Last Updated on September 30, 2021
You are on your way to the airport and naturally, the first thing you do is get yourself some fast food.
Then you realize… holy crap my flight is leaving soon…
You need to get through the airport security checkpoint, but can you take your leftover fast food with you?
Or maybe somebody you are going to visit just wants you to bring them a taste from back home…
Anyway. Will you need to abandon your burger? Must you kiss goodbye to your chicken nuggets? Will security make you surrender your Subway?
Let’s find out.
TSA Fast Food Rules
The Transportation Security Administration doesn’t specifically mention fast food on their website.
They do say this about food in general:
Your food must undergo x-ray screening along with the rest of your luggage.
Solid foods are permitted in carry-on bags or checked bags, but liquids are restricted to little travel-size bottles under 3.4 oz.
This information is a start, but it doesn’t quite answer our question.
A whopper from Burger King is solid food but what about the ketchup and mayonnaise on it? Will that need to be scraped off the burger and put into a little travel-size bottle and stored in a quart-size bag along with my shampoo?
To try to get a better answer I did some research on Twitter.
This “just curious” traveler asked the TSA about bringing fast food through airport security:
The TSA replied. Fast food is allowed through security. However, any condiments and liquids must be in containers that are 3.4 oz or less and fit comfortably in one quart-sized bag along with other travel-sized liquids.
And your fast food might need some additional screening and not everyone is happy about it.
This passenger regularly travels with a subway sandwich. He was disappointed that his sandwich had been subjected to additional security checks at the airport.
But it’s a small price to pay to keep the skies safer. TSA officers may sometimes want to really inspect your sandwich. That’s just the way it is.
Yes, You Can Bring Fast Foods Through Airport Security
So “fast food” gets the green light but your soda won’t make it through the checkpoint.
And that’s worrying about “condiments”… I’m not scraping the ketchup off my burger!
Most fast food has some kind of sauce that could be considered a liquid.
So… I dug deeper and I came across this heart-warming story by Stephanie.
Steph wanted to bring some tacos through airport security so she could take them to New York… a place seemingly without any Tacos that could satisfy a Texan.
The TSA initially just answered that fast food like tacos can be taken through airport security.
But Steph was determined to take those Tacos to New York, she didn’t want any mishaps, and she was worried about the salsa verde because as you probably know traveling with liquids is controlled.
In the strange world of the TSA, something mysterious happens to salsa when you put it on a taco.
By adding the salsa to the tacos before going through the security checkpoint Steph managed to transform potentially dangerous liquid salsa into just another harmless ingredient of a solid taco.
Liquid salsa in a container, sachet or jar, must be under 3.4 oz to take it through airport security.
But put that liquid salsa onto the taco and it becomes part of a solid!
So the story had a happy ending. The next day Steph wrote to the TSA to let them know she was successfully eating her Texan tacos in New York. Living the dream Stephanie!
So now you know…
If you need to pack extra shampoo over the 3.4 oz limit that’s how you pull it off. Mix it with some ground beef and stick it in a tortilla and it no longer counts as a liquid but just an incredibly bad-tasting taco 🙂
And what is it about Texans? Are y’all especially fussy about your fast food?
This is what you call a first-world problem.
Lauryn couldn’t find a burger to satisfy her in the entire state of Georgia so was hoping to get her mom to bring her a Whataburger…
All the way from Texas!
Spoiled much as a kid Lauryn? 🙂
Hey mom! Come to visit me in Georgia! I’d love to see you!
Oh and btw… since you are coming… can you bring me a Whataburger? 😉
I think Lauryn is a genius! I bet she never even paid for it!
And the TSA didn’t have any problems with poor Mom taking the cheeseburger through the security checkpoint.
Separate Condiments Must Be In Containers Under 3.4 Ounces
So now we are closer to the truth about traveling with fast food.
Ketchup in a bottle must be under 3.4 oz.
Ketchup on your burger is just considered by the TSA to be part of the burger. So even though the sauce is a liquid you can bring a burger with ketchup through the security checkpoint.
Keep in mind that the TSA agent on the ground always has the final say about what can be taken through the checkpoint and what he or she will need to confiscate.
So, I can’t promise you that your fast food will definitely make it through, it may be confiscated. TSA agents get hungry too right? 🙂
Do You Want Fries With That?
So what about fries. Can you take fries through the TSA?
This passenger had already checked with the TSA about bringing an entire McDonalds meal through the checkpoint:
The TSA didn’t have any problem taking fries through security, so yes you can take your cold Mcdonald’s fries on the plane with you! Yuck!
Cmon… you’ve got to eat them when they are hot!
Still Unsure? Ask The TSA On Twitter
If you have any questions about bringing fast food on a plane then you can just ping the TSA a message on Twitter and they will get back to you pretty quickly.
Darci discovered that she could bring a whole bucket of KFC fried chicken through airport security but that she would need to decant her mashed potatoes into travel-sized containers because they are spreadable.
So if you want to bring mashed potato on a plane you’ll need to fill up these little bottles.
Ryan hadn’t finished his pizza but he wanted to take it with him:
The TSA let him know that you can bring pizza on a plane.
A similar thing is going on here. Tomato pizza topping sauce is limited to under 3.4 oz, melted cheese is considered a liquid too, but a pizza overall is considered to be solid so it is permitted through the checkpoint.
Sam had the bright idea to vacuum seal 3 Chipotle burritos so that he could take them through TSA.
Unfortunately, the TSA agent might need to break that vacuum seal in order to inspect the burrito at the checkpoint. It’s better to pack food in resealable food bags.
Bringing Fast Food On International Flights
Keep in mind that there are often rules about importing food into countries.
If you are bringing fast food on a plane and intend to take it with you all the way to another country then check local laws about what you can and can’t import through customs.
Of course, if you eat your fast food before getting on the plane, or even during your flight then you won’t need to worry about declaring it when you arrive!
Nothing to declare! It’s all in my belly!
You can bring fast food through airport security, you can even take it on to the plane!
You won’t be able to bring your fast food soda because of the liquids limit.
Sauces or condiments that are not part of the dish will be treated as liquids too and restricted to containers under 3.4 oz.
So load up your condiments or sauces onto your food before going through the security checkpoint.
Fries are fine but mashed potato is out.
Now stop reading this and go catch your flight!