I was reading this article and came across the term 'cooler bag'.

Looking up on the web, they seem to be Thermal bags in which you can have food items. Now if I were to bring food in such Thermal bags, would they be counted as part of carry-on allowance or not ?

I ask as food is something I would eat either in the airport or in air if no meals are being given etc. so it would not remain static as other things, clothes, laptop etc.

  • Yes, they would; bags are bags.
    – Giorgio
    Jan 18, 2017 at 19:26
  • Why wouldn't they be? My understanding is that anything that is not on you (clothes, inside pockets) etc. counts as a carry-on.
    – Kuba
    Jan 18, 2017 at 19:26
  • 1
    Anything you carry onto the plane is counted as part of your carry-on. Whether you are allowed a special cooler bag with all kinds of food depends on security and sometimes the airline. Cooler bags as such are not a problem, I used one in the past but only because it was a nice shape.
    – Willeke
    Jan 18, 2017 at 19:26
  • @all I updated my query, maybe it makes more sense now.
    – shirish
    Jan 18, 2017 at 19:29
  • About the edit - if you eat it in the airport and bring only empty bag with you (inside other bag) I see no problem. If you get bag full of food to eat it during the flight it's still carry on, they're checking that when entering the plane, not when leaving.
    – Kuba
    Jan 18, 2017 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


This is very complicated. Sure, a thermal bag is a bag, end of story, but what do you plan to put inside it and where?

In general, carrying cooked food across security is near impossible where liquid restrictions are in effect. You'd need to have some food which does not have any liquid and even then they might deny you because pasta, certain kind of sausages, cheese spread etc count as liquids.

It becomes more interesting if you buy food at the airport past security because some airports will allow you to buy food you can carry on and if you move a cooler bag from your carry on to the inside of the "food on the fly" paper bag just so the food lasts longer, I do not see it causing a problem.


It's not part of standard allowance.

Standard definition of carry-on or hand luggage (example from Lufthansa) is "1 piece", I've never seen an exception for additional food bag. Unless, like in Ryanair, you're just allowed to carry two pieces, but then it doesn't matter if it's food or not.

About consuming it during the flight - hand luggage allowance is (usually) checked when entering the airplane, so the fact that you will eat it during the flight doesn't matter. Your one piece of luggage should fit in overhead compartment / under the seat during the whole flight.

  • OP asked "I ask as food is something I would eat either in the airport or in air if no meals are being given", what I mean is it shouldn't matter if it might be eaten during the flight, as the important part is it fits in compartments / under the seat all the time, especially during departure. So it doesN'T matter that OP may eat it during the flight, what counts is amount of luggage during boarding. Please let me know if you think I should rephrase it.
    – Kuba
    Jan 18, 2017 at 19:50

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