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I'm from Argentina, and I'm not sure if one can board a commercial flight with mate ("tea"). It's a beverage you prepare by filling a recipient with the dried grass ("yerba mate") with hot water, and drink it from there with a straw-ish.

Will I be allowed to carry it on board, or should I dispatch it with the hold luggage? May I drink it during the flight?

I know you can't board with water, but I was expecting the flight attendants to provide me.

Does any of the answers change between a domestic flight in Argentina - or maybe other mate-drinking countries - and international flights?

  • 1
    How is it? liquid? solid? transparent or opaque? – Vince Jan 4 '17 at 14:35
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    Edited title to avoid confusion with British or Australian English speakers thinking you want to bring your friend... – Nate Eldredge Jan 4 '17 at 19:59
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    @NateEldredge Now it looks like the OP wants to take cannabis onto the plane, to some British speakers. :-) – camden_kid Jan 4 '17 at 20:05
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    "Maté" may be used by some English speakers, but I regard it as incorrect. It's definitely incorrect in Spanish. It's too bad we can't use italics in titles. – Nate Eldredge Jan 4 '17 at 22:38
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    Would be clearer to ask about "yerba mate" – WGroleau Jan 5 '17 at 5:01
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I have heard that people have carried the dried product on board without issue (both in hand luggage and hold luggage, I think) and see no reason why they should not be able to. TSA for example does not identify it specifically as a prohibited item and in the UK for example, caffeine is not a controlled drug (eg mate is available in health food shops, over the internet and elsewhere).

Airlines normally have hot water available on flights and that (in a container!) should be all your require to enjoy your mate during a flight but you may prefer to bring your own guampa and bombilla.

The trouble is that I have also heard of at least one issue with trying to take (dry) mate on board, I suspect in hand luggage. This had not been commercially packaged and I think that rather than argue the case its owner abandoned it at Security. The problem being that when loose it can look suspicious to someone unfamiliar with the product. That is hardly likely to be the case in Argentina, or for any flight departing Argentina (after all, mate is officially the "national infusion" there!), or for a commercially packaged and labelled example. In countries where cannabis is rife the reaction to mate may be different.

However this was the only instance I have heard of any problem with it and there are plenty of other examples of Security acting inconsistently at times.

I hope the above may just be acceptable as enough of an answer to allow me to add my opinion: There is negligible probability of you having any issue and every chance you will be allowed to drink it on board, regardless of where flying to or from, but only if commercially packaged. If loose your chances are not as good.

  • There is also the issue of getting past security with liquids, unless for health reasons. – Rui F Ribeiro Jan 4 '17 at 14:31
  • @RuiFRibeiro I don't think there is much issue in getting anything past Argentinian domestic security ... but as far as I was aware, liquids were not banned on Argentinian flights? – Calchas Jan 4 '17 at 19:46
4

To amplify pnuts' answer, I suggest you pack your mate alongside empty fill-them-yourself teabags. Having the two of them together in the same context makes it more likely that the airport screener will assume the mate is some exotic kind of tea, rather than anything more suspicious.

(Yes, I know that mate is not brewed in teabags; you're using them like a theatrical prop.)

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I am just back from Buenos Aires Argentina via a Delta Airlines flight. At the last hand luggage check before boarding I had a bag of 1 kg of MATÉ confiscated. The TSA agent (not an american) took it saying only 1lbs of "spice" are allowed on board. I can't find anywhere this very specific rule so if you want to have some MATÉ on board you have to carry only small quantities and check before with your airline as I am sure that it would have been no problem with Aerolineas Argentinas or any South American airlines!

  • But wouldn't the airport security screeners - the same people who confiscated your maté - be employed by the airport, or the airlines collectively, and be the same people who'd screen for Aerolinea Argentina? I wouldn't expect the screeners to discriminate based on what airline was ticketed, or even be aware of it. – David Jun 28 at 14:31
  • @David I went through two screenings, first one by airport people and obviously really relax. 2nd screening happened right before boarding at the gate and this time another people very highly hired by Delta Airlines! (probably knowing that almost everybody would fail once in USA lol) Anyway it is a first for me having to pass through 2 screenings after checking... about MATÉ bag it costed me 140 pesos so no big deal, just stupid situation ... Even the guy confiscating it to me was embarrassed for me. – Patrick Lhermie Jun 28 at 21:47

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