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Plenty of Fish in the Security Line

A reader recently wrote to us concerning TSA carry-on rules and a fishy snack. His note was short and savory: “Can I bring three cans of tuna fish through security? Thanks.”

We receive this kind of e-mail all the time. Questions about carrying food on planes appear in our in-box about as often as Google Alerts on TSA pat-downs gone awry.

So, are those water-packed cans clear to bring on the plane? Sarah Schlichter, editor of IndependentTraveler.com, explains:

“Because the tuna cans have liquid in them, they may be subject to the TSA’s liquid/gel rules. I’d recommend making sure your tins of tuna are no larger than 3.4 ounces, and putting them into your single clear, quart-size, zip-top plastic bag along with your other liquid and gel items. If all three cans won’t fit into the single bag, you’ll need to divvy them up among your travel companions or put them in your checked bag.”

To fly with the fish, you’ll have to buy a small can of tuna and stick it in the bag with your travel toothpaste and mini-hand sanitizer. But there’s another option. Drain the tuna, dice some celery or water chestnuts, and mash it all together with mayonnaise and some salt and pepper to taste (do this at home, as the airport bathroom might be low on celery). Place the salad between two slices of bread. Give your cat any leftovers. Proceed through security.

Now, there’s a chance your tuna salad sandwich will be confiscated by the TSA, as it’s up to the officer at the checkpoint to determine whether such a snack falls into the liquid or gel category. But, with the water drained away and your tuna in solid sandwich form, you’ll probably be okay.

A final note: I implore you not to crank open a can of tuna at 30,000 feet. Not everyone will enjoy being confined in a plane seat as someone aerates a container of fish.

For more information about TSA rules, see our Airport Security Q&A.

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