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Can you bring food on a plane? Your guide to bringing food and drink through airport security

Written by Travel Adventures

There is a seemingly endless list of things to remember before you take a flight. When packing, you’ll need to ensure you have the right clothes, enough toiletries, medication, and relevant documents, for example. For hand luggage, the best practice is often to pack in case of delay or cancellations – meaning a spare change of clothes, extra power banks, and snacks (which also can come in handy on long-haul flights when the peanuts just won’t cut it). But can you bring food on a plane? If so, how much? What kind? Do the rules vary per airline or flight? We spoke to a Heathrow spokesperson to find out.

Can I take food in my hand luggage?

In a word, yes – but it’s not best practice. Heathrow says that while it is allowed “to make journeys as smooth as possible through airport security, we’d recommend packing food into hold baggage. Food items can obstruct images on the x-ray machine, or may be mistaken for suspicious items – so putting them in the hold will help reduce the need for additional checks and minimise delays at security.”

Can I take baby food through airport security?

Travelling can be an overwhelming experience at the best of times, but it can be particularly stressful for new parents. “When travelling with an infant, you’re allowed to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilised water for the journey – and the 100ml rule does not apply,” a Heathrow spokesperson tells us. “Breast milk can be taken through airport security in a transparent container or bag; each container must hold no more than two litres. It cannot be frozen or stored in a flask. You can also carry breast milk in hand luggage even if you’re not travelling with a baby.” Always check with your airline and airport, as individual hand baggage allowance can vary. For more tips and advice, check out this piece on how to travel with a baby, according to an expert.

Do the rules differ for domestic and international flights?

“The rules largely remain the same for domestic and international flights, however, we advise you to contact your airline before travelling to check any specific details,” advises a Heathrow spokesperson. “For example, if you are travelling to the US there are some restrictions in place for passengers carrying powders of over 350ml or 350g.”

Are there any restrictions when travelling with food in your checked luggage?

Yes, there are rules for bringing certain types of food and drink into different countries. These vary from country to country, so it’s best to check with the government or airline website of the destination you are travelling to. For example, in the UK, “there are restrictions on bringing meat, dairy, fish and animal products and fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds” across the borders. But there are no restrictions on items such as bread, cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate, pasta, etc. Check the gov.uk for more information.

Can I take drinks in my hand luggage?

As most of us are aware, liquids are allowed in hand luggage as long as they are less than 100ml. This includes gels, creams and pastes, and they must be “carried in one resealable clear plastic bag measuring no more than 20cm x 20cm”, according to Heathrow’s security team. “This should be removed from hand baggage, alongside electrical items, and placed in the tray to be processed through security.”

This rule has been in place for a long time, but in 2022, news broke that passengers travelling through UK airports will be able to carry liquids of any size in their hand luggage, thanks to new technology at airport security. We’re still awaiting information on when this will officially come into force, but Heathrow is currently trialling the system, and plans are pencilled to launch in mid-2024.

“We’d recommend packing an empty, reusable water bottle,” Heathrow’s spokesperson advises. “Once you pass through security, just fill it up at one of the 100 water fountains in the terminals and take it with you on the plane.” Our favourite is the Owala FreeSip, a vibrant stainless steel bottle that is leakproof, triple-layer insulated and has a loop to attach to your bag.


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