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Why do people feel like they need to eat on an airplane?

Most flights, aside from those grueling transatlantic flights from NYC to India, are short enough that a "meal" really isn't necessary.

Take a flight from from LA to NYC as an example. It's approx. 6 hours. Eat a meal beforehand and then eat when you land. You should be fine.

Will you really suffer from starvation if you don't eat anything for 6 hours? I mean, really, it's not like you're doing anything grueling for those 6 hours, right? Sitting there and fidgeting with those silly lap belts isn't exactly enough exercise to work up a real appetite, right?

Plus, do you really want to eat anything -- much less a "meal" -- in a germ infested place like an airplane cabinet? Who knows what the prior passenger did on those armrests, or how flatulence-inclined that person was?

Long way of saying, most flights aren't long enough to really justify the need for a full meal. Plus, most people could stand to skip a meal, or two, or three ...

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  1. well, for starters, eating is more fun than flying. Flying is boring, and eating can be (and should be!) fun!

    But regardless, your arithmetic is faulty. Given the amount of time it takes to get through security at many airports, not to mention the generally poor food at the airport, it isn't all that easy to eat just before boarding. and I don't know what airports you fly out of, but at SFO, it is not at all untypical to take 45 minutes from the time you land until you are at the gate, off the plane, have your luggage and are ready to go out the door. Since the closest good restaurants to the airport are perhaps 15 minutes away, that means it will be at least an hour after landing before you can eat (and that is assuming someone is waiting to pick you up and you don't have to take a shuttle or BART or whatever).

    So, let's assume 1.5 hours before the flight for security, boarding etc, and 1 hour after to get outta there, and your six hours is really more like eight and a half. or more. Personally, I don't wait that long between meals.

    as for the weight issue: skipping meals has been shown to make it more difficult to lose weight for those who could stand to do so, NOT less. Eating more (smaller) meals is actually a much better strategy, so in fact, it probably is unfounded to say that most people could stand to skip a meal or three...

    As for the germs, it seems to me that you are going to be exposed anyway: don't you drink even water on a plane? If you don't, you may be putting your health just as much at risk from dehydration (especially on a long flight) as from those germs....and you are going to touch those armrests regardless.

    Eating on a plane makes more sense than not eating, assuming you have good food to eat (which a Chowhound would bring with them, of course!)

    5 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      You took the words right out of my mouth or off my keyboard as the case may be. A 6 hour flight is 6 hours in the air but there is much more time involved. I'd say closer to 10 hours if you include travel to and from airport and security checks. Ten hours is a long time to go between meals.

      1. re: susancinsf

        And that's assuming that you have a direct flight to your destination. Add an hour or four in some armpit of an airline hub, followed by yet another flight to a smaller airport, and maybe a puddle-jumper after that, and you can be looking at 12 or 15 hours or even longer.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          ITA... and the poster above bemoaning the choice at SFO... should take a connection through St. Louis... or any other smaller airport... absolutely a food wasteland... unless you like stale doritos from a vending machine...


        2. re: susancinsf

          Not to mention that there are those who HAVE to eat in a six hour period. (Or even a four hour period..). Some folks are diabetic or have other health reasons for having to eat more often.

          And there are those ofus who get REALLY cranky when we don't eat for that period of time. In fact, I think there was a whole thread on this not too long ago...:-) Air travelers are cranky enough as it is (I know; I'm as guilty of this as the next gal...)...why make it worse by depriving us of our source of comfort??

          1. re: susancinsf

            I couldn't agree with you more. Plus, knowing that I have packed a little treat for myself helps get me through the nightmare that flying has become (I flew transatlantic just two days ago). I wouldn't want to find out what the baggage claim area of an airport full of people who haven't eaten in 6-8 hours would look like! ;)

          2. For me, there are a few reasons to eat on a plane. To help cope with the fear, I admit it! I also find it more helpful than, say, chewing gum to assist my messed-up ears deal with changes in pressure. My SO is a diabetic, so we tend to eat at pretty regular intervals and he needs access to food.

            But yeah, coping with fear and boredom, I'll admit those are my primary reasons.

            3 Replies
            1. re: dustchick

              ditto and double ditto....I allow myself treats on flights because it makes a very uncomfortable and fear-inducing experience, a little more fun. I don my headphones, watch some movies, eat potato chips and drink wine on flights.

              1. re: im_nomad

                Does it help with fear? I'm so petrified flying that I can't even watch the movies, let alone eat. Maybe next time I'll try to bring a treat and see if it helps, good suggestion.

                1. re: mjhals

                  well it just helps I guess with the whole experience, I make it a treat. Kind of like when you buy a kid ice cream after they get a needle :)

                  btw...the wine helps more than the potato chips ;)

            2. Why do people eat on an airplane?

              Probably because they're hungry.

              4 Replies
              1. re: scrapple

                Why do people eat in general?

                Because they want to.

                1. re: shdiep

                  why do people want to?

                  because it's not only delicious, but nutritious :O

                2. re: scrapple

                  The real question is why do people eat the gross food served on airplanes that they wouldn't touch on the ground.

                  Admittedly there is very little in the way of food served on planes these days. Most flights that are less than 4 hours only offer snacks and little of that. Often you have to purchase anything beyound crackers.

                3. While I wouldn't starve to death, I'd turn into a raging bitch without something to eat -- not a good thing when dealing with the rigors & uncertainties of today's travel and transfers -- and my travel companion might be inclined to ditch me.

                  Plus getting assistance with a transit problem is much more difficult if I have "an attitude" so I try to carry major snacks. As my sister once said, "If you know you get this way, why don't you at least carry some crackers?"

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Stephanie Wong

                    sounds like me, I just don't like to admit it! :-)

                  2. There is ample stress in scurrying to and from airports and dealing with security, baggage, customs, so that the time on the plane is when I like to chill. I bring a small carry on (4.5 liters) cooler, usually with shrimp and coctail sauce, curried chicken salad, a couple cheeses, and crusty bread. I don't bring stinky stuff that would annoy fellow passengers.
                    Arriving in Mexico City at the wretched airport on the skanky east side, hungry, is a nightmare I can slightly attenuate with some comfort food during the flight.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: dolores

                      The seafood meals were heavenly- the 'snacks' were either 12 chilled shrimp with lemon and cocktail sauce or two scoops of a tuna salad ( made with celery, chopped pickle and just a light amount of mayo-no onions (or it would have been perfect)). The meals were made with lively sauces and sides different than everyone else got...

                      Back to the OP. If I have a plane which leaves at 6 a.m. from San Diego I am not wanting to eat a lot at 3:30 or 4 a.m. when I wake and have to start the drive to the airport. It isn't 6 hours without food. It is more than 8, which is not normal for most people.

                      1. re: Cathy

                        tuna on an airplane drives me crazy.....I like tuna, but dislike the smell when I'm not eating it......of course on my flight today the guy next to me was eating the biggest tuna sandwhich ever...yuck.

                        But today was also an example of why I always try and bring something on the airplane......I thought I had a two hour layover in Dallas with plenty of time to eat something. But then when I arrived at DFW I learned my next flight was significantly delayed...but there was an earlier flight leaving in 15 minutes from a nearby gate. So I somehow managed to make the earlier flight and actually get home earlier than expected...but no time to eat or even buy food. Fortunately there was a "snackpack" for sale onboard that was at least edible: cheese, crackers, nuts, and raisins. Now, let's talk about the timing thing: I was at a luncheon until 1:00pm Eastern time, and ate a reasonable lunch. I went straight from there to the airport, and wasn't really hungry yet. So I boarded my flight to Dallas, and then ran to catch that flight to Vegas. I landed in Vegas at 6:30 pm Pacific time....equivalent to 9:30 pm Eastern. So I essentially would have gone eight and a half hours without a meal if I hadn't had that snack pack.......Way too long, IMO.

                        1. re: janetofreno

                          As I recall (this was 2001) when I got the tuna snack, the people around me got sandwiches with add ons on the side. It was a cold protein meal for everyone.

                          Because it had ben refrigerated, I really don't think it had the smell that a room temp tuna sandwich taken on board today has.

                          But yes, I always have water snacks-even in my car (I have a styrofoam cooler in the back which I use for perishibles if it is a long drive home and I keep water bottles in it the rest of the time, along with bags of nuts and dried fruit.

                          If I were to be stuck in a horrid traffic jam for hours(it has happened) or because of an earthquake and am away from home, I will be comfortable.

                          For no good reason, I always have at least one pair of chopsticks in the car also.

                          1. re: Cathy

                            Good call, Cathy. I additionally keep soy packets and powdered wasabi in my car and in my carry-on. One never knows when one is lucky enough to be near an unlucky tuna's last day. It seems to happen with delightful frequency, once I get my lazy butt out of town.

                      2. re: Veggo

                        I'll take the clean Mexico City waiting lounges over the filthy facilities at Kennedy airport anyday. And the fast food there is pretty much on par with many US airports, unless you have the time to dine (where I think you can do better at many US airports).

                        But I do agree that dealing with the occasional craziness of immigration and security there (and in many airports) is much improved if it's following a satisfying repast.

                        1. re: Cachetes

                          Immigration and security is much, much easier in Mexico City than Miami.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Agreed re. Miami. Oddly, the two times I had to do Chapel Hill, NC immigration/customs, it was even worse. I was too rushed to catch my flights to even get a chance to check out the food!

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              ITA... plus Mexico City has an actual Al Pastor Spit in the Domestic Lounge.. EXCELLENT....



                            2. re: Cachetes

                              I arrived in Mexico City on an overnight bus from Guadalajara, in order to fly on TACA to Honduras. I arrived at the airport about six hours before my flight, planning to just chill out... and finding that there is NO seating until you clear security! Unfortunately the TACA window didn't open until two hours before my flight, so my choices were: sit on the floor for four hours or sit in one of the crappy pre-security restaurants for four hours. No chairs! None! Whose bright idea was that?

                              1. re: Jetgirly

                                Juarez Int. airport in Mexico City has always creeped me out, maybe because I was there in 1979 a month after the DC10 crash and all the wreckage was still there. I can't get out of there quickly enough.
                                But Jetgirly, you discovered that the airports at either Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula in Honduras are not prize winners, either.
                                Food on a plane? I've said before I eat like a king on airplanes and I make no apologies.
                                If you really love pain, fly into Guatemala City at night with just a granola bar...

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Yes, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are like doing hard time - but so are Chiapas, Sao Paolo, Belen, Cali, Dushnabe, Chiclayo, Pucallpa, Managua, Bogota, Istanbul, Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, Cebu, General Santos, Hue, Leyte, Lahore, Bhutan, Rangoon, .... and so on and so forth.

                                  As to Guatemala City, the renovations are coming to completion and night flights let you get out and away faster .. to food and drink!

                                2. re: Jetgirly

                                  Go out and over the pedestrian bridge back to MEXICO and a block away to some taco stands in the shade. Get a few beers and tacos and enjoy.

                                    1. re: Jetgirly

                                      Right, so you get some tortillas, beans, onion, cheese, jalapenos, and the like, couple of beers, good to go...

                            3. It sounds like there needs to be some new airlines to meet this need. Garlic Express, where people are actually encouraged to bring and share aromatic foods. And Clean Air Air, where food, except for rice crackers, are forbidden.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Hah! A new french airline where you are served lots of stinky cheese. I'd pay extra for that.

                              2. I've wondered about this too. I have a feeling that it's mostly psychological. I think people eat to deal with the stress of traveling and/or a fear of flying.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: madgreek

                                  and boredom. flying can be very dull.

                                2. What you're talking about is an ideal situation for someone who lives in a city where they don't have to take connecting flights. Most of the time I have <1 hour between flights, so there's basically enough time to get out of the first plane and move into the second.

                                  There are also plenty of health reasons to eat on a plane. I get migraines and am not really supposed to go that long without eating something (at least a snack). I'm much more likely to get a migraine on the plane as it is, so I try to at least bring on a snack.

                                  As for the germs, I am far more concerned about the person within 10 feet of me who has a cold and is coughing/sneezing every 3 minutes. If you get sick from a plane, it's probably not going to be due to the food, that's for sure.

                                  1. depending on the flight direction, I will eat or not.

                                    going to Europe from Canada, being a night flight, I will not eat; I will try to stay as asleep as possible.

                                    going the other way around, I might probably get the ugly sandwich.

                                    Eating in airplanes is NOT about feeding people, it's about keeping them occupied.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Maximilien

                                      The flight is actually longer back to Canada from Europe, due to prevailing winds.

                                      I find it so difficult to pack anything I'd want to eat with all the liquids and semi-liquids and other restrictions. Confess I liked to pack a small bottle of GOOD wine to savour. Made sure the cheese I packed wasn't too stinky.

                                      And it is true that for some people (small children, people with certain medical conditions) it is essential to be able to consume some food.

                                    2. Well, there's sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, and food. Can't really do the first two; but iPods and some carry on food takes care of three and four.

                                      1. When I take a cross country 6 am flight, not much time to eat a meal so I bring some PB&J's. It's not just the flight time, it's also wait times at the airport both before and after, so that 6 hr flight turns into 8+/-. And that doesn't include any connections along the way. If I have a connection those sammies come in very handy.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: cstr

                                          The last time I planned ahead and took a peanut energy/snack bar on a plane with me, there was an announcement before we took off that there was someone on board with a peanut allergy and we were asked not to open any items containing peanuts. So much for my plan.

                                          1. re: PrincessBakesALot

                                            That would drive me nuts (pun intended, I guess). By all means, if you have an allergy severe enough that sitting near someone eating the food is a risk, then discretely share this info with your neighbors. If they have a problem and are determined to eat the peanuts that may/may not have packed, then ask to change seats, but to ask an entire plane full of people to forgo such a common travel food is a stretch. What do we do when there are competing health needs, the diabetic really needs to eat her peanut butter crackers to stabilize her blood sugar but the guy with allergies has requested a plane-wide ban?

                                            1. re: mpjmph

                                              Even on Southwest, which serves only peanuts (2 packs on a 'dinner' flight) (also a three pack of snacks (cookies, PB crackers and dried fruit) on longer flights), they accomodate a peanut allergy by vacuuming up the first two rows on both sides of the plane, telling people they will have a peanut-free flight if they choose to sit there and giving the third row back also the option of having a peanut snack or not. But not the whole plane.

                                              1. re: mpjmph

                                                The diabetic could ostensibly choose a different snack. The peanut-allergic person, if he or she cannot switch seats, doesn't have the same option. If he or she breathes peanut dust it could lead to death.

                                                1. re: JennS

                                                  Not if that is the only snack she has packed. I

                                                  do feel sorry for peanut allergy people, but at the same time, would I trust my very life to a planeful of cranky unfed strangers? No way. If breathing peanut dust was going to KILL me, I would get in my car and drive, because even if the flight attendant announces that it is a peanut free flight, how many people do you think are going to sneak open the bag of peanut M&Ms that they brought with them? Or just forget when they are glazed over with hunger?

                                                  1. re: JennS

                                                    You're right, however, when you are in the midst of a low blood sugar you loose your ability to rationalize and are very confused and disoriented. Sometimes severely so. You are trained to grab what you've got and eat it and sometimes that is a struggle.

                                                    As a Type 1, when I was pregnant I had to maintain a tighter than normal control of my BS so I was frquently suffering lows. My endocrinologist's office stockpiled peanut butter crackers because they are a good combo of fat and carbs. The fat slows the absorption of the carbs and helps protect you from rebounding (BS shooting too high) so it's a common remedy used by us.

                                                    I do empathize with those that suffer from peanut allergies. It's a whole different ballgame when you need to be mindful of what's around you, in addition to what you consume. I'm sure it's frightening. Folks with the allergy know, as I do, that you've got to be proactive and prepared. I was just in Portugal recently and was traveling on a trolley when a low BS kicked in. I had had several that day from all the walking and traveling I was doing. I searched and searched through my backpack and could not find my Swedish Fish. I was growing scared as the seconds ticked by b/c I feared I didn't have any and I was on this cable car and what would I do (coma)? Luckily, I eventually found them and I was quickly brought back to "normal" after eating them. You can bet that the next day I had a larger stockpile of foods and drinks.

                                                    Sorry to ramble on, I guess my point is that you hope that folks will be sensitive to a medical condition, but you certainly can't rely on it. The world is a busy scary place and you need to be prepared. <stepping off soapbox>

                                            2. Ipse,

                                              Let's look at the math for a round tripper from NY to the Midwest. Assume 2.5 hour flight. Jfood lives 1 hour from the airport and his midwest office is 30 minutes from the airport. To catch an 8AM flight NY-midwest.

                                              Working backwards:

                                              800 - push back
                                              730 - embark
                                              700-715 - through security
                                              645 - arrive at security
                                              630 - park car
                                              530 - leave house
                                              500 - wake up

                                              Granted this is a morning flight and jfood normally has a buttered bagel in the fridge and grabs on the way out the door.

                                              Now the return working forward to catch a 530 midwest-NY

                                              During the day - cram as much in so you can leave at 300, probably a half sandwich or no lunch.
                                              300 - close down computer/speak with admin/depart office
                                              400 - return rental car
                                              415 - arrive at security
                                              430-445 - through security
                                              445-500 - grab something to eat
                                              500 - embark
                                              530 - push back
                                              900 - arrive (time difference and delays into LGA/JFK)
                                              930 - into car
                                              1030 - arrive home
                                              1031 - Some cuddles and bed
                                              And this is if everything works right

                                              Okeedokee, when do you suggest that someone doing this eats?

                                              So to answer the question. This is the only down time to actually eat. Wrt the germs and such. Purell. And you should google a little to see some research done on the air quality in an airplane. Not great, but not as bad as years ago. Wrt the tray table, now that is one disgusting piece of furniture. Always bring on board something that sits atop the tray, open, purell, then eat. If possible open with a napkin.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jfood

                                                Wow - you get through security in only 15 minutes? In Toronto, it takes me more than an hour from the time I get off the shuttle to the time I get to the gate. And it's not at all unusual to sit on the runway for an hour waiting to take off or get to an empty gate.

                                                And then there's re-routing. On a flight to LA from Toronto, I was bumped from my direct flight, and had to go through Vancouver. My planned five hour trip was turned into a 12 hour nightmare. I'm diabetic and I need to eat frequently. Even airplane food was palatable at the time.

                                              2. I am sorry but none of the comments come from a place that has some empathy towards people with different needs. Perhaps you don't want and don't feel the need to eat, but some people do: either they need to eat, or they just plain want to do this for their pleasure. If they stink up the plane with garlic bread or kimchi (mmm kimchi), that is not nice of course, but other than that I don't think others have a right to tell people when and where they should eat and how they should be fine.

                                                I live in a big enough city, but even with that I connect through some hub if I am flying to the other coast or to the south. This usually means I have been up since the wee hours, took a cab that took 45 minutes, went through the check in, went through the security, endured the long lines of US immigration since you can technically enter USA from the Canadian side of the border (there are offices on this side as well) and then only got relaxed enough to eat. But usually by the time I arrive my gate, it is time to board. Then I perhaps flew a few hours and if I am lucky had a few minutes to clean up and grab something decent to eat during my layover; but again, most of the times, I'd have less than 15 minutes to board. This could take more than 4-5 hours even for the shortish trips, and if I don't eat every 4-5 hours, my insulin levels are messed up and I get cranky and bitter (Just like now. I need to eat breakfast).

                                                And contrary to your belief, people who skip meals tend to get bigger, especially if they have some underlying endocrine problems. Not eating for long periods of times (which is usually compensated by overeating) is a good method to acquire some nice metabolic syndrome.

                                                Besides, as others said, it is sometimes the only fun to do during the flight. And there is nothing better than bad food to accompany bad movies. I used to be more creative with my food before the transportation authorities went Hizbullah over carryon items, but alas...

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: emerilcantcook

                                                  What were the "creative" carryon items that you can't do now?

                                                2. Thankyou! BiscuitBoy always wondered why people expected to be fed on a plane. He thinks it's a throwback from the old days of commercial air travel. On flights 8hrs or less, there's no need for it. Does anyone really look forward to the inflight meal? Yum? Even the cocktails....Well, uh, lets not go too crazy

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                    My SO looks forward to the in-flight meal. He actually likes airplane food. Many people expect to be fed on a plane because, well, airlines provide food. This is now changing, and lately I don't expect to be fed on a plane. But I will bring my own food.

                                                    No need on an 8-hour or less flight?? Please. Even a 5-hour flight means at least two hours of travel and general airport hassle at either end of the flight. Often more. So you've got 9 or 10 hours of traveling at least. Don't know about you, but I need to eat something in that kind of time span. Which makes more sense--grabbing something and stuffing it down while you're on the go, or eating during the 5 hours that you're otherwise sitting there with no place to go?

                                                  2. I find flying boring and stressful. Motion sickness makes it difficult for me to read on a plane. Food is something to look forward to. It occupies me for a while and is enjoyable. It's Vacation Kick-off.

                                                    1. some people need to eat, or snack no matter where they are(driving, sitting at their deask, sitting at their computer, sitting in front of the tv, etc). Also, based on a previous thread many cannot seem "endure" a trip to the grocery store without snacking on something. :-D

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: swsidejim

                                                        LOL! I was just thinking the same thing - if you can't survive a 30 minute grocery shopping expedition without a 42-oz Starbucks and some chips from the bag you're purchasing, how in the world can you get through a 3-hour flight plus transportation and security?

                                                      2. Because on a 9,000+ mile flight, it's eat or cannibalism. And once you've dined on a plane, it's Pavlovian from there on in. '-)

                                                        1. Let's see, I live 2 hours from the nearest airport. If I have any early morning flight, I will stay in Denver the night before. The hotel's continental breakfast's definitely doesn't satisy for long. If I have to drive the 2 hours from my house, my goal is to get to the airport in good time. Sometimes, it doesn't work out. So, yes, if I'm hungry, I'll eat on the plane. Also, 9 times out of 10, I am traveling with my kids. As any parent knows, when traveling with kids, it's easier to have snacks readily available. Otherwise, we'll have grumpy screaming kids. One more thing, If I don't eat on a regular basis, I get mean and bitchy. So if I'm mean and bitchy dealing with grumpy kids, guess how fun travelling is?

                                                          1. Yeah, I'd never eat in a place where someone else was sitting before me. Or where many people congregate and sit for a while, especially if they're eating while they do so. Armrests on chairs, chair cushions or seats....nasty, germ-infested places.

                                                            Those restaurants sure are dangerous places, aren't they?

                                                            1. I didn't mean to rile anyone up, and obviously if you have a medical condtion, then eating is not a choice but a necessity.

                                                              That said, even if my math was off and the total trip was more like 12 hours instead of 6, I still wouldn't eat on an airplane. I've gone many days when I won't eat for 12 hours (e.g. breakfast at 6 a.m. and dinner at 8 p.m.).

                                                              Sometimes, even when not traveling, my schedule just doesn't allow for a quick bite, much less a full meal. I make it through just fine. You get a bit hungry at about the 5 hour mark, but after that you don't even notice it.

                                                              I always think that a person has a certain number of meals in a lifetime, once you use (or eat) all of those up, you die. I just don't want to waste one of those meals on an airplane.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                Wow, I wish I had your tolerance for hunger. I won't repeat what everyone else has said about how a six hour flight can easily mean a 10 or 12 hour stretch where you can't sit down for a meal, but I can safely say I've never gone 12 hours between meals (not counting overnight). I don't have the capacity to eat large amounts of food at once, and I typically eat 5-6 small meals a day (which is also supposedly better for you, as others have mentioned). I've never been able to relate to people who say "I was so busy today I forgot to eat" - they might as well be saying they forgot to breathe. And I 've also never experienced getting a hungry at about the 5 hour mark and then getting past it - by the 6 hour mark I'm nauseous and ready to pass out, not to mention extremely cranky. None of which makes me a good seat mate on a plane, so I always make sure I carry something nutritious to eat. Protein bars are my friend.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  perhaps when you discuss wasted meals you are referring to airline provided meals. Those can indeed be wasted but there is of course absolutely no reason why one's meal on a plane is limited to what the airline provides.

                                                                  I agree with you that life is too short to eat bad food, but there is no reason to eat bad food even on a plane. In general, I am afraid that the concept that the number of (good) meals one can eat is limited seems rather contrary to being a Chowhound....

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                    Do you really want to be sitting among hundreds of strangers who haven't eaten in 12 hours? That has flight from hell written all over it, regardless of whether I've eaten or not.

                                                                    1. re: Cachetes

                                                                      yesh, especially if they start hammering down some beers, wine, or mixed drinks.

                                                                  2. Why do I expect to eat on a plane?
                                                                    Outside of business where my work sends me someplace, if I fly, it is rare, and it is special, and an event, because I can't afford it that often.
                                                                    So yes, I expect some special treatment. If I spent 6-8 hours on a train I'd expect to be fed, on a plane where the anxiety level is higher, certainly I would.
                                                                    Let me put it this way.....
                                                                    If I had a guest in my home for 6 hours, (actually less than 1 hour) I'd offer them something to eat.
                                                                    It is courtesy.
                                                                    Now I know we have planes that now charge to check the bags, and I think today I saw one that is charging for using "a blanket"....... I mean.... come on. Our house is cold, if you are cold, we will charge you for using a blanket.
                                                                    Quit paying the CEO so much and go back to basic standards of service IMO.
                                                                    And that is my rant of the day.
                                                                    Thank you.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                                                      On a train, it is so much easier to pack your own good, tasty foods!

                                                                      Agreed that the decline in airplane service is criminal.

                                                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                                                        Well, if you spent ANY amount of time on a train, you'd PAY for any food you ate. You are not a "guest" of the airline. You paid for a seat, not a dinner party. A "basic standard of service" is basic. It's not what happened in the past. It's basic.

                                                                      2. Wonderful for you. Go ahead and stop eating. And, while you are at it, stop being so concerned about whether anyone else would like to eat. Sometimes, the brain or heart needs a workout, doesn't it?

                                                                        1. I don't get to fly directly to LA. I started in Richmond VA yesterday, leaving my home at 2:45 for my 4:30 flight to Charlotte. We landed in Charlotte 10 minutes late, and by the time I stopped at the restroom, I made it to the gate for my flight to LA with the second to last boarding group, and departed on time 6:15. I landed in LA ontime, at 8:20 PM LA time and collected my bags, picked up my rental car, and made it to my hotel in LA at 9:45 PM.

                                                                          Sorry to have bored you, but that's over 10 hours of traveling, and the only option to eat, would be for whatever I brought with me. And, I was lucky enough to be on time. With all of the flight delays, it would just be foolish to hop on a long flight without bringing a drink and a snack. No one is looking out for you, except for you.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                            I vote for the minimal nutrition and fuss. A candy bar, some granola and raisins (or the like) and as much liquid refreshment as you can squeeze out of the attendants. Get the carts off the aisles and the trays out of the seating area, and no more wrestling with the plastic sporks.

                                                                          2. Well, just having gotten off of a plane a few hours ago, I think people eat for any of several reasons.

                                                                            1. They're hungry
                                                                            2. They're bored and need something to occupy their time
                                                                            3. They're very particular about adhering to their mealtimes
                                                                            4. They're on a diet or have some insulin condition where they have to eat every 2-3 hours

                                                                            Personally, I think an LA to NYC flight warrants a meal (unless I'm flying the red eye). I've flown from SF to NYC a couple of times on a business class red-eye and have turned down food because the last thing I want to do is eat a huge meal and go to sleep right away. If a flight is short (say, less than 3 hours), personally I don't find it a necessity to eat. With checking in, taxi to airport, etc., I can hold off on food for about 6-7 hours. But I think that's my threshold. Everybody is different as to what they can tolerate. I remember there was a thread about people getting grouchy if they haven't eaten in a while. I'd rather have people eating around me than being stuck in a plane full of pain-in-the-ass passengers.

                                                                            1. I can see eating on an airplane, but please no stinky salami sandwiches and onions! That is the worst when you have to smell someone else's food on the plane. As if it wasn't torture enough just being on the plane!

                                                                              1. What's up with the skip a meal comment? Did you just have a bad experience on a flight? I would guess that you don't fly on a regular basis due to the intolerant comment and ambitious timeline for a cross country flight.

                                                                                The rest of us that fly often know that dining on a plane is more out of necessity than desire. I agree that a "meal" isn't often necessary and that conditions for dining are not ideal. I do however, travel with a stash of snacks in my trusty laptop backpack & it has saved me from having to eat scary airline food & terminal fast food, when fogged/snowed in overnight, delayed excessively & missed connecting flights. A Tootsie Pop can keep a screaming/crying child in the next row quiet & I recommend sharing anything with caramel to get the guy next to you to stop talking long enough to fire up the iPod and put on the noise cancelling headphones without seeming rude.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: oldbaycupcake

                                                                                  Actually, I fly regularly.

                                                                                  I never partake of the in-flight meals. Although, I must admit when they serve chocolate chip cookies or fresh muffins it's hard to resist. Smoothies aren't bad either.

                                                                                  But that's not the point. Regardless of the length of the flight -- be it 2 hours or 10 hours -- I just don't understand the necessity of eating a full blown meal on on an airplane.

                                                                                  At least for me, I'm on an airplane for one thing -- to get from Point A to Point B. Food just isn't a consideration.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    Food isn't a consideration when booking my flights, either - it's a given. I AM going to fly and I AM going to eat on any flight that's longer than 3 hours, especially considering the added-in time on either side of the flight.

                                                                                    I get shaky-cranky-weepy-bitchy - or any combination thereof - when I haven't eaten for 6 hours. Most of the airport food at my usual Newark terminal isn't worth the calories and, as anyone who's flown in or out of Phoenix Sky Harbor's Terminal 2 regularly will attest, there is literally NOTHING to eat but microwaved pizza, hot dogs or suspect plastic-wrapped sandwiches. I usually do quite well with a pre-packed sandwich from home (something that won't get soggy or go bad), pretzels, walnuts, raw veggies, (non-smelly) cheese cubes, cut-up fruit or grapes, etc., and bottled water.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      Ah, as jfood's dog would, I think, write (and I paraphrase): thanks for the additional data.

                                                                                      Now we've changed from "eat on an airplane" to "necessity of eating a full blown meal on an airplane" which I think would change the answers from a lot of people. I expect many (including me) would agree that "full-blown" meals aren't a necessity on many (heck, even most) flights. Most everyone wrote of snacks or even light meals but not the 3 courses on actual china in the days-gone-by of airline travel.

                                                                                      The only flights on which I've had a full blown meal in the last few years were on Virgin Atlantic going from Washington DC to Heathrow and, quite honestly, the food was passable to decent and the tea was quite good, I was very happy for something to do for a while and happy to arrive in London feeling tired, but not completely drained for a lack of food.

                                                                                  2. If i waited 12 hours to eat, I would have a blinding headache to add to my seemingly irreversible sinus pressure and pain I regularly get on flights. Also , like a few other's have pointed out, allowing myself a treat on a plane (like the $2 pringles), eases the stess a teeny bit. I'm a white knuckle flyer.

                                                                                    I'm confused, because I get the impression that due to airplane food being a bit substandard , we shouldn't be lowering ourselves to dining on it, and instead , the better alternative is a self-imposed fast.

                                                                                    I'd like to chime in with another possibility....I have just had a vacation in locale A, and while there purchased a fantastic local food item intending to eat it later at home, point B . Can't I wait to eat it?!?!

                                                                                    then again, not eating for twelve hours would certainly allow me to get more bang for my buck from the wine i'm likely to drink on the flight to further calm my nerves. ...

                                                                                    1. Okay. For my next flight, I'm taking some garlic sausage, polska kielbasa, boiled cabbage and a big pot of very ripe kimchi to eat and I'm sitting next to Ipsedixit all the way! Who wants to join us? '-)

                                                                                      Oh, and how come I never get hungry on small private aircraft, only on airliners?

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                        I'm there, with my braunschweiger with mustard and onions on white bread...

                                                                                        Small aircraft means tight quarters with someone who is going the same place...and usually a shorter flight, usually without all the 2 hour preboarding mess...

                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                          Oh, Caroline, how I liked my small private aircraft for years. When the Westwind or Lear 25 leveled out, the copilot woud pop through the bulkhead and refill the bourbon and slice the pate and cornishons. We had nice little clean slippers so we could put our feet on the coffee table. The Westwind was a rocket that would be 1/2 mile altitude before the end of most runways,although it lacked reverse thrusters. Cool and swift. One learned to tilt one's beverage forward during takeoff, the acceleration was so strong.

                                                                                          1. Okay, we've come to the conclusion that most flights+commute are long enough that snacks may be required. But let's put it this way: Why do people feel like they need to eat at a two hour movie or a stage show? (And I'm not talking about snacking on Junior Mints.)

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                              If movie theaters didn't sell snack they would go out of business. Snacks are the really profit center not the movie itself.

                                                                                                1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                  You are trying to apply logic to a cultural custom. It's a fool's errand.

                                                                                                  1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                    There were a couple of threads on this several months ago that were eye-opening on what people will bring into movie theatres. Also very funny onthe lengths people go to to sneak it in. You should do a search for a good laugh.

                                                                                                    1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                      ok i'm REALLY starting to not understand this thread or this notion...i'm beginning to feel as though i've stumbled into some pro-starvation board.

                                                                                                      Basically what all of this is boiling down to is "why must anyone feel the need to EAT ?"

                                                                                                      seriously...wth..this is a chowhound board. ............people eat here.

                                                                                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                                        Indeed! I get hungry at regular intervals, including meal times, and like to eat then, regardless of where I find myself.

                                                                                                    2. flew British Airways first class to Munich from LA. used a bajilion miles just so i could say that atleast once in my life i flew first class on Brit. air!! totally worth it! i recount this in this thread because, the two full blown meals served in flight were outstanding!! not just for airline food, but for high end restaurant food! I looked up how much that flight is if you pay for it.......$5500 r/t! i will say that no amount of lobster is worth that!

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: nkeane

                                                                                                        sit down and check the price again. jfood thinks you dropped the 1 infront of the two 5's. RT between LA and Munich 1st class on BA is probably north of 15K. that's even more lobster

                                                                                                      2. ipsedixit: living in Hawaii, flying is the only way to get anywhere, and the closest points (except interisland) are on the west coast, a minimum travel of 5 air hours. Add to that the recommendation that you arrive at the airport 90 minutes before departure time, at least a half hour to get to the airport and an hour at the other end before you can get decent food, we are talking a minimum of 8 hours. That is a pretty long wait for most people to have a meal.

                                                                                                        Yes, sometimes when I am busy at work I forget to eat lunch. But when I'm sitting on a plane, with nothing to do except watch a movie through bad headphones, or try to read a book with a light that seems to provide glare without illuminatation, I want some other diversion. Without a doubt food is mankind's most universal diversion (Sam F's diversions aside). If I'm eating on a plane, I'm probably either bored or hungry. Boredom may not be a reason to eat if you are someplace where you have options, but the options on a plane are pretty limited. I've found the flight attendants don't really encourage jogging or sing-alongs.

                                                                                                        Are you unhappy with what the airlines serve? Are you uncomfortable with the people next to you wolfing down food that you find substandard or unpleasant? Since most meals are something you have to pay extra for nowadays, it can't be that you don't want to have the extra charge on your ticket... its not, its a separate charge unless you are flying first class or maybe business - in which case money can't be your biggest concern. So what is the issue?

                                                                                                        1. Ipsedixit, I trust you aren't as judgmental as this question comes across. Did you feel this way before they stopped serving meals on planes?

                                                                                                          My short way of saying that perhaps you could have posed this question in a more polite, less judgmental way if you're that curious. Some people need to eat frequent, small meals. Some just are bored. Some are diabetic. Some need to have food in their bellies for meds. There are many reasons, some psychological, some medical.

                                                                                                          Your comment on the germ infested cabin with a previous flatulent passenger leaves me baffled because to me it's irrelevant. I don't think the CDC has said that flatulence is infectious and Lord help us all if it is. Furthermore, the last time I flew there were restrooms with sinks to wash ones hands on airplanes. While we're at it, do you have snide comments about people who eat while at a football game? After all, they should be able to make it through 3 hours without eating, and who knows who was there before? And golly, I'm sure you'd think that some of them can certainly go without a meal or two or three.

                                                                                                          Why do you care if other passengers eat, as long as it doesn't stink up the joint? Other than that, why is it your concern?

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: marcia

                                                                                                            I certainly wasn't trying to be judgmental. If it came off that way, it was unintended. In any event, it is what it is.

                                                                                                            As to the football game analogy I think that's inapt. Attending a football game is entertainment. Most of us (certainly not me) do not view a commercial flight as entertainment.

                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              I suppose the judgemental tone came from the title. It's not 'Why do people eat?' but 'Why do people feel like they need to eat'. The second bit can be parsed in two ways:
                                                                                                              1) Why do people FEEL they need to eat. They feel this is a necessity, but the implication is that this is not a necessity, only a feeling of one. Hence, the answers explaining that there is quite often a necessity.

                                                                                                              2) Why do people feel like they NEED to eat? This question will inevitably puzzle chowhounds who live to eat, not eat to live. This means the question of necessity isn't even a goer-- and then we receive the wonderful lists of nibbles and light meals people aim to pack. (I love the list but find tuna fish, peanuts/peanut butter, and oranges to be all unpleasant smells-- I eat each food, I just can't stand the smell of them when not eating them, go figure.)

                                                                                                              That said, I understand your question. When doing short jumps in Europe, I would never take one of the naff sandwiches that get handed out. I have sometimes endeavoured to bring my own though, since I live far from the airport. This entails travelling well before the flight and these travels take me through even more unfortunate food choices. A sandwich option at E.A.T. thus becomes a desirable one-- and nice to take on the plane where I can eat without thinking of further disruption through gate changes, etc. (I fly a lot, but have never managed to be cavalier about gate announcements; it's not like I've ever missed a flight so no idea where that anxious tic comes from.)

                                                                                                              On the way to my mum's I'll see about not eating anything at all-- headed into Brussels and to a Jewish mother means gorging on arrival, so why do anything but starve myself in anticipation? (Good timing on this comment I see... Shana Tovah everyone.)

                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                I apologize for being totally dense, but what difference does it make whether one eats while watching entertainment or if they're on a plane? Food is food, and where they choose to eat is irrelevant and, frankly, none of your business.

                                                                                                                How about this one--people who eat in food courts at shopping malls. I don't think they're being entertained, and certainly many of them could have eaten before shopping, waited until later, could afford to skip a meal, etc.

                                                                                                                I'm just having huge difficulties with the entire concept, and tone, of this question beceause as I said, unless the it's pungent enough to bother other people, what's it to you?

                                                                                                              1. When you're a frequent flier from an Eastern cold-weather city, you will invariably have 10%-20% of your flights parked on the tarmac awaiting de-icing or sitting there because some airport's weather issues are screwing up everyone's departures. So your three hour flight to Denver or Dallas is now 5 hours or more. Not taking into account the aforementioned TSA delays and baggage collection time.

                                                                                                                And if you're trying to get to a meeting, many delays mean you won't get to stop off and grab a decent meal once you land. Thus, eating on the plane provides insurance against a grumbling tummy upon arrival.

                                                                                                                I admit to having control issues on numerous topics, but thankfully this isn't one of them. I get it.

                                                                                                                1. If a meal or snack is offered on the plane I will attempt to eat it. If there isn't I will wait until I get where I am going to eat.

                                                                                                                  I do not pack food to bring with me on the plane for me to snack on or eat, as I do not have dietary issues, take medicine that requires the medicine to be taken with food, or other have issues that necessitate continually snacking/eating throughout the day. I will however pack some snacks for our 2 year old daughter to munch on, but I donot partake.

                                                                                                                  With the above said I rarely fly, and prefer driving. I hate being herded like cattle from point A to point B.

                                                                                                                  1. So Ipse,

                                                                                                                    Were you sitting next to Dommy and I on a 6 AM flight from Boston to LAX earlier this week when we brought out our very fragrant homemade Porchetta Sandwiches? We had to get up at 3 am to get to Logan return a car and found almost nothing open in Terminal C though Dommy was able to score some cookies at Au Bon Pain before take off. You talked about the LA Kings, Baseball and Visiting Grandchildren and as far as I could see only drank Tomato Juice for the whole trip.

                                                                                                                    Had we known it was you we would have found a way to share. and you wouldn't have been suffering with smells of pork fennel garlic and rosemary for 6 + hours.

                                                                                                                    Take Care and Happy traveling!

                                                                                                                    - P.

                                                                                                                    1. Hiya... I never bring food onto the plane anymore, especially something good (read: homemade). I feel bad for others who haven't packed anything for themselves. That doesn't make me special (trust me, I'm not :-). I just don't enjoy my own good food amidst others who are without, especially in close quarters. In this, I'm likely the one with an imbalanced perspective, and would rather go 4 or 8 or 12 hours without the chow. I know there will be food waiting for me, somewhere, when I arrive at my destination. But I certainly don't mind if others on the plane tuck in and chow down in front of me. I'm happy for them. I know, weird... Lastly, one other reason i don't necessarily feel the need to eat much (if at all) on longer flights: put delicately, I'd rather not stimulate my lower digestive system into requiring 'an evacuation' (and I'm not talking about the plane :-). The plane bathrooms are fine (for me) for going # 1, but I don't relish spending unnecessary quality time in that small/cramped space making with the # 2. Know what I mean?

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: silence9

                                                                                                                        Bingo on all points slience9.

                                                                                                                        I think people have taken my original post as being opposed to people (ie. the passenger sitting next to me) eating a meal on a plane.

                                                                                                                        Not the case. I could care less if people eat a meal and am not advocating that such a practice be banned.

                                                                                                                        I'm just curious why people do it, that's all.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                          If a flight is purely for getting from A to B do you whip out a crossword? Listen to your ipod? Flip through a magazine? Read a book?

                                                                                                                          I don't see how eating is any different than another feel good diversion. You're sitting there doing nothing. I think that's a perfect time to really savor and think about what you're tasting and experiencing.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                            Again, you should have just posed your question as a mere query rather than being so judgmental and snide (can't people wait 6 hours to eat, after all, no one's doing anything grueling, many people can afford to skip a meal or two or three, etc). Instead, many of the responses, including mine, have taken on the same tone as your OP, and deservedly so.

                                                                                                                            Incidentally, I'm not one to eat on planes so I don't have a dog in this fight. However, I will object to a post that I feel is unfair due to, yes, prejudices, whether you mean them or not.

                                                                                                                          2. re: silence9

                                                                                                                            on the first part of your post....I once shared a flight from my home city that is known for it's fish and chips, with just that very thing. I never get that meal as good anywhere except there and was likely not to have it for a good long while, plus I don't think i'd gotten to indulge during that trip, and was hungry to boot. Some might argue otherwise, but the scent of this meal coming from a few aisles up...was maddening. I swear I came *this close* to going up to ask a complete stranger for a chip XD

                                                                                                                          3. I wonder whether anybody is collecting data on the incidence of bad passenger behavior and the removal of airline food, because food makes people nicer. Example: if you are organizing a meeting of people who hate each other, serving snacks and drinks or coffee and cake will help defuse the hostility. Another example: the other day a crazy guy on a city bus was ranting and screaming for fifteen minutes then somebody handed him a candy bar and he settled down right away, ate his candy bar and shut up. Food is magic. Flying is stressful. Food relieves stress. In a sane world, airlines would still serve food. Since they don't, take some with you.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                              Some airlines are finally realizing that a hungry passenger is a cranky passenger -- they still offer at least something edible and free if the flight continues through the lunch of dinner hours. I wish the rest of them would realize that asking me to pay $3 for a stale cookie is NOT going to make me any happier about the $15 they just nicked me to check my suitcase, or the 300 lb, man in front of me who has reclined his seat back into my esophagus.

                                                                                                                              I would rather put up with the smells of brought-on food (homemade or terminal fare) being eaten in the cabin than the random rantings of some stressed out businessman with a belly full of liquor and nothing more, who drank his dinner in the airport bar.

                                                                                                                            2. Last fall I did an All Inclusive week in Mexico.. found it funny that on the flight down, there was a large breakfast - egg/ham/cheese sandwich, yoghurt, fruit, and a granola bar I believe. Also plenty of alcohol to be had.
                                                                                                                              After a week of way too much alcohol and tons of not so great food, they sent us back on a plane with only small pizzas for dinner, and my husband got the last can of beer on the plane. I think they gauged the appetite of the crowd going down vs. coming back quite well!

                                                                                                                              1. I think the latest comments/replies you've made belie your original intent, I.E., in the way you phrased various questions when you created the topic.
                                                                                                                                I think you have inferred, "what's the matter with you?" It's like comparing eating with bodily functions, as if we could or should relieve ourselves before a flight and then be able to control our bladders for the course of a flight. Who needs toilets on a plane?
                                                                                                                                Also inferring "It's not the proper place to eat." You shouldn't even think about eating in a nasty, filthy place like an airplane.

                                                                                                                                Though there is the pro and con exhibited here, I feel sorry for you, as here and on other threads there seems to be a tendency for groups to polarize and gang up on the OP.
                                                                                                                                It's not quite like we are hooded KKK but the anonymity and the polarization sometimes bothers me. You are welcome to your opinion and I to mine. Though sometimes not pretty, it is life in the big city. I, too might be squirming, crawfishing or putting a spin on what I'd said If I were in your shoes.

                                                                                                                                1. 1. Need an activity.
                                                                                                                                  2. Seeing those crappy $9 sandwiches in the airport upset me so much that I feel the need to come prepared just in case I get hungry.
                                                                                                                                  3. I take pleasure in torturing others with the smell of my yummy food.
                                                                                                                                  4. I like it when strangers compliment me on how beautiful my homemade sandwich is.(..and It's probably on toasted SOURDOUGH!!!)

                                                                                                                                  1. I agree with you actually.

                                                                                                                                    When I was little I took long flights frequently and the food was "fun" but now as a grownup I don't like the idea of eating, I always pick at my food or tell them that I don't want it.
                                                                                                                                    Also saw a show about the food on airplanes and the hassle it takes to prepare it/standards/perfect portion, I wouldn't complain if they eliminated it all together ;)

                                                                                                                                    1. As far as I'm concerned, picnicking on the plane is one of the few things that makes flying bearable.

                                                                                                                                      1. Well, I know that airplane food is generally vile, but I don't think that's much of an excuse to say people shouldn't want to eat on a flight.
                                                                                                                                        Flying is such an unpleasant experience lately that I avoid it whenever possible, and the least the airlines could do is offer a bit of decent food.
                                                                                                                                        Sitting in one place for as little as three hours can be pretty damn boring, and a bit of decent food could make it more cheerful.
                                                                                                                                        It's possible that many people could stand to miss a meal, but a meal is in fact included in the price of most tickets - you've paid for it, probably an absurd amount of money. At the risk of being nit-picky, many people could miss one, two or three meals, but I certainly wouldn't say "most" in a world where hunger is still a huge issue.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: sophie fox

                                                                                                                                          "but a meal is in fact included in the price of most tickets" - sorry, it is not. just read the contract on the web sites (used to be on the back of the paper ticket). you are paying to go from point A to point B. The rest are extras.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                            OK, fair enough - sometimes included, but not always. The last time I flew, it was a transatlantic flight and the meal WAS included.

                                                                                                                                        2. If you are really just asking the question out of curiosity, which is reasonable, there are other ways to ask it. The qualifiers in your post don't exactly invite a forthright response from someone who fully loves to eat on the plane. The tone is "why on earth would anyone in their right mind do such a thing, or want to do such a thing?" I completely agree with posters who have said they enjoy a smuggled picnic - a great way to make an otherwise miserable experience less so. I mean, if you don't want to eat on the plane, that's fine, but to suggest that it is unnecessary for others, that we somehow need to justify our wishes, is kind of intrusive.

                                                                                                                                          1. I really think it is human nature gone a stray maybe due to altitude ... I travel WAY too much on business ( cross country and internationally) and am fortunate to have so many FF miles so that on certain airlines I am often bumped to the front of the plane. I watch otherwise normal human beings and I suspect serious Chowhounds salivate for the dinner service and get crazed if their " first choice" is sold out. This is the food that they ( and I) would be writing about with a vengence on this Board if it were to be served even in a crappy restaurant...it makes me smile sadly even while I too am guilty . I never have the foresight ( or time) to pack something in my briefcase for what i expect will be a 6 hour flight turned into a 10 hour flight due to temporary mechanicals, tarmac holds etc...so i end up eating the slop and wondering if I am in row 6 whether i will be served first or last...then I get off the plane and am normal. No, none of us ( barring a metabolic issue) will die if we arent served but I really think it is the claustrophobic, out of control , bored and anxious mentality that sets in when you are careening through the air in a bullet . If germs bothered me I would board every flight in a HAZMAT suit in deference to the coughing ,sneezing and odours from the ( often out of order due to overuse ) communal john ..tough to take a train from Boston to London...

                                                                                                                                            1. I paid for my food, I am eating it! And sometimes they are alright...the one I go on isn't that bad most of the time.

                                                                                                                                              And they give me haagen daaz ice cream >.>"

                                                                                                                                              1. When there are "meals" served on my flights, it's usually trans-Atlantic. Since we always fly BC or FC, these are quite good, by contemporary airline food. We usually connect to SFO, LAX or DEN. Since we've been in-transit for 3-4 hours, we'll do the cheese and crackers at the Red Carpet Club, along with a couple of Chardonnays. Even though DEN and SFO have decent restaurants, especially by airport standards, we know that we'll dine in a few hours. Considering the wine lists on BA and UAL for these flights, we make do, until our meals. Finally a cheese plate with fruit and a glass, or two, of Port and it time for some sleep. Then, the 4:00AM breakfast arrives and next thing we know, we're at LHR at 5-6AM GMT. We don't normally dine again, until about 8PM GMT, so it all works out well.

                                                                                                                                                Give me a flight from PHX to IDA and I don't even bother. Besides, we're usually in Economy.

                                                                                                                                                Now lately, we've been doing PHX to MSY and arrive about 8PM NOLA time. In the old days, this was never a problem, as the city had good restaurants open late. Nowadays, it's hard to get good food after 9PM - about the time to get baggage, a rental car and get downtown. We've started eating at PHX (not the best US airport to dine, but it'll do), and then ordering room service. Had some hits, but more misses. Note: the room service at the Ritz-Carlton NO is better than any of their restaurants, or really any nearby spots that are open late, post-K).

                                                                                                                                                As for why people eat on planes, I think that most of the replies are spot on. Many do it out of boredom or to calm anxieties. I've been on connecting short flights with some of the same folk, and they bring on a 5-course meal to each leg. Heck, if it's less than 5 hours, I usually go with sparkling water and don't even bother with the pretzels, etc. Though, we usually have snacked at the RCC, before the flight (unless its SW Airlines - no RCC!).

                                                                                                                                                Other than crackers, or nuts, I cannot ever remember bringing on food, when flying. Now, I am often tempted to try and sneak good wine onboard, but that's another story.


                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                  wine will be tough. They consficated my little jar of jelly at logan last week and they were NOT nice about it.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                                    People eat on planes because FLYING on planes is a death-defying act and if Gd forbid the worst were to happen, you might wanna go down saying to yourself: "Self, at least, in the end ya went down enjoying a Corned Beef Sandwich from the Second Avenue Deli"!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chocolatebirthdaycake

                                                                                                                                                      ..and chocolatebdcake,if they ever design an airline that FEATURES chow worthy food your slogan gets my vote!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chocolatebirthdaycake

                                                                                                                                                        You know, were I "going out," I think I'd opt for a bottle of Quinta de Noval Naçional '35. But hey, if all I had was a corned-beef from Second Ave Deli, I guess I'd take that.

                                                                                                                                                        Let's hope that all of us fly safely and this is a moot point, but I see your take on it. Who wants to leave this life with crumbs from a UAL "happy meal" on their lips?


                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                                                        Heh. You should have heard my howls when they confiscated my Azuri hummus at JFK in NYC. The lady actually said, "Hummus...isn't that middle eastern?" I think I made the no-fly list LOL!

                                                                                                                                                        Incidentally, I should clarify that I have little interest in airline food. I've always packed my own even on flights where food is served.

                                                                                                                                                    2. As jfood sat on the tarmac last night for 1+ hour all he could think of was the reaction of the people around him when he opened his Stage Deli (airport location) corn beef/pastrami combo when the beverage service started. The person next to him already ate her ham and cheese pannini and the woman across the aisle had a salad in a bag.

                                                                                                                                                      When the plane reached appropriate altitude, beverage service began and jfood enjoyed his sandwich, which greatly relaxed him, then returned to his book. Since it was about 90 minutes since he purchased the sandwich, even he could not smell anything.

                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                        I'm about to do a 6-1/2 hour non-stop flight on Air Canada. What to take??
                                                                                                                                                        It will be an early departure. I was thinking a bag of breakfast burritos... Where can I get those (or anything else decent), at JFK?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                          Best of luck with that -- food choices at JFK are pretty limited. Can't you get food in the city and just schlep it with you to the airport?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                            Terminal 7 post security food includes:

                                                                                                                                                            7th Avenue Deli Food Court
                                                                                                                                                            Antonio's Food Court
                                                                                                                                                            Atlantic Bar and Grille Between Gates 2 & 3
                                                                                                                                                            Latitudes Food Court
                                                                                                                                                            McDonald's Food Court
                                                                                                                                                            Seattle's Best / Peet's Coffee Between Gates 6 & 7
                                                                                                                                                            The Grove Food Court

                                                                                                                                                            That's a tough one Scargod. Safe flight

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                                                              Cook and take along some lamb chops.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                Homemade lamb, potato and egg burittos! Now, if I can just get up one more hour earlier to make them...
                                                                                                                                                                You know, I've already run out of chops. Great snack food. Cheaper than chips!

                                                                                                                                                          2. Assuming a person eats breakfast at 7:00 AM, lunch at 12:00 PM, and dinner at 6:30 PM, most people go about 6.5 hours between meals normally. I'm usually pretty hungry by the time a meal rolls around.

                                                                                                                                                            So you have a 6 hour flight in your scenario. Add to that on the front end the need to be at the airport at least an hour before the flight, plus the time it takes to get to the airport, and you are at about 8 hours already. Since most people who are on their way to the airport have a lot of other things to do - packing, or finishing up work at the office, etc. they aren't going to be eating right before they leave their house or work for the flight, so tack on at least one, maybe more hours for that. Now we are at 9 hours (at least) between the last meal and the time the plane touches down in NYC. Then there is waiting on the tarmac for your gate to clear and get to your gate, then there is the 15 minutes of sitting there at the gate waiting for the cabin door to be opened and people to start filing out. That puts us up to 9:30. Then there is the 30 minutes or more of getting luggage from baggage claim and waiting for either your rental car or other transportation to the city. Then there is the hour trip into the city. That puts us at 11 hours between meals.

                                                                                                                                                            I would consider these times to be conservative. There are many other scenarios that would make this longer. One would be a mid-morning flight. Say you ate at 7:00, but your flight isn't until 11:00. That means you have to add another 2 hours between meals, for a total of 13 hours.

                                                                                                                                                            Can people eat in airports? Yes, but there are lots of practical considerations that cause many people not to. Allowing yourself 1 hour between the time you arrive at the airport and the time your flight takes off doesn't really give you a lot of time - you have to be at your gate at least 20 minutes before the scheduled take-off - that gives you only 40 minutes to get through security and get a bite to eat. With the length of security lines these days, there may be almost time for you to get something to eat. Wolfing down a nasty heat-lamp-dessicated Sbarro's pizza slice in two minutes isn't the healthiest or most satisfying meal. Then, when you get to your destination, you are ready to get out of the airport, may have people waiting for you or appointments to make- again, not really practical or appealing to stop for a bite of nasty airport terminal food.

                                                                                                                                                            1. To those who talk about eating on an airplane being a way of coping with boredom, I concur. I travel to Japan a lot on Continental (14 hour flight there, 11 hours back), and it seems like they are always trying to stuff our faces with something, probably just to prevent mutiny from those of us tired of the terrible movie choice and horribly uncomfortable brand of coach seats Continental buys for its 777s. Unfortunately, the two main meals are terrible. For the dinners between Houston and Japan, they have two asian beef dishes and two asian fish dishes in their repertoire. Each flight, they give passengers one beef dish and one fish dish to choose from. It really doesn't matter which beef dish or which fish dish is offered on any particular flight - the beef dishes are indistinguishible, as are the fish dishes, and all four are awful. It also ticks me off that an American carrier ONLY offers Asian meals on a flight to Japan - going there, I know that I am only going to be eating Asian food for the next week or two, and so something different would be nice, and coming back, I have just been eating only asian food for one to two weeks, and don't need another bad rendition of it on the plane going home. I also don't need ramen noodles (which are super salty and thus dehydrate a person in the already dehydrating environment of an aircraft cabin). Going to Japan, I grab a couple of breakfast tacos from little Pappasitos in IAH, and carry them on, coming back from Japan I gorge myself on conveyor belt sushi right before taking the train to Narita, and then just make due with a Cliff bar or two on the flight.

                                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Reefmonkey

                                                                                                                                                                You make some good points, and some valid, though "horrible sounding" ones. I understand your comments, and think that the airlines should address these issues.

                                                                                                                                                                It also makes me glad that I fly to the UK (usually from SFO, so it's slightly shorter, than your flight) on UAL, and always have enough points to upgrade. The food in BC/FC UAL trans-Atlantic, is much better. Lately, they have been doing better still - knocking on wood as I type, since I'll be doing this in Oct and April and would not like to get Continental's caterer for either of those! We're going to do the BA PHX-LHR flight and upgrade to FC. Have not had their US-UK meals, but hear they are very good.

                                                                                                                                                                Going back to the earlier days of commercial flight, Eastern Airways used to have the best baked chicken that I have had. I flew PHL-MSY quite often, back then, and often got free upgrades to FC (no points). I'd usually ask the stewardess (what we called them back then - not a derogatory term at all) if I could have the baked chicken from coach, instead of the filet in FC. All allowed me to substitute. Heck, some even ended up delivering one of each. Do not recall who their caterer was, but the meal was taken on at BWI.

                                                                                                                                                                Today, if it's not BC, or FC, I usually bring on something from the airport and just skip the offerings. Luckily, I have enough points, that this only happens on domestic flights and then these are all pretty short domestic flights.

                                                                                                                                                                I also agree about your post one-up. The time can be a lot longer between meals, than just the flight time. I usually grab something at either the airport (I've got a list of edible food at most of the airports that I frequent), or a nibbly at the Red Carpet Club. Still, sometimes one cannot do this and still make connections. Then, they are at the mercy of "airline food."


                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt


                                                                                                                                                                  You will love BA and jfood's favorite line is when the flight attendents tells jfood, "help yourself to some nibbles whenever you would like" in a lovely British accent.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                    I just love double entendres from a cute woman, in a foreign accent. Sometimes I ask my SO to speak to me in French! I forget all about food...

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                    Continental's first class food can be pretty good (except for breakfast). I'm pretty much always upgraded domestically (all those flights to japan help) so I don't have a lot of experience with their domestic coach meals. The coach lunch, which I call the "turkey sandwich lozenge" because of the size and shape of the thing, is serviceable, and I would rather they served that on the flight to Japan than a hot meal. The times I do fly coach domestically, even if they do serve dinner, I usually don't eat it because I figure it is the end of the day and I can make it until I get to my final destination.

                                                                                                                                                                    I've never flown BA. Some of Air France's coach food is downright delicious, though. One of the best airline coach meals I have ever had was on Turkish Airlines.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Reefmonkey

                                                                                                                                                                      I might have mentioned it upthread, but one of my best recent airline meals was on Turkish (coach) from Istanbul to Tajikistan last month.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                        2 - 0 end of the first, Concha y Toro cab & high end tunafish sandwiches!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Reefmonkey

                                                                                                                                                                        I am thrilled Continental still serves food for free on domestic flights. I have low standards and thought Continental was the best airline in terms of food for going to Japan and I think it is less terrible than some of the other airlines for going to the UK as well. I haven't gotten to take ANA/JAL to Japan, so I can't comment there. I prefer Continental for Japan and Virgin for the UK. BA wasn't really anything to write home about. I think my main issue with the longer flights is simply having enough food to make it through. In a lot of places like Narita/Heathrow, you're talking a good 3 hours+ from the time you get off the airplane until you actually get to your destination, so a dinky muffin at the end of the flight isn't going to cut it. The most surprisingly edible food I had was on Aeroflot, which I have to say I went into with really low expectations.

                                                                                                                                                                  3. I disagree. No matter what the flight time is, bringing food and snacks for your flight is the smartest way to go. A flight can be 45 minutes and you could still be sitting on the runway for over 2 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. This could just be me, but I get really excited about traveling, and when they serve meals on the flight that usually means you are going far away from home, hopefully someplace cool. So, in keeping with that spirit, I am one of the weirdos who actually likes airplane food.

                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Fromageball

                                                                                                                                                                        It used to be fun to figure out what the dessert was supposed to be. That was back when it was often some sort of Whip & Chill froth "food". In the modern world it's usually packaged junk food.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fromageball

                                                                                                                                                                          Good for you, Fromageball. I've traveled way to much over the past 35 years (almost all countries and airlines and classes) , but, like you, I like airline food! Of course its not the best in the world, but why not just enjoy it for what it is? Kind of like some street food. I love it all but it is variable.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                            Yup, food at 35,000 ft. is fun, but a bag of pretzels is a drag. I still have a "thing" for Pan Am stewardesses. Thailand and S. Korea are on the horizon.(No thanks Northwest.)

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I was flying home from Germany in coach and it was great, they offered beer and wine with every round, after meals they came around with baileys/cognac. It was great. I like most of the snack 'boxes' that they pass out, aside from the sandwich which is like as someone described a "lozenge"

                                                                                                                                                                          1. I eat on flights because airline travel has become more unpleasant than a root canal...I refuse to eat in airports as the food is primarily chain quality or worse...and eating a wonderful meal I have brought from home helps me forget my misery until the aircraft finally lands. And no I don't care how long the flight is...they are all unpleasant. When I think of how many things have greatly improved service and total experience wise over the past 30 years I have to comment that nothing has declined in quality or is as miserable as much as traveling coach.

                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Tripper

                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, the big change downward in airport food is a drag. The contained fastfood smells are nasty, and then lack of seating makes people take out and eat all over the waiting area. It's real fun waiting for a flight across from somebody scarfing fried stuff and dropping half of it all over the carpet.

                                                                                                                                                                              I just wish there was some escape. A nice calm restaurant, a nice calm cocktail lounge -- just what people could use to soothe them pre-flight.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                                                                                I have an almost-fond memory of being diverted into Pittsburgh airport en route to Buffalo - a blizzard was shutting down the east coast but those in charge let our flight take off from LaGuardia, then immediately decide that oh no, we can't land in Buffalo. So we'll go to Pittsburgh instead. Anyway, the airport was jammed with stranded travellers.
                                                                                                                                                                                I was lucky enough to stumble into a small oasis - a peacuefu, QUIET restaurant in the middle of the airport. Aaaah, it was a nice break. I enjoyed a decent meal (I think it was a steak, anyway it was quite good) and then rejoined the masses who were now being loaded onto buses to Buffalo. Oh the joy of it all. A 40-minute flight from NYC to Buffalo turned into a 9+hour ordeal. But the nice meal in the middle made all the difference to my attitude!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                                                                                  Jetblue Airways JFK new terminal is my favorite.