DietDetective.com Annual Airline Food Investigation with Health Ratings 2016-17

Charles Platkin

It’s travel time – and according to Airlines for America (A4A), the trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, there will be 27.3 million passengers on U.S. airlines during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period. Once again we contacted the airlines to request nutrition information for the foods they serve economy-class passengers on domestic flights and gathered data stored on websites and other online resources to bring you the 2016-7 Airline Food Survey.

Virgin America is still doing a very good job of creating interesting, thoughtful food in all categories except for individual snacks. In fact, all the airlines could do better with their snack choices – there is no clear leader in this category. Following Virgin America, second place is tied between Delta and Air Canada, whose foods are healthier than those of other airlines. All the airlines have interesting food concepts going on. That said, Delta wins most improved from last year, and has the ability to take the lead if the airline makes a few easy changes.

The “Shame on You” award goes to Spirit and Frontier airlines once again. Frontier in particular basically said they aren’t able to “pillage” through catering carts while a plane is on the ground to get good information. It’s shocking that their media department doesn’t have information on the food they serve. Also, one should note, it is not difficult to get nutritional information for foods Just more excuses from an airline that doesn’t serve healthy or quality food.

Air Canada, Alaska Air and Allegiant responded quickly. But many of the airlines were slow in responding. This year. Hawaiian responded in timely fashion, but without anywhere near enough information. We had to have registered dietitians estimate the nutritional content of all the aitline’s meals.

This has been a slow year in general for innovation in terms of healthy foods, transparency, and food consciousness(no gmos, organic, lighter and sustainable foods). Airlines other than Delta and Virgin America seem very slow to catch on to the food awareness that is going on around the country and around the world. I’d think it would be good business for them to provide better, healthier and more conscientious food
The average number of calories per menu choice was 360 in 2012; in 2013 it was 388; in 2014 it was 397, 2015 it was 400 and this year it’s 392, an 8 calorie decrease over last year. Finally, I want to say that calories are not everything; we are looking at the nutrients in these foods when they are provided, as well as innovations moving towards healthy, tasty, inexpensive, sustainable foods.

Here are the food-service offerings from several of the more popular airlines, along with Diet Detective’s comments, ratings (Health Score: 5 stars = highest rating), calories, exercise equivalents (amount of walking required to burn off the food consumed) and personal favorites.

Summary of Health Ratings (5 Stars is highest): Virgin America 4.25 stars, Delta 4 stars, Air Canada 4 stars, Alaska Air 3.75 stars, JetBlue 3.5 stars, United Airlines 3.25 stars, American 3 stars, Southwest Airlines 2 stars, Allegiant Air 1.75 stars, Hawaii 1.75 stars, Spirit Airlines 1 star, Frontier Air 1 star

Get details for all the airlines at http://www.dietdetective.com/dietdetective-com-annual-airline-food-investigation-health-ratings-2016-17/

Nutritional values with an asterisk are estimated by a registered dietitian

Delta Air Lines (www.delta.com)

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Excellent
Health Score: ****
Average Calories Over All (Meals, Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks) = 527
Average Snack Box Calories =560
Average Meal Calories =628
Average Individual Snack Calories = 153

BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS
Even if you ate before you left home, you are still going to get hungry. We often underestimate the amount of time a trip can take. A two-hour flight could mean four or five hours of travel. Keep in mind that you can take most foods through security, but you need to check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the latest rules about carrying on food and beverages ( www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm).

Here are some ideas for snacks you can bring or buy at the airport:

– Water: Buy it after the security checkpoint to take onboard. Dehydration can cause or exacerbate hunger, jet lag and fatigue.

– Cereal: Shredded Wheat or other low-calorie cereals. Look for portable choices at under 120 calories per cup. You can also look for cereal in a cup. It’s portion controlled in 1.5-ounce packs that are easy to store and easy to use.

– Fruit and salads: Stick with fruits such as apples and oranges that can withstand some rough treatment. You can even bring a banana if you put it in a container such as a banana saver ( www.bananasaver.com). Grapes or almost any other fruit can be carried in a plastic container. Also, fruit and salads are often sold in the airport. They’re a bit more expensive than bringing your own, but at least they’re healthy alternatives to what is served onboard.

– Energy bars: Although they tend to be high in calories and fat, they are generally better than a slice of pizza or a candy bar at the airport. Choose Larabars; they have nothing but healthy ingredients.

– Sandwiches: Pre-cut them into portion-controlled sections so you can pull them out at different times during the trip without making a mess. Chicken, turkey, cold cuts and cheese (on 100 percent whole-wheat bread) are all great options for sandwiches on the go.

– Nuts: They’re a good source of protein, and they help fend off hunger. Portion them into 1-ounce bags (about 160 calories each).

– Dried or freeze-dried fruit and vegetable snacks: Eat dried fruit in moderation: It’s high in calories.

– All Natural Fruit Roll-Ups (no sugar added)

– Whole-Wheat Crackers: Make sure to get 100 percent whole-wheat crackers

– Beef jerky: Especially if you’re a low-carb fan, but not if you’re watching your sodium.

Comments: The airline has had a slight increase in overall calories from 512 to 527. The biggest jump is in the average meal calories which jumped from 546 to 628. The good news is that the individual calories are way down 320 to 153. It has eliminated many of its individual snacks. Delta continues its commitment to improving it’s food in terms of health and consciousness. Over the summer, the airline launched new menus called Flight Fuel, which replaced the EATS program. The new menus attempt to focus on “transparency into ingredient and allergen information for customers.” Along with the new Flight Fuel launch, Delta also upped their nutrition game this year by providing a key on the menu for snack items that are Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Kosher, and Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian. Also, the Tapas box is the U.S. airline industry’s only non-GMO snack box.

Delta continues to work with Luvo (www.Luvoinc.com), which has a very strong commitment to healthy eating. All the calorie information for the Luvo items are listed on Delta’s menu (and online); but be aware that the calories listed apply only to the individual sandwich or wrap, not the entire meal — which can be confusing if you don’t see the asterisk. It would be nice to see other nutrient information, such as fats, proteins, carbohydrates and sugar, listed as well.

Best Bets: For a snack, the nuts are the best choice–even over the lower-calorie pretzels. The vegan, gmo-free Tapas Snack Box is a good healthy choice if you share or make it a meal (it’s too high in calories as a snack). For within the box, the best bests are the Super Seed Crackers, Snapea Crisps, dark chocolate, almonds, hummus, and quinoa with pepper dip, you can pass on the rest.

For morning travel choose the continental breakfast (fruit and yogurt). It’s 331 calories, but save the Kind bar for a snack later in the day. If you’re on a transcontinental flight, your best bet is the LUVO Fresh Breakfast Medley. For Lunch/Dinner on regular westbound flights, choose the LUVO Southwest Grilled Chicken Wrap (without the cookie), and on eastbound flights the LUVO Sesame Grilled Chicken Wrap is a good choice. Again, you can skip the cookie to save calories. For Lunch/Dinner on transcontinental flights, the LUVO Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie Wrap is a good choice and will fill you up (without the cookie). Pass on the Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo and the Black Angus Burger.

Complimentary Snacks (available on flights of more than 250 miles)
Flights 250-599 miles get a single snack – Biscoff cookies on morning flights and pretzels on afternoon flights
Flights over 600 miles get a choice of peanuts, pretzels or Biscoff cookies
Peanuts (70 calories/15 minutes of walking)
Pretzels (45 calories/10 minutes of walking)
Biscoff cookies (120 calories/26 minutes of walking)

Individual Snacks (Served all day on flights of more than 2 hours or 900+ miles)

Pringles $3.49 (375 calories/81 minutes of walking)

All Day Snack Boxes (non-perishables available on Flight Fuel and Flight Fuel Premium all day on select flights of more than 2 hours or 900+ miles. For flights of more than 1400 miles the full Flight Fuel menu is available)

Tapas Snack Box $8.99 (100% Vegan and Non-GMO)
Calbee Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps (90 calories), Mary’s Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers (100 calories), Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate ( 50 calories), Madi K’s Whole Natural Almonds ( 100 calories), Nature’s Bakery Lemon Fig Bar ( 110 calories), La Panzanella Multigrain Crackers ( 70 calories), Pick Pocket Dips Traditional Hummus ( 95 calories), Quinoa Queen Quinoa with Pepper Dip ( 50 calories)
Total = 665 calories/ 144 minutes of walking.

Crave Snack Box $7.99
Nabisco Original Wheat Thins (220 calories), Cheez-It Crackers ( 100 calories), Hormel Hard Salami (110 calories), White Cheddar Gourmet Cheese Spread ( 53 calories), Pepperidge Farm Dark Chocolate Milano ( 110 calories), Original Skittles ( 70 calories), Tic Tac FreshMint ( 8 calories)
Total = 671 calories/ 145 minutes of walking.

Crunch Snack Box $7.00
Late July Sea Salt Multigrain Tortilla Chips ( 130 calories), Naturally Fresh Medium Salsa ( 15 calories), Old Wisconsin Beef Snack Stick ( 50 calories), Madi K’s Hickory Smoked Almonds ( 107 calories), Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate ( 41 calories)
Total = 343 calories/ 74 minutes of walking.

Breakfast – (Available on Flight Fuel menu, 5 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. on select flights of more than 3 hours or 1400+ miles and in select Caribbean/Latin American markets)

Continental Breakfast Plate – $6.99
Chilled fruit served with Strawberry Greek yogurt and a Kind Bar.
Total = 331 calories/71 minutes of walking.

Honey Maple Turkey Breakfast Sandwich – $8.49
Honey maple sliced turkey breast, sweet apple butter and Granny Smith apple slices on a flaky pretzel croissant roll
Total = 326 calories/70 minutes of walking.

Fruit & Cheese Plate – $8.49 (Also available from 9am – 8-pm where Fuel Flight is served)
Muenster, apple-smoked Gouda, and Vermont sharp white cheddar with Rustic Bakery olive oil & grey salt flatbread crackers, California almonds, red grapes, strawberry, and Ghirardelli dark chocolate
Total = 394 calories/85 minutes of walking.

Lunch / Dinner (Available on the Flight Fuel menu 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. on select flights of more than 3 hours e or 1400+ miles and in select Caribbean/Latin American markets.)

Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo – $10.00 (also available on Flight Fuel Premium)
Mesquite-smoked turkey with Gruyère and Roma tomatoes, smeared with a creamy tomato-basil spread and topped with arugula on ciabatta. Complete with Wise Kettle Potato Chips and a Dancing Deer Brownie.
Total = 907 calories/ 196 minutes of walking

Sandwich only: 542 calories/ 117 minutes of walking

LUVO Southwest Grilled Chicken Wrap Snack Box – $9.99-$10.99 (available westbound on Flight Fuel, Flight Fuel premium and flights to Hawaii)
Grilled chicken with roasted tomatoes, black beans, sweet corn, edamame, bulgur and millet with whole grain barley. Tossed with arugula, romaine and a cilantro yogurt dressing inside a tomato whole grain tortilla with green garbanzo hummus. Served with a multi-seed coconut chocolate chip cookie
Total = 799 calories/ 173 minutes of walking
Sandwich only: 470 calories/102 minutes of walking

LUVO Sesame Grilled Chicken Wrap & Cookie $9.99-$10.99 (available eastbound on Flight Fuel, Flight Fuel premium and flights to Hawaii)
Grilled chicken with whole grain rice, edamame, shiitake mushrooms, and barley. Mixed with arugula, romaine, and a toasted sesame ginger dressing inside a tomato whole grain tortilla with green garbanzo hummus. Served with a multi-seed coconut chocolate chip cookie.
Total = 809 calories/175 minutes of walking
Sandwich only: 480 calories/ 104 minutes of walking

Transcontinental Flights from JFK to/from LAX & SFO (Flight Fuel Premium)

Breakfast (Available between 5:00 a.m. and 8:59 a.m.)

LUVO Breakfast Medley $10.99
Cage-free hardboiled egg, baked apple-cinnamon pita with a side of apple-ricotta dip, sliced Granny Smith apple, spiced almonds, and an organic strawberry. Served with Luvo Organic Green Earl Grey tea.
Total = 330 calories/71 minutes of walking

LUVO Chicken Sausage Hash Wrap Snack Box (Westbound) – $10.99
Chicken apple sausage, cage-free hardboiled eggs, sweet and spicy red peppers, mixed greens, and a sweet potato-mango hash wrapped in a chia seed whole grain tortilla with a side of red pepper hummus, fresh grapes and a strawberry. Served with Luvo Organic Green Earl Grey tea.
Total = 513 calories/111 minutes of walking
Sandwich only: 360 calories/ 78 minutes of walking

LUVO Southwest Breakfast Wrap Snack Box (Eastbound) – $10.99
Turkey bacon and cage-free hardboiled eggs with a southwest corn and black bean whole grain salad tossed in a cilantro yogurt dressing wrapped with mixed greens and Monterey Jack cheese in a chia seed whole grain tortilla with a side of red pepper hummus, fresh grapes and a strawberry. Served with Luvo Organic Green Earl Grey tea.
Total = 583 calories/126 minutes of walking
Sandwich only: 430 calories/ 93 minutes of walking

Lunch / Dinner (Available 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m.)

Black Angus Burger – $9.99
A third-pound of Black Angus beef on a Vienna roll with mild cheddar, Roma tomatoes, and romaine, with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise on the side.
Total = 960 calories/207 minutes of walking

LUVO Mediterranean Whole Grain Veggie Wrap Snack Box – $10.99
Whole grain bulgur with green garbanzo beans, zucchini, roasted tomatoes, feta cheese and kale dressed in balsamic vinaigrette. Mixed with arugula and romaine in a spinach whole grain tortilla with green garbanzo hummus. Served with a multi-seed coconut chocolate chip cookie.
Total = 799 calories/173 minutes of walking
Sandwich only: 470 calories/ 102 minutes of walking

Murray’s Fruit & Cheese (Westbound 5:00am-8:00pm) – $12.99
Aged Spanish Manchego (mild, softly firm), Boerenkaas Aged Gouda from the Netherlands, and Grafton’s Vermont Cheddar (rich, creamy, slightly sharp). Served with olive oil flatbread crackers, fig spread, dried apricots, Marcona almonds, fresh Gala and Granny Smith apple wedges, grapes and a Harry & David dark mint chocolate.
Total = 628 calories/136 minutes of walking

Murray’s Fruit & Cheese (Eastbound 5:00am-8:00pm) – $12.99
Includes soft and earthy Murray’s Brie (mild, buttery), brine-washed French Morbier (doughy, pungent), and Irish cheddar (sharp, crumbly). Served with rustic olive oil flatbread crackers, fig spread, dried apricots, marcona almonds, fresh Gala and Granny Smith apple wedges, grapes and a Harry & David dark mint chocolate.
Total = 599 calories/129 minutes of walking

JetBlue Airways (www.jetblue.com )

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Helpful
Health Score: *** 1/2
Average Calories Over All (Meals, Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks) =330
Average Snack Box Calories = 441
Average Meal Calories = 483
Average Individual Snack Calories = 161
Comments: Another year and not much has changed with JetBlue. The individual snacks are still low in calories as well as nutritional value. The airline continues to post nutritional information for its meals, however, they don’t post the nutritional information for snacks. The À la Carte Snacks are no longer available, but they were high in calories, so no loss. Once an innovator in the air, JetBlue, the 6th largest US carrier, has certainly fallen behind in the food department. Upper management needs to take notice of what’s happening on the ground. People are very serious about the food that they eat, and are extremely conscious about wanting healthier, organic, non-GMO, nutritious foods. We need to see more foods like Chobani Yogurt, and fewer Cheez-Its

Best Bets: Still not too much in the way of healthy individual snacks. So keep in mind, the individual snacks are free. and the JetBlue team is generally friendly and will not say no to requests for extra portions. As for the meal boxes, we still like the Pump Up, which has healthy ingredients (Mary’s Gone Crackers-Original, olives, hummus and bean crisps), but remember that it’s a meal and should not be eaten as a snack ( skip the olives if you are sodium sensitive). Skip the other meal boxes, which are high in calories and fat and offer little in terms of nutrition. If you are on a flight that offers the Eat Up Café, the Yogurt and Granola (you might want to limit the honey), the Kale & Quinoa Salad and the Spicy Soba & Korean-Style Chicken (unless you’re sodium sensitive) are all good choices. Skip the Grilled Chicken and Brie Sandwich, which is very high in calories and low on nutrition.

Individual Snacks (all are free)

  • PopCorner-Kettlecorn (130 calories, 4g fat, 23g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 110mg sodium, 1g fiber/28 minutes of walking)
  • Skeeter Nut Free Chocolate Chip Cookie (130 calories, 6g fat, 19g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 95mg sodium, 2g fiber/28 minutes of walking)
  • Snyder’s Mini Pretzels 100 Calorie Pack (100 calories, 0g fat, 22g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 220mg sodium, 1g fiber/22 minutes of walking)
  • Terra Sweet and Blues Potato Chips 1-ounce bag (140 calories, 7g fat, 17g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 115mg sodium, 2g fiber/30 minutes of walking)
  • Original Simit Ring (served only on a single route between BOS-LGA) (330 calories, 7g fat, 58g carbohydrate,10g protein, 550mg sodium, 4g fiber/71 minutes of walking)
  • Cheez-It crackers 1 package (210, calories, 10g fat, 24g carbohydrate. 4g protein, 410mg sodium, 1g fiber/45 minutes of walking)
  • Craisins (until Dec 31,2016) (100 calories, 0g fat, 23g carbohydrate, 0g protein, 0mg sodium, 2g fiber/22 minutes of walking)
  • Shortbread Skeeter ( Thanksgiving week and last week in December only) (150 calories , 9g fat, 18g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 110mg sodium, 2g fiber/32 minutes of walking)

Meal Boxes (Available on flights of more than 2 hours)

Perk Up $7.00
Mix’t Up Honey Roasted Cashew Crunch (120 calories), KIND Granola Bar Oats & Honey (150 calories), Gilman White Cheddar Cheese Stick (90 calories), Fruit Me Up! Applesauce (40 calories), YumEarth Naturals Fruit Snacks (70 calories).
Total = 470 calories, 16g fat, 69g carbohydrate, 10g protein, 475mg sodium, 5g fiber/102 minutes of walking.

Pump Up $7.00
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (84 calories), Mary’s Gone Crackers (80 calories), Olives Basil & Garlic (50 calories), Enlightened Broad Beans Garlic & Onion (100 calories), Lucy’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (100 calories).
Total = 414 calories, 20g fat, 51g carbohydrate, 11g protein, 684mg sodium, 7g fiber/89 minutes of walking.

Pick Me Up $7.00
Trio of premium cheeses: sharp cheddar, garden vegetable, and Gruyere, dried cherries, crackers.
Total =280 calories/60 minutes of walking

Beef Up $7.00
Stacy’s Pita Chips (130 calories), KIND Bar Blueberry Vanilla & Cashew (190 calories), Old Wisconsin Beef Salami (90 calories), La Panzanella Rosemary Crackers (70 calories), Parmesan Peppercorn Spread (52.5 calories), Gilman Cheese Bar (68 calories)
Total = 601 calories, 33g fat, 56g carbohydrate, 21g protein, 1125mg sodium, 4g fiber/130 minutes of walking.

Eat Up Café (Available only on flights between New York (JFK) and the Los Angeles area, the San Francisco area, Phoenix and Reno/Tahoe; between Boston and the Los Angeles area, the San Francisco area and Phoenix; and between Fort Lauderdale and Los Angeles, San Francisco or Lima, Peru) $3-$12­Prices for the individual items were not available
Chobani Yogurt and Granola (on select flights departing between 6am-7:59am)
Fat-free plain Chobani yogurt served with granola and a side of honey.
Total=210 calories, 0g fat, 32g carbohydrate, 17g protein, 125mg sodium, 1g fiber/45 minutes of walking.

Cheese Plate (on select flights departing between 6am-8:59pm)
An assortment from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: Aged Flagship, creamy Dutch Hollow Dulcet, peppery Marco Polo, and Jamaican Jerk-seasoned No Woman. Served with Beecher’s Original Crackers, honey, and fresh grapes.
Total=510 calories, 28g fat, 43g carbohydrate, 19g protein, 810mg sodium, 1g fiber/110 minutes of walking.

Grilled Chicken and Brie Sandwich (on select flights departing between 6am-8:59pm)
Grilled chicken, brie, arugula and cranberry mustard on a rustic roll, served with a side of fresh fruit.
Total = 680 calories, 29g fat, 77g carbohydrate, 29g protein, 1320mg sodium, 5g fiber/147 minutes of walking.

Sirloin Sandwich (on select flights departing between 6am-8:59pm)
Top sirloin steak, red-wine caramelized onions, white cheddar cheese, spinach and horseradish cream on a rustic roll, served with a side of fresh fruit.
Total = 600 calories, 26g fat, 57g carbohydrate, 31g protein, 900mg sodium, 4g fiber/130 minutes of walking.

Spicy Soba & Korean-Style Chicken (on select flights departing between 8am-8:59pm)
Korean-style grilled chicken and buckwheat soba noodles with sesame-seasoned carrot and cucumber slaw, a hard-boiled egg and spicy chili glaze.
Total = 580 calories, 7g fat, 107g carbohydrate, 20g protein, 1890mg sodium, 8g fiber/125 minutes of walking.

Kale & Quinoa Salad (on select flights departing between 6am-8:59pm)
Cannellini beans, dried blueberries and cranberries, quinoa, and grape tomatoes over chopped kale and spring greens, served with white balsamic vinaigrette.
Total = 320 calories, 15g fat, 43g carbohydrate, 5g protein, 90mg sodium, 6g fiber/69 minutes of walking.

United Airlines (www.united.com)

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Helpful
Health Score: *** 1/4
Average Calories Overall (Meals, Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks) = 444
Average Meal Calories = 508
Average Snack Box Calories = 502
Average Individual Snack Calories = 376
Comments: United’s individual snacks are up in average calories from 283 to 375.6, but overall calories for everything is only slightly higher. United is the 4th largest airline in the US, they should be thinking about healthy food. Years ago they were a were number one in this area. The breakfast, lunch and dinner menu has many new options; however, healthy meal choices fare limited. It’s too bad United eliminated the oatmeal for breakfast; it was a good choice. The good news, nutritionwise, is that they did put eggs back into the lineup.

Best Bets: Among the individual snacks, the humus is the best choice. Or else share the Sweet & Savory Bistro Blend Trail Mix with at least a few others if you can. It’s better than the other choices. Get the Tapas snack box, which is high in calories but has many healthy foods, including almonds, olives, hummus and bruschetta; just toss out the cheese spread. You should also share it unless you’re eating it as a meal. Skip the Classic and Select snack boxes. For breakfast, your best bet is the Chicken Sausage Egg Skillet, but skip the chicken sausage to save calories.. Also, skip the ham baguette. For Lunch/Dinner, the airline removed last year’s best bet, the wrap and salad combo. The new options are not great; however, the Mediterranean Chicken Wrap is your best bet and should keep you full. For kids, the Ben Flyin is better than any of the other airlines’ kids boxes and might be worth getting to keep your kids smiling, but probably will not fill them up.

Snack Shop (Available on most flights of more than 2 hours)

Individual Snacks

  • Chex Mix $3.99 (420 calories/91 minutes of walking)
  • Haribo Gold-Bears Gummi Candy 4-ounce box $3.99 (360 calories/78 minutes of walking)
  • Buddha Bowl, Organic Popcorn Himalayan Pink Salt popped in coconut oil $3.99 (550 calories/ 119 minutes of walking
  • Pringles Original Potato Crisps 2.6-ounce can $3.29 (375 calories/81 minutes of walking)
  • Sheila Brownie Brittle 2-ounce bag $3.99 (240 calories/52 minutes of walking)
  • Wild Garden Hummus Dip & Multi Grain Pita Chips $3.99 (210 calories/45 minutes of walking)
  • Sweet & Savory Bistro Blend Trail Mix 4-ounce bag $4.29 (560 calories/121 minutes of walking)
  • Garrett Popcorn Mix $3.99 2.2oz. bag (290 calories / 63 minutes of walking)

Snack Boxes

Classic $8.99
Hormel Hard Salami, Dairyfood White Cheddar Cheese Spread, WOW Baking Snickerdoodle Cookie, Swedish Fish, Fun Size Plain M&Ms, Acacia Cream Crackers, Deep River Kettle Chips.
Total = 599 calories, 31g fat, 67g carbohydrate, 13g protein, 1047mg sodium, 2g fiber/ 129 minutes of walking

Select $8.99
Hormel Genoa Salami, Glacier Ridge Farms Smoked Gouda Gourmet Cheese Cup, Mediterranean Snacks Cracked Pepper Lentil Crackers, Snyder’s of Hanover Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks, Chlostro di Saronno Crunchy Amaretti Cookie, MadiK’s Hickory Smoked Almonds, Marzetti Honey Mustard Sauce.
Total = 536 calories, 27g fat, 58g carbohydrate, 16g protein, 1226mg sodium, 4g fiber/ 116 minutes of walking

Tapas $8.99
Mario Pitted Snack Olives, Herb & Spice Seasoned, La Panzanella Rosemary Croccantini Cracker, 4-pack, Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai with Blueberry Fruit Flavors, MadiK’s Whole Natural Nonpareil Almonds, Heritage Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta, Torino Olive Bites, Pick Pocket Dips Traditional Hummus, Rondelé Peppercorn Parmesan Cheese Spread.
Total = 586 calories, 33 g fat, 56g carbohydrate, 14g protein, 1195mg sodium, 6g fiber/127 minutes of walking

Ben Flyin $4.99
Apple sauce, animal crackers, fruit snacks, turkey stick
Total = 285 calories, 40g fat, 54g carbohydrate, 8g protein, 466mg sodium, 1g fiber/62 minutes of walking

Bistro on Board (Available on flights of more than 3.5 hours within North America and to Latin America) Fresh selections may vary due to product availability.

Breakfast (Available on most flights departing between 5:00 a.m. and 9:44 a.m.)

Chicken Sausage Egg Skillet $8.99
Scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, gouda, fire-roasted onions, spinach, herbed sweet potatoes
Total = 430 calories, 26g fat, 24g carbohydrate, 25g protein, 1050mg sodium, 3g fiber/93 minutes of walking

Artisan Cheese Selection $8.99 (also available for lunch and dinner)
Four different cheeses, crackers, grapes, honey, and chocolate
Total = 404 calories, 24g fat, 11g carbohydrate, 17g protein, 493mg sodium, 3g fiber/87 minutes of walking

Harvest Ham Baguette $8.99
Ham, cheddar, maple cream cheese, sweet brioche baguette
Total = 562 calories (nutrient information not available) /121 minutes of walking
Lunch and Dinner (Available on most flights departing between 9:45 a.m. and 8 p.m.)
Roast Beef Baguette $9.49
Roast beef, three-pepper gouda, caramelized onion, savory cream cheese, baguette
Total = 570 calories, 26g fat, 29g carbohydrate, 31g protein, 1000 mg sodium, 2g fiber/ 123 minutes of walking

Mediterranean Chicken Wrap $9.49
Grilled chicken, feta, roasted red pepper cream cheese, romaine, cucumber, bell pepper, spinach wrap with a Godiva chocolate.
Total = 575 calories, 29g fat, 45g carbohydrate, 29g protein, 1179 mg sodium, 2g fiber/ XX minutes of walking

American Airlines (www.aa.com)

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Good
Health Score: ***
Average Calories Overall (Meals, Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks) = 367
Average Meal Calories = 511.75
Average Snack Box Calories = 497
Average Individual Snack Calories = 246.5
Comments: American now provides complimentary snacks on flights of more than 250 miles – not healthy though. Average calories have gone done other than the snack boxes (398 to 497). Unfortunately, AA decided to remove the Chicken Cobb Salad, which was one of our Best Bets last year, and replaced it with a higher calorie Turkey and Chutney Sandwich.
Furthermore, we were unhappy to find out that the airline decided not to publish food menu information on its website, a strange move leading to even less food transparency. The airline continues to lose out on what could be a tremendous financial opportunity taking a note from current food trends — people care about the foods they eat — healthy foods often have larger profit margins and customers will be happier.

Best Bets: For individual snacks the hummus and chips are still your best choice. Skip the snack box unless you toss the salami and cheese. The Thai Ginger Chicken Wrap is a good choice, but skip the sesame-ginger dressing. For breakfast on flights of more than two but less than three hours (see below) there’s not much to eat; and while the trail mix may seem like a healthy choice, it’s very high in calories, so you would need to split it with at least one other person. On flights of three hours or more, the Breakfast Sandwich is an OK choice as long as you go light on the honey mustard dressing. The fruit and cheese plate has fresh fruit and the cheese can be OK if you share it with your seatmate.

Complimentary Snacks ( available on flights of more than 250 miles)

  • Mini Pretzels (80 calories/17 minutes of walking) –
  • Biscoff cookies (120 calories/26 minutes of walking)

Individual Snacks and Snack Boxes (Available on flights of more than 2 hours departing between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.)

  • Trail Mix $5.00 (459 calories / 99 minutes of walking)
  • Hummus & Chips Gluten-Free $4.00 (147 calories / 32 minutes of walking)
  • Pringles potato chips $4.00 (375 calories/ 81 minutes of walking)
  • Holly Baking Chocolate Chip All Natural Cookies $4.00 (360 calories / 78 minutes of walking)
  • Gourmet Gummies – Organic $4.00 Grapefruit or Champagne Dreams flavor (185 calories / 40 minutes of walking)

Tapas Snack Box $7.99
Genoa salami, peppercorn Parmesan cheese, olive oil crackers, pitted olives, almonds and mints. Total = 398 calories/ 86 minutes of walking

Fruit and Cheese Plate $8.79
Fresh fruit served with almonds and walnuts, Brie, Cheddar, Muenster cheese and a Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Raspberry square. Served with gourmet crackers.
Total = 596 calories/ 129 minutes of walking

Breakfast (Available on flights of more than 3 hours departing between 5 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.)

Continental breakfast $4.99
Plain bagel served with cream cheese, fruit preserve, a granola bar and a banana.
Total = 420 calories/ 91 minutes of walking

Turkey, Apple and Havarti Breakfast Croissant $6.99
Wheat croissant with roasted turkey, Granny Smith apple slices, Havarti cheese and romaine lettuce. Honey mustard dressing is served on the side.
Just the sandwich = 546 calories/ 118 minutes of walking without dressing.
Honey mustard dressing: 140 calories/ 30 minutes of walking
Total with dressing = 686 calories / 148 minutes of walking

Fresh and Light Meals (Available on flights of more than 3 hours departing between 9:46 a.m. and 8 p.m.)

Thai Ginger Chicken Wrap $9.99
Whole-wheat tortilla with grilled chicken and Thai broccoli slaw with mesclun greens. Sesame-ginger dressing is served on the side.
Wrap = 368 calories/ 79 minutes of walking
Sesame-ginger dressing = 90 calories/ 19 minutes of walking
Total with dressing = 458 calories/ 99 minutes of walking

Turkey and Chutney Sandwich $9.49
Wheat bread with apple-cranberry ginger chutney, smoked turkey breast, crisp Granny Smith apple slices and romaine lettuce.
Total: 483 calories/ 104 minutes of walking

Southwest Airlines ( www.southwest.com)

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Good
Health Score: **
Average Calories = 190.4
Comments: Not much variety and not much in terms of nutritional value. However, they are always helpful – that’s nice. Wish they would add some healthy snacks or at least test a few. This is one of the larger carriers in the US, so it would be great for Southwest to set an example and show that healthy food can sell if it is tasty and curated with consciousness.

Best Bet: The peanuts are the best, even though the pretzels are lower in calories. There haven’t been many healthy changes to the menu, and don’t be fooled by the word “veggie” in the wheat thins.

All the snacks are free of charge

  • Lightly Salted Peanuts (70 calories, 6g fat,2g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 40mg sodium/15 minutes of walking)
  • Pretzels (45 calories/10 minutes of walking)

AM Snack

Cranberry Orange BelVita Bar (230 calories, 8g fat, 35g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 220mg sodium/ 50 minutes of walking)

PM Snack
Wheat Thins Veggie Chips (98 calories, 3g fat, 15g carbohydrate, 1.5g protein, 195mg sodium/21 minutes of walking)

SAS Tray

  • Ritz Cheese Crackers (200 calories, 11g fat, 22g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 310mg sodium/43 minutes of walking)
  • Oreo Cookie (210 calories, 9g fat, 33g carbohydrates, protein 2g, sodium 170mg / 45 minutes of walking)
  • Frito Lay Corn Chips (480 calories, 30g fat,45g carbohydrates, 6g protein, 510mg sodium/ 104 minutes of walking)

Allegiant Air ( www.allegiantair.com)

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful
Health Score: * 3/4
Average Calories Overall (Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks) = 395
Average Individual Snack Calories = 379
Average Snack Box Calories = 435
Comments: The media response was excellent this year and helped to clarify some of last year’s estimates. Would still appreciate a few more healthy food items on the menu – I bet they would sell.

Best Bets: For the individual snacks, the nuts might work if you share with at least one other person. The hummus snack pack is your best bet if you’re mid-flight, but the snack boxes are not great in terms of health (and not just calorie-wise). Avoid the Deli Snack Pack, and while the Wingz Kids Snack Pack is not healthy, if you’re nagged by a child into purchasing it, at least a $1 of every sale is directly donated to Make-A-Wish.

Individual Snacks

  • M&Ms Peanut (3.1 ounces) $3.00 (440 calories/95 minutes of walking)
  • Nut Medley (4 ounces) $4 (496 calories/107 minutes of walking)*
  • Pringles (2.36 ounces) $3.00 (375 calories/81 minutes of walking)
  • Gardetto’s Original Recipe (5.5 ounces) $4.00 (750 calories/162 minutes of walking)

Snack Boxes
Deli Snack Pack
Wheat Thins (230 calories), White Cheddar Cheese Spread (50 calories), Madi K’s Almonds (100 calories), Biscoff Cookies (120 calories), Slim Jim (50 calories).
Total = 550 calories/119 minutes of walking.

Hummus Snack Pack
Dipin Classic Hummus & Baked in Brooklyn Pita Chips
Total = 210 calories/45 minutes of walking.

Wingz Kids Snack Pack
Oreo 2-pack, Ritz Peanut Butter Cracker Sandwiches, Welch’s Fruit Snacks
Total = 320 calories/xx minutes of walking.**

Frontier Airlines ( www.flyfrontier.com)

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Terrible and Rude
Health Score: *
Average Individual Snack Calories = 380
Comments: Two years ago the PR / Media team behaved shamefully; last year they were radio silent, and this year they were back with their typical nasty, condescending tone. Here is an abbreviated quote from their email: “Without impeding operations I cannot go pillage through a catering carts while a plane is on the ground to take photos of these items, nor as we indicated can we get access to the catering kitchen….)- feel free to state that for the most recently added items (Chewy Candy – Spree, and the trail mix) the nutritional information was unavailable.” Really, Frontier? Transparency is important, and people do care about the foods they eat. Get some healthy choices and create transparency about your foods. Also, calories and offerings are moving in the wrong direction. Calories are up over last year.
Best Bets: Perhaps the trail mix — but we had to estimate the calories and don’t know the nutrient values – share it and you’ll be safe. Also, if you’re not sodium sensitive you can grab the jerky. Bring your own food is the bottomline.

Individual Snacks (Available on flights of more than 200 miles)

  • Almond M&Ms $2.99 (480 calories/104 minutes of walking)
  • Twizzlers $2.99 (833 calories/180 minutes of walking)*
  • Chewy Spree Candy (No Price provided) (150 calories/32 minutes of walking)*
  • Chex Mix Traditional $2.99 (210 calories/45 minutes of walking)*
  • Pringles Original Potato Chips $3.00 (375 calories/48 minutes of walking)
  • Jack Links Beef Jerky $2.99 (240 calories/52 minutes of walking)*
  • Stroopwafel (No Price provided) (360 calories / 78 minutes of walking)*
  • Trail Mix (No Price provided) 3 ounces (393 calories /85 minutes of walking)*

____________________________________
CHARLES PLATKIN, PhD is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com, and the Director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College. Copyright 2016-7 by Charles Platkin. All rights reserved. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www .DietDetective.com

We welcome comments and civil discussions.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s