Will a Bag of Chips Explode on a Plane: Uncovering the Truth

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Travelers often wonder whether it’s safe to bring snacks like bags of chips on a plane, especially considering how air pressure changes during flight might affect them. The main concern is if a bag of chips would explode due to these changes, which could potentially create a mess or cause panic among passengers.

It is important to note that while air pressure does have an impact on sealed bags, it is unlikely for a bag of chips to actually explode during a flight.

The pressure in an airplane cabin is typically maintained at an equivalent altitude of 6,000 to 8,000 feet, which may cause the bag to expand but not burst.

Key Takeaways

  • Air pressure changes in a plane can cause chip bags to expand, but not explode
  • Airplane cabins maintain pressure at an equivalent altitude of 6,000-8,000 feet
  • Passengers can safely bring chips on a plane without worrying about an explosion
bag of potato chips

Pressure and Chips

Air Pressure

In an aircraft, the cabin is pressurized at an altitude equivalent to between 6,000-8,000 feet [1]. This means that the air pressure inside the plane is lower than at ground level.

Internal Pressure

A bag of chips is packed and sealed in an airtight container on the ground [2]. The air pressure inside the bag is greater than the air pressure in the cabin when a plane reaches high altitudes.

Atmospheric Pressure

As the aircraft climbs, the atmospheric pressure decreases, causing the bag of chips to expand [3]. While the bag may puff up due to differences in pressure, it is more likely for it to simply expand rather than explode [4]. In most cases, an explosion would occur only if a significant amount of extra pressure is applied to the bag, such as when handling or grabbing it with force [5].

Bag of Chips Packaging

Chip Bags Pop Open

Chip bags may expand during a flight due to differences in air pressure, but the likelihood of them actually popping open is quite small1. It is more common for the bags to simply expand without bursting.

Food Pouches

An alternative to the original packaging, food pouches can be used to store potato chips during air travel. These pouches offer a resealable and convenient container option while still maintaining freshness and flavor2.

Original Packaging

Some potato chip brands, such as Pringles, are already packaged in a rigid container3. This type of packaging can handle changes in cabin pressure better than typical flexible bags, minimizing the risk of an expansion or explosion.

KLM Aircraft

Air Travel Considerations

Airplane Snacks

When flying, many passengers enjoy bringing snacks like chips on board. It’s important to follow regulations set by airport security and airlines to ensure a smooth travel experience.

Carry-On vs Checked Bags

Chips are allowed in both carry-on and checked baggage for domestic and international flights. Ensure that packaging follows TSA guidelines and any size limitations apply. For accompanying dips or sauces, adhere to the 3-1-1 liquids rule.

Airline Policies

Airlines may have varying policies regarding food items, so it’s best to check with the specific airline you are flying with before packing snacks. In most cases, chips and similar items should not cause any issues during your journey.

Restrictions and Security Measures

TSA Rules on Solid Food Items and Drinks

According to TSA regulations, you can bring chips and other solid food items on a plane in both your carry-on and checked bags. However, drinks and other liquid or gel-like food items must follow the 3-1-1 rule, requiring them to be in containers not exceeding 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and placed in a single, clear, quart-sized plastic bag.

EU and Other Regions Restrictions

In the EU, similar rules apply to bringing food and beverages on a plane. Solid snacks like chips are allowed, but liquids and gels must follow the 100-milliliter restriction. Different countries may have additional restrictions, so it’s essential to check the rules of any connecting flights and your destination.

Security Checkpoint

At the security checkpoint, your chips can simply remain in your carry-on while passing through the x-ray machine. If you bring any drinks or liquid-based items, you must remove them from your bag and place them in the plastic bag for additional screening.

Bag of Liquids

The 3-1-1 rule applies to carry-on bags for liquids, gels, and aerosols. You are limited to 3.4-ounce (100-milliliter) containers, which must be placed inside a clear, quart-sized plastic bag. The bag should fit easily in your carry-on luggage, and you must remove it from your bag for screening at the security checkpoint.

Types of Chips and Snack Foods


Lays is a popular brand of potato chips that passengers often bring on flights. Due to TSA regulations, they are allowed in both carry-on and checked bags.

Doritos and Other Chips

Doritos, along with other chip brands like Pringles and Ruffles, are also permitted on planes. Feel free to pack them in your carry-on or checked luggage.


Cheetos, a well-loved cheesy snack, can be brought on board as well. Similar to other chips, they are allowed in both types of luggage.

Takis and Other Snacks

Takis, a spicy Mexican snack, and similar items are permitted in carry-on and checked bags. Just ensure they comply with airline regulations.

Opened or Unopened Chips

It doesn’t matter if your chips are opened or unopened. They are still acceptable on flights, but remember to store them properly to avoid creating a mess.

Temperature, Weight and Other Factors

Influence of Temperature on Chips

Temperature impacts not only the taste of chips but also their packaging. The gas law in physics states that the pressure and volume of a gas are negatively correlated. When temperature increases, air pressure inside the sealed bag decreases, causing the bag to expand.

Conversely, if the temperature of the air inside the bag decreases, the pressure will increase and the volume will shrink. This occurs when chips are in a colder environment, though it happens at a slower rate compared to the effects of high altitude.

Impact of Weight on Chips

Weight has less of a direct impact on chips or their packaging. However, it’s worth noting that air pressure changes at high altitude can affect the weight of the air inside the bag. As the plane ascends, the pressure outside the bag decreases, making the bag inflate.

In extreme cases, the pressure difference in an unpressurized or not-fully-pressurized area of the plane may cause the bag to pop open. However, this is less likely to happen in the cabin where passengers sit or in a properly pressurized cargo area.

Economy class cabin

Alternative Food Options


One popular choice for in-flight snacking is a good old-fashioned sandwich. They don’t pose an explosion risk while on the plane.

Meat and Cheese

You cannot go wrong with meat and cheese platters which offer a mix of flavors and textures. They are suitable for consumption at any altitude.


Bringing yogurt on the plane is a refreshing option for travelers. However, be mindful that containers should not exceed 3.4oz/100ml.

Sauce and Other Foods

Sauces and spreads like tomato ketchup, peanut butter, guacamole, and hummus need to be the right size, too. Keep the TSA rules in mind and limit them to a maximum of 3.4oz/100ml.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the pressure difference on a plane affect a bag of chips?

The pressure difference on a plane can cause a bag of chips to expand slightly. However, the likelihood of the bag bursting during the flight is very small. Carry On Baggage mentioned that you might consider packing chips in a different container if you’re worried about the bag popping open.

Can I bring chips in my carry-on luggage?

Yes, both the TSA and airlines permit you to bring chips on a plane in your carry-on and checked bags.

Will sealed cans burst on a plane?

Sealed cans, such as those for soda or other carbonated beverages, are generally safe to bring on a plane. However, be cautious with cans that have been subjected to drastic temperature changes or are damaged, as these might have a higher risk of bursting.

At what altitude do bags of chips burst?

There isn’t a definitive altitude at which bags of chips will burst. Different factors such as the bag’s material, size, and sealed air pressure can influence the bursting point. Generally, the risk of a bag bursting during a flight is very low.

Are Pringles allowed on a plane?

Yes, Pringles are allowed on a plane. Similar to other chips, they can be packed in both your carry-on and checked bags. Just be aware of the space they take up and consider packing them in a more compact or protective container, if possible.

Is it safe to pack chips in a suitcase?

It is safe to pack chips in a suitcase, whether you’re using a carry-on or checked luggage. Make sure to place the bag of chips in a secure area, surrounded by soft items or clothing, to reduce the risk of crushing or damage during your journey.

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