Food and Meal Ideas for Flights

FareCompare recently posted an item about American Airlines cutting back on meals for some first and business class passengers. Alas, some of these folks may not be used to foraging for themselves, so – strictly as a public service – we are offering food suggestions solicited from FareCompare’s well-traveled employees. Bon appetit!

NOTE: We did not count calories, we did not examine nutritional content. You’re on your own.

What to bring from home

The concept of “bringing food from home” did not seem to occur to most of the males; as one put it, “I never really think that far ahead.” To be fair, not many women did either but here’s what people who cook (or can open a box) suggested.

  • Kind Bars: These energy-type bars are described on the website as “healthy and tasty.”
  • Nuts and/or granola: Grab a zip bag, fill ‘er up. Fun fact: 10 itty-bitty macadamia nuts = 200 calories.
  • Beef jerky: If you run short, Man Crates will ship you a Bacon Jerkygram for $24.99.
  • Fruit: This was mentioned by exactly two employees: one female, one male. Make of that what you will.
  • Chocolate or Peanut M&Ms: Remind me to sit next to this guy.
  • Hummus: This vegetarian treat received two votes. Suggestion: Slather hummus between two rice cakes.
  • Kale chips: If that sounds a little too healthy, check out this recipe for Chocolate Kale Chips.
  • Vodka:We refill airplane mini-bottles and stick them in the quart size zip bag,” said one of FareCompare’s more creative employees and since airlines charge about $7 per drink, he figures he saves a bundle. “You can fit eight of those bottles in a quart bag,” he added.

Food in the Airport

No time or inclination to bring something from home? No problem. Airports are loaded with interesting restaurants. Here are some of the more  popular cuisines.

  • Starbucks: Not much in the way of food, but the coffee is addictive.
  • Generic sandwich shops/kiosks: Top picks were ham and Swiss on sourdough, chicken or turkey on wheat. Does white bread still exist?
  • Mexican: Burritos got the nod here, possibly because they’re vaguely portable.
  • American: Few admitted patronizing fast food establishments and only two were named (Subway and McDonald’s); the employee who mentioned the latter suggested it was an “emergency-type deal” only.
  • Barbeque: A resident ‘Q expert listed two airport favorites – Salt Lick BBQ and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (don’t forget your side of Jalapeno beans).
  • News store: One employee stated every flight must include “an over-priced package of spicy snack stuff, you know, peanuts with little sesame sticks and who-knows-what. It probably has the nutritional value of a door knob.”

Food on a Plane

Some were okay with food-for-purchase on planes, while others balked at the high prices. One fellow said he’d only buy airline food if “desperate” but a few hearty souls endorsed the following.

  • Cheese and fruit plates: $8.29 on American.
  • Snack boxes with crackers, nuts, etc: $7.99  to $8.99 on United.
  • Alcohol: But don’t overdo it. You wouldn’t want to end up as the next “bad passenger” item in our weekly round-up of crazy airline stories, would you?

Food You Don’t Want to Sit Next To

Many said planes are no place for anything stinky, anything sloppy or – our personal favorite – “anything that squirts.” Beyond that, no-nos include the following:

  • Boiled eggs: Blame it on the smell.
  • Chinese food:  “I love Chinese food,” said one FareCompare employee, but recalled a flight marred by the “greasy smell of noodles, chicken, beef and veggies at 6:30 a.m.”
  • Curry: Another candidate for the odor factor.
  • Fish: Judging by the number of anti-fish folks, there’s the germ of a movie plot in here somewhere. “Stinks on a Plane”?
  • Garlic: Please don’t. Wait for the annual Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif. (home of garlic ice cream).
  • Personal-size pizza: Dissed by one man, not due to odor or messiness but because “I was incredibly jealous.”

Reminder: Don’t Bring This through Security

The TSA has a comprehensive list of banned items on their site but here’s a quick refresher.

  • No liquids in bottles larger than 3.4 ounces
  • No gooey items such as jams or jellies
  • No peanut butter in large jars (maybe because it can be a pretty good hiding place for stuff like marijuana)


Published: August 6, 2014