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Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

Des Moines, Iowa
posts: 17
reviews: 2
Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

It seems like I can't get a straight answer on this. Will I be able to pack some sandwiches (not medicine, not breast milk, etc.) for my flight along with some frozen gel packs? Or will my gel/ice packs be confiscated?

Neither the TSA website nor any other site has a clear, definitive answer on this.

142 replies to this topic
South Pole
posts: 15,408
reviews: 38
1. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

if the gel/icepacks are more than 100 mL, then yes they could be taken.

it's a grey area. apparently frozen gel packs for protection of medicines may be allowed.

better not to rely on them getting thru just for foodstuffs.

Edited: 8:21 pm, August 12, 2012
Oregon Coast
Destination Expert
for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
posts: 39,050
reviews: 831
2. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

Have you tried entering ice pack or gel pack in the search box on the link below?


You will get much more information.

Des Moines, Iowa
posts: 17
reviews: 2
3. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

Yes I did that and it says that they are allowed for medicine, milk, etc. if they are frozen SOLID. But let's be for real, they won't stay frozen solid for more than 30 minutes! The TSA's explanation doesn't make much sense, and it does not address FOOD.

The TSA site does not say anything about just plain old FOOD. I don't know what to think. Seems like there's a zillion people online who say they never have a problem taking a cooler with food. But then there's the few who say they are def. NOT permitted.


Edited: 8:29 pm, August 12, 2012
Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for London
posts: 48,533
reviews: 15
4. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

You may take non-liquid food items (yogourt, pudding and the like won't make it through Security) but ice packs for food will be lifted.

Why not take an extra zip top bag and ask at a conecession for some ice after you've gone through Security? You could place a zip top bag filled with ice in your chill bag at the start of the journey to the airport, empty the bag before going through Security and fill it up after the proceedings.

posts: 44,807
reviews: 89
5. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

If they won't stay frozen for 30 minutes, something's wrong, but in that case, they won't be effective so why bother? Perhaps you need a better cooler bag?

Spaking of which, taking a cooler bag does not imply taking frozen gel packs, which you seem to assume it does.

I can't see why they would be allowed, if you could get round the no liquids over 100ml rule by freezing it everyone would be doing it! You are confusing the issue by imagining that because the rule doesn't apply to medicines it might apply to food.

Why not freeze the sandwiches, place in cooler bag, surround with ice cubes in bags from freezer ( so they are at minus 18deg C) , then discard ice cubes immediately prior to going through security?

Stanley, Falkland...
posts: 29,068
reviews: 57
6. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

Why do you need ice packs? Most sandwiches will last longer than most flights!

posts: 12,393
reviews: 47
7. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

The TSA site doesn't say that the packs have to stay frozen for the duration of the flight. It does say the gel packs << must be completely frozen when brought through screening.>> so it doesn't matter if they melt within 30 minutes - but how are you going to keep them completely frozen for the duration of your journey from home to screening point?

Why do your sandwiches have to be kept chilled? Perhaps you could freeze the sandwiches?

Des Moines, Iowa
posts: 17
reviews: 2
8. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

Well, I like the idea of getting ice after going through security. That's a great idea, thanks. Now I just have to find an ice pack that I can fill with ice and won't leak.

Regarding the gel packs, the TSA site says they cannot be "slushy" or partially melted" but must be completely frozen. After about 30 minutes, the packs start to melt, so I was imagining that the TSA was going to feel up my ice packs in order to detect any degree of slushiness, and then confiscate. That is what I was referring to by they won't stay frozen after 30 minutes. They will, however, stay cold enough to keep my food cool for 4-6 hours. My flight is at 9 am and I won't be eating the sandwiches (made with cold cuts) until about 1 or 2 PM.

My flight is 8 hours long, btw. With no free meal. Which is why I wanna pack my own food.

Edited: 9:00 pm, August 12, 2012
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
posts: 14,190
reviews: 73
9. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?


When I need it here what I do myself..

Take two zip-lock(tm) bags.. fill the first one with ice-- not totally full, but 1/2 to 2/3...

Then wrap that bag with some paper-towels or napkins from the store/restaurant or even lavatory washroom.

Place this paper wrapped, ice-filled bag inside the second zip-lock(tm) bag and seal..

This way the paper towel that's inside and between the inner and outer bag will absorb a fair bit of the the condensation so whatever you're keeping cool doesn't get totally waterlogged..

When done, open and dump contents as the bags are (or should be) reusable.

Travel Safe,

Detroit, MI
Destination Expert
for Detroit, Travel Gadgets and Gear
posts: 5,310
10. Re: Ice packs, gel packs, etc. YES OR NO?

Freeze some grapes, or take a bag of frozen corn or peas. They will work almost as well as ice and the TSA's tiny brains won't explode trying to decide if corn is a solid, liquid, gel or gas.

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