Can I Take My Sourdough Starter on a Commercial Flight When Traveling?

This isn’t your first flight, so you generally know which items are and aren’t allowable per TSA rules. Yet this time, you want to bring an item you have yet to take on a plane: your sourdough starter. Will you get caught up in bag check if you try to bring a bread starter on a flight?

According to TSA themselves, you can take a sourdough starter on a plane in your checked or carry-on bags. You cannot transport more than 3.4 ounces of starter, and it must be in one container.

Do the rules differ internationally? Will the altitude affect the quality of the starter? Keep reading, as we’ll answer all those questions and more in this article.

Can Your Sourdough Starter Travel on a Plane Within the United States?

You’re not the first traveler-slash-bread aficionado who has questions on whether you can bring bread or a sourdough starter aboard a flight. The Transportation Security Administration or TSA has fielded many such questions about the same topic, enough that they’ve made a statement about it on their website.

Per that link, the TSA states that you can transport bread that’s a “solid food item” in a checked bag or carry-on bag. Bread in gel or a liquid state, such as a starter, cannot surpass 3.4 ounces in size. You must store the starter in one container and then put it in your checked bag preferably.

When you’re going through your TSA check at the airport, the officers might request that you take out the sourdough starter so they can get a clear view of the rest of the items in your bag on their X-ray machine.

Can Your Sourdough Starter Travel on a Plane Internationally?

What if you’re not traveling from one state in the US to another, but rather, you have an international trip scheduled? Well, if you’re departing from the US, then the TSA still governs the rules about what is and what isn’t allowable on a flight.

This article from USA Today notes that “most of the TSA’s rules are the same for all travelers, whether they’re boarding a quick flight across the state or flying halfway around the world.” Thus, you’d want to keep your bread starter in a 3.4-ounce container or smaller and stash it in your checked bag instead of your carry-on.

Does Altitude Affect the Quality of Your Sourdough Starter?

As you ascend into the air on a plane, your ears tend to pop, right? This is due to the altitude changes, which differ from the pressure you’re used to. That makes you curious whether these pressure changes will affect the condition of your sourdough starter now or even change how its flavor comes out when the bread is finally baked.

It’s definitely true that bakers who live in areas of higher altitudes–such as at 6,000 feet or higher–can have a different final product than those in lower altitudes of 3,000 feet or under. You might have to bake your bread longer, boost the temperature of your oven by at least 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and reduce the quantity of flour. That’s because bread dough at higher altitudes absorbs water more easily and tends to get drier with flour.

That said, given that you’re just flying at a higher altitude for a few hours and you don’t permanently live in a high altitude, we doubt the altitude changes will disrupt the quality of your sourdough starter much. This may not be the case if you’re on a long flight that’s upwards of 24 hours though, so keep the above tips in mind.  


Flying on a plane with a sourdough starter is allowed. The TSA permits starters on a flight if they’re in a 3.5-ounce container and kept in your checked bag. You can also bring the flour in your checked bag to feed the starter.

With all this info, you’re ready to go wherever your dreams take you and have your sourdough starter come along too!


Hi, my name is Amit. I started baking at a young age at my father's bakery. I hope I can answer some of your questions and hopefully you will find some hidden gems to help you out with your home baking skills.

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