Food in the cabin: what’s allowed in flight

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You’ve got a flight coming up and you’re wondering what food you’re allowed to take in the cabin? Whether you want to pass the time with a snack, avoid the company’s meal trays, or bring back local delicacies, it’s important to know the specific rules for carrying food in your hand luggage. Please note that certain foods may be prohibited or restricted, depending on the safety policies and health or customs regulations of the destination country. In this article, we clarify the guidelines for cabin food, whether solid, liquid or paste. In addition, we share tips on how to pack your groceries properly, so you can avoid any inconvenience when you arrive at the airport.

Solid foods: snacks and light meals allowed

To satisfy a small appetite in flight, or to avoid the often high cost of food sold on board, it’s perfectly possible to take a variety of solid foods with you in your hand luggage. There are three main categories of solid foods: non-perishable snacks, packaged meals and sandwiches, and fresh foods. Each one follows specific guidelines, which we present below.

Non-perishable snacks

Ideal for unrestrained snacking, non-perishable snacks include any food that keeps well without the need for refrigeration and is free from any form of liquid. These products are largely tolerated in the cabin, provided they are properly packaged and do not give off a strong odor. You can opt for cereal bars, crackers, bread slices, hard candies, chips, cookies, dried fruit, chocolate, but also hard or cooked cheese, vacuum-packed meat and deli meats, or powdered supplements.

Packaged meals and sandwiches

Packaged meals and sandwiches, requiring little or no preparation and which can be eaten cold or simply reheated, are also accepted in the cabin. However, make sure they contain no liquid or substantial sauce. You can easily carry sandwiches filled with cheese, ham, chicken or salad. On the other hand, avoid those prepared with tuna, mayonnaise, peanut butter or jam. Mixed salads, quiches, pizzas and wraps are excellent choices, with the exception of dishes such as soups, stews or casseroles.

Restrictions on fresh foods

Fresh foods include products that need to be kept cool and are likely to deteriorate rapidly. More strictly regulated, they may involve health risks or contravene customs regulations in force in the destination country. This means you can carry fresh fruit, vegetables, muffins or pieces of cheese, as long as you eat them before they arrive, or throw them away. Transporting animal products such as non-vacuum-packed meats, dairy products or eggs is generally prohibited, unless they are properly packaged and carry a recognized brand name. It’s crucial to comply with European Union regulations, which prohibit the introduction of soft cheeses, fresh meats and uncertified dairy products.

Liquid and pasta foods: rules and exceptions

Liquid and paste foods, such as beverages, soups, sauces, yoghurts, compotes, jams, honeys and spreads, have special rules for air travel to ensure flight safety. However, there are exceptions for foods intended for infants or for medical needs. We’ll take a look at the 100 ml policy, the permitted exceptions and give you some tips on how to travel with liquids.

The 100 ml policy applied to food

The 100 ml limit applies to the quantity of liquids, creams, gels, pastes and aerosols you can take into the cabin. These regulations also apply to liquid and pasta foods, which must comply with certain conditions:

  • Packaged in containers with a capacity not exceeding 100 ml each.
  • Be placed in a transparent, resealable plastic bag with a maximum capacity of 1 liter.
  • Limit one bag per passenger.
  • Present bag separately at security check.

In short, you’re not allowed to take on board any liquid or pasta food exceeding 100 ml, but smaller products such as mini jams or compotes in a bag are permitted if stored in the transparent bag.

Permitted exceptions: babies and medical needs

There are exceptions to the 100 ml policy for baby foods and medical needs. These products may be carried in unlimited quantities, if their use is essential during the flight, such as :

  • Breast milk, infant milk, fruit juices and baby-friendly soups.
  • Purées, compotes and cereals for young children.
  • Liquid medications, insulin or contact lens solutions.
  • Medically prescribed special foods.

You’ll need to present these items separately at the security checkpoint, and possibly justify their necessity with a medical document or proof of the toddler’s age.

Practical tips for transporting liquids

To simplify the passage of liquids in the cabin, here are a few tips:

  • Prepare your bag of liquids in advance and make sure it’s easily accessible.
  • Choose bottles of 100 ml or less, available from chemists or specialist stores.
  • Prevent leaks by securing closures and protecting fragile containers.
  • Buy beverages and liquid foods at duty-free outlets after the security check, keeping the receipt and bag sealed.
  • When traveling with a child, bring plenty of food and ask the crew for assistance in adjusting meal temperatures.
  • If you have a medical condition, bring a prescription or medical certificate to certify the need for special foods.

Precautions and tips for packing your food in the cabin

When it comes to taking food into the cabin, proper packaging is essential to avoid any complications. Find out below how to carefully prepare your victuals, from solids to liquids to pasta, while managing odorous foods and complying with safety regulations.

Best packaging practices

Adopting these best practices will ensure that your food travels safely:

  • Opt for non-perishable foods that are not likely to leak or spoil easily.
  • Choose sturdy, airtight containers, preferably made of plastic or metal, to avoid accidents involving broken glass or torn paper.
  • Be sure tolabel your foodclearly, indicating the name, expiration date and origin, especially for animal products.
  • Keep your food cool in an insulated bag or cooler, using ice packs or ice bags, which must be solid at the time of inspection.
  • Keep your groceries in a separate, accessible bag to simplify security checks.

Managing odorous foods

Foods with a strong odor require special attention to respect the peace and quiet of the airspace:

  • Double-wrap these foods in plastic or aluminum foil, or use completely airtight cans.
  • Avoid opening odorous foods during the flight unless you are authorized to do so or are seated at a distance from other passengers.
  • If opening is necessary, act discreetly and close immediately after use.
  • Quickly dispose of odorous waste by handing it over to the crew or using the garbage cans provided.

Comply with safety regulations and controls

For your provisions to be carried in the cabin, they must comply with safety and regulatory rules:

  • Find out about the specific dietary requirements of your destination country by consulting official resources such as consulates or travel agencies.
  • Comply with the 100 ml threshold for liquids and pastes, unless specifically exempted for infant feeding or medical reasons.
  • Present your foodstuffs separately for inspection, and declare them if necessary.
  • Be prepared to give up certain foods at the request of the authorities, or anticipate their consumption before the flight.

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s perfectly possible to take food in the cabin when you fly. To do this, you need to know a little about the rules and restrictions that apply. Whether solid, liquid or paste, your choices must be well-preserved foods, authorized at the entrance to your destination, not exceeding 100 ml for liquids and pastes, and above all, they must not be strong smelling. Good preparation is essential: pack food securely, in airtight, hermetically-sealed containers, and take care to present them separately for safety checks. By following these few tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite foods on board, without the risk of losing or damaging them. Prepare your cabin baggage now and treat yourself to a delicious meal during your flight. Bon voyage and, above all, bon appétit!

FAQ

Can I put food in my cabin baggage?

Absolutely! Solid food is allowed in your hand luggage. However, liquids and fresh or raw produce are prohibited. Don’t forget to follow the health and customs requirements specific to your destination country.

What products are allowed in carry-on luggage?

You can take items in the cabin that do not compromise in-flight safety. This includes non-hazardous items, essential medicines, duty-free goods and dry food. Liquids and aerosols are accepted provided they are in containers of no more than 100 ml and stored in a transparent, resealable plastic bag with a maximum capacity of 1 liter.

Is chocolate forbidden in cabin baggage?

No, there is no ban on solid chocolate in hand luggage. You’re free to take bars, lollipop-shaped chocolates or pralines and enjoy them during your flight without worry.

Introduction

Solid foods: snacks and light meals allowed

Non-perishable snacks

Packaged meals and sandwiches

Restrictions on fresh foods

Liquid and pasta foods: rules and exceptions

The 100 ml policy applied to food

Permitted exceptions: babies and medical needs

Practical tips for transporting liquids

Precautions and tips for packing your food in the cabin

Best packaging practices

Managing odorous foods

Comply with safety regulations and controls

Conclusion

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