Thai on a plane?
November 14, 2008 5:22 AM   Subscribe

Traveling from Boston to Chicago for Thanksgiving, and want to bring our hostess (my sister) a taste of home - Will I be able to clear security with 4 containers of thai take-out, and what's the best way to travel with the food?

My current plan (hope) is to get a small soft-sided cooler, and fill it with ice or ice packs, and about 4 plastic take-out containers. Just before clearing security, we'll dump the ice in a trash can, and hope that the insulation + cold food is enough to keep everything cool for the wait behind security and the trip itself. My sister can then bring some fresh ice when she picks us up at the airport.

Has anybody taken something like this through security before? Am I just asking for trouble? What are the odds that the food will last? Also, will the sauce on the food count against my 3-oz-of-liquid limit? If you're from the South Shore in MA, we're talking about Chatta Box, so I *really* want to make this happen :)

I saw these two articles, but I don't want to freeze the food (with the dry ice), and I'm planning on taking as a carry on. Any additional help is appreciated.

posted by um_maverick to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You shouldn't have a problem with your plan. I've taken burritos from California to New York, but that's because New York is burrito-poor. This Chatta Box place must be pretty good for you to take it to a city that has, in my opinion, fairly acceptable Thai food already!
posted by billtron at 5:36 AM on November 14, 2008

I took some bagels and two kinds of cream cheese and some smoked salmon from NYC to Chicago almost two years ago. I didn't realize that the cold pack counted as a liquid, so out it went at security. Not a problem, I thought since it's really not a long flight. By the time I got home it had been off ice for about 4 or so hours. I had a bagel with horseradish cream cheese and smoked salmon for dinner that night. Totally delicious.

The next night, I did the same thing with the chive cream cheese. I woke up the next morning with the worst case of food poisoning I've ever had, and ever hope to have. Vomiting every 20 minutes for hours and hours. It took me two days before I could keep water down.

Some food travels better then others I guess. Good luck.
posted by monkey!knife!fight! at 6:55 AM on November 14, 2008

I've been cleared to take a sandwich (in Jackson, MS) and breakfast tacos (in San Antonio) through security since the liquids-and-gels rule went into effect. I think it might depend on what individual TSA workers decide, that day, at that airport. (But worst-case scenario is that you have to sit in the airport eating tasty Thai food before you go through security, and that's really not so bad.)
posted by paleography at 6:59 AM on November 14, 2008

I think it may depend on the TSA agent. I recently flew back from Detroit with some of my mother-in-law's amazing baked beans, and the agents were going to confiscate them. I told them if they did so, I'd expect them to eat them since they're way too good to go to waste. They laughed, x-rayed the beans (seriously) and waved me through, but I could tell they were just being nice.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:12 AM on November 14, 2008

If they let you through with the food, I'd bet that you could get ice from a food vendor in the terminal to put in your cooler for the rest of the trip.
posted by CorporateHippy at 7:19 AM on November 14, 2008

I've taken frozen vacuum seal packs of scrapple through security. (I live in PA, scrapple capital of the world, and have to take it to my in-laws in Florida, a scrapple deprived state)

Instead of ice packs, I used bags of frozen vegetables to add some additional frozen volume. they stay cold a long time and don't count a liquid.
posted by jrishel at 9:13 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

oh, and they did look at them funny after they were X-rayed. I think blocks of scrapple X-ray a lot like blocks of C-4. the TSA agent very carefully asked me what was in the soft cooler and then used a chemical trace sniffing wand over the bag before opening it and laughing at the frozen vegetables.
posted by jrishel at 9:15 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

I took a giant tupperware container of jambalaya home from New Orleans recently. No ice - just carried in a shopping bag. No one stopped me.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:10 PM on November 14, 2008

Why don't you just check the cooler??
posted by tiburon at 10:20 PM on November 14, 2008

I think the ice aspect is overdoing it. I took some take out food from NY to Helsinki this past summer and just packed it really well in a pair of bell jars that were wrapped up well in my checked luggage. No problems, no hassles. Well packaged the food can stay at room temperature for some hours, not needing to be refrigerated.
posted by wile e at 3:46 AM on November 15, 2008

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