Rules for Flights in the USA
Foil-wrapped food is allowed in carry-on and checked baggage on flights in the United States. Spreadable foods, like cream cheese or hummus, are subject to the 3-1-1 liquids rule. When traveling in hand luggage, liquids, pastes, and gels should be in a container of 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters or less. All your liquids should be packed together along with other liquids in a clear resealable bag, including any foods that are considered liquid. For context, soups, sauces, and pastes are considered liquids. Other foods, like pizza, cheese, sandwiches, pasta, vegetables, or meat, aren’t.
When traveling within the United States borders, pretty much any food is allowed onboard. When traveling from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, or any international destination, there are certain foods that are banned from your luggage by the Customs and Border Protection, like raw meat, dairy, vegetables, and fruits. This is due to concerns about spreading any invasive species, parasites, and bugs.
It’s also worth noting that some airlines prohibit bringing heavily-scented homemade food, which might distract other passengers.
Rules for Flights in Other Countries
Canada, UK, New Zealand, and India
The rules for bringing aluminum foil-wrapped food on Canadian, UK, New Zealand, and Indian flights are very similar to the US. Although aluminum foil-wrapped food isn’t mentioned specifically, generally, it’s allowed on planes. Aluminum foil isn’t listed as a banned item for any of these countries, and most food is accepted on flights unless it’s in liquid form.
Generally, on European flights, the rules for bringing aluminum foil-wrapped food on planes are very similar to the United States. However, when traveling within EU borders, there are lesser restrictions on what types of foods are allowed. If traveling within the EU, you can bring dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and other foods that are typically restricted by the Customs facilities.
On international Australian flights, the rules for bringing aluminum foil-wrapped food are identical to the US. The only difference is that for domestic Australian flights, there aren’t any liquid restrictions, so you’re free to pack creams and other liquids in any quantities in your hand luggage.
Most airlines specify that only pre-packed foods or foods with disposable packaging are allowed on a plane. This means that most Chinese airlines will not permit homemade wrapped food or lunch boxes in carry-on baggage. Eggs, meat, dairy, vegetables, and fruits are banned from entering the country.
Sources: For writing this article, we took information only from official sources, like airline regulators, government websites, and major airlines. If you want to confirm that our information is accurate and up to date, click on any of the links mentioned above. We linked out to where we found this information for each country.
Disclaimer: The final decision of whether you can bring aluminum foil-wrapped food onboard airplanes always rests on the security officer. Some airlines also have additional rules that may be different.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bringing Aluminum Foil-Wrapped Food on Planes
Can I eat tin foil-wrapped food during the flight (pizza, pasta, sandwiches, etc.)?
Theoretically, you can eat aluminum foil-wrapped food during a flight in the United States. Just keep in mind the in-flight rules vary for each airline in the United States, and some airlines might restrict passengers from eating food with strong smells.
Will tin foil set off the airport security metal detectors?
Aluminum tin foil can set off the metal detector when going through airport security. Most metal detectors in airports use magnetic fields to scan the presence of metal on the body and will detect them regardless if they contain iron or not (ferrous or non-ferrous). That said, most metal detectors are programmed to ignore small quantities of metal, so most of the time, the security scanner won’t go off.
Read Next: Can You Bring Beef Jerky on Planes?
Do I need to remove homemade food wrapped in tin foil when going through security?
Overall, it’s best to remove homemade food wrapped in tin foil when going through airport security. Although the final decision rests on the airport’s security agents, most of them ask for passengers to remove foods and powders from carry-on luggage to allow an uncluttered view of it and facilitate the screening process.
Does homemade food count towards the hand luggage allowance?
Generally, homemade food does not count towards the hand luggage allowance if it’s packed inside a carry-on suitcase or personal item. But, if you carry a larger container of homemade food outside your carry-on or personal item, it might count as part of your hand luggage allowance depending on the airline’s standards.
Am I allowed to bring hot food on planes in a thermos or other insulated food containers?
Both thermos containers and food items are allowed on carry-on and checked baggage on planes in the United States. However, thermos carrying any type of liquid, gel, paste, or spreadable food should be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters. Larger beverage insulated thermos are allowed through security only if they are empty.
What’s the best way to keep food warm in my luggage?
The best way to keep food warm in your luggage is by packing it in a thermos or aluminum foil. Thermos and aluminum-wrapped foods are allowed through airport security in the United States. Still, remember the liquids rule applies to food too. If you’re packing in your carry-on a paste, gel, or liquid it should be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters and it should be packed with other liquids in a clear resealable bag. This stainless vacuum-insulated food jar can keep your solid food warm for up to 10 hours, and fits two portions of food for you and your travel partner.
What kind of homemade foods are allowed in hand luggage?
Most kinds of foods are allowed in hand luggage in the United States. Foods that are liquids or spreadable must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule and be under 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters. Liquid foods should also be packed with other liquids in a clear resealable 1-liter bag. Fruits and vegetables are allowed only on domestic flights.
Read Next: Can You Bring Dried Mushrooms on Planes?
Can I bring a roll of aluminum foil in my luggage?
Although it’s not specified for a complete roll, aluminum foil is allowed in hand and checked luggage on flights in the United States. A complete roll might catch the security agent’s attention when traveling in a carry-on, but aluminum foil doesn’t represent a threat and is legal in the United States.
Are metal containers allowed on planes (metal lunch boxes, bottles, etc.)?
Metal lunch boxes and metal bottles are allowed on planes in the United States. Keep in mind that whatever you pack should follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule, and any liquid over 3.4 ounces / 100 milliliters won’t be allowed through airport security.
Do airport scanners see through tin foil?
Airport scanners in the United States can see through tin foil when scanning your luggage. Although the popular belief is that the airport scanner can’t see through aluminum foil, airport scanners are powerful enough to detect and see through tin foil.
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