Can I pack a sandwich for the plane?

Quick Summary

Yes, you can pack sandwiches to take on a plane ride. Sandwiches make a great airplane meal because they are easy to pack, customizable, and allowed through TSA security. When packing your sandwich, make sure to use ingredients that travel well and won’t spoil, like bread, deli meat, cheese, peanut butter, or other shelf-stable fillings. Use leakproof containers like plastic bags or Tupperware and pack your sandwich in your carry-on luggage. Refrigerate until departure time to keep it fresh. Some tips for the best travel sandwiches are to use sturdy bread, spread condiments between layers, wrap tightly, and avoid ingredients that are messy or strong-smelling. With careful preparation and packing, sandwiches can be a tasty and convenient meal to enjoy while flying.

Can You Bring Sandwiches on a Plane?

Yes, sandwiches are allowed in both carry-on and checked luggage for air travel. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), solid foods such as sandwiches are permitted on airplanes. Sandwiches meet the requirement of being able to be opened and examined during the security screening process.

As long as your sandwich does not contain prohibited fillings like meat or cheese exceeding 3 ounces or spreads over 3.4 ounces, it can pass through security. Sandwiches are a great TSA-approved food idea when traveling by air.

Why Bring Sandwiches on Flights

Sandwiches make excellent airplane meals for several reasons:

Easy to Pack

Sandwiches are simple to prepare ahead of time and pack in your bag. Just assemble your favorite sandwich at home and bring it along. No need to buy food once you get to the airport.


You can customize a sandwich with your preferred flavors, ingredients, and fillings. Tailor it to your tastes.


Sandwiches are designed to be held and eaten without utensils or a plate. This makes them very portable and convenient to eat while seated on a plane.

Non-Perishable Options

Many sandwich ingredients like peanut butter, certain cheeses, and lunchmeat do not require refrigeration which is perfect for travel.


Sandwiches make a filling mini-meal that can tide you over during a lengthy flight. Hearty bread and protein fillings will keep you satisfied.


Packing your own sandwich avoids the expensive food prices at the airport and on the airplane. You can customize it for less.

Choosing the Best Fillings

The key to delicious airplane sandwiches is choosing fillings that are tasty even after several hours of transport. Here are some of the best sandwich fillings for travel:


Choose bread that is sturdy enough to hold up during transport and biting. Breads like whole grain, seeded, crusty artisan, rolls, bagels, and wraps make good travel sandwich bases. Avoid soft bread types that can get soggy.


Spreads like mustard, mayo, hummus, or avocado add moisture and flavor. Make sure to spread between each layer of fillings to prevent the bread from getting soggy.


Sliced cheese including cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, and provolone hold up well. Small amounts of soft spreadable cheese like cream cheese or goat cheese also work.


Deli meats such as ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, and bologna travel well. For longer flights, choose cured meats like salami.

Peanut Butter or Nut Butter

These nutty spreads do not require refrigeration. Go for creamy or crunchy.


Sturdy vegetables that retain texture like bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, spinach, and sprouts make tasty, healthy fillings.

Fruits and Jams

Bananas, apples, dried fruits, and jams or marmalades with seeds or chunks provide nice flavors and textures.


Oils, mustards, pesto, chutneys, hot sauces, or pickles can liven up your sandwich. Spread condiments between layers.

Foods to Avoid as Fillings

Some foods are risky or not recommended for airplane sandwich fillings since they may cause the sandwich to get soggy, spoil, leak, or smell strongly. Your best bet is to avoid:

– Raw eggs – Risk of salmonella poisoning
– Lettuce or leafy greens – Wilt and get soggy
– Tomatoes – Can make bread soggy unless sliced thinly
– Cucumbers – Release lots of moisture
– Pickles – Can leak brine
– Leftover meat – Spoils without refrigeration
– Fresh meat – Requires cooling
– Loose spreads – Can leak out
– Tuna salad – Smells strongly to neighbors
– Sauces like gravy or salad dressing – Tend to leak

Stick with sturdy vegetables, cheeses, lunchmeats, nut butters, jams, and well-contained condiments.

How to Pack Sandwiches for Travel

Packing your sandwiches properly ensures they stay fresh, intact, and appetizing on your trip. Here are some tips:

Assemble sandwiches beforehand

Make sandwiches before leaving home so they are ready to grab and go. Lay out all ingredients and spreads.

Keep cold until departure

Store assembled sandwiches in the refrigerator until it’s time to leave for maximum freshness.

Use leakproof containers

Pack sandwiches in something airtight like Tupperware, Gladware, or zip top plastic bags. This prevents leaks or spills in your bag.

Wrap individually

If making multiple sandwiches, wrap each one separately in plastic wrap or foil before putting in container.

Include ice packs

For longer flights of several hours, consider using small ice packs to keep the sandwiches cold.

Pack in carry-on bag

Don’t check your sandwiches! Carry them with you in your carry-on luggage only for access during your trip.

Transport horizontally

Try to keep your bag flat with sandwiches horizontal to avoid sandwich ingredients getting crushed or piled on top of each other.

Are There Any Restrictions?

The main restrictions for packing sandwiches on flights relate to the 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-ons. All liquid, spread, and gel sandwich fillings must adhere to these TSA requirements:

– Containers must be 3 ounces or smaller
– All liquids must fit in one quart-sized bag
– Only one bag per traveler

So condiments, spreads, dressings, or other wet fillings should not exceed 3 ounces each. Meats and cheeses can also only be 3 ounces per sandwich.

As long as you follow these rules, your sandwiches should make it through airport security with no issues!

Sandwich Recipes for Flights

Here are some great sandwich recipes and combinations that are well-suited for traveling by air:

Italian Sub

– Baguette or sub roll
– Salami
– Ham
– Provolone
– Tomato slices
– Lettuce
– Onion
– Olive oil and red wine vinegar
– Oregano


– Peanut butter
– Banana slices
– Bacon
– Honey
– Bread


– Baguette
– Fresh mozzarella
– Tomato
– Basil leaves
– Olive oil
– Balsamic vinegar

Turkey and Cheese

– Whole wheat bread
– Turkey breast
– Havarti cheese
– Avocado
– Lettuce
– Mustard

Ham and Swiss

– Rye bread
– Deli ham
– Swiss cheese
– Dijon mustard
– Pickles

Other Foods That Travel Well

In addition to sandwiches, many other foods are easily transportable for airplane snacks and meals:

– Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, bananas
– Dried fruit, fruit cups, applesauce
– Crackers, pretzels, granola bars
– Nuts, nut butters
– Protein or snack bars
– Hummus and cut veggies
– Yogurt
– Cheese sticks or cubes
– Hard boiled eggs
– Trail mix

Pair your sandwich with snacks like these for a well-rounded and portable in-flight meal.

Airline Rules to Know

When packing your own sandwiches and foods, be aware of these common airline rules:

– All carry-on foods must pass TSA inspection
– No beverages over 3 ounces allowed through security
– Consumption of personal food only permitted during cruise portions of flight
– Avoid strong odors that could disturb neighbors
– No alcohol allowed from outside the aircraft
– Failure to comply with requests to remove food items can result in denied boarding

As long as you follow TSA liquid guidelines and crew instructions, you should have no issues enjoying your sandwiches during your trip.

Storing in Checked Luggage

It’s best to avoid stowing sandwiches in your checked bags if possible. Checked luggage can experience very cold temperatures in the cargo hold, which risks freezing your sandwiches. Freezing and thawing can make the bread soggy and impact the texture of sensitive ingredients.

However, if you need to check a sandwich, here are some tips:

– Pack in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack
– Wrap very securely in plastic wrap and foil
– Place in a hard-sided container protected from compression
– Use ice packs or gel packs to prevent freezing
– Place paper towels inside to absorb moisture
– Unless the flight is over 8 hours, it should be fine

Ideally though, keep your sandwiches in your carry-on for the most delicious enjoyment in-flight!

Buying Sandwiches at the Airport

If packing your own sandwiches is not an option, many airports offer grab-and-go sandwiches for purchase:

– Airport sandwich shops and kiosks like Villa Italian Kitchen or POT
– Convenience shops like Hudson News
– Fast food chains like McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts
– Sit down restaurants and cafes
– Food courts may have vendors with pre-made options

Look for sandwiches that are pre-assembled on site with quality ingredients. Check the prices between vendors to find the best value. And give yourself enough time before your flight to pick up sandwiches.

Can Kids Bring Sandwiches?

Yes, children can certainly pack sandwiches to eat during flights. All the same tips and rules apply. Some kid-friendly sandwich ideas include:

– Peanut butter and jelly
– Nutella
– Turkey and cheese
– Ham and cheese
– Simple butter
– Cream cheese spreads

Pack sandwiches for your children in reusable spill-proof containers labeled with their name. Include small ice packs to keep cold. Let flight attendants know you have their food onboard. With sandwiches, flights can feel like lunchtime for kids!

Low Carb and Keto Options

Sandwiches can also fit into low carb and ketogenic diets for travel:

– Lettuce wrap instead of bread
– Tomato slices instead of bread
– Cucumber slices instead of bread
– Turkey roll-ups with cheese slices
– Egg salad lettuce cups
– Tuna salad on celery sticks
– Chicken salad on cucumber rounds
– Roast beef roll with pickles and cheese

Get creative with keto “breads” and fillings. The portability of sandwiches makes them work for many dietary needs.

Vegan and Vegetarian Ideas

Vegans and vegetarians can also pack satisfying sandwich options:

– Hummus and cucumber
– Peanut butter and jam
– Guacamole and peppers
– Egg salad with mashed tofu
– Grilled vegetables with pesto
– Avocado, tomato and sprouts
– Veggie burger patties
– Grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers
– Lentil pate and pickled onions

With so many meatless proteins and vitamin-packed veggies, flavorful meatless sandwiches abound.

Gluten-Free Breads

Those avoiding gluten have many gluten-free bread options for sandwiches:

– Sliced gluten-free bread
– Lettuce leaves
– Rice paper
– Tortillas or flatbread
– Gluten-free pita
– Cassava flour tortillas
– Sliced lunchmeat
– Sweet potato toast
– Rice cakes

Get creative with gluten-free grains, vegetables or cheese as sandwich holders. The fillings can be enjoyed gluten-free.

Food Allergies and Restrictions

When packing your own sandwiches, you can control the ingredients to accommodate food allergies, sensitivities or restrictions:

– Nut allergies – Avoid peanut butter and other nut spreads
– Dairy allergy – Use non-dairy cheese and spreads
– Wheat allergy – Choose gluten-free, grain-free or lettuce wraps
– Egg allergy – Avoid egg salad sandwiches
– Soy allergy – Read labels and avoid soy-based products
– Vegetarian/vegan – Use plant-based protein fillings
– Kosher – Look for kosher-certified ingredients

Carefully check all labels and food prep surfaces for possible cross-contamination if you have severe allergies. Inform flight attendants of any life-threatening allergies.

Making Sandwiches Kid-Friendly

Here are tips for sandwich success with picky eaters:

– Allow them to customize their own
– Cut thinly and into fun shapes with cookie cutters
– Create a sandwich bar with choice of ingredients
– Try dips like mustard, ketchup, ranch or hummus for dipping
– Make faces out of veggies and lunchmeat cuts
– Add in favorite snacks like cheese crackers or chips
– Use cookie cutters to cut bread into fun shapes
– Serve with sweet treats like cookies, fruit snacks or yogurt

Giving kids choices, making it fun and including sweet pairings can help encourage sandwich eating.

Troubleshooting Guide

Issue Solution
Bread is soggy Use a sturdier bread type, toast bread before assembling, spread condiments between layers
Sandwich fillings spilled Wrap tightly and securely, pack in a leakproof container, transport flat
Bread got crushed Use a harder container, keep bag upright, put paper towels inside
Meat smells bad Avoid raw meats, deli meats, tuna salad, egg salad. Opt for peanut butter, cheese, vegetables.
Sandwich froze Only pack in carry-on, use insulated bag and ice pack if checking

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best bread for a travel sandwich?

Breads like whole grain, seeded bread, crusty rolls, bagels, and flour or corn tortillas hold up best. Avoid soft sandwich breads.

Can you take a sandwich in your carry-on?

Yes, sandwiches in your carry-on comply with TSA liquid rules and food allowances. Just follow 3-1-1 guidelines for any spreads.

Do sandwiches need to stay cold?

Not necessarily, as ingredients like cheese, lunchmeat, peanut butter, and many condiments don’t require refrigeration. But for longer flights, ice packs help.

What’s the best way to prevent a soggy sandwich?

Using a bread with a sturdy crust, toasting it first, and spreading wet ingredients between layers instead of directly on bread prevents sogginess.

Can you pack tuna sandwiches or egg salad?

It’s not recommended, as these tend to smell strongly and may disturb fellow passengers. Choose less pungent fillings.


Sandwiches make the ideal travel-friendly meal. As long as you follow TSA rules for carry-ons, pack them properly, and choose fillings that hold up, you can enjoy delicious custom sandwiches on your next flight. With careful preparation and storage, sandwiches can withstand transport and taste fresh. So go ahead and pack your favorite sandwich combo to enjoy tasty savings and satisfaction when flying.

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