Are Cooler Bags Allowed on Planes? What to Keep in Mind?

As people increasingly crave fresh food during travel, many want to bring cooler bags on planes to ensure their meals stay fresh and ready. In this blog, we answer a common question: Can you bring a cooler bag on a plane? We'll share some tips for keeping your in-flight food safe and delicious.
are cooler bags allowed on planes
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As people increasingly crave fresh food during travel, many want to bring cooler bags on planes to ensure their meals stay fresh and ready. In this blog, we answer a common question: Can you bring a cooler bag on a plane? We’ll share some tips for keeping your in-flight food safe and delicious.

Rules for Carrying Cooler Bags on Planes

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules, cooler bags can be carried as carry-on or checked luggage. Of course, they must meet the airline’s size and weight limits. Different airlines have varying rules for carry-ons and checked bags, so check your specific flight’s regulations before departure.

TSA Guidelines

TSA rules for carrying cooler bags mainly focus on liquid restrictions. Liquids, gels, and creams must be in containers not exceeding 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and placed in a transparent, resealable plastic bag—the famous 311 rule.

Size and Packaging Requirements for Cooler Bags

Since airlines have different size and weight limits for cooler bags, check your specific flight’s requirements before traveling.

Airline Regulations

Airlines suggest placing cooler bags on top of other items for a smooth passage through security.

Packaging with Ice Packs or Dry Ice

If you plan to use ice packs or dry ice, follow each airline’s safety and packaging guidelines.

Carry Spare Sealable Bags

Carrying spare sealable bags is essential for adding ice or handling other situations on the plane. They’re useful during security checks and layovers.

Allow Extra Time for Security Checks

Most travelers pass cooler bag security checks smoothly, but sometimes there are extra checks. Since cooler bags are different, allocate enough time for additional security checks to ensure a smooth journey.

Personal Experience Sharing Regarding Checked Bags

Now that you know I’ve carried cooler bags on multiple international flights, checking airline regulations beforehand avoids issues during airport security.

Food Choices and Packing Tips

I choose easily preservable foods like salads and frozen fruits, using gel packs or ice bags to maintain low temperatures and freshness during the flight.

TSA Security Check Experiences

During TSA checks, I often face extra inspections of cooler bags. Removing liquids and gels in advance and placing them in spare plastic bags helps speed up security and reduce pre-boarding time.

Alternate Uses for Spare Transparent Bags

Spare plastic bags aren’t just useful during boarding; they efficiently handle a container leak, preventing other items from being affected.

Choosing Between Ice Packs and Dry Ice

I prefer ice packs over dry ice for convenience in melting and maintaining low temperatures. Dry ice comes with additional regulations, making it relatively more complex.

Strategic Placement Inside the Cabin

After boarding, I usually put the cooler bag under the seat, not obstructing other passengers and facilitating easy access. Sometimes, cabin crew may need to inspect, making this arrangement more convenient.

Monitor Freshness During Long Flights

For long international flights, it’s crucial to monitor food freshness, ensuring it doesn’t spoil due to rising temperatures. Be prepared to add ice packs as needed.


In summary, you can bring cooler bags on planes, but understanding and following airline and TSA regulations is crucial. Knowing the rules, packing wisely, and allowing enough time for pre-boarding security checks ensures a pleasant journey with tasty food in hand.


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