HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


Carrying on vegetables and fruits onto the plane

have you ever carried on an entire head of lettuce or a bag of groceries?

i'm going back east to NY from Los Angeles next week and my las post got me thinking....i was going to put some unripe avocados and fruit on my check but i now want to bring a farmers market bag with some lettuce, strawberries, winter plums and some other goodies.

does anyone do this?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I do it all the time. Be aware tho that anything liquidy or semi (jam) is a no no if you're not checking luggage. But heads of lettuce, citrus, onions, just about anything is game. I did once have the embarrassing experience of having the tsa guy open my bag and carefully lift bags of half rotten lettuce, yellowed parsley and moldy onions that I had thrown in without looking cuz I saw no point in buying more at my destination 'when I already had perfectly good ones at home'!

      1. re: ipsedixit

        I would throw in a twist - you absolutely SHOULD be able to.

        I have never taken a full bag of groceries but I have absolutely traveled with fruits and veg before.

        I say "should" because there is always the possibility of getting a rogue TSA agent (and I travel a lot and trust me they are out there). It is near impossible to win an argument with a TSA agent who gets a wild hair and decides that for some strange reason they have decided you shouldn't be able to have something (even if you know otherwise and have traveled with it many times before). My experience has been that the supervisor on duty will always side with the misinformed TSA agent.

        That said, if you're traveling with food items they recognize you are better off as well. It is just a risk . . . .

        1. re: thimes

          true, very true. i once went thru chicago to NY from LA and forgot to declare an expensive new lip gloss and another cream blush in a stick. had them in my purse and got thru LA with them but not thru this guy in Chi-town. he pulled them out and tossed them! i told him it was honest mistake then he threatened to kick me out of the airport. lost about $70 in makeup but was glad i wasn't to homeland security for my crime!

          yes, you never know...someone may not like my organic farmers market goods from sunny LA!

      2. I know someone who regularly takes California produce with her back to Michigan. I take lemons back to my family in New York, but they're in my checked bag - I have take apples through TSA with no problem, though.

        I have reservations about going the other way, though: California is the major agriculture state, and due to natural barriers we're relatively free of various insect pests. Do not bring produce into the state, please: I lived through the Medfly affair in the 80s - caused by a traveler bringing back fruit - and don't want to do it again.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tardigrade

          i certainly won't be bringing back any iceberg lettuce from NY, no worries ;)

          to be fair and kidding aside, there's not much produce from NY that i'd even think about bringing back to LA at this time of year. maybe during end of summer those big tomatoes but won't travel well so probably not any time soon. but good to know about the flys. i do remember them.

        2. I brought a Romanesco broccoli from DC to Syracuse successfully. The TSA people were amazed, but accepting.

          1. I smuggled rhubarb from Switzerland to Greece, and I'm so glad I did! Can't find rhubarb anywhere here.

            1 Reply
            1. re: eviemichael

              Because it's important that you get what you want, the hell with laws.

            2. always. persimmons, bananas, cherries, apples - you name, i probably brought it with me on a plane trip. the one fruit i wouldnt bring on - durian.

              3 Replies
              1. re: majordanby

                If people are allowed to change diapers on a plane, I don't see any problems with durian.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  maybe it's just a personal thing. i find the smell offensive, so i wouldnt want others to smell it either, legal or not.

                  1. re: majordanby

                    Diapers or durian? Or does it matter ...

              2. if you pack it in checked luggage it's likely to freeze and get ruined.

                3 Replies
                  1. re: trolley

                    Yes. Keep in mind it's like -50F at altitude not to mention NY weather sitting on the tarmac. I've opened luggage that's still ice cold inside after several hours indoors. It probably depends on where in the hold your bag gets loaded, though, too.

                    On the totally unrelated bright side, freezing kills bedbugs.

                  2. re: splatgirl

                    I take back lemons when I visit my family in New York, and haven't noticed any problems with them. Nor have I had any wine I've had in my packed bags freeze. It's cold, but not that cold (and the clothes do insulate them to an extent).

                  3. I wanted to take quenepas from PR but decided it wasn't worth the risk. Still hoping to find them on the mainland :(

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: melpy

                      Melpy, once about 15 years ago I saw quenepas in a mama-and-papa produce store in Chicago. Check with Latino produce stores in your town. RE PR, there used to be a list of takeable-off-the-island produce types at the SJ airport. Don't know if there still is.

                      1. re: Querencia

                        Now I find out about the list! Haha
                        I will check around here.

                    2. I once carried a couple of baskets of boysenberries in my backpack from Berkeley to Denver. They didn't make the trip very well as they ended up kind of crushed to almost a puree state. Tasted fine with cream in my hotel room though.

                      1. certain states, hawaii, california, florida may have restrictions on bringing fruit in or out. it's wise to check first. Hawaii does on fruits or vegetables going out or coming in.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                          from CA i believe you can bring all the fruit out but not in.

                          1. re: trolley

                            That's what occurred to me. Some individual states (particularly fruit producing ones) have stricter rules about bringing stuff in. I've gone through fruit inspection *driving* into California, and all citrus was confiscated.

                            Flying *out* of Hawaii has other rules too. I was flying out of Honolulu, and there was an agricultural inspection only for people bound for the continental US, with restrictions on what could be taken there. I'm guessing because it's an island, and a totally different agricultural zone, so contagion is more of an issue.

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              hawaii has mediterranean fruit flies (med-fly) which scares the bejesus out of the california agriculture industry (not without reason). hence the ban on exported fruit and vegetables.

                              with our year round balmy climate, once we get a pest, it's almost impossible to eradicate them. medfly is an early example (around 1910) more recent introductions have been a type of beetle that attacked and killed a tree known as false will will, used to be fairly common, especially as a 'hedge' between properties. They are all gone now. And while not affecting agriculture the koqui frog from puerto rico is now rampant on Hawaii Island and may be (probably is) now on Oahu. Hence our attempts to keep other plants and animals out.