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Airline Food Survey: Which Airlines are Healthiest?

Airline FoodCharles Stuart Platkin is the “Diet Detective” and each year he contacts the media departments of airlines to conduct a survey on airline meals and airline food as to which is healthiest. Although not all airlines were cooperative in giving him the info (Delta, US Airways and Virgin America), he has compiled a good amount of data for the consumer. I’ve done this for United with both their Snack Boxes and Fresh Food selections, but as you probably know, airline meals and airline food on airlines constantly change. As a result, the Annual Diet Detective’s Survey is a great resource.

Platkin’s survey is extremely long, and as a result, I’ve provided a summary below. Note that his scores are based on 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the healthiest. Although he goes into detailed descriptions on each item, I’ve described only those choices that are not self-explanatory:

Airline Score Airline Meals, Snacks and Food Offered / Calories
American Airlines 3.125

Airline Meals

Breakfast:

  • Breakfast Café Snack Tray: Bagel chips, cheese spread, Craisins, Almonds, Biscoff cookie = 469.8 Calories
  • Breakfast Café Croissant Sandwich = 320

Lunch and Dinner:

  • Boston Market Chicken Carver with chips = 630 calories
  • Boston Market Deli Chicken Pesto = 1,300
  • Boston Market Turkey Carver = 1,060
  • Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad with SunChips = 470

Other Airline Food

  • Cheese & Cracker Snack Tray = 430 calories
  • Premium Nut Blend = 487
  • Megabite Chocolate Chip Cookie = 450
  • Lay’s Stax Potato Crisps = 900
  • Milk Chocolate M&Ms = 440
  • Biscoff Snack Pack = 576
Continental Airlines 2.5

Airline Meals

Breakfast (Available 5 a.m.–9:30 a.m.)

  • Hot Breakfast Sandwich = 473 calories
  • Yogurt Parfait = 276
  • Muffin = 200

Lunch /Dinner (Available 9:30 a.m.–8 p.m.)

  • Angus Cheeseburger = 680 calories
  • Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad = 345
  • Three Amigos Cold Sliders = 660
  • Asian Noodle Salad = 551
  • Desser: Eli’s Cheesecake Dipper = 430

Snack Boxes

  • Select: Multigrain Tortilla Chips, Fruit & Nut Mix,Chocolate Chip Granola Bar, Crackers, Salami, Peppercorn Parmesan Cheese Spread, Olives, Hummus = 1,123 calories
  • Classic: Fruit & Nut Mix, Chocolate Chunk Bar, Crackers, Cheddar Cheese Spread, Chips Ahoy Thin Crisps, Goldfish = 798
  • Savory: Tortilla Chips, Mild Salsa, Hummus, Olives, Fruit & Nut Mix, Chocolate Chip Granola Bar, Oreo Cookies = 1,040
  • Mini: Kind Almond & Apricot Bar, Yogurt Raisin Fruit Snack, Crackers, Cheddar Cheese Spread = 408

Other Airline Food (Available on most flights between 2.5 and 6.5 hours.)

  • Salted Almonds = 1,020 calories
  • Pretzel Dips = 585
  • Beef Jerky = 162
  • Milk Chocolate M&M’s = 476
  • Pringles Potato Crisps = 230
  • Cheese and Fruit Plate (5 a.m.–8 p.m.) = 457
Delta Airlines 3

Airline Meals

Breakfast

  • Breakfast Snack: Light Yogurt, Granola Bar, Fresh Banana = 430 calories
  • Turkey, Egg Salad and Turkey Canadian Bacon on Croissant = 841

Lunch / Dinner

  • Fruit and Caramel Dipping Sauce = 262 calories
  • Mile–High Turkey Sliders: Multigrain Buns with Turkey, Romaine Lettuce, sliced Tomatoes and Turkey Bacon & side of Jalapeño Ranch Dressing = 960
  • Veggies and Ranch = 142
  • Italian Roast Beef with Fontina on Focaccia = 681

Snack Boxes

  • Travel Treats: Chicken Salad with Cranberries, Wheat Crisps, Peppercorn Parmesan Cheese Spread, Shortbread Cookie, Raisins = 545 calories
  • Flight Delights: Pita chips, Hummus, Dried Apricots, Glazed Almonds with Cranberries, Chocolate Chunk Cookies = 505
  • Fruit & Cheese Plate = 475

Other Airline Food

  • Pretzels = 45 calories
  • Peanuts = 70
  • Biscoff Cookies = 120
  • Pringles = 375
  • Peanut M&M’s = 480
  • Bentley’s Popcorn = 180
JetBlue Airlines 3.25

Airline Meals (Available on flights over 3 hours and 45 minutes)

  • Wake Up: Croissant, Strawberry Jam, Almond Butter, Cheez-It Crackers, Fruit Cup, Chocolate Milk = 783 calories
  • Beef Up: Salami, Organic Crackers, Cheddar Cheese Spread, Bagel Chips, Gourmet Cheese Spread, Apple Fruit Crisps = 478
  • Shape Up: Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus, Pita Chips, Snack Mix, Almonds, Raisins, Asian Pear Fruit Crisps = 484
  • Power Up: Heinz Salsa, Tortilla Chips, Sweet and Salty Mixed Cashews, Pretzel Sticks, Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip, Beef Jerky = 630
  • Cheer Up: Trio of Premium Cheeses: Swiss, Smoked Cheddar and Hot Pepper, Dried Apples and Cranberries, Crackers = 260

Other Airline Food

  • Doritos Munchies Mix = 250 calories
  • Linden’s Chocolate Chippers = 135
  • All Nuts roasted cashews = 170
  • PopCorners Kettle Corn Chips = 140
  • Stauffer’s Original Animal Crackers = 100
  • Terra Blues Potato Chips = 130
Southwest Airlines 2 On short flights:

  • Honey or dry–roasted peanuts = 70 calories
  • Pretzels = 60

On select flights:

  • Nabisco Airplane Cookie = 120 calories
  • Ritz 6–pack Cheese Sandwich Crackers = 200
  • Ritz Toasted Chips = 100
United Airlines 4

Airline Meals

Breakfast (before 10 a.m. on flights 3 1/2 hours or longer)

  • Yogurt Parfait = 300 calories
  • My Smoothie = 120
  • Ham & Swiss Croissant = 338
  • Continental Breakfast = Cinnamon raisin bagel, cream cheese , strawberry jam, yogurt and fruit, nut trail mix = 783

Lunch / Dinner Salads and Sandwiches (10 a.m.– 8 p.m. on flights 3 1/2 hours or longer)

  • Fruit & Cheese Tray = 420 calories
  • Turkey Sandwich: Sandwich, sauce and chips = 600
  • Ham Sandwich: Sandwich, sauce and chips = 790
  • Thai Chicken Wrap: Wrap, sauce and chips = 770
  • Chicken Caesar Salad: Salad, croutons, Caesar dressing = 320

Snack Boxes

  • Tapas: Olives, Artichoke and Red Pepper Spread, Hummus, Peppercorn Parmesan Cheese Spread, Fratelli Laurieri Spread, Crackers, Cream Crackers, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Crackers, Almonds, Candy Mint = 553 calories
  • Classic: Mini Pretzels, Keebler Townhouse Crackers, Oreo Cookie, Jelly Belly Assorted Flavors, Del Monte Vanilla Yogurt Raisin Fruit Snack, Animal Crackers, Goldfish, Cheddar Spread = 666
  • Lite: Lemon Pepper Tuna, Pita Chips, Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzel, Unsweetened Apple Sauce = 430

Other Airline Food

  • Pringles = 450 calories
  • Cranberry Walnut Bread = 410
  • Chocolove Chocolate Bar = 480
US Airways 1.75

Airline Meals (Available on flights 3.5 hours or more)

  • All Day Fruit & Cheese Plate = 470 calories
  • Breakfast French Toast Sandwich Box: Plus yogurt cup, fruit salad, jam, smoked turkey breast, turkey ham, Swiss cheese = 705
  • Beef Reuben: Plus Milano cookies & Sun Chip Harvest Cheddar = 915

Snack Boxes (Available on most flights over 2.5 hours, departing between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.)

  • CaféPlus: Cranberry chicken salad, Cream crackers, Cinnamon apple chips, Almonds, Milano cookies, Toblerone Mini = 579 calories
  • CaféSnack: Almonds roasted salted blend trail mix, Crackers, White Cheddar cheese, Shortbread cookie, mint = 360

Other Airline Food

  • Blue Diamond Almonds = 840 calories
  • Pringles = 480
  • Mini Chips Ahoy! = 600
  • M&M’s Pretzel Chocolate Candies = 360
  • Mareblu Naturals – Blueberry Pomegranate Trail Mix Crunch = 450
Virgin America 2

Airline Meals

  • Hearty Meal: Beef salami slices, Cheese spread, Crackers, Dried apricots, PopChips, Cashew mix and Shortbread = 530 calories
  • Protein Meal: Lemon pepper tuna spread, Multigrain crackers, Hummus, PopChips, Dried apricots and an Almond Roca candy = 390
  • Comfort Meal: Almond butter, Strawberry jam, Crackers, Unsweetened applesauce, Annie’s Cheddar bunnies, Apple chips and cashew mix = 590
  • California Deli Sandwich: Turkey, ham, havarti dill cheese, tomato and green lettuce in a marble rye hoagie roll, Toblerone Chocolate  = 650
  • Homestyle Chicken Sandwich: Chicken salad on hearth–baked nine–grain bread, Toblerone chocolate = 325
  • Thai Peanut Chicken Hand Roll: Plus a Thai noodle salad, Toblerone chocolate = 675
  • Bavarian Roast Beef Sandwich: Plus Toblerone chocolate = 700

Snack Boxes

  • Artisan Cheese & Fruit = 560 calories
  • Power Protein Breakfast: Hard–boiled egg, cinnamon Danish bread, Cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, fresh pineapple, grapes and ripe mango = 385

Other Airline Food

  • Chex Mix = 420 calories
  • Pringles = 375
  • Emerald Mixed Nuts = 425
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies = 330
  • Sweetriot yumBar 65% = 190
  • PopChips = 100
  • Snickers = 528
  • Veggies & Hummus = 275

The one criticism I have about Platkin’s survey is that although it is very detailed and he shows the calories for each option (and the calories for each of its components), he doesn’t get into too much detail about the quality of those calories. If something is really low in calories but has no protein or fiber, you can guarantee you won’t feel satisfied. When selecting from airline meals and airline food, remember to always consider how balanced the meal or snack is in ADDITION to the number of calories.

Which of these airlines do you think has the healthiest food?

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