwide. Los Angeles International Airport is expecting 2.3 million passengers this year, roughly 8% more fliers than in 2015.

The best way passengers can avoid a bottleneck at airport screening lines is to be prepared — even if you think your already know the rules.

For the record:

10:32 p.m. May 11, 2019An earlier version of this story incorrectly said travelers could not bring e-cigarettes and vaping devices on board aircraft. Travelers cannot pack them in checked luggage, but may bring them in carry-on.

Here are some tips to keep in mind courtesy of the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees all U.S. airport screening.


1. Flying with Thanksgiving dinner

If you’re the cook and you’re bringing the turkey (cooked or frozen), you can pack it in your carry-on or in your checked luggage. However, the TSA’s online tips adds: “If you have a live turkey, you’ll need to contact your airline about their guidelines and possible restrictions.” Point taken.

Gravy is a no-no, (violates the 3.4-ounce rule) but cakes, pies, bread, donuts, fruits and vegetables are allowed on the plane. Use the TSA’s online search tool called “Can I Bring ” to check on specific items.

2. BYOB? Not so fast

You can pack beer and wine (carefully!) in your checked luggage, but even if it’s a gift you can’t take it on board the plane. For those who want to bring 3.4 ounces or less of their favorite booze, fogettaboutit. You won’t be allowed to drink it on board.

“No person may drink any alcoholic beverage aboard an aircraft unless the certificate holder operating the aircraft has served that beverage,” a Federal Aviation Authority rule says.

Let’s face it: Sooner or later, you’ll have trouble if you’re flying at the holidays. Here’s how to cope »

3. New Pre-Check online tool

If you are a vetted traveler enrolled in the TSA’s Pre-Check program, you may use dedicated lines meant to speed your way through screening. The TSA has rolled out a new online tool for Pre-Check members to find out where they can find expedited lanes in the nation’s larger airports.


If you’re enrolled in Pre-Check but your airline ticket doesn’t indicate it, you can get immediate help by tweeting @AskTSA or send a note on Facebook Messenger.

4. Don’t pack vaping devices in your checked luggage

You know you can’t vape on board any aircraft, but you may not know that you can’t pack any e-cigarettes or vaping devices in checked luggage. It’s because the lithium battery inside poses the risk of catching fire. You may, however, carry them on board the plane.

5. Kids, keep your shoes on

Young children get a break in the screening process. Kids 12 and younger can keep their shoes on when they pass through airport security. Find more tips about how kids’ items are screened at the TSA’s Traveling With Children website.

Go to the Let’s Talk Turkey blog post from TSA for more tips on flying over the holidays.


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