If you’re planning on flying this holiday season, you might have wondered about the best airline food options out there. Airplanes aren’t exactly known for serving gourmet meals, but sometimes you simply need to eat during a flight, especially a long one. Luckily, recent research suggests that it is possible to eat a little healthier and even enjoy your meal on a plane — if you travel on the right airline.
A November 2018 study by the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center at the City University of New York and DietDetective.com revealed which airlines currently offer the best healthy and tasty options, and which ones are lacking in this regard. Researchers assigned a health score for 11 different airlines based on health quality and calorie levels in meals and snacks, transparency in regard to showing nutritional information, improvement of healthy offerings over the years, food and water safety, and menu innovation. As you might imagine, the airlines’ cooperation in providing this information was also taken into consideration.
“This year, Alaska Airlines wins the top spot as the airline with the ‘healthiest’ food choices in the sky, with Delta right behind, as well as Air Canada and JetBlue,” said Charles Platkin, PhD, the executive director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and editor of DietDetective.com, in a press release.
Alaska Airlines recently purchased Virgin America, which was previously named the healthiest airline for a few years. Luckily, it looks like Alaska Airlines kept the healthy spirit of Virgin America alive. In this year’s offerings, the airline swapped out heavier meals like teriyaki chicken bowls for lighter harvest salads. The airline also boasts a healthy Mediterranean tapas snack box, which at 510 calories could be a meal replacement. Packed with olives, hummus, almonds, dried fruit, and a dark chocolate bar, airline food options like this one prove eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring — even when you’re in transit.
If you’re not flying on Alaska Airlines this holiday season, you still have a great opportunity to pick healthy food on airlines like Delta (which has an often-changing menu) as well as JetBlue (which offers options such as chia seed pudding and a Mediterranean salad shaker).
You might be curious about which airline earned last place on the list. According to researchers, the “Shame on You” award goes to Frontier. (Yikes!) If you already have your flight booked on that airline, the researchers suggest that you either bring your own food or opt for just trail mix.
If you’re interested in viewing detailed info about your airline of choice and where it falls in terms of ranking, you can see the full study results here.
Next, learn about the tastiest superfoods that can help you live longer in the video below: