If you’re over a certain age, you’ll remember what it was like to travel by airplane, when U.S. airlines served free food on all domestic flights, including travelers riding in coach! What changed? In the early 2000s, almost all airlines stopped serving free food on domestic U.S. flights to cut costs. So, when you’ve got a long flight, you’ll need to either eat before you board the plane, pick up snacks post-security checkpoint, buy food on the flight (if it’s available), or pack food in your carry on. 

Smart and savvy travelers will opt for the latter. But, what does TSA allow you to bring through security? 

While the TSA won’t allow you to bring beverages through security, you can bring solid foods and snacks. In this article, we’ll cover TSA-permitted foods, along with creative ideas for healthy, delicious and portable snacks. But first, a quick answer to the question we posed in the headline: Can you bring beef jerky on an airplane? Yes! TSA allows solid foods and snacks on airplanes, including beef jerky. 

If that is all you needed to know, may we insert a plug and invite you to shop all flavors of Savage Jerky variety packs? They’re delicious, highly portable and perfect for in-flight snacking. Otherwise, read on for more food ideas for your flights.

3 Reasons Why Beef Jerky Is Great for Travelers

We know we’re partial to jerky as a great snack, but there are several reasons why jerky treats are excellent choices for airline travelers. 

It’s a good source of protein, and we pack it in resealable packages, so you can have a little now and save some for later. Because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, like other fresh meats, jerky is an excellent choice for your travels. TSA does allow you to bring fresh meats and perishable items through TSA, but if you pack them on ice, the ice packs must be completely frozen. If the ice pack has started to thaw or there is liquid in the container, TSA might not allow the items through. Sounds like a hassle, doesn’t it? Go with jerky.

Another reason we love jerky for travel is that protein helps stave off hunger pangs. Many of our beef jerky treats have at least 8 grams of protein per serving. For example, Savage’s Teriyaki Beef Jerky has 12 grams of protein and only 80 calories per serving, making it a great choice for a lighter snack between meals. But jerky can be more than a light snack, which we’ll cover in the next section on packable meals for flights.

Lastly, jerky is extremely portable. You don’t need utensils to eat it, and it’s not messy. Savage Jerky’s resealable bags tuck easily in the side pocket of your carryon, and you can store them in the seat pocket in front of you until you’re ready to eat it. 

Now, if you’re looking for more nutritious and delicious ideas for travel foods, we’ve got recipes and ideas in the next section. 

Meals You Can Pack for Flights (That Require No Refrigeration)

Here are some ideas for ways to enjoy jerky when you travel. 

  • Spicy Trail Mix: This recipe for homemade trail mix is delicious for travelers of all ages, and you can mix it with your favorite dried fruits and nuts — all of which are TSA-approved. For a less-spicy variety, look for the beef jerky snacks with low spice ratings. Save the Savage Jerky bags; they’re resealable, so you can use them to store and transport your trail mix!
  • Bento Boxes: Bento boxes are kid-friendly treats that you can pack with fruits, veggies, nuts, dried fruits, crackers and cheese. Just watch the dips; TSA allows no more than 3.4 ounces of creamy dips and spreads. They’ve also got limits on soft cheeses, but hard cheeses have no restrictions.
  • Homemade Granola Bars: This no-bake recipe for granola bars combines nut butter, honey, dried fruit, and your favorite Savage Jerky beef jerky for a delicious, on-the-go snack.
  • Sandwiches and Wraps: Our beef and bacon jerky makes great protein sources for sandwiches and wraps. For extra portability, fill pita pockets with a few pieces of beef jerky, fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce and whatever condiments you like (less than 3.4 ounces, please). 
  • Deviled Eggs: Yes, TSA allows travelers to take fresh eggs on flights. Remember the rule if you pack these perishables on ice: The ice pack must be frozen solid when going through security.       

What Food Does TSA Allow?  

The Transportation Security Administration gives TSA officers the right to refuse to allow anything through a security checkpoint that looks suspicious or tampered with, and that includes anything that is on their “allowed” list. 

The good news is that there are a lot of foods you can bring on airplanes, which will save you money. Airport food costs nearly twice as much as it does in the grocery store, due in part to airport fees and the added cost to deliver goods to retailers at airports. 

The bad news is, you still can’t bring more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) of liquids and gels, so expect to pay double the price for bottled water, soda and other beverages. All liquid and gels must pass what TSA calls the “3-1-1” rule: You may bring 3.4 ounces, or 100 milliliters, of liquids, gels, creams and pastes through security checkpoints. They must be inside 1 quart-size plastic bag, and each passenger is allowed only 1 bag.

The TSA’s 3-1-1- rule doesn’t apply to solid foods, including beef jerky and bacon jerky.

So, yes, you can bring beef jerky on a plane, but don’t argue with a TSA officer if they ask you to separate it from your carry-on bags or if they don’t allow you to bring it on. “The final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through any checkpoint,” according to the TSA’s official website.

If you’ve ever got a question about whether a food item is allowed on an airplane, the TSA allows you to take a photo of the food and send it to them through social media between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET weekdays and between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. ET on weekends and holidays. 

Savage Jerky Co.