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Carrying a cake on the plane.

Have you ever and would you do it again? We will be visiting our son during his birthday and I am debating whether to attempt this or not. What with a carry-on, laptop, purse...what to do?

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  1. Assuming you're flying in the US - if TSA lets it through (I don't see why not but they can be weird). You'll have to store it somewhere, either in your seat or in an overhead bin. On all the flights I've been on in the last few years the bins fill up quickly, so you'll have to transport it in something crush proof (some passengers apparently have not grasped the concept that two objects can not occupy the same physical space and will try to shove as much as they can in them). Futhermore, airlines are cracking down on the amount of stuff they'll let people bring on board: if you plan on bringing a carry-on bag AND a purse AND a cake container, my recent experience is that they'll have you check the carry-on.

    It's a nice gesture, but unless you are the world's best cake maker or your son lives in an area devoid of bakeries, I'd say don't do it, or just take something small enough to fit into a checked bag or into your carry-on.

    10 Replies
    1. re: tardigrade

      I really appreciate everyone's input. Good ideas about freezing and using a crush-proof container, inside the carry-on.

      1. re: MrsJonesey

        You can bake it in a large coffee can--comes with its own lid, even!

      2. re: tardigrade

        On all my recent flights, the airlines were brutal about carry-ons, so +1 to tardigrade's advice. Prepare for the worst.

        1. re: cleobeach

          As previously noted, I carry cakes (and other food gifts, such as potato pancakes) in carry-on when I visit my mother occasionally. Very infrequently, the TSA guard monitoring the xray machine will note the object and I'll be asked to remove it. I do, explaining that it's a cake, etc. and have had no problems.

          1. re: masha

            Glad to know you haven't had problems with this, but in my experience, TSA agents are very inconsistent--some might say arbitrary--when it comes to bringing food on airplanes. So have a plan B in case you have to abandon your cake for the TSA workers' snack.

            1. re: Isolda

              For what it's worth, my good experiences carrying on food have been at O'Hare, Terminal 1 (United) - i.e., a very busy airport. Generally, I've found that I get more scrutiny at airports that are not busy; seems like the TSA uses the downtime at those airports as training for their new personnel to completely inspect the contents of bags, etc. ORD terminal 1 is always busy, so I think they are fairly adept at "triaging" risks and rapidly conclude that I'm not one.

              1. re: masha

                I've always found the opposite. I've had things get through fine at small airports like Kansas City, only to have similar items be confiscated at O'Hare. I've really found that it is a total crapshoot and that I should be prepared to leave things behind.

                1. re: pollymerase

                  Thank you all for sharing your experience. I've got a couple of weeks to decide. If I do, I won't ice it (may just go for brownies or chocolate bread). I'll freeze it, put it in a sturdy container and inside my carry-on.

                  1. re: MrsJonesey

                    You won't believe this but I sawTSA take away a person's cupcake once - said the frosting was considered gel. So stupid - because sometimes I get yogurt passed on through...

                    1. re: Claudette

                      it's a hit or a miss I've found. a lady got her pnut butter taken but a man's plastic jug of pop went unnoticed-we shrugged

        1. re: Kris in Beijing

          Aww hell no!!

          I am a truck driver and I know firsthand how those package services (mis)treat the packages entrusted to their (lack of) care.

        2. I have done it but only for an un-iced single layer or loaf cake. I freeze the cake, wrapped in foil and then, just before I leave home, put the frozen cake in a plastic container or metal tin that is a snug fit for the cake, and place the container in my carryon bag. Since the cake isn't iced, has been frozen and is in a hard-sided container, it travels pretty well. You can ice it whe you arrive at your destination.

          1. All I can say is: I've had it with these mother f'ing cakes on this mother f'ing plane!

              1. Because I have two kids who live overseas, I can totally understand wanting to take a cake, if it's one of their favorites :) But... would freeze, and pack into my carry on, or with my laptop. I can pack enough for a month in Australia into a 22" carry-on and a backpack (laptop goes in the backpack); I buy laundry soap and some toiletries upon arrival. Last time I visited, I bought a "good" cheap knife, to use during my stay, and left if for the kids. Otherwise, I wouldn't have made it past security.

                1. Are you staying with your son or at a hotel? If you're staying with your son, why not just buy the ingredients when you arrive & bake it there?

                  1. I've done it : ) And very happily and with great success. TSA does allow cakes, you can look on the website for more deets. They're more fussy about pies w/ "liquid" ish fillings.

                    I organized myself enough that I had it under the seat in front of me.

                    And the best part was when I initially went thru security. They opened the cake box and about 4 security workers all said, "Awwwwww!"

                    Really, I say do it.

                    1. I did this once, on a 6-7 hour flight (along with a generous stash of garlic knots and my suitcase stuffed with 2 dozen onion and sesame bagels...but that's another story/predicament).

                      The cake looked a little worse for wear at the end but was (kind of) worth it. Not knowing how long your flight would be, it's hard to say. I had a fresh cake in a bakery box. This was a specialty regional cake so it was better than not having it at all. Hope this helps.

                      1. I know that Duff Goldman's crew has delivered cakes before by flying them.

                        1. Did you fly already? How did it go?

                          I was reminded of you because I caught an old episode of Extra Virgin with Debi and Gabriele making a traditional cake... and they make a passing reference to Taking It To Tuscany... from their Cali home.

                          The episode was dated 2011, so the TSA was definitely around.