The next time you fly, be prepared for travel delays. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been making some passengers remove snacks they’ve packed in their carry-on luggage as they go through the security line. That means that if you have a bag of chips or a piece of candy in your bag), you may be asked to take them out and put them in a bin to be checked.
“It’s a new policy. Anything edible must now be screened separately,” a TSA officer told a New York Times reporter. A TSA spokesman explained that this year-old rule, which isn’t mandatory, was enacted because “some food materials look similar to explosives in an X-ray.”
Despite one officer telling the Times that, there is technically no official policy.
According to Lisa Farbstein, Spokesperson for the TSA Office of Public Affairs, TSA continuously makes adjustments to its screening procedures to best protect passengers. Farbstein told The Daily Meal via email, “TSA has no policy that mandates that travelers remove food items from their carry-on bags to be placed in separate bins for checkpoint screening, however TSA recommends that passengers consider doing so to lessen the likelihood that there will be a need to open a carry-on bag for a more thorough inspection.”
Farbstien noted that while removing foods is not required, “it is recommended. As such, it would be a good idea for travelers to keep their food items in one area of their carry-on bag so that the items can be easily divested and just as easily returned to the carry-on bag after screening.”
There have been no changes regarding which foods passengers may bring with them through security checkpoints.
As you can imagine, flyers are not pleased about adding time to their security routine. And because many aren’t aware of this rule, they’re unprepared, meaning you’re likely to hear lots of impatient sighs as you search for the granola bar you tucked away… somewhere.
Stellene Volandes, editor-in-chief of Town and Country, told the Times that she was delayed five minutes due to a bag of dried peaches she’d forgotten she was carrying. When you consider adding even five minutes of extra time to all the passengers in a typical security line, you can see the potential for epic delays.
Blogger Eileen Cotter Wright of group travel blog Pure Wander told The Daily Meal that families will be hit the hardest by these regulations. While adults may opt to forgo bringing food entirely or dine in an airport restaurant to speed the security process along, parents rely on bringing snacks and activities to keep kids calm during flights.
To make going through a TSA airport security line quicker, Wright recommends you keep any food items contained in plastic bags, alongside your liquids. “When it's time for the security line, pull all plastic bags out and have them screened separately. Make sure they're easily accessible, and on top of your bag,” she said.
The good news is that while you may find yourself facing these delays, you can still bring your favorite foods with you — as long as you can find them in your bag among the other things savvy travelers always pack.