Fresh fruit is tasty, healthy and easy to carry when you’re on the go. But can you bring fruit on an airplane? The good news is that when it comes to travelling domestically, you can almost always take along your favorite fruit for a quick snack. The rules get trickier, though, when you’re flying internationally. Here are the basics you need to know for taking fruit on a plane
TAKING FRUIT ON FLIGHTS ORIGINATING IN THE U.S.A.
Yes — as long as you are boarding a flight in the continental United States. If that’s the case, the will allow you to bring practically any type of fresh fruit through airport security in your carry-on luggage. Both whole and cut-up fresh fruits are allowed through the TSA security checkpoint; dried fruits are also fine.
The exception to the rule: If you are flying from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland, you cannot take most fresh fruits and vegetables on board. And if you are flying to Hawaii, you must declare all fresh fruits and vegetables you bring upon arrival; these may be inspected and prohibited depending on type and origin.
In general, there is no limit to the quantity of fresh or dried fruit you can bring through airport security — you can pack as many apples, oranges, bananas or other fresh fruits as you’d like into your allowable carry-on baggage. Whole, unpeeled fruits don’t require any additional wrapping on your behalf. If you’re taking sliced fruit, you’ll need to wrap it up or place it in a resealable bag or container with a secure-fitting lid.
The only types of fruits that the TSA places a quantity limitation on are fruits that have been packaged along with liquid — fruit salad with added juice, for instance — and processed fruits that have a liquid or gel-like consistency, such as applesauce, fruit juice, fruit jams, and squeezable fruit pouches. These all fall under the TSA’s “” which requires that all liquids and gels in your carry-on luggage be stored in 3.4-ounce or smaller containers — all of which must fit into one quart-sized plastic bag.
You can bring fruit on an international flight departing from the U.S. — but depending on where you’re going, you may not be able to take the fruit off the plane when you arrive at your destination.
If your intention is to bring the fruit onto the plane in your carry-on baggage and eat it during the flight, you’ll have no issues. The TSA applies the same rules for allowing fruit through security at U.S. airports, whether you are flying domestically or internationally.
But taking the fruit off the plane and bringing it into a foreign country is a different matter. The rules around fresh produce can be strict: Some countries, such as Australia, prohibit international travelers from bringing in any fresh fruits and vegetables whatsoever. Be sure to check your foreign destination’s rules before leaving if you’re hoping to bring in fresh produce.
BRINGING FRESH FRUIT INTO THE UNITED STATES
In the vast majority of cases, the answer is no. The United States has strict rules about allowing travelers to bring fresh fruit and vegetables into the country, due to the risk of spreading pests and diseases to U.S. crops.
Whether you can bring fruit back into the U.S. will depend on the country from which you are arriving. The U.S. Department of Agriculture for checking the restrictions on specific fruits and vegetables from foreign countries.
Note also that you must declare all fruits and vegetables that you bring into the United States — whether they are allowable or not — to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and permit them to be inspected by a CBP agent. This can be a time-consuming process. The penalties for failing to declare your food items can be steep; bear in mind also that the CBP routinely conducts random screenings for arriving passengers.
How long can fresh fruit sit out unrefrigerated?
Most whole fresh fruits will keep well for at least a full day — and in many cases, several days — at room temperature. So if you don’t have time to snack on your packed fruit during your flight, you’ll still have time to enjoy it once you’ve arrived at your destination.
The exception is cut-up or sliced fruit, which will remain safe for only about 2 hours at room temperature. You can bring ice or a frozen gel pack to keep cut-up fruit cooler longer. But be aware that ice or gel packs in your carry-on luggage must be completely frozen when passing through airport security — if they are even partially thawed, the TSA screeners will likely take them from you.