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Airplane Food

Do you eat what's offered or do you bring your own food? Do you ever ask for the special meals? Is one better than the other?

I'm lactose intolerant but the dairyfree meals offered on planes are horrid. Usually bland, boring, tasteless and unappetizing. They seem to think dairyfree should also be vegetarian and no sodium. I've been taking my chances and choosing from the two options normally offered. Usually there's one that will work. It's a good thing my SO is not fussy, we'll get both options and I'll eat what I can and he finishes the rest.

A friend of mine orders a kiddie meal when she flies. She says they're great; hamburger, hot dogs, all the fun foods! Which got me thinking, are there any other tricks we should know about?

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  1. Airlines still serve food?

    Yeah, the tip is to fly first class. The champagne and Godiva chocolates are lovely.

    Never order vegitarian. A friend always ordered Kosher because she said they were better meals ... but that was in the old days.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      What airline? In the past year I've flown Delta, United and American in first class and the food is a world away from where it was just a few years ago. Unless you're flying overseas, it's just a step up from what they used to serve in coach. So disappointing...it is now just about the presentation.

      1. re: Frosty Melon

        Nowadays, the only 'decent food' airlines are the Asian ones like Cathay Pacific or Singapore. In fact, friends and relatives are taking Cathay Pacific from Vancouver to New York rather than taking the local North American ones. Even the so called 'best'- Air Canada is only so-so when compared to Asian Airlines.
        Foodwise, most impressive IMO is Cathay Pacific where they actually serve cooked to order items like claypot rice and won-ton noodles using the real McCoy not the instant stuff!!
        Hate United, Period!! They actually charged me for soft drink in their Chicago Business Class Lounge!! So cheap a move, I was actually stunned!!

      2. re: rworange

        The kosher meals are usually worse then the ones being served by the airline, the only exception is on British Airways who get their kosher meals from Hermeles.

        1. re: rworange

          Way back, United had some great Kosher meals. That has changed, and somewhat dramatically. I also did so, though I do not keep Kosher, but then, things changed greatly, so I gave up.


        2. On the odd chance that an airline offers a meal, I either get the fruit plate (skip the packaged, soggy muffin) or the Asian vegetarian meal - basically a stirfry with rice.

          Otherwise, I bring my own. Some past hits include sandwiches (nothing messy or smelly), pizza squares (sturdier than slices), homemade muffins, yogurt, crudités. Fruit is hard to eat neatly because of the juice.

          1. I fly quite often and it is a blessing that there are no meals served on domestic flights. Now I am forced to bring something decent. Recently on an international trip and tired of the salt-laced meals, I requested the vegetarian. I got the exact same bland salt free meals on three of the four legs of the trip. Taught me a lesson.

            1 Reply
            1. re: PBSF

              Which airline and which route?

              Many are better, than are others.


            2. My father got sick 12 weeks before 9-11 and I flew back every weekend. One Flight Attendant recognized me after about the 3rd or 4th week and told me to order the "seafood" snack (semi short flights- other passengers got sandwiches/cookies/fruit).. it consisted of 12 chilled shrimp with cocktail sauce or a more freshly made tuna salad-two scoops- along with fancier crackers and a different fruit (I do remember the fresh strawberries when everyone else got canned fruits or whole bananas or whole apples)...

              Ah, those were the days....

              1. Food??? On a recent flight from Oakland to Dallas to Jacksonville we were offered a muffin for two bucks and that was it. On the return trip there was some sort of little "biscotti" it was called that was handed out for free. tasteless and a complete waste. This was American Airlines. Both leaving and returning were very early morning flights, the ones they use to at least offer cereal or yogurt and the like. Now, you had better eat before you climb on the plane if you need a food fix.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rtmonty

                  Again - airline, route, cabin class.

                  Much can differ.


                2. We like to buy airPORT food prior to boarding. Chili Express and Wolfgang Puck Express have great salads (highly recommend the Asian chicken for the latter).

                  1. Last month we flew to Montreal from Seattle--on all 4 legs (2 going and 2 returning) we were offered $3 "snack packs" filled with crackers, cookies and chips. For the last 5 years I have ALWAYS brought my own food--apples and grapes travel well, sandwiches are good. Bringing food from home is easy, but it's harder on the return flight--on the other hand, I use it as an opportunity to hit a local grocery/market that I otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to try. And nothing beats the look of your fellow passengers when you open the Zabar's bag and pull out the prosciutto, brie & french bread (as we did on a recent trip back from NY)!

                    1. I bring my own, or eat plane food IF First or Business Int'l with AA or Virgin who have excellent meals. Fort Worth based AA consults top chefs in preparing the menus (and it actually shows). Virgin has always been ahead of the game and Upper Class is truly amazing.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TexasToast

                        Recovering from jet lag after 2 * 8 hour flights, first BA to London and then AA from london. U r right the food was very good. Frsh salad with Honey dijon with nice ciabatta rolls, Chicken (very moist) with eggplant and rice and a nice cheese plate. Before landing we had single Uno pizzas, not bad. Much better than the food on the BA flight. The BA did have "nibbles" whenever you wanted which was a nice touch. Virgin Upper is the best.

                      2. I didn't think any airline still served meals in coach during non-transoceanic flights. Some offer items for purchase, but does any airline still provide a free meal in coach?

                        Frankly, I don't miss the airline meals and even when I get a first class upgrade, I usually decline whatever is offered to me.

                        Regarding special meals, this option works only if you can count on a firm travel schedule. If anything changes with your itinerary, the odds that the special meal will follow you to your new flight are pretty small.

                        Overall, I'd say that bringing your own food -- either from home or from shops at the airport -- is the best option in most cases.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: silverbear

                          JFK to London last week, but flew FC with Virgin so had the Freedom Menu. The last time I flew that route coach, they still offered decent food.

                          Domestically, I think you're right, though I did have a good meal FC in AA from Boston to Dallas a few years ago.

                          I think everything's been cut in economy though. I know AA sells meals for most flights to/ from DFW.


                          1. re: TexasToast

                            Yes, in domestic economy, AA sells muffins in the morning for $2, and a snack pack in the afternoon and evening for $4, and liquor, beer and wine in economy are $5.

                            In first/business class on AA, they have decent food for an airplane. In fact yesterday they even baked up some fresh chocolate chip cookies.

                            The ravioli with gorgonzola is good. It is spinach ravioli with some tortellini and a creamy gorgonzola sauce. The salad was lame.

                            The chicken salad sandwich on focacia was soggy, but the corn and pepper salad that came with it was delicious.

                            I also notice that they heat up the nuts before serving them. This seems to make them less stale. I think I may try this at home.

                            I've found that a sure-fire way to get upgraded is to eat in the terminal while waiting for my flight. It's like they're watching me to make sure I won't enjoy the food they serve on the plane.

                            1. re: lil mikey

                              I think AA uses SkyChef (or at least they used to).


                            2. re: TexasToast

                              Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class is something else, and especially regarding the food.

                              Also, there are some airports, where the food is quite good, and then... there are some others, where the food is inedible.


                          2. i was just wondering if anyone's tried bringing their own food on since the latest security restrictions.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tuqueboy

                              I've been doing a bit of flying lately, and it seems the security restrictions vary. Generally, though, they've gotten a bit more lax as time goes on since the "incursion."

                              Initially, with some exceptions, you weren't allowed to bring food or drink of any type (this varied a little by airport and TSA agent on duty).

                              Now, it still varies by airport and agent, but generally I find you can bring food if it has no liquid, and it's not in a jar or can. They like to see what's in there. I saw a classic example last week in Montreal (their rules are pretty much the same as the US). A lady asked about a glass jar of peanuts (where you could see what's in there), and was told it was okay. And then immediately, another lady asked about a can of nuts and was told no.

                              The other thing to keep in mind is customs.

                              For years I've tried to bring a couple of oranges with me on the flight. They're refreshing, relatively un-messy, and they have a nice smell. And usually you can bring them onboard, even now. But in Montreal, you go through US customs there in Canada, before you board the plane (I like this as you don't have to hassle with it during your connection). The drawback is that you can't bring agriculture through US customs. So the orange I bought in Montreal (which was a Sunkist orange, grown in California), was confiscated and destroyed before I got on the plane.

                            2. I fly to and from Panama quite often. Copa has horrendous food while Taca is only slightly better. I travelled as early as a week ago and while I can't bring mustards or other condiments, I have no problem packing a nice charcuterie plate for my travels (cornichons, salumi, coppa, three or four cheeses, a hunk of fruit, and crackers or a roll).

                              1. I always take my own food on long flights. If I'm traveling from home, I'll make a pasta salad that holds well at room temp. Brownies or other bar cookies are good. Cold soup is nice. I pack everything in disposable plastic containers and take extra containers for the trip home when a kitchen isn't available. Then I pack good crackers, hard cheese, fruit, chocolate, or whatever else I can buy locally. I've been doing this for many years. The last decent airline meal I had was First Class Air France D.C. to Paris in 1972 -- they even served my Pomeranian freshly chopped filet mignon -- the "height" of service, for sure. It's all been downhill since then.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  We have never brought food, but most often travel FC, so are at the mercy of the airline, regarding the food and he wine.


                                2. the last time i ate an inflight meal provided by the airline was en route to hawaii on my honeymoon 4 years ago-and that was only because we were traveling first class. given that i fly coach 99.999% of the time, i always bring my own food: apples, string cheese, almonds, lara bar and bottled water.
                                  although i haven't flown since the new airline restrictions so not sure how that will go over. i have a trip back east coming up at the end of the month so i guess i'll find out then.

                                  1. If food is being served, I always go with the pasta dish. I've seen too many people get sick off of the "meat", chicken or seafood plates. It's pretty hard to ruin pasta to the point of unedible.

                                    1. I don't eat while flying.

                                      If it's a long flight (ie. over 4 hours), I'll chew on an energy bar (e.g., Clifs, PowerBar, Balance Bar, etc.) or some granola to hold me over.

                                      1. I've flown a few million miles... here's my rule:

                                        Never eat FISH on an airplane. Always go for the CHICKEN... or coldcuts.

                                        STAY AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. The new snack paks they sell on American and United are pretty aweful. Its really not that the items are bad, they're fine. Its just that what they choose to put in them is terrible (dried sausages???... just what Im looking for????... not). The best thing to do is to bring a nice sandwich you made at home and a few other snacks.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: WineTravel

                                          In January/February I flew the Taiwanese carrier EVA from San Francisco to Bangkok and back, via Taipei, in the equilalent of "economy plus" class (Evergreen Deluxe or Elite). The best food among my four segments was a grilled eel over rice (una-don), a Japanese specialty. The chicken looked terrible! But I think the above rules are pretty safe for domestic US travel.

                                        2. I actually think it's fun to eat plane food on international flights. I remember going to spain at 16 and having the stewardesses on Lufthansa bring around pre-, during, and post- little bottles of alcohol, all for free and readily available. The food though...it is one step above a tv dinner b/c it has a cold salad component and usually some cheese.
                                          I do like to sit back and enjoy my tv dinner on the plane and i usually eat most of it, along with the cheap wine they serve. a couple hours later and...you're ready for breakfast.
                                          there was a virgin(?) airlines advertisement for eating business class dinner before take-off. i guess i would need to be a frequent overseas flier to see the point in that.

                                          As for the new products you can buy on continental flights-- uggh.
                                          Also flew 1st class to Dominican Republic and had the worst food ever (can't remember if it was United or AA). i saw they were getting the exact same thing in coach, just that we had free "champagne."

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: fara

                                            Yes, the free alcohol is a nice touch on Int'l flights, but on some flights these days, the selections are VERY limited and are served from large bottles housed on the trolley, and NOT the miniatures we're so fond of.

                                            FYI, AA hasn't served free alcohol in Economy on Int'l flights for years!


                                            1. re: TexasToast

                                              I do agree. Once, on United, he wine list reflected what would be offered in FC, but not now. That list is rather limited, and when you do United FC/BC International often, you rather hate the omissions. I always complain, but those complaints fall on deaf ears.

                                              As we fly US to UK and back, quite often, I do appreciate it, when their Port selection is beyond the Sandeman's Founder's Reserve.

                                              So far, and after the last 12 years, we have not flown UAL Economy Plus to the UK, but so far, we have not been upgraded, though wife is a 1K and a "Million Miler," and I am a Premier Executive Platinum. We might find out "how the other half lives?"


                                          2. OK chowhounds, it should go without saying that no one on this list would eat an airline meal in economy. (short of starvation or a dangerously low blood glucose.)

                                            I have been brownbagging since the days of PeopleExpress (1983) so I have worked it into my routine (Have the cab stop at the deli, pack a sandwich carefully by wrapping each half in saran).

                                            Being upgraded on a domestic flight really poses a dilemma, doesn't it? Someone said it -- all presentation; the best you can hope for is "tollerable". This is not the CH way. Dining on board has always been about trying to be civilized under difficult conditions. So let's talk techniques. For the time being, I am prevented from discussing wine parings on board, but here are some of my tried and true set-ups.

                                            Trader Joe's trail mixes in snack sized ziploc bags
                                            Muscat Grapes in small ziplocs
                                            french bread sandwich with Stilton cheese and proscutto
                                            Curry chicken salad on those crunchy round rolls
                                            (Leftover) grilled mushroom polenta
                                            Stuffed cherry peppers

                                            As you can see, I am willing to temporarily stink the place up. I usually wait until they are serving up their AirFood before I dig in. I got over that concern years ago. The others are nothing but jealous. I am advocating to try to get critical mass brown bagging on board -- advocating for the CH lifestyle.

                                            seat 10A

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: neil

                                              Bravo. There are plenty of great foods to bring on board, and a CH enthusiast should have no problem doing so! Great list; I like to tailor food to where I'm traveling, as so many places (not just hotels) pack food to go, and gourmet stores and bakeries ar eeasy to find. Now if one could order decent wine to go with...

                                              1. re: tdo ca

                                                Yes. When flying from New Orleans (MYS) to elsewhere, one MUST bring a muffuletta on board, with all the garlic, in the olive salad, so that the entire cabin knows what you are eating. Unfortunately, one MUST have many napkins, as it WILL be messy.

                                                Hey, things could be worse - every other flier could be eating kim-chee.


                                            2. Complaining about saran wrapped kaiser rolls with colored meat and packages of expiration date-free mayonnaise? shocker.

                                              In college, flying home after finals usually took place a night or two after finals ended. Most early morning flights included a hangover that ranged from dastardly to deathly, and also included an aluminum foil wrapped piece of pizza leftover from the night before.

                                              The best plane foods are the ones that taste good at pretty much any temperature... pizza, chinese food, leftover stuffing and mashed potatoes... there is also of course my best friend's old trick of bringing on a sleeve of Chocolate chip cookies, ordering a drink of milk, and mixing the two...

                                              1. Before the "no liquids" rule, I read about people who brought there own wine onto planes, in addition to their own food. I never got around to trying that...too late now!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: writergirl

                                                  I did the wine/ alcohol thing. Apparently, it's not illegal if a FA pours it for you.


                                                  1. re: TexasToast

                                                    It isn't about who pours it. You can't bring it through security.

                                                2. I like that they don't serve food on plane. Makes the ticket $5 cheaper that way and I can bring my own food which is better.
                                                  Having said that, if you do get meal service, fruit plates are usually good. I tried out a kosher meal on British Airways and it was decent and looked a lot better then the regular meal they were serving.

                                                  1. If someone brought a load of good food on board and tried to sell it, what would you think?

                                                    1. I fly consistently for work on AA, Continental and Delta. All of the flights within the US have terrible offerings to buy/eat. I always bring a snack on board.

                                                      On international flights, however, I am much more pleased. The meals on El Al are pretty decent in a better than average tv dinner sort of way. The food on Swiss (formally Swiss Air) is outstanding for airplane food. This is my go to airline. I did, however, fly NY - Tokyo on AA this year and the airplane food was dastardly. It must be that Americans don't have been tastebuds:). On a flight on Virgin to London, a friend ordered the veg meal and I took something off the cart. The food on both was mediocre, but he couldn't believe that he didn't get the cookie/donut whatever the sweet dessert was in favor of a fruit cup. He exclaimed - "What they think because I'm vegetarian that I'm healthy?!"

                                                      1. I just flew from Orlando back home to Boston and had 3 bottles of water in my backpack, and went on without any problems.

                                                        I'm flying from Boston to Long Beach in a couple of weeks, I'm going to attempt to bring a few vodka tonics in some sprite bottles. I'll also be packing a couple of sandwiches - recommendations? I know one will be prosciutto & fresh mozzarella.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Biggie

                                                          If you're returning back out of Long Beach, don't bother trying to bring anything on. On recent trip, not only were they screening bags at the normal security point, but TSA agents set up a table at the gate and checked every carry on. They forced one woman to put a packet of mustard on her sandwich before boarding because the mustard was a liquid.

                                                        2. I used to order the Kosher meal, but I only got it around 20% of the time. When I switched to ordering vegetarian, the chance of actually getting it went up to about 60% and they are often actually fresh food rather than frozen. The problem with SkyChef Kosher meals is that SkyChef repackages them in their own boxes, hiding the heating instructions. Kosher meals are not supposed to be opened by the flight staff before serving, so the SkyChef meals are actually given to the customer frozen. Seriously, this happened to me about 5 times. Thank you.

                                                          1. On flights to or from the Middle East, eastern Africa, and south Asia, order the halal meal at check-in. You don't have to be Muslim; and something like goat meat in a fair sauce is usually better than the other offerings.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              Perhaps Sam's first post.

                                                              There were many thereafter

                                                              Filled with a boast of a dude who could back it up..

                                                                1. re: kubasd

                                                                  it's great to see his name pop up again!

                                                                  1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

                                                                    I agree :) ty FoodFuser for the reminder

                                                              1. Recently flew Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and then to Singapore. They give you a menu w/ 2 choices for each meal. In the middle of the hellish 13 & 1/2 hour flight when most were asleep in the dark cabin they brought out "Cup of Noodles" w/ chopsticks- there were a hardy bunch who woke up and ate. Also if the kids were hungry earlier that was what the attendants gave them. The best was getting some Euro style yogurt (thinner & less sweet than US), some again Asian styled pastries that were less sweet and fluffier than the US or Euro norm, and the winner was the congee- how it did not get too starchy and thick upon airline re-heat I do not know, but really good.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: torty

                                                                  I agree... Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines have been the 2 best airlines I've been on with food I'd actually be interested in. I forgot which airline I was on, but they gave out miniature Haagen-Dazs ice cream!!!

                                                                  I definitely bring my own food, especially on those dreadful transoceanic flights. I'll have the "Cup of Noodles" sometimes, and other times I bring my own preferred brand of cup noodles and just ask them to fill it up with hot water. There are times when I can't be bothered to bring my own food, I'll ask for the meal but just eat the fruid salad, pick at the hard, cold dinner roll and eat the little chocolate bar.

                                                                  1. re: alleycat81

                                                                    We got miniature Haagen-Dazs ice cream too on our Air Canada flight to London England. Unfortunately being lactose intolerant that meant none for me and a double serving for the SO. Where's the fruit ice for the rest of us?!!! C'est la vie.

                                                                  2. re: torty

                                                                    I forgot about those horrid "Cup of Noodles"! We flew on Air Canada from Toronto to Hong Kong, 16 hours direct. They too woke us up just to serve those cup of noodles. Ughhhhh...so not worth waking up for. I was amazed at how eager everyone else was to devour them. Definitely not chowhounds! We were also served re-heated pan fried dumplings which were soggy and wet from being nuked. It's a good thing we brought our own chinese baked buns (the ones with bbq pork, coconut, lotus paste and red bean paste), they travel well and can tie you over on a very long flight ;-)

                                                                  3. I have found a defense against the mediocre blandness of British Airways meals: I register as a hindu. I get some funny looks from the staff (i'm white, with curly hair) but also, even in coach, get palatable food. Asian vegetarian is also an OK choice.
                                                                    Otherwise I bring hardboiled eggs, grape tomatoes, cheese, crackers and grapes, and have myself a picnic.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: crowsonguy

                                                                      I flew on British Air in July; interestly, the food on the L.A.-to-Heathrow part was standard airline food (i.e., barely edible) but the Heathrow-to-L.A. food was actually...I can't believe I'm saying this...GOOD. Wow. I ate it all....

                                                                    2. I just flew back to NY from London on Virgin. Ate in the lounge and the plane (on-board made soup) with snacks and drinks service throughout (on the Upper-Class Suite). Not sure what the "common people" were having.


                                                                      1. Sometimes people don't know that there are multiple levels of vegetarian.

                                                                        This might only be applicable if you are flying to or in Asia, but airlines such as Cathay and Singapore (there are others) will offer an "Indian Vegetarian" option that you can ask for ahead of time.

                                                                        I find that stewy veggie curries stand up really well to reheating (you don't really have to worry about weird textures) and spices make everything smell a little more appetizing.

                                                                        Even though I'm a big meat eater this is my best bet when I fly Asian.

                                                                        1. I kinda like food served by Korean Air or Asiana Air. Apparently Korean Air won some awards for airline food many years in running. Korea Air's bibimbop is really clean and good.

                                                                          1. This site is like the chowhound of airplane food:
                                                                            Pretty fascinating, esp. photos of really obscure airlines' meals.

                                                                            1. When I was a a teenager, early 90s, I flew to asia via Korean Air, and I remember having a the Korean "Bento Box" of Galbi, rice, Jap chai, salad, kimchi, and some fishy something. I devoured it.

                                                                              It's taken me this long to go on another Internat'l flight this Jan.'07 to Costa Rica. I will be flying Continental, and by reading this thread, it seems my choices will be abysmal. Phooey.

                                                                              1. Unfortunately, with the state of the airline business these days, catering options are becoming somewhat less sophisticated as the airlines try to cut back on costs. The trick these days seems to be not so much what type of special meal you choose, but more about what airline you fly. You will usually have better options flying european or asian airlines. If you like spicy and elaborate vegetarian food, Air India and Jet Airways are good bets. Plenty of long haul routes you can fly with them out of the US... LAX-Frankfurt, San Francisco-Shanghai, New York-London and Brussels,..

                                                                                1. For years, a couple of nights in advance of a plane trip lasting more than a couple of hours, I have fixed a meal of (a large quantity of) roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy. After dinner I freeze enough of it to have a home-cooked meal ready for our first night home. The rest of the meat I chop coarsely in the Cuisinart and bind with ketchup, plus salt and garlic powder, to make "Airport Sandwiches". I carry these in my handbag packed with a plastic ice pack. They are substantial and quick to eat and we have gobbled them standing in lines as well as on planes. They smell delicious and I swear that I could have sold Airport Sandwiches fifty times over to envious fellow passengers.

                                                                                  1. I refuse to eat on domestic flights. And the only international flight I had was Air France to Paris. That we a very memorable meal. But with airlines providing such poor service and products, I don't mind telling the service personnel they can keep what they consider to be food.

                                                                                    1. I only fly a few times a year, usually 3 or 4 round trips always in economy class. I think the courteous thing to do is if you wish to eat more than a snack, eat a meal in the airport before getting on the aircraft. I recently sat near a woman who thought it was ok to bring a tuna salad sandwich onto an airplane. The flight lasted less than three and a half hours. Bring a granola bar along and the snack they give you on the plane.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        I've been bringing my own food on planes since before they stopped serving those dreadful meals. As a kosher vegetarian, there was really nothing for me too eat anyway. I started bringing a big salad and a sandwich on board, along with whatever snacks I wanted. I felt better eating my own food as its not over salted and dry. It's such a pleasure to have that crisp salad to munch on...

                                                                                        1. re: Miri1

                                                                                          I bet the people sitting next to you in coach would rather you ate at the gate before departure.

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            I was and am always very neat about it. No one has ever given me a second glance. And I always makecsure my food is nt 'stinky'. No onion, fish, meat etc it's all packed neatly in plastic baggies or containers that are stowed in my bag under my seat. I don't even ask the flight attendant to take my trash. I hold onto it until the plane lands.

                                                                                      2. Like some of the posters above, I'm astounded to see how many people advocate packing up food and actually eating it on the plane.

                                                                                        It seems like I'm in the minority here, but I would definitely it gross (and I am not grossed-out easily) for someone in the seat next to me to be putting together a salad or sandwich from home-brought components and/or eating such next to me. A candy/energy-type bar or a bag of skittles or something small, unobtrusive and odorless? That I see no problem with.

                                                                                        Please, fliers, eat your home-brought or airport-bought meals before you board the plane.

                                                                                        (As for food served by the airlines, the only ones I've had in forever have been on transoceanic flights, while sitting in first class. Some have been really good, some have been subpar. Nothing has been horrendous or exceptional. I've found the food service for any particular flight to be very inconsistent, with one item being surprisingly good and the next one not so much. The food on my last such flight -- Continental to Stockholm, a few months ago -- was, on the whole, better than most, I would say.)

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                          I'm afraid I'm one of the folks you disapprove of. But I DO try to consider your quality of life too. My usual go-to goodies: bottle of water, bag of cashews or almonds, bag of crudités with a bit of Maldon salt to dip them in, bar of good chocolate. All things that dont smell, wont get on anyone's clothes or leave debris. I wonder, now, though, reading your post? Does the crunching interfere with your enjoyment of your flight? Maybe I should stick to a couple of protein bars after all?

                                                                                          1. re: linengirl

                                                                                            No, just leave big stinking onion-and-deli meat sandwiches off your menu. Nothing like flying from Chicago to Kansas City with a day-old BMT for a seatmate.

                                                                                          2. re: MonMauler

                                                                                            But how is it any different than your seatmate eating the meal provided by the airline? Someone next to you is still consuming food that another in close quarters might find malodorous.

                                                                                            I absolutely try to be considerate--I'm not unwrapping a sardine sandwich or assembling a curried goat roti . But I'm also not going to eat airline food or subsist on power bars for 7+ hours, either.

                                                                                            1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                              Well, at least the person, next to you, is not eating a durinan. THAT can get tough.


                                                                                            2. I have celiac disease so have a very, very hard time finding anything to eat in airports. Frankfurt's airport is very bad - the odd time I am able to find a piece of fruit or insipid salad. So, I do take snacks with me for layovers and in case of delays. Plus I take a few snacks such as GF crackers on long-haul flights as the GF food is inedible. I have never taken perishable food/meals on flights with me, however.

                                                                                              1. So very much will depend on the "Class of Service," the airline, and then the route.

                                                                                                We fly United Airlines from the US to the UK, quite often, and usually are in Business, or First Class. The food is usually very good, and the wines are usually OK, though we seldom get the full compliment of their menu. Still, a strong OK from us.

                                                                                                Are any of those the ultimate? No.

                                                                                                Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class is the tops.

                                                                                                British Airways, PHX to LHR, First Class, is good, but not the ultimate.

                                                                                                It just depends.

                                                                                                We have had United's "Cheese Course," and with the right wines, it has been OK.

                                                                                                Personally, with flights of less than 5 hours, I seldom bother, unless I am in First Class, and then, pick and choose.

                                                                                                On Southwest, I take the crackers, and hand in my certificates for the wine, and just sit back.

                                                                                                It depends on the airline, the route and especially on the cabin class. Too much to comment on.


                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                  What I like about BA is that they don't look at you as if you're a loser alcoholic if you ask for more than one drink (even in steerage).

                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                    So far, and on many airlines, I have not gotten "the look." Heck, I often get handed a bottle of X, as I go to leave. If we are not connecting, I thank the attendants profusely, and accept their kindness. If we ARE connecting, then I must decline.


                                                                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                    We have found food on United's business and first from US to Paris pathetic. The appetizer plate and main course starch (roast potato, etc.) are the best of the meal, meat is poorly sourced, overcooked and tough, followed by supermarket cheese or ice cream. Sauces must use the same recipes as commercial frozen dinners. On our flight last month, decaf coffee was instant.

                                                                                                    We have been United loyalists for 20 years and have found food and service declines since the merger with Continental. Some of the old guard attendants are still around and very professional, but other new faces are completely clueless.

                                                                                                    Next flight will be in June and will be on Air France.

                                                                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                      It was not always that way. However, I cannot argue with you, as we have the same observations, and that has been between SFO and LHR, or IAD and LHR. The "Beef Short-Ribs" are dry, and actually have an off-putting taste.For me, that might be their time in the microwave, as I hate meat, that has been "mic'ed."

                                                                                                      Similar, though to a greater degree, the "beef" on trans-continental flights suffers even more.

                                                                                                      Back about 5 years ago, the UAL food in BC & FC was really quite good, as were the wines. Shortly after, I believe that Todd English took over as "Executive Chef," and I forget the new sommelier's name, but things went badly downhill.

                                                                                                      Now, the "Cheese Plate," plus the Port (have been seeing some LBV's, in addition to the old stand-by, "Founder's Reserve," have been the best part of the US to UK meal.

                                                                                                      I have never been a "Baked Chicken" fan, but once, Eastern Airlines (Frank Borman days) had wonderful Baked Chicken in coach. Once, I got bumped up to FC, with some tough beef, and I asked if I could still get the Baked Chicken. Fortunately, the answer was "yes."

                                                                                                      I have never flown Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, or Virgin Atlantic's Upper-Class, but hear that their food is wonderful. Maybe it is time.

                                                                                                      Please do not get me started with the merger. We have only had a very few good flights (actually United Express), from Nov., 2011, and as of "Black Saturday," March 03, things have gone horribly downhill. Even the RCC staff, and the gate staff, will tell you horror stories. Things are very, very bad, and even in FC, the food is now horrible, to the point of inedible. Luckily, we have found some decent airport food, around the globe, and do not bother with the UAL offerings.


                                                                                                  3. Oops! Zombie thread alert!!!!

                                                                                                    Some things have changed, but some have not.


                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                      FoodFuser bumped this thread up to commemorate the second anniversary of Sam's passing.

                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                        My first thought upon seeing this was "what food?". I never see anything except on long-hauls. The last "breakfast" I got on a flight was Cheerios! Just Cheerios!

                                                                                                        (I think Sam was on this well before the buyout, no?)

                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                          (I'm not sure, but I can't find any earlier posts from him. Maybe some things got lost in the transition?)

                                                                                                      2. I was in India last year and took three domestic flights, all about an hour long. Each had full meal service, with real metal utensils. The flight attendants really have to hustle!
                                                                                                        All vegetarian and all of it was better than I have ever had on any western airline.

                                                                                                        1. Take your own food on the plane. You could either go to the store before you get to the airport, you could make something at home and take it with you or you could stock up at one of the fast food stands at the airport before you board the plane. I would stay away from stocking up on snack food at the airport news stands because everything is double what it should cost.

                                                                                                          1. I have given up on domestic US airlines snacks and food. If I ask for anything, it's usually a cup of water. It's just not worth it to prepare a bunch of snacks or bring food on board for a few hours when you can eat something delicious as soon as you get to your destination. I also usually have a meal before getting to the airport.

                                                                                                            However, I do make a lot of international trips, and I've learned to a few tricks:

                                                                                                            I always order a vegetarian or vegan meal in economy. I'm lactose intolerant and don't like dessert. I prefer fresh fruits and veg, and usually the salt content is a lot lower than the standard meals. Also, If you order a special meal, it is delivered earlier. They pass out the special meals first before conducting the normal meal service. That means more time to eat without bumping elbows in economy.

                                                                                                            If flying business or first class, I wait for the standard meal because the quality and service are usually excellent (especially on Asian and European carriers).

                                                                                                            Airlines with decent food to note (the ones I've recently experienced):

                                                                                                            Economy: Singapore, Cathay, Japan Airlines, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Qantas (EVA Airlines is touch and go. Sometimes, you can get a decent meal, but other times it's just rank)

                                                                                                            Business: All of the Asian carriers (this includes Koreana and ANA), Lufthansa, British Airways, SAS, Air New Zealand and Qantas

                                                                                                            The wine selection on Air New Zealand is pretty good, imho.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: mayt

                                                                                                              Once, with trans-Pacific, my wife would order the "Seafood" dinner, and things were pretty good. Now, the fish is like shoe-leather. Kosher once was good, though we do not keep Kosher, but no longer. Things have changed, and for the worse.

                                                                                                              While I feel sorry for the folk, trying to put together an airplane meal, it was once possible. Now, I seem to doubt it.


                                                                                                            2. To those who object to passengers bringing a sandwich on board: I'm not getting what the difference between a) crew brings me a sandwich on a tray and I eat it and b) I take a sandwich out of my bag and eat it. Same bun, same roast beef, same chomping and swallowing noises. Sorry, it's the human condition. Want half?

                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                What airline are you on where you can get a sandwich in economy?

                                                                                                                1. re: John E.


                                                                                                                  I often go for the Turkey & Swiss, in UAL economy, though they charge about US $ 7.00.


                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                    I've been flying mostly Delta and since the merger with NWA I don't even remember them offering a sandwich on my flights to/from Phoenix. I have only seen other passengers with food brought on board. I still find it preferable to eat in the airport on flights of 4 hours or shorter.

                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                      Gosh, have not flown Delta in decades, as we lived in Denver (UAL basically) for 20 years, and are now in PHX.

                                                                                                                      Airline food is pretty bleak, IMHO, and many airports now have much better food.

                                                                                                                      We enjoy our meals at several airports much more, such as CLT and especially SFO. Denver also has some pretty good food. Even TYS (Knoxville) has fair food, and decent wines. Now, LAX still needs a lot of work, but that is just me.

                                                                                                                      Unless we are flying trans-Atlantic, or trans-Pacific, and are in BC, or FC, we just dine at the airport, and are done with it.


                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                        The food available at PHX terminal three is pretty bleak. Wendy's and a burrito place are about it. The food at MSP (Minneapolis) has improved greatly in the last year. Instead of the all of the usual chains they have several outposts developed by local restaurateurs. Andrew Zimmern (he lives in St. Paul) of Bizarre Food fame has a sandwich shop. I believe LaGuardia is doing the same thing as at MSP.

                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                          I cannot recall the last time that I flew out of Terminal 3. Once, there was a great grill in Terminal 2, but it was replaced by a TSA stand. Out on the concourses, there is a marginal "golf oriented" spot, but we usually opt for the "cheese and crackers" at the UAL RCC, along with their "Premium Wines."

                                                                                                                          In Terminal 4, there are more options, and we have tried most., but few really come to the fore.

                                                                                                                          At SFO, we fly either UAL, or US Air - different terminals. For US Air, we have a little bistro, that we call the "US Air RCC," and their panini is fair, and so are their wines. If we are flying UAL home, then we usually dine at the Yankee Pier, and order a half-bottle of wine.


                                                                                                                2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                  Hey, so long as you do not have a durian fruit sandwich, what's not to like.

                                                                                                                  Yes, a French Quarter Muffaletta, with heavy garlic in the olive-salad, can be a tad strong, and messy beyond belief, I cannot see the problem.


                                                                                                                  1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                    Querencia - Agreed. My next flight is London - NYC out of Heathrow's Terminal 5. I'll be damned sure to pick up an in-flight picnic from Plane Food after security. 7 and a half hours isn't all that long in air time, but when I've travelled for 90 minutes to get to the airport, spent 2 hours going through security and waiting for the gate, I'd like to have some things on board that I am willing to eat. Opening up my nice salad or sandwich and eating a piece of fruit quietly is a lot less offensive than my attitude when I'm hungry, have travelled and waited for hours just to start the real travel, am anxious and have a seat-kicker behind me and a recliner in front.