April 7, 2023

To Bring or Not to Bring: Is It Rude to Carry Your Own Food on a Flight?

By Paul William

April 7, 2023

Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links which means I receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through them.

Picture this: You’re on a long flight, and just as you’re about to doze off, the unmistakable aroma of an old egg salad sandwich fills the cabin.

You glance over and see your seatmate happily munching away, the sound of chewing echoing in your ears.

It’s moments like these when we start wondering whether it’s a faux pas to bring our own food on an airplane.

In-flight meals can be hit or miss, and for some of us, snacks from home are comforting on a long trip.

So, let’s dive into the great food debate and weigh the pros and cons to help you decide what’s best for your next sky-high adventure.

Why You Might Want to Bring Your Own Food

1. Dietary Restrictions and Preferences

If you have specific dietary needs or preferences, such as being vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or managing allergies, bringing your own food can make your flight experience way more enjoyable.

In severe cases, these reactions can be life threatening for impacted individuals, so packing your own food just has to be done sometimes.

2. Cost and Quality Considerations

Let’s face it: airplane food can be pricey and often leaves something to be desired in the taste department (though it’s hit or miss depending on the airline and class of service).

By packing your own snacks, or grabbing a burger on the way to the gate, you’ll not only save some cash but also ensure you have delicious bites to keep you satisfied during your journey.

RELATED POST: Why Tomato Juice Tastes Better on Planes

The Case Against Bringing Your Own Food

1. Aromatic Annoyances

While you may be a fan of garlic bread or curry, your fellow passengers might not share your enthusiasm when confined to a small space. **Stares daggers into your eyes**

Packing strong-smelling foods can be a bit rude as it can disturb others, especially those who are sensitive to smells. No one wants to be “that person” who causes wrinkled noses and disapproving looks.

A Reddit user laying down an epic rant about bringing garlic-smelling Panda Express onto an airplane

2. Potential Mess and Disruption

No one wants to deal with a spill or a big mess in a cramped airplane cabin. Bringing food that’s prone to leakage, crumbs, or requires extra utensils can create an inconvenience for both you and those around you. Plus, juggling food containers during turbulence might lead to a not-so-fun cleanup.

3. Allergy Considerations

There’s a reason airlines stopped serving peanuts years ago.

The last thing you want to do is trigger an allergic reaction in your seat mate when you’re 30,000 feet in the air. As a minimum courtesy, you should mention you’re going to eat and ask if it’s alright.

If your seat mate is worried about an allergy, then you should not eat.

If your seat mate is just annoyed by some other factor, then it’s up to you how to proceed. It’s a free country after all.

Tips for Tasteful In-Flight Snacking

Now that we’ve hit on the major arguments for and against bringing your own food, here are some things to consider if you decide to pack a snack yourself to make sure you’re being courteous to your fellow passengers.

  1. Opt for low-odor, easy-to-eat, and quiet items like sandwiches, wraps, or fruit. Avoid any common allergens like peanuts.
  2. Pack your food in leak-proof containers and carry napkins or wipes for easy cleanup.
  3. Don’t forget to check the TSA food policies, and your airline’s policies on bringing food on board to avoid any surprises at the security checkpoint.


Ultimately, whether or not it’s rude to bring your own food on an airplane comes down to how considerate and respectful you are to your fellow passengers.

By being mindful of the types of food you pack and their potential impact on others, you can make your flight experience more enjoyable for everyone on board.

So, the next time you take to the skies, remember to travel smart, snack wisely, and be empathetic to your fellow travelers!

Read Next: