The New Trend in Airplane Food

Is flying becoming “like a 7/11 in the sky?”

Courtesy United Airlines
United Airlines offers three snack boxes: Tapas, Classic, and Savory.

Is airplane food making you feel like you’re at “a 7-Eleven in the sky?” When 9/11 crippled the airline industry many airlines stopped serving free food to save money. What has sprung up in the ensuing decade is a veritable flying convenience store, and healthy is not really on the menu, reports the Wall Street Journal. Or is it?

Northwest Airlines’ best seller is a reheated quarter-pound burger, says However, Delta (which owns Northwest) also offers the Delta’s Eat menu on some flights. The menu has two snack boxes, one with a convenience store assortment of crackers, spreads, and chocolate and the other with The Gracious Gourmet Mediterranean Vegetable Spread, organic Dr. Kracker Snackers, and other healthier sounding goodies.

United and Continental (which merged in 2011) offer 3 different snack boxes varying in health value, with the most popular being a convenience store goodie bag of goldfish crackers, jelly beans, salami, chips, and cookies. They also have a healthier Tapas box with hummus, gourmet crackers, and natural almonds. Sadly their organic snack box is no longer offered. United and Continental serve the exact same inflight snacks and meals within the U.S. (except for an angus cheeseburger that Continental serves exclusively).

JetBlue offers four different snack boxes that appeal to your mood and fitness goals. Do you want to Beef Up, Cheer Up, Shape Up, or Power Up?  Some highlights here are Brothers All Natural Fuji Apple Fruit Crisps and Emerald Natural Almonds.

Alaska Airlines has Picnic Packs which offer a tapas blend, a traditional picnic spread, and one that claims to be good for the heart.

Despite the popularity of the microwaved burger, the trend appears to be shelf-stable foods with healthier options available. Gourmet brands like Jelly Belly, Kettle Chips, and Pepperidge Farms are jumping on board alongside some trendy all-natural foods like Brothers All Natural fruit crisps and other items more at home in a Whole Foods than a 7-Eleven. While these boxes have a convenience store feel, and people still love burgers and salami and cheese, frequent fliers can at least eat healthy on some flights, if they want to. Things may be looking up.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest