New Rule? Snacks Come Out for TSA Screening

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When flying with little kids, your arms and bags are often quite full as you head through the airport. To get through the airport security screening process with as little drama as possible, you need to be organized and know where the items are that you will have to pull out of your bags to go on the conveyor. It is not at all pleasant to have to go to secondary screening where you can’t really touch anything while trying to keep young children under control. In fact, it is pretty terrible, so you want to try and get as much right the first time as possible.

Know where things are packed before you get to TSA security

When going through TSA security, you can bring formula, milk, juice, baby food, etc.for your little ones. However, when a liquid is over the 3-ounce maximum, it will require some level of additional screening, so you need to know where those items are to be able to quickly pull them out of your bags and send them through screening.

If you don’t have PreCheck (and you really, really should!), you will have to also take off your shoes, pull out larger electronics, and potentially your toiletry bags when going through the TSA process. Most travelers are pretty used to that routine by now, but I have recently noticed a new TSA trend that I brushed off until I saw it was far from just my own random luck running into this phenomenon.

Take your snacks out for TSA screening

On several of my recent flights, including those through Houston and Denver, I heard the TSA screeners instructing people to remove snacks from their bags for screening. I heard these instructions the most when I was in a non-PreCheck lane in Houston’s Terminal A. Honestly, I mostly ignored it at the time since my snacks were just a few goldfish crackers and granola bars, and I assumed they were just saying this in case you had any snacks that were more liquid based such as yogurt or pudding. I then heard the same instruction again a few weeks later in Denver, though not in my specific PreCheck line.

I’ve heard all sorts of things in TSA lines over the years, so I didn’t think much of this ‘remove your snacks for screening’ request until I saw this article by The Points Guy where it became clear that many others were hearing the very same instructions all across the country.

On Twitter, TSA states there are no new policies in place for screening snacks, but based on my experiences and the online reports of many others, it seems there are at least new procedures in place at many airports to instruct travelers to remove snacks for screening.

My recommendation, especially when you are traveling with a family where snacks are very common, is to try and pack your snacks in a spot where you can easily grab and remove them all at once for security screening if requested. It is much easier to remove one large Ziploc bag where all the snacks contained than it is to hunt in 14 different pockets for snacks scattered across your luggage. Honestly, it is easier when it comes time to pass out the snacks, too.

Have you recently heard instructions to remove your snacks when going through TSA screenings?

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  1. Yep had to do this at EWR last month – it was insanity – traveling with 2 kids we had iPads, computers, a Nintendo switch and 2 child size backpacks full of goldfish and animal crackers.

  2. I am doing a post on this this week as well so glad to hear from someone else about it as well (well, not really glad!). I was told at a couple TSA locations that this is something that will be implemented systemwide soon. And, yes, in Denver, they were ridiculous about how they were enforcing it!

  3. Kansas City- I got held up for thirty minutes as the woman in front of me had some homemade cookies in bags. Then I got pulled out because I had a banana in my pc case. Insane!

  4. Orlando MCO has been doing this for a while and they are awful about it. We had all snacks in one gallon ziploc and they opened it, pulled out all individual bags and swabbed EVERY.SINGLE.BAG. And they only process 1 person at time so you can imagine how the line stacks up at MCO. I commented on the other article that they even opened the goldfish bag we had and put their gloved hand inside and swabbed it. I refused to take the bag of goldfish back from them and the TSA employee could not understand why I was upset. This rule is crazy ridiculous and it’s odd that TSA continues to say it’s not a policy they are implementing.

  5. Big surprise, TSA admin seems to have no clue about a new policy that TSA idiots are enforcing at airports. Typical!

  6. This may be new or only enabled in some locations since I have flown almost every week this year both domestically or internationally and I was never asked to remove any snacks from my bags. Usually if you have TSA Pre TSA agents remind you to NOT REMOVE anything from your bags.I always carry cereal and protein bars, chocolates, nuts, etc.. with me and haven’t had any problems.

  7. I have never had them tell me to remove snacks, but my bag has been sent to secondary inspection at the PreCheck lane several times because I had a granola bar or two in it for a snack. It happens most often in CLT.

  8. This has been true in BOS since January. BOS is my home airport, so I now come prepared even with TSA Precheck, with all my food taken out and put in the little bowl. They swab my food almost every time too. I have also seen this at LAX and a few other airports recently.

  9. I went through Atlanta on March 24th and TSA was announcing for passengers to take their food out an d.c. place in the bins

  10. They were doing this in PHX back in December. Along with books and papers.

    Pretty soon you won’t be able to leave anything in your bag for the x-ray. I think they just get a kick out of making us put our belongings in those nasty dirt-covered bins.

  11. Ran into this at Love Field a few weeks ago. Secondary screening at Love is about the worst. Takes forever. Took snacks out and still got caught up.

    When I have to fly out of Love now I just don’t even bother taking anything out anymore.

  12. @Elizabeth, they get a kick out of slowing everything down so they can demand more money for more agents. 95% of what they do is security theatre, including this.

  13. Had this happen to us in EWR in October coming back from a Cruise. They also didn’t have a pre-check line open for the terminal we had to go in (which ever one had the southwest flight we were on). It was insane and they were extremely rude about the entire process. I get it, your job kind of sucks, but you don’t have to yell at every single person who wasn’t made aware of a rule until they are putting their bags on the x-ray machine.

  14. Didn’t get flagged for snacks, but did get secondary screening both ways OAK-SEA for a Kirkland Signature package of baby wipes. It’s damp and the size of a brick – I guess it looks like an explosive on the monitor?

  15. What exactly are they looking for? This is crazy. Is it a way to get people not to bring snacks and then have to buy them from airport shops or on plane? That’s the only credible explanation I can come with. Although I flew last week and no issues with my protein bars.

  16. Have you ever tried flying without snacks for kids? It’s not pretty. And this will get very interesting when I pull out 5 lbs of pretzels, fish crackers, and assorted other goodies just to satisfy TSA.

  17. I had this happen at Portland and Lihie airport yesterday and last week. I asked one of the agents and he said it would be nationwide soon… for that that’s worth. Very slow and time consuming when you end up bringing any food back.

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