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Best meals to bring on a flight?

Most domestic airlines are no longer serving meals or even snacks. Which is probably good since the food was mostly nasty. When I travel, I don't like to play roulette with what food may be available at the airport terminal.
What are some of the best meals you brought onto a flight? Whethere from home, restaraunt or fast food place?

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  1. I don't remember if it was outta Toronto or Montreal, but there was a Dunns Famous in the airport. I picked up two Montreal Smoked Meats
    (I'm not trying to incite a Dunn vs Schwartz vs Benns (yeah I know, they been closed for 3 years...) vs smoked meat vs pastrami....IM JUST SAYING)
    We opened the foil packets about 2 hours and 5 glasses of wine into the flight.

    I'll tell ya, the aroma was intoxicating, everyone in the cabin was salivating (the closer ones started looking particularly carnivorous) and it was just fantastic....

    Just as a side, my buddy and I had to fly to South America awhile back, along with another sidekick. We booked everything, including our in-flight meals on-line.
    My friend and I chose what looked like the best meals. For our sidekick, lets call him Tim, we chose the blandest possible meal for severely troubled diets.
    I think it consisted of plain yogurt, a sprout sandwich on white bread (no crust), skim milk, and saltines (no salt).
    We laughed our a$$ off and even more so later when we caved and told him our little joke...

    1. I like to keep it simple and bring something that doesn't smell and that won't draw much attention. Nothing is worse than being stuck next to someone on a flight that has brought something that smells/looks really good, or smells/looks really bad. I've been in situations where I've sat drooling at the person across the aisle's deliciously smelling (and presumably) tasting food--it made for a long flight where all I thought about was food! Likewise, I've been stuck to someone who pulled out some pungent smelling takeout and seriously thought I was going to have to ask for another barf bag or two.

      I usually stick with a sandwich, fruit, veggies, cookies, etc. It's nothing exciting, but I figure in such a confined, communal space that it's more pleasant for everyone else. I can eat a tasty meal before or after my flight.

      10 Replies
      1. re: pollymerase

        Seconded. There are some foods that just reek for hours afterward, like Subway sandwiches with onions. That smell can linger for an entire flight and it's not a pleasant experience. Plus, even if it smells good to me, it doesn't necessarily smell good to everyone else. I try to find something that does not smell much at all, like a salad or a sandwich without pungent ingredients. That combined with heavy drinking can make a person a nightmare neighbor. Typically I try to eat before a flight and just bring a snack along with me.

        1. re: pollymerase

          usually i have an apple and some almonds in my pocket.
          i can wait to have a good meal properly.

          the smelly food that some people have is just inconsiderate... eg.) the smell of McD's in that musty paper bag is repulsive.

          1. re: dumpycactus

            Fourthed! Please do not bring smelly food on your plane. Whether it smells good (to you) or bad (to others) is not something you can determine, and nobody wants to smell it regardless!

            I usually bring trail mix, string cheese, granola bars, maybe a banana. One can survive on those foods for most domestic trips.

            1. re: dumpycactus

              oh gosh, the stench of mcd's on an airplane is absolutely horrendous... makes me queasy just thinking of it. and that stench never has anywhere to go... too bad out windows don't vent and that whole pressured cabin nuisance...

              1. re: Emme

                I even hate smelling it in the office elevator!

                1. re: RGC1982

                  my mom's business partner hates when my mom pops popcorn in the office kitchen. i agree. the stench sticks on the microwave, and if it gets burnt, help everyone...

                  1. re: Emme

                    I remember working in one office where a person who got in early every morning would heat up microwave popcorn for breakfast. As much as I hate the smell of popcorn after lunch, it's even that much worse at 8am.

                    1. re: queencru

                      Someone in my office used to eat popcorn for breakfast too -- gross. What I think is even worse is the fake cheese smell when Lean Cuisines (or other frozen diet meals) are microwaved. So disgusting.

              2. re: dumpycactus

                I get pretty sick with all the smells that can waft around a plane. Usually I just pack some light snacks (granola bars, peanuts, etc) and get a solid meal in me when I land.

                1. re: basketRobbins

                  Fifth! I hope some of those posting below read this. I ride a bus to work in and out of nyc, the other day this man got on with a huge jar of garlic, the smell permeated the plastic. I love garlic, but this was awful. Other times folks get on with fried chicken, which I love, but the greasy smell can be nauseating.

            2. I don't usually like to bring a full meal, but rather a number of snacks. That way, I have a good variety to chose from in. Some of my favorite choices:
              hummus and carrots
              cheese and crackers
              gingersnaps (help with any queasy feelings)
              some good chocolate

              1. a tightly wrapped carne asada burrito.

                And when others bring fried chicken onto a flight, I salivate like Pavlov's dog....

                1. I bring PB&J's. Excellent!

                  1. i had to leave on a 1.5 week business trip the morning after throwing a big dinner party not too long ago. rather than stashing all the leftovers in the freezer, i packed some of it in my old school multi-compartment lunch box and had a four course meal: prosciutto wrapped, chevre and walnut stuffed medjool dates, roasted asparagus spears, cider glazed pork chops with roasted turnips, and slices of ripe honeydew with berries and muscat / honey glaze. felt pretty fancy pants.

                    usually, i'm far more low key. burritos, omusubi, are good carry on meals.

                    the least neighborly meal i ever carried on was goat stew from a jamaican cafe right outside the newark airport. i had NO idea it'd be so smelly. sorry to everyone who was on that flight. i put it away as soon as i opened it, but man, it was potent.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cimui

                      Goat stew! OMG. I couldn't even imagine.

                      To be fair, it doesn't even have to be this exotic to smell bad. Wendy's (I think) used to have a "Mediterranean Salad". I remember opening this in a conference room and running for the exit and the kitchen garbage. The foul smell of the poor quality feta cheese nearly broke up the meeting. Fortunately, I was with co-workers, and not customers.

                      1. re: RGC1982

                        oh no, perhaps the cheese took the wrong turn... i've never had the med salad at wendy's (my road trip staple is the mandarin chicken salad), but i love feta too much to imagine it ever smelling bad, unless it were very spoiled in some way.

                        on a tangentially related note, i'm not sure where you live, but you might get a kick out of artisinal in nyc. a lot of people adore the restaurant (and it has great cheese / wine flights), but it is the most potently cheesy smelling place i've ever been in. the air is laden and heavy with the smell -- like it's about to rain cheese.

                        i'll add the med salad to my list of never-brings for the airplane, though!

                    2. How long is your flight? I ask because, depending on the length, do you really need a "meal"?

                      How about just some snacks to hold you over until you land?

                      Perhaps, some bagged cereal, beef jerky, maybe a sandwich or pita of some sort, fruit and nuts?

                      For the benefit of the cabin crew and passengers, whatever you bring make sure it's (practically) odorless.

                      I once sat next to a passenger that decided to unwrap an Egg McMuffin after about 1 hour into take off. Well, said Egg McMuffin must've been purchased at least 1 hour before boarding, which meant it was wrapped in a hot steamy paper wrap for at least 2 hours, before being unveiled to the rest of the world ... not pleasant.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Don't you just love inconsiderate self-centered people?

                        Peanuts and cookies get me through all short flights.

                        Eat your stinky food in the airport.

                        1. re: dolores

                          I know, ever sit next to a person on a morning flight that had heavy garlic and cheap wine the night before, repulsive. Also, the person who has a sammy that smells like some foul 'diesel meat'.

                          1. re: cstr

                            last transcontinental flight i took, the guy next to me unveiled a salami, olive spread, and vinegar concoction on a hoagie... there were horrendous looks from all of us around him, but i think there was a cultural barrier that prevented him from recognizing the disdain and disgust.

                      2. This topic has been covered in excruciating detail here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/492161

                        Bottom line: Do not ever - EVER! - bring smelly food onto an airplane.

                        1. Usually I bring a sandwich, but I have also brought:
                          Grilled Chicken
                          Protein Bars

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: taboo

                            This topic has been covered extensively on Flyertalk as well and NO ONE wants smelly food - it is either offensive or makes you hungry. The people who you thought were salivating were probably just annoyed.

                          2. alright, how about we get back on point and answer the OP's question with the built-in caveat that the meal can't be stinky? what are the best (most delicious) meals you brought on the flight that weren't stinky? inquiring minds -- mine -- want to know.

                            1. I try to keep it simple - a bag of TJs raw almonds and I'm good to go.

                              1. Frankly, chowhounding is probably out of place here. Practicality of handling (nothing messy or drippy), ability to stay out at room temperature without spoiling quickly, digestibility and a lack of an offensive odor that will bother your fellow passengers are my top four suggested criteria. NO ONE wants to smell your greasy french fries in an airplane cabin, or your tuna salad, or (far worse) the difficulty your stomach is apparently having digesting your lunch choice. My vote: Pick a dryish sandwich, perhaps turkey, chicken or roast beef, perhaps with cheese, lettuce and tomato, and use packaged condiments that are shelf-stable at room temperature out from behind security at one of the takeout lines. A bagel or muffin will work for breakfast, as will a simple fruit. No has ever been offended by the odor emanating from a turkey sandwich -- or the person who had trouble digesting it. But many have gotten nearly ill over the smell of fish, or onion rings, or Japanese food. And a fellow passenger with indigestion is a disgusting companion indeed. The higher altitude also seems to decrease your ability to digest food properly a bit, hence this common problem. Get over it -- you can stuff your face with exotic food after you land.

                                (Yes, I am a VERY frequent flier. Can you tell by my strong opinions?)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: RGC1982

                                  RGC1982, you painted a very good picture of an inconsiderate flier! I had the same experience with an officemate (in a normal sized room cut into eight cubicles) who insisted on bringing the most awful smelling food from home which he happily nuked and ate in the next partition over.

                                  Fortunately, I've never had the experience you describe on a plane. It would bring back nightmares of inconsiderate office guy for me and I would be horrified. Especially with the 'you can't GO anywhere!' aspect of it.

                                2. The first, and so far only time, I've flown I only took a few things with me to snack on. Jerky, some 100 calorie snack packs (for my sweet tooth) and a small bag of trail mix that had plenty of dried fruit in it. It held me over very well and my small carry-on wasn't overloaded.

                                  1. I take several very long trips every year, (Asia to the US) and even though the airlines feed you every few hours to keep you entertained and in a food coma, there are certain foods I always travel with.

                                    Granola bar
                                    apple or other hard fruit
                                    hard candies
                                    large bag of peanut M&Ms

                                    If I am flying domestic, I usually just eat before I go to the airport, or at the airport between connections, However a friend and I once carried a big picnic of smoked fish, bagels and cream cheese on a flight from NYC to LA. I am sure our neighbors hated us, but the food was great,.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: lulubelle

                                      i would've hated you -- but mostly because i'd want a piece of that action. half my goat stew for a bagel with schmear?

                                    2. Domestic flights are too short to really worry: eat before and after; and take along a snack.

                                      Trans-oceanic flights all serve food, so no worries.

                                      I take food for the airport waiting periods. Two weeks ago I had subsequent layovers of four hours in Miami, four hours in Heathrow 4, and four hours in Istanbul - all airports in which food is very costly, bad, or both (La Carreta in Miami is OK; but a good meal in Heathrow is about $60; and a Whopper costs $14 in Istanbul). Packing along some food was important and it didn't matter what it smelled like. On the way back it was dried fruit, flat bread, cheese, dried, cured sausage, and spicy pickles.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        We pack sandwiches for layovers; they travel and pack well, then get a beer to wash it down with.

                                      2. Call me super lazy. or maybe I just like surprises, but asking the chef to surprise you with a bento box you pick up from your favorite Japanese restuarant on your way to the airport is always terrific. My current favorite place also has a chicken and mushrooms in a coconut milk, lemon grass, miso broth that is as great cold as it is hot.

                                        Then a pack of graham crackers, a can of nuts, and/or a piece of fruit in your carry on is a good thing too.

                                        I don't take spicy foods on a flight for fear they might upset my stomach. I prefer avoiding aircraft restrooms! And foods that smell up the place are out too.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          Bento box? Have you ever really had a good whiff of what might go in a Bento box?!?! On a plane? You have got to be kidding. Maybe sushi -- but the tempura and the terriyaki, at least to me, should not make the list of take-along choices on a plane. They can really have a strong smell that can offend someone sitting right next to you.

                                        2. I generally try to avoid eating on planes because I always feel icky if I do and domestically, the longest flight I take is from the west coast to NYC, which I do redeye if at all possible. If I can't fly non-stop you can get a halfway decent bagel at ORD. International travel is another matter. I always carry Cliff bars or Nature's Valley granola bars, because you can call those breakfast or lunch with a cup of "coffee." Bananas go well with the bars but they have a remarkably short half life when you carry them around (why is that?!) I used to carry yogurt, but now it counts as a gel or liquid (special thanks to homeland security for confiscating my yogurt at SFO).

                                          Apples are handy and some kind of TJ's dried fruit or trail mix can see you through. Another trick is to carry some non-sticky, non-melting candy. I like good n' plenty or milk n' honey hard candy. I eat one or two pieces along the way just to stay alive.

                                          Basically, I figure I can last up to six hours without eating, that eating anything they serve you is slightly worse than eating old cat food, and that there's lots of good food wherever I'm going.

                                          Btw, there's nothing to be done about people who eat McD's on planes. These are people who eat McD's. They're not going to stop because they're on a plane or because you glare at them.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Judith

                                            yes, the coffee situation is dire. very dire. it's impossible to find a good cuppa joe inside airport security, domestically, (dunkin donuts doesn't count in my book) and you can't carry it in, sadly. i still need to figure out a good coffee system for long flights (i fly NY to CA a lot, as well, and overseas). perhaps carry on good instant coffee, if such exists, and ask for hot water on the flight?

                                            if you like yogurt mixed into granola, you might be able to bring it on board that way. i had to plead with a guard at LAX to allow me to bring on the tiny container of salad dressing that came with my chain restaurant salad... he finally caved after i offered to mix it in to the salad. not terribly logical, but whatever works...

                                            1. re: cimui

                                              I ask for a cup of hot coffee and a glass of ice. Even if the coffee isn't to my liking, being iced makes it tolerable and i get some caffiene.

                                              Sometimes I ask for hot tea and a glass of ice because canned tea is horrid.

                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                >> being iced makes it tolerable and i get some caffiene.

                                                very true! (i suspect because it numbs the tastebuds ;) part of the problem, tho, is that the coffee is already so weak (thomas wolfe called it "dishwater"; i think to myself everytime i drink airplane coffee, "i am drinking dishwater!") that icing it dilutes it even further.

                                                1. re: cimui

                                                  Which is why I usually end up making iced tea as my second beverage-asking for two teabags. ;)

                                                  For some reason, I am always hopeful the coffee will be good. Just once.

                                          2. I read where many think food shouldn't smell; that bringing it on board is inconsiderate...
                                            even rude and self-centered.
                                            I've done it twice. I once brought back two dozen pork tamales. They were in my briefcase. The smell was driving people crazy and all the comments were that they wanted whatever it was.
                                            Same for the recent barbeque sandwiches we brought on. People were commenting about how good it smelled, in-between wiping off drool. I felt a little bad that they had to suffer. Sure was delicious!

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              Well. maybe your tamales just smelled appetizing to those people, but for every one of those SOMEONE is also getting a little queasy due to airsickness, or trying to sleep, or work, or JUST WANTS TO BE LEFT IN PEACE for the duration of the trip. Smells are intrusive, good smells and bad, While you didn't hear any complaints, I can tell you that I would be irritated to smell barbecue on a plane. The tamales however ... maybe not so much :)

                                              1. re: RGC1982

                                                I have to take a tiny plane these days before transferring onto a bigger plane. It never fails that the tiny plane gives me a migraine. Once I get to the big plane, the smells of food are just torture. It's all I can do not to cry through the entire flight.

                                              2. re: Scargod

                                                Even if they thought it smelled good and were drooling, it's still inconsiderate because they are then stuck there thinking and wanting whatever it is you have. I once had a flight out of Chicago where just as we were taking off, my neighbor pulled out a huge Chicago dog with all the fixings. It looked soooooo good and I was stuck for sometime drooling and thinking about how hungry I was (even though I ate before boarding) and how I wanted it so badly.

                                                On the other hand, I'm sure MANY people were grossed out by the smell/site and equally uncomfortable.

                                                1. re: pollymerase

                                                  I guess people have already forgotten how airlines used to serve food. It smelled. I invariably wished I had of ordered what my neighbor was having.

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    Gee! We all used to whine about the "free" in-flight food too! I thought it was a pretty good deal. Am I getting bigger or are the seats getting smaller? I remember the great garlic smells of sausages and water glasses of vodka, on the old soviet Aeroflot airlines? And old women standing in the aisles w/ cage chickens on domestic flights. Fliyng on Bolivian military flights in old WWII DC-3's, one didn't worry about food, just getting there safely! The noise insude was thunderous. Why on long European train trips in the small 6-person rooms, was food and wine a shared, festive, great smelling experience, but on flights it is so miserable to so many? Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow......

                                                    1. re: Scargod

                                                      Ahh, the "good old days." Most people are incredulous when I tell them about the food on my first trans-Atlantic flight. June, 1957. It was aboard BOAC, now British Air, in a Viscount turbo-jet. All was first class. The china was porcelain, the flatware was dinner size and silver, or at least silver plated. The place mats and napkins were Irish linen. And the food!

                                                      Nothing was served already plated. Your place setting was set before you, and each course came on a large trolley and you had your choice. The hors d'ouvre selection was dazzling. Small morsels en gelee. Puff pastry goodies. Terrines, pates, oysters on the half shell.

                                                      The main course cart was the first time I actually saw pheasant with feathers as a drop dead gorgeous center piece presentation. Then there were standing ribs of beef with Yorkshire pudding. A whole salmon. There were at least six choices and all of them dazzling. And as much as you desired.

                                                      The worst thing about the dessert cart was you had little to no room left. The best thing about it was the incredible feast for your eyes. I vaguely remember things decorated with candied violets, spun sugar, glazes, glacees, and decadence.

                                                      The biggest problem the flight crew faced was getting the liquor carts and the food trolleys up and down the aisle without disaster. There was a wine cart and a bar cart. Few restaurants today have such food or service.

                                                      A couple of decades ago I tried to raise interest (and funding) in starting up a NY to London airline with such trappings I wanted to call "Flights of Fancy." The fault that was found was, "That takes too much time." And I see that as the problem with life today. What do people do with all of the time they save? They rush through something else to save time so they can rush through the next thing.

                                                      The recent article about "gourmet" food trucks with "upscale" food served in plastic cups made me sad. A creme brulee in a styrofoam cup does NOT taste the same as a creme brulee in a porcelain ramekin on a fine china plate served on a linen tablecloth with a silver spoon and a crystal flute of champagne. Just not possible! And call me an elitist, but for me food tastes better when my dinner partner is in a tuxedo than when he's in a jacket and jeans.

                                                      I guess a little James Bond still hangs with me... '-)

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        Try Thai, Singapore, or Emirates in Business. Still pretty elegant.

                                                        And thank goodness that most of the old Tupolovs and Illushyns have been retired from most of the ex-Soviet influenced countries.

                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                          I think most non-US carriers have better food than any U.S. based airline. When I was still married, my husband did a LOT of flying to the middle east for Raytheon, and the corporate policy is (was?) never to book US carriers because they (at the time) were the only planes ever hijacked. The food was terrific, though some have not kept their former glory.

                                                          You know, when I stop to think about it, airline food began going downhill about the time that passengers stopped wearing suits and high heels to fly. By Jove, I think I've got it!

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            You might be right. On my last trip I flew the Miami - Heathrow leg on business (very unexpectedly and super happily bumped from cattle by the Latina - possibly Colombiana - at the gate check-in). The food and drinks were excellent but not memorable. Then on the Istanbul - Dushanbe (Tajilistan) leg in cattle class with Turkish Air I had a great meal: tortellini and the best salad of cucumber, tomato, lettuces, and feta/Greek cheese AND served with a LARGE sealed packet of lemon juice and olive oil and a LARGE packet of ground black pepper. The "Red Dry Wine" / Yakut / Kavaklidere was also good. Crowded old plane but more memorable than the business flight with great reclining seats and overall greart food and booze.

                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              I love Kavaklidere reds! Never had a bad one. And about time... The first time I flew Turk Hava Yolari was on a DC3! The flight attendant (called a stewardess back then) started pushing chewing gum at passengers while we were still taxiing out to the runway. But they only allowed chickens and goats on buses.

                                                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            Last year when I flew Singapore Airlines they gave us actual tasty chow with actual metal flatware. And that was *economy* class.

                                                          3. re: Caroline1

                                                            Caroline, if you haven't yet seen this site, you might want to check it out, esp. to reminisce about airline food in the good old days:


                                                            1. re: cimui

                                                              Isn't that a fun website! Some of the food loks great. Some of the food makes me think, "If someone served me that, I'd push them out the window!"

                                                              Along the same general lines, I have a lovely collection of six framed "paintings" of exotic fruit that in reality, are Swiss Air menus. I broke a glass in the last move and as soon as I get around to having it replaced, they go up in the kitchen. Many airlines pay big bucks to excellent artists to design their menus. Mine may be reproductions, but at least I don't see them in catalogs! '-)

                                                        2. re: pollymerase

                                                          query: how about now, when many in-flight meals are for purchase, only, or only served to business / first class passengers? that's pretty inconsiderate to eat, too, don't you think? often it smells so very nice as it's being heated up in the pantry. one could argue that it seems a little unfair that the proletariat (i.e. me) only gets to munch on odor free almonds / saltines / [fill in your odor free food].

                                                      2. a common complaint on here is the toting of mcdonald's; wouldn't it be great if airports removed all mcd's? that would stop people from being able to dash through the line and bring it along!

                                                        a scone or muffin from the requisite starbucks in every terminal would prove far less offensive to the olfactory bulbs. it's a shame there isn't someone that has capitalized on an airport stall that serves food intended to be taken on the plane - non-digestive-offending, non-stinky, non-messy...

                                                        2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            Just as greasy smelling, but different grease!

                                                        1. jfood has been traveling on business forever and smells have always been a part of the domestic aroma of being in that flying cigar tube. He once ate "American Cannelloni" every night for a week. Now the quaffing of cheap Italian food has migrated to the smells of whatever.

                                                          And sometimes there is not time to eat before a flight and after landing one wants to get in the car and get home. The airlines had smells before the "Food Marts" and still do. Now jfood sees all kinds of food brought on board. And after 30 minutes, it, and the smells are all gone. Nothing different than the old days. So he just does not agree with all the posts on never bringing anything on. In the old days the airline did, and now the passengers do. He sees it every week.

                                                          So jfood would say to bring what you want, and understand there will be some that will be upset and there will be some who are just immune from everything around them because of the basic change in the overall air travel operating model.

                                                          Jfood doubts more than a handful will agree, but he says bring what you want, stick the ipod on, pull down the tray, eat and try to make a least some of the flight enjoyable.

                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Yes! Next time out of Newark, an Italian hot, dog, a Taylor Pork roll and a NJ Sloppy Joe to Go! Ya know, I was afraid to say what you did, you write just like a soothing shrink. thanks. Should we ban food smells in restaurants too of of fear of offence?

                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                              please forward the flight and seat assignment. jfood will bringthe Dr. Brown soda.

                                                              It took a great meal last night and rain to cancel jfood's Tee Time to bring him to write what he knows will be a very unpopular stance. Hey given all the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, it seemed to fit the times.

                                                              Now come the opposing view. Gotta love Tina Fey.

                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                In older days, when a certain civility accompanied air travel, I might have disagreed with jfood. But these days, when the nickel and diming starts at check-in ("I'm sorry, an extra bag is $25" - you're not sorry at all!), continues through the TSA screening/humiliation, continues on the flight where all the attendants have seemingly attended harridan school, and finishes with a seat mate who thinks his obesity not only entitles to him to his seat, but three inches of yours as well, a person in front who fully reclines his seat during meal service, and the guy behind you who opens and closes his tray every 10 minutes - I don't care any more. I'll bring what I want, and if the smell offends anyone, tough. No one seems to care about my comfort or convenience, why should I care about theirs?

                                                                End of rant. Actually, most of the time, I bring a fairly innocuous home made sub, with turkey, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, and processed cheese, topped with mayo. Fruit often turns into an issue, as most of my flights are transborder (US-Canada). I can't tell you how many times I have tried to take a Florida orange back into the US, only to be denied by some high-schooler with a TSA badge. Trail mix is often a good alternative - they seem to let that go by. And a nice bar of dark chocolate makes an excellent dessert.

                                                                1. re: KevinB

                                                                  Wow, some quite troubling sentiments going on here! Enjoy whatever you want, if others are bothered by objectionable odors in a confined space from which there is no escape, TOO BAD, it's all about what YOU want to enjoy....I have to pay extra fees, deal with rude airline employees, deal with TSA agents less educated than myself, fly along with fat people, I'M GONNA EAT WHATEVER I WANT, if you are bothered by objectionable odors in a confined space from which there is no escape, TOO BAD, it's all about what I want to enjoy...it's all about ME, ME , ME....you don't like it, don't fly with me....YIKES!!!!!

                                                                  1. re: Marge

                                                                    that's not how i see things. that extreme exists, of course, as porker demonstrates, but it's an extreme, and mostly what i've seen in this thread are folks who recognize that nowadays some of us are far too easily offended by any semblance of food odor when that's not how we were even five years ago. why, exactly, should those of us who wish to bring food onto an airplane (and who perhaps become non-functional when unfed for a while like me, but who need to remain functional to, say, work) cave to the least common denominator who finds every smell coming from food offensive -- either because they want to eat it or they don't? it seems over the top and irrational to me all these whinges i've seen about every possible food substance imaginable.

                                                                    it's not that those who wish to bring food aboard only think about themselves. you could as easily argue that those who can't bring themselves to tolerate any smell at all are the ones who are really self centered.

                                                                    i understand there are problems about where to draw the line -- should five day old fish be brought aboard? probably not -- but people who object to normal food substances seem to me unreasonable.

                                                                    i think there's a much better, more reasonable middle ground to be found than the "no smell-emitting foods at all, end of story" take that some have espoused.

                                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                                      Five day old fish should definitely NOT be brought on board, lol.

                                                                      1. re: iluvtennis

                                                                        ... unless it's in the form of lox, which you share with me. ;)

                                                                        (i am reminded of ben franklin's famous saying: fish and chowhound topics regarding airline carryon food smell in three days.)

                                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                                          add unwanted guests to Mr Franklin's words of wisdom as mrs jfood's grandma used to say.

                                                                      2. re: cimui

                                                                        But five-day old fish are so tiny and undeveloped. Do they smell?

                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                          I do not think the respiratory system has developed by day #5, as to their olfactory senses, I am not sure.

                                                                        2. re: cimui

                                                                          C'mon it was smoked meat for petes sake. Anyone who finds the aroma of smoked meat offensive deserves to be offended ;-/)

                                                                      3. re: KevinB

                                                                        One good thing is that you can take fruit OUT from US but not into, of course. I took some special (Tom Wilson) oranges with me on my trip to India in March and they were precious.

                                                                  2. re: jfood

                                                                    LA Buckeye Fan agrees with jfood. And she thinks that if you don't want to be inconvenienced by other people....rent a private jet.

                                                                    1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                                      I think the issue in the plane is that people are are already prone to get queasy. Add in the smell factor and it just makes it that much worse. For me, motion sickness and smells can both trigger migraines, so those smells are a total nightmare.

                                                                    2. re: jfood

                                                                      Jfood, you and I usually see eye to eye but on this point, as a fellow frequent business flier, I must strongly disagree. The difference between being on an airplane and being in a restaurant or most anywhere else is that if the smell offends you, (and here I must restrain myself from using the ALL CAPS blazing across my brain) you have no escape. Nowhere else to go. Most of the time the plane is full, or nearly so, and you can't even change seats - and even if you could, a strong smell will permeate most of the cabin.

                                                                      It is the height of rudeness and inconsideration to inflict such smells on your fellow travelers under such circumstances. A classic example of "I've got mine, screw you." And frankly it appalls me how many (well, only a few, but even that is far too many) of our fellow 'Hounds agree with you on this.

                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                        jfood is not saying he is using the "Me Only" excuse, as you know he is far from that in his philosophy. His point is that the smell of food on planes has been a part of flying since jfood enjoyed a hand sliced Standing Rib Roast on a Continental DC-10 while sitting at the bar in the 80's (those were the days). Now the paradigm is different in which people almost beg for a bag of pretzels. So the pendulum has swung the other way.

                                                                        But food and flight have been partners for years, now the airlines no longer provide eggs and ham for breakfast and sloppy caneloni for dinner. So jfood's position is not a game changer but an extension of previously totally accepted practices.

                                                                        He knew when he wrote the post it would not be the majority position, but it is one to be discussed without the usual flames from both sides. Either the mods have done a great job or people have avoided the flames, thanks to both.

                                                                        Heck two weeks ago a fellow passneger bought a bag of red twizzlers and opened them up. It drove jfood crazy and he had to buy one. So where does the line get drawn? No candy, no scotch, no tomato juice?

                                                                        If a tough one in which there is both a strong line and a large grey area.

                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                          It's quite true that the food available on planes is not, alas, what it once was. But the issue here is not food on planes, it is smelly food on planes. Twizzlers, other candy, scotch, tomato juice - no problem. Redolent, garlic-laden sandwiches, or worse yet, hot savory dishes - completely unacceptable.

                                                                          There is also a difference between smelling food on the plane when everyone is being served some, and being forced to smell one person's self-indulgent carry-on.

                                                                          I understand that there are cases where bringing your own food is the only way to ensure you don't starve. I've done it myself, and these days never leave home without my trusty containers of trail mix and chocolates in my carry-on. There are so many inoffensive yet tasty options (mmm, Twizzlers!). Eat mildly on the plane, I say, and go out for curry after you land.

                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                            As you point out, there is a grey area with candy, scotch, tomato juice and trail mix and chocolates as an OK carve out and redolent, garlic-laden sandwiches, or worse yet, hot savory dishes as verboten.

                                                                            For jfood, the smell of scotch makes him naseated, trail mix always has nuts (allergy here) and a cheese steak is relaxing, go figure.

                                                                            If choice were an option, pre- or post-flight is the chosen route, but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. Flying has become more of a burden and noone likes to add to it, but...

                                                                    3. TJs trail mix, homemade muffins, Organic Food bars (Belgian Chocolate Chip, Vegan, Omega-3) .

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: lgss

                                                                        I bring things like cheese, (mild) crackers, thinly sliced ham or turkey....grown up Lunchables if you will. Food smells on a plane are just a part of flying in my book, just like smelling another's perfume, scented lotions or whatever....

                                                                      2. Hmmmm . . . depends upon the length or the flight, and what the departure city is . . . . typically, it will be some fruit, cheese, nuts, etc., etc. but if I'm leaving from New Orleans, it's a muffaletta from Central Grocery!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                          You are jfood's hero w the muff.

                                                                        2. I never eat when I fly but if I could, I would love sushi. I hate when someone has a stinky meal tho..yuck..

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: luci

                                                                            I don't usually bring smelly foods on flights, but not out of a conscious effort. Its plain to see that many (most?) people feel strongly about smelly foods on flights. I have been in the past (and probably will be in the future) "that guy" who brings "smelly" food on a flight. And yes, I know that the flaming will now begin - it happened the last time I innocently posted on this subject about a year ago (much cyber-indignation from all parties involved, deleted posts, etc).

                                                                            So here's my solution:
                                                                            Get those soft squishy ear plugs from your local hardware store and put one in each ear, then one in each nostril. Everyone should be happy - smelly food-eaters rejoice, as do people offended by varying degrees of smelliness. That gives you the control of doing something about your problem with someone else's behavior (which you may or may not be able to control).

                                                                            Things that taste good to me in the air:
                                                                            -boiled eggs
                                                                            -bread with butter and jam
                                                                            -spicy cured meats
                                                                            -peanut butter pretzels
                                                                            -homemade sandwich wraps
                                                                            -cold pizza
                                                                            -spam musubi (don't knock it until you try it)
                                                                            -and yes... McDonald's

                                                                            1. re: caliking

                                                                              Cold pizza!! That is my go to plane food for long days of flying. We have it for dinner the night before, hot, then the rest goes on the trip or into the freezer. I also carry trail mix, pretzels or cookies. It might be the boredom, but I like eating on flights. I also like to be prepared in case we end up sitting on the tarmac for hours at a time. Has never happened to me personally, but have heard horror stories and if my blood sugar starts to drop, the whole plane will have more problems then smelly food!!

                                                                              Also, love the visual of the ear/nostril plugs, made me laugh out loud, especially since I just bought a new jar of bright orange plugs!

                                                                          2. I usually bring a Jersey Mike's italian sub when I am flying across country. I get the two halves wrapped separately, so I can just eat a half if I want to. Crackers with cheese spread ( although if it smears, technically it's a liquid but whatever). Granola bars, cereal bars, and always, I have Cheese Its with me.

                                                                            1. I had the misfortune of flying America West from SF to NYC back when you could still expect a meal on a domestic flight in the US (AW helped pioneer that change). Between getting to the airport, the flight, and getting out to Brooklyn ... that was, what, 7-8 hours with no food? That sucked. On the way back, though, I learned my lesson, and brought a nice oily, garlicky sandwich with finocchiona and roasted peppers. A very large, loud New Yorker asked to buy my sandwich, but alas I was already 3/4 through it by then (would have gladly sold him half).

                                                                              These days I pretty much just fly Air France and Lufthansa, so it's not an issue. Trains are another matter, but you can bring knifes, wine, soup, etc. with you on those.