In terms of food and innovation, Virgin America and Air Canada are still tops, along with Alaska Airlines; however, the No. 1 spot goes to Virgin America!
I’m not sure why the airlines don’t pay more attention to offering healthier snacks. Overall, the snack boxes are getting stronger, and the meals are moving in the right direction they just need to offer them on shorter flights even two hours is a long time in the air (especially when it’s more like 3.5 hours from start to finish). One thing I’ve noticed is that most airlines have eliminated or are eliminating those crazy high-calorie snacks (i.e., more than 850 calories). JetBlue still needs to do more work on their snacks but the good news is that they’re offering snack boxes on all flights, and they have also brought back the nuts. Delta’s individual snacks are still terrible, but their meals are getting stronger. Virgin America is stepping up the competition, and if they would only offer more healthy individual snacks, they could reach five stars. What’s amazing is that they actually have calorie information on the light offerings section of their website just fantastic. Air Canada is also very strong on health and innovation. They have nutrient information for all the foods on board (Please put that on your website too!!).
The “Shame on You” award goes to Frontier and Allegiant no help, and not very nice. I’m not sure who was worse in terms of cooperation, Allegiant, whose media rep wasn’t nice, or Frontier, which didn’t respond at all to repeated calls and emails.
The average number of calories per food item this year is 388. This is the first year we have calculated this; however, we will continue to keep track from now on.
Here are the snack and onboard food-service offerings from several of the more popular airlines (in alphabetical order), along with Diet Detective’s comments, ratings (Health Score: 5 stars = highest rating, 0 stars = lowest), calories, exercise equivalents (amount of walking required to burn off the food consumed) and personal favorites.
Virgin America (877-359-8474, www.virginamerica.com)
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.
Comments: This airline is off the charts when it comes to focusing on food. Again, like last year, they were very responsive. Wow they actually provide all the nutritional information on their Travel Light menu in-flight, and they’re also including it on their website. In addition, Virgin America offers the only on-demand in-flight food ordering meaning that you can order any time. They say that you can select your order from a touch screen and the flight attendant delivers it to you pretty cool.
Health Score: (**** 1/4)
Best Bets: In terms of individual snacks, the PopChips are a low-calorie choice; however, the best choice is the nuts. They are packed with important nutrients and will help keep you full longer than other snack choices. But you still need to split them with someone. Most of the snacks including the two new additions, the big cookie and the Pringles are certainly not the healthiest choices. The oatmeal is a good breakfast choice at 310 calories a nice whole grain to get you started in the morning. The Protein Meal box with hummus, nuts and tuna is great. It will fill you up and will be a real meal. However, I don’t love the Jet Set Kid Pack. Don’t underestimate kids they will eat healthy foods if packaged well. On certain flights Virgin offers peanut butter and jam sandwiches; that’s a better choice.
The meals have become even better than last year. The Holiday Turkey Sandwich at 410 calories is packed with protein. I also love the Roasted Pear and Arugula Salad with almonds and a fig mustard dressing, which has 6 grams of fiber and is only 360 calories. The Protein Plate with hummus, whole-wheat pita and sliced turkey with 8 grams of fiber and 420 calories is another great choice. Again, these are all meals that will fill you up and help you avoid the junk.
[Note: Prices Not Available]
Crackers (60 calories), hummus (63 calories), mixed nuts (170 calories), Craisins (100 calories), tuna (110 calories), Toblerone Mini (67 calories). Total = 570 calories, 123 minutes of walking.
Hearty Meal Box
Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (160 calories), Old Wisconsin Salami Slices (90 calories), Thin Addictive Cookies (100 calories), Welch’s Fruit Snacks (80 calories). Total = 430 calories, 93 minutes of walking.
Jet Set Kid Pack
Goldfish Crackers (100 calories), Ritz Peanut Butter Sandwiches (130 calories), Giddy Strawberry Dip ’Ems Biscuits (140 calories). Dolphin earbuds (headphones) and slide puzzle toy. Total = 370 calories, 80 minutes of walking.
Meals (Available on flights of more than two hours)
Roasted Pear and Arugula Salad
Curated by Gilt Taste: crisp romaine and baby arugula salad tossed with diced Brie cheese, red seedless grapes, toasted slivered almonds and topped with fig mustard. Total = 360 calories, 78 minutes of walking.
Fresh chipotle and lentil hummus served with whole-wheat pita bread, smoked Gouda and pepper jack cheeses, sliced turkey breast, a cage-free hardboiled egg and red seedless grapes. Total = 420 calories, 91 minutes of walking.
Artisan Cheese Selection
A selection of artisan cheeses including creamy Camembert, Muenster, Cheddar and smoked Gouda all served with red seedless grapes, apricot, fig and Rosemary Lavosh crackers. Total = 480 calories, 104 minutes of walking.
Holiday Turkey Sandwich
Curated by Gilt Taste: thick cut nine-grain bread with a fine herb spread, piled high with shaved oven-roasted turkey, spiced cranberry chutney, sage stuffing, crisp green leaf lettuce and creamy havarti cheese. Meal served with chocolate nibs for dessert. Total = 410 calories, 89 minutes of walking.
Mediterranean Wrap and Fruit Salad
Fresh vegetarian wrap of chickpeas, roasted eggplant, zucchini, green onions, tomatoes, ripe olives and fresh basil all tossed in light balsamic vinaigrette and rolled together in a sun-dried tomato tortilla wrap with a garlic herb spread. Meal served with a side of fresh pineapple, red seedless grapes and strawberry. Total = 580 calories, 125 minutes of walking.
Peanut Butter and Jam Half Sandwich (Offered on some, but not all, domestic flights)
A creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam half sandwich, served on wheat bread (380 calories) with a fruit snack for dessert (70 calories). Total = 450 calories, 97 minutes of walking.
Roast Beef on a Pretzel Roll (Offered on some, but not all, domestic flights)
Roast beef piled high on a fresh pretzel baguette with grain mustard spread, crisp lettuce, Roma tomatoes, smoked Gouda cheese and balsamic onion compote, exclusively by Gilt Taste. Served with chocolates for dessert. Total= 510 calories, 110 minutes of walking.
Air Canada (514-393-3333, www.aircanada.com )
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Extremely helpful.
Health Score: (****)
Comments: Once again, Air Canada delivers high-quality health-conscious cuisine. The airline calls its food Air Canada NutriCuisine and prides itself on the freshness and quality of ingredients. They contract with a company called Food with a Conscience ( www.foodwithaconscience.com), another company that cares about food, to help create their menu. But please get rid of those Twizzlers and other high-calorie, processed candies – they’re not necessary.
Best Bets: They can do slightly better on their individual snack offerings. Pick the Nissin Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup. It will fill you up, and it’s more like a meal than a snack. The cashews need to be shared. They’ve added apples with caramel dip great for kids, but you should probably limit the caramel. I love the idea of the Celery & Carrots with Ranch Dip so long as you limit the dip to no more than half. Most of the full meals offered are relatively low in calories. The Roasted Chicken Wrap with Salsa is only 350 calories. The Vegetarian Panini with Red Pepper Hummus sounds tasty, and it’s only 390 calories for the meal. A new addition to the menu is the Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomato Dressing and Chicken Strips, which is a great choice at only 330 calories and will really fill you up. For breakfast, go for the Greek yogurt, which is only 150 calories, or the fruit plate (which sounds delicious) for only 186 calories two more great new offerings. You definitely want to skip the calorie-laden muffin don’t be fooled by the mention of carrots and raisins but the healthy oatmeal is also a great offering.
Snacks (Available on flights of 90 minutes and longer)
Meals (Available on flights of 2 hours and longer)
Classic Pepperoni Pizza $7.00
Pepperoni, four-cheese blend, crispy flatbread. Total = 400 calories, 86 minutes of walking.
Roasted Chicken Wrap with Salsa $7.00
Roasted chicken breast strips, romaine lettuce, salsa, green pepper and Monterey Jack cheese on oven fired flat bread. Total = 350 calories, 76 minutes of walking.
Roast Beef Baguette $7.00
Roast beef, Swiss cheese, romaine lettuce and mayonnaise on onion baguette. Total = 450 calories, 97 minutes of walking.
Vegetarian Panini with Red Pepper Hummus $7.00
Whole-wheat panini bread, red pepper hummus, sliced black olives, red and green pepper strips and fresh baby arugula. Total = 390 calories, 84 minutes of walking.
Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomato Dressing and Chicken Strips $7.00
Penne pasta with mixed vegetables, chicken strips and sundried tomato dressing.
Total = 330 calories, 71 minutes of walking.
Breakfast (Available until 10 a.m.)
Breakfast Sandwich $5.00
Eggs, bacon and Cheddar cheese on an English muffin. Total = 310 calories, 67 minutes of walking.
Carrot Raisin Muffin $3.00
Total = 420 calories, 91 minutes of walking.
Greek Yogurt with Blueberry and Pomegranate $3.00
Total = 150 calories, 32 minutes of walking.
Fruit Tray $6.00
Pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew.
Total = 186 calories, 40 minutes of walking.
Second Cup Oatmeal $4.00
Summer berry and sweet vanilla oatmeal.
Total = 330 calories, 71 minutes of walking.
Alaska Airlines (800-252-7522, www.alaskaair.com )
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.
Health Score: (*** 3/4)
Comments: They take pride in the food they serve. In fact, they sent me an email after last year’s survey inviting me to take a peek at the foods offered.
Best Bets: Among the snack boxes, the Mediterranean Tapas box looks great. It has olives, humus, almonds and even a dark chocolate bar nice (it’s also vegan and gluten-free). If you share the box (especially the chips) you will have a healthy snack in your belly. For flights of more than two hours the Fruit and Cheese Platter at 476 calories is more of a meal, but if you split it with someone (at least the cheese and cracker part) you will be in good shape. As far as breakfast choices go, the Pancakes & Scrambled Egg Skillet and the Ozery Bakery Breakfast Sandwich, with more than 600 calories each, are very high in calories (and lacking in nutrients). However, the Fruit and Cheese plate is available all day. The other hot foods available are the Chicken Cacciatore Skillet, which is a very good deal calorically at 292, the Angus Burger (if you’re a meat eater), which is 420 calories for the burger with a bun (if you remove the cheese, which tacks on another 113 calories) and a filling meal, and the low-cal /low-carb beef jerky at 240 calories.
Mediterranean Tapas Picnic Pack (Vegan and gluten-free) $6.00
Food Should Taste Good multigrain chips, Mario snack olives, Wild Garden sun-dried tomato hummus dip, Madi K’s almonds, Vacaville Fruit Company Snackins’ Apricots & Apples, Endangered Species 72% Dark Chocolate. Total = 533 calories, 115 minutes of walking.
Northwest Deli Picnic Pack $6.00
POP! Cascade Mix Popcorn, Old Wisconsin Salami, La Panzanella Crackers, Sahale Glazed Almonds, Dark Chocolate Almond Roca, Bell Creme Cheese Spread. Total = 553 calories, 119 minutes of walking.
Kids’ Choice Picnic Pack $6.00
Pirate’s Booty White Cheddar Puffs, Old Wisconsin Turkey Snack Stick, Materne GoGo squeeZ Apple Cinnamon Applesauce, Plum Organics Grammy Sammy Strawberry Yogurt & Honey Graham, Fruit Chews, Wikki Stix Play Pack. Total = 334 calories, 72 minutes of walking.
Oberto Beef Jerky $6.00
Total = 240 calories, 52 minutes of walking.
Fruit and Cheese Platter $7.00 (On flights of more than two hours)
Partners Crackers (66 calories), Beecher’s Flagship Cheese (90 calories), Tillamook Sharp Cheddar (110 calories), President Brie (100 calories), green and red grapes (60 calories), apple (30 calories). Total = 456 calories, 98 minutes of walking.
Fresh Northern Bites Offerings (On flights of more than 2½ hours)
Pancakes & Scrambled Egg Skillet (No price available)
Scrambled eggs with cream cheese (145 calories), silver dollar pancakes (220 calories), pineapple topping (55 calories), Sagg’s Chicken Apple Sausage (150 calories), syrup (66 calories). Total = 636 calories, 137 minutes of walking.
Ozery Bakery Breakfast Sandwich (No price available)
Egg patty (90 calories), sausage patty (172 calories), maple butter (138 calories), Provolone (75 calories) Ozery Bakery OneBun Sprouted Wheat (160 calories). Total = 635 calories, 137 minutes of walking.
Breakfast Skillet $6.00 (on East or Southbound flights departing before 9:30 a.m.) (through 11/ 2012)
Scrambled egg, mushrooms, Swiss cheese and ham with breakfast potatoes. Served warm. Total = 424 calories, 92 minutes of walking.
French Toast Breakfast Sandwich $6.00 (on North or Westbound flights departing before 9:30 a.m.) (through 11/ 2012)
Egg, applewood smoked bacon and maple butter on French toast. Served warm. Total = 557 calories, 120 minutes of walking.
Reuben Sandwich $6.00 (on East or Southbound flights departing after 9:30 a.m.) (through 11/ 2012)
Turkey pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on marble rye. Served warm. Total = 378 calories, 82 minutes of walking.
Grilled Chicken Mac ‘n’ Cheese $6.00 (on North or Westbound flights departing after 9:30 a.m.) (through 11/ 2012)
Grilled chicken and a mix of Monterey Jack and white Cheddar cheese with Cavatappi pasta. Served warm. Total = 447 calories, 107 minutes of walking.
Chicken Cacciatore Skillet $6.00
Penne pasta (83 calories), chicken cacciatore (200 calories), Parmesan cheese (9 calories). Total = 292 calories, 63 minutes of walking.
U.S. Certified Angus Burger $6.00
White sesame bun (120 calories), U.S. Certified Angus burger patty (300 calories), Cheddar cheese (113 calories), Tim’s Cascade Plain chips (140 calories). Total = 673 calories, 145 minutes of walking.
United Airlines (800-864-8331, www.united.com )
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Helpful.
Comments: Wow, have they slipped from a few years ago, when they were No. 1. In terms of the food itself, not much has changed. The good news is that most of the meal choices for lunch and dinner are relatively reasonable in terms of calories. But except for the nuts, all the individual snack offerings are poor choices.
Health Score: (*** 1/2)
Best Bets: On flights of more two hours, go for the Tapas, which has some great foods, including almonds, olives, hummus and bruschetta just toss out the cheese spread. Skip the Classic and Savory snack boxes not too much nutritionally going on. All of the individual snacks are pretty high in calories (330 to 1,020), and they’ve made it worse by adding Chex Mix and croissants. You should avoid the cinnamon rolls. Also, while the nuts are a best bet, that’s only if you can resist eating the who thing or split them with six people it’s a 6-ounce can at 1,020 calories. The Express AM (389 calories) and PM (434 calories) are not very healthy choices; they’re expensive calorie-wise and light on nutrition. In terms of meals, the yogurt is not too bad for breakfast. Skip the cheese and fruit plate it gives the illusion of being healthy, but it’s not, and there is really not much fruit to speak of that isn’t dried.
For flights of more than three hours, United has several healthy choices, but I really like the Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad at 360 calories including the dressing. The Asian Noodle Salad (360 calories) is also a good low-calorie choice. The other choices the Thai Chicken Wrap (570 calories) and the Turkey Sandwich (if you avoid the mustard-mayo sauce at 100 calories) are OK choices compared to those of other airlines, and in term of calories, they are fine for lunch or dinner. For breakfast, your best bet is the Yogurt Parfait or, if you’re interested in meat, the Ham and Cheddar Rustic Ciabatta Sandwich, which is 318 calories (not bad), and you can get rid of half the roll and save about 100 calories.
Snack and Meal Choices (Available on most flights of more than two hours)
Olives (40 calories), Milas Bruschetta Spread (48 calories), Fresh Garden Hummus (63 calories), Rondele Peppercorn Parmesan Cheese Spread (79 calories), Italian Crackers (90 calories), Jacobs Crackers (68 calories), Partner Olive Oil Crackers (50 calories), Emerald Natural Almonds (100 calories), Fantis Ouzo Candy Mint (15 calories). Total = 553 calories, 119 minutes of walking.
Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (50 calories), Jacobs Crackers (68 calories), Nabisco Oreo Cookie (100 calories), Jelly Belly Assorted Flavors (46 calories), Hormel Hard Salami (110 calories), Cheddar spread (70 calories), Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (100 calories). Total = 544 calories, 117 minutes of walking.
Stoned Classic Tortilla Chips (180 calories), Azar Fruit & Nut Mix (110 calories), Cascadian Bar Chocolate Chip (140 calories), Ortega Salsa (10 calories), Asher’s Chocolate Pretzel (110 calories). Total = 550 calories, 119 minutes of walking.
Breakfast (Available on most morning flights)
Yogurt Parfait $5.49
Vanilla yogurt with mixed berries (150 calories) and granola (110 calories). Total = 260 calories, 56 minutes of walking.
Ham and Cheddar Rustic Ciabatta Sandwich $5.79
Shaved ham and Cheddar cheese on ciabatta bread (310 calories) served with Dijon mustard-mayo sauce (8 calories). Total = 318 calories, 69 minutes of walking.
Hot breakfast sandwich $5.99
Jimmy Dean sausage, egg and cheese sandwich, accompanied by fresh fruit and condiments Total = 590 calories, xx minutes of walking.
Cheese & Fruit Plate $7.49 (Also available on most afternoon flights)
Muenster, Cheddar, Gouda and Brie cheeses (320 calories), dried apricots (10 calories), crackers (70 calories), pecan halves (50 calories). Total = 450 calories, 97 minutes of walking.
Note: The Express AM box (breakfast) is complimentary before noon in First Class on United Express flights of 700 miles or more (approximately two hours or longer). The Express PM box (lunch/dinner) is complimentary in First Class on United Express after noon.
Dole Fruit Cup (80 calories), Clif Bar Mini Chocolate (100 calories), Rondele Original (79 calories), Stacy Bagel Chips (130 calories). Total = 389 calories, 84 minutes of walking.
Olives (40 calories), Real Torino Breadsticks (70 calories), Kettle chips 0.5 ounces (80 calories), Immaculate Chocobillies (130 calories) Cracker PPF (35 calories),
Rondele Peppercorn (79 calories), Total = 434 calories, 94 minutes of walking.
Lunch / Dinner Salads and Sandwiches (Available on most afternoon flights)
Thai Chicken Wrap $8.59
Grilled chicken breast, romaine lettuce, carrots and red and yellow bell peppers wrapped in a tortilla (470 calories) with Thai aioli sauce (100 calories). Total = 570 calories, 123 minutes of walking.
Turkey Sandwich $7.99 (Available on select flights)
Smoked turkey, provolone cheese and lettuce on a pretzel roll (440 calories) with stone-ground mustard-mayo sauce (100 calories). Total = 540 calories, 117 minutes of walking.
Asian Noodle Salad $5.49
Chilled noodle salad topped with stir-fried vegetables, sweet chile chicken breast and green onions. Total = 360 calories, 78 minutes of walking.
Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad $9.49
Grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, carrots, spinach and romaine lettuce (150 calories), with crispy onions (80 calories) and balsamic vinaigrette (130 calories).Total = 360 calories, 78 minutes of walking.
Angus Cheeseburger $7.99 (Available on select flights)
Beef burger, Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion, served with traditional condiments. Total = 510 calories, 110 minutes of walking.
JetBlue Airways (800-538-2583, www.jetblue.com )
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.
Health Score: (***1/4)
Comments: Finally, JetBlue has started offering their snack boxes on flights of more than two hours (before it was only on flights lasting 3 hours and 45 minutes or longer). JetBlue used to be ahead of the curve (seatback TVs, free snacks, etc. …), but that’s not really true anymore, especially with food. Come on, JetBlue, offer a few healthy individual snacks! The individually packaged snacks are portion-controlled; however, most are lacking in any real nutritional value.
Best Bets: Still nothing much in terms of healthy individual snacks, other than the nuts, which are back on the menu thank you. And, by the way, the animal crackers are not a great choice, as some of you still insist. Also, watch out, the individual snacks are still free, so don’t take more than one. They also started selling two items. One the beef jerky at 100 calories is OK if you’re a low-carb, low-calorie fan (just make sure you don’t have high blood pressure because it’s high in sodium). The meal boxes have been modified (and offered on more flights), but the Shape Up is still the winner if you’re thinking of this as a meal. It has fiber, and between the hummus and the nuts it should fill you up (496 calories).
Individual Snacks (all are free)
· Linden’s Chocolate Chippers (135 calories, 29 minutes of walking)
· King Nut Fancy Nut Mix (170 calories, 37 minutes of walking)
· PopCorners Popcorn Chips Carmel (130 calories, 28 minutes of walking)
· Stauffer’s Original Animal Crackers 1-ounce bag (110 calories, 24 minutes of walking)
· Fritos Original Corn Chips (160 calories, 35 minutes of walking)
· Terra Blues Potato Chips 1-ounce bag (130 calories, 28 minutes of walking)
À la carte snacks
· Field Trip Beef Jerky $4.25 (100 calories, 22 minutes of walking)
· Nutorious Cranberry Orango Tango $4.25 (600 calories, 130 minutes of walking)
Meal Boxes (Available on flights of more than two hours)
Beef Up $5.99
Old Wisconsin Salami (90 calories), La Panzanella Rosemary Crackers (80 calories), GRF White Cheddar Cheese Bar (100 calories), Stacey’s Pita Chips, (130 calories) GRF Parmesan Peppercorn Cheese Spread (70 calories), Kind Plus Bar Cranberry Almond
(115 calories). Total = 585 calories, 126 minutes of walking.
Shape Up $5.99
Milas Classic Hummus (100 calories), Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers Sea Salt (60 calories), Emerald Natural Almonds (100 calories), Pamela’s Simplebites Ginger Mini Snaps (115 calories), Sun-Maid Raisins (45 calories), Oloves Tasty Mediterranean (26 calories), Bob’s Mint Peppermint Flavor (50 calories). Total = 496 calories, 105 minutes of walking.
Mix It Up $5.99
Quaker Chewy Bar (90 calories), Real Torino Mini Classical Grissini (60 calories),
Nutella Hazelnut Spread (100 calories), GoGo squeeZ Applesauce (60 calories),
LeClerc Cheddar Cheese Frogs (120 calories), Ocean Spray Craisins (100 calories). Total = 530 calories, 114 minutes of walking.
Cheer Up $5.99
Trio of premium cheeses: Swiss, Cheddar and hot pepper, almonds and crackers. Total = 300 calories, 65 minutes of walking.
American Airlines (817-963-1234, www.aa.com)
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.
Comments: AA finally got rid of most of their super-high-calorie meals.
Health Score: (***)
Best Bets: The Boxer Chips hand-cooked gourmet potato crisps at 188 calories. At 370 calories the Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Pretzels is high for a snack, but if you can share it with at least two other people, it might be a good choice because of the hummus. They’ve added several new individual snack choices, but none of them is healthy. If you are on a flight of more than two hours you could probably go for the Cheese & Cracker Tray. It has nuts, raisins and cheese, and if you split it with someone it would be 170 calories each. If you’re on a longer flight (three hours or more), the best choice is the Turkey and Chutney Sandwich, which has lots of protein and even apple slices on the sandwich for flavor. It’s only 323 calories without the chips (give them away or refuse them). And kudos to American for lowering the chips’ calories by 80. On flights of two hours or more, the Insalata Caprese salad (283 calories) would be satisfying without the roll (158 calories). Another good choice is the Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad with chips (which you can give away) and dressing for 543 calories. I like the fact that the dressing is on the side (use it sparingly). At the very least, the salad has walnuts and grapes, and the cheese portions are small. However, try skipping the Swiss cheese and save 80 calories. The big negative is that it’s only available on transcontinental and Hawaiian flights. The Breakfast Sandwich at 384 calories is also OK if you skip the cookies, which would add 73 more. Skip the Breakfast Cookie; it will not fill you up and is really just a cookie. The Spiced Nuts are high in calories for one person. The bag, which has 640 calories, should feed at least four.
Snack and Meal Choices
Breakfast (Available on morning flights of more than three hours that depart between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.)
Fruit and Cheese Plate $8.29
Walnut halves (13 calories), Freshers cream cracker (78 calories), Swiss cheese (0.75 ounces, 81 calories), Cheddar cheese (0.5 ounces, 57 calories), Muenster cheese (0.5 ounces, 52 calories), red and green grapes (40 calories), dried cranberries (5 calories). Total = 326 calories, 70 minutes of walking.
Breakfast Café Snack Tray $5.29 (Available on select morning transcontinental and Hawaii flights)
Stacy’s Simply Naked bagel chips (130 calories), Rondele original plain cheese spread (110 calories), Ocean Spray Craisins (100 calories), Emerald natural almonds (100 calories), Biscoff cookie (36 calories). Total = 476 calories, 103 minutes of walking.
Breakfast Sandwich $6.79 (Available on select morning domestic flights)
Smoked turkey, Cheddar cheese and a tomato slice on a roll (384 calories) served with Biscoff cookies (73 calories). Total = 457 calories, 99 minutes of walking.
Available all day on flights of more than two hours:
Erin Baker’s Breakfast Cookie-Fruit & Nut $3.29
Total = 290 calories, 63 minutes of walking.
Spiced Nuts $5.29
Almonds, cashews, pecans and dried cherries seasoned with paprika, ginger and cinnamon, sweetened with brown sugar and a hint of mint. Total = 640 calories, 138 minutes of walking.
Snack Boxes (Available on flights of more than two hours all day, except 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.)
Cheese & Cracker Tray $4.49
Crackers (78 calories), cheese (0.75 ounces, 50 calories), raisins (90 calories) nuts (102 calories). Total = 320 calories, 69 minutes of walking.
Lunch/Dinner (Available on flights of more than three hours departing between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.)
Marcus Samuelsson’s New American Table Turkey and Chutney Sandwich $10.00
Smoked turkey breast, romaine lettuce, Granny Smith apple slices, apple-cranberry chutney, on cracked wheat bread served with Boulder Canyon Chips. Total = 453 calories, 98 minutes of walking.
Roast Beef Sandwich $10.00
Deli-sliced roast beef, layered with kosher dill pickles, crispy English cucumber slices and horseradish cream cheese on light rye bread served with Boulder Canyon Chips. Total = 469 calories, 101 minutes of walking.
Available on afternoon transcontinental and Hawaii flights that depart before 8 p.m.
Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad $10.00
Romaine lettuce, all white-meat chicken and Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheeses with Parmesan Caesar dressing served with Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Tortilla Chips on the side. Total = 543 calories, 117 minutes of walking.
Available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on flights of more than 2.5 hours:
Insalata Caprese $8.29
An Italian salad with sliced mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil leaves with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, served with a roll. Total = 441 calories, 95 minutes of walking.
Delta Air Lines (404-773-0305, www.delta.com)
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: More helpful than last year.
Health Score: (**3/4)
Comments: Delta’s individual snack choices are not very good.
Best Bets: For the free snacks (on flights 1.5 hours-plus) the peanuts are the best choice. None of the “for sale” individual snacks are good choices. You’re much better off getting an entire snack box. Among the snack boxes, the Travel Treats without the Twizzlers and Oreo Cookies will work. The Flight Delights snack box has a few good items, such as the hummus, salsa and nuts and seeds. It’s the graham sticks (120 calories), Nutella spread (97 calories) and jelly beans that you need to give away or dump (fast); otherwise, you’re looking at more than 650 calories. Of the breakfast options, your best bet is the yogurt parfait at 290 calories. I would probably skip the Fruit & Cheese Plate at 560 calories. There’s also a turkey breakfast sandwich on a croissant, which, if you take off the Swiss cheese, can be an acceptable item. For lunch/dinner options, there are not too many healthy offerings, but the Smoked Turkey Provolone, which is a real meal, is 550 calories without the mayo. Try to avoid the Signature Sandwich Combo with chips and cookies at 700 calories (it also has fried onions).
Snacks and Snack Boxes
Complimentary Snacks (on flights of 1.5+ hours)
· Peanuts (70 calories, 15 minutes of walking)
· Pretzels (45 calories, 10 minutes of walking)
· Biscoff cookies (120 calories, 26 minutes of walking)
Snack Boxes (served all day):
Travel Treats $5.99
Jack Link’s Premium Cuts Turkey Jerky (70 calories), Ortega Mild Salsa (19 calories), Rachel’s Bite Size Tortilla Chips (150 calories), Emerald Dry Roasted Almonds (100 calories), Twizzlers (48 calories), Oreo Cookies (100 calories). Total = 487 calories, 105 minutes of walking.
Flight Delights $6.99
Stacy’s Brand Pita Chips (130 calories), Wild Garden Traditional Hummus Dip (63 calories), Somersaults Santa Fe Salsa (70 calories), Sunflower Seed Snacks, Kings Delicious Fruit & Nut Mix (83 calories), Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks (120 calories), Nutella Spread (97 calories), Surf Sweets Jelly Beans (90 calories). Total = 653 calories, 141 minutes of walking.
Breakfast (Available 5 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.):
Fruit & Cheese Plate $7.60 (Available for breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Aged Cheddar, Havarti and smoked fontina, green grapes, pecan halves, dried apricots and crackers. Total = 560 calories, 121 minutes of walking.
Yogurt Parfait $4.99
Premium vanilla yogurt layered with blueberries and strawberries, topped with granola. Total = 290 calories, 63 minutes of walking.
Maple Honey Turkey and Cheddar on Croissant $8.99
Cinnamon Raisin Bread (two slices), Boar’s Head Maple Turkey Breast (2 ounces), turkey bacon (two strips), sliced Swiss cheese (1 ounce), honey mustard (one pack).
Total = 520 calories, 112 minutes of walking.
Lunch / Dinner (Available 9:46 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
Southwest Chicken Fajita Salad $8.99 (served only on flights from Atlanta to Honolulu)
Strips of marinated grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, black beans, corn, Roma tomatoes, Cheddar cheese and cilantro with tortilla strips and ranch dressing. Total = 490 calories, 106 minutes of walking.
Spicy Noodles with Asian Chicken Salad $8.99 (served only on flights from Atlanta to Honolulu)
Grilled chicken on chopped romaine lettuce with cucumber strips and julienne carrots. Accompanied by lo mein noodles with chopped cilantro, chives and sesame seeds. Sesame dressing on the side. Total = 520 calories, 112 minutes of walking.
Smoked Turkey Provolone Sandwich $8.50
Smoked breast of turkey with slices of provolone served on wheat grain bread. (550 calories). Comes with cranberry sauce on the side (52 calories) as well as mayonnaise (100 calories) and deli-style mustard (5 calories). Total = 707 calories, 153 minutes of walking.
Chicken Caesar Wrap $8.50 (served only on flights from to Honolulu to Atlanta)
Tortilla wrap with grilled Caesar chicken strips, shredded romaine, julienne Roma tomatoes and shredded Parmesan cheese with classic Caesar dressing on the side. Total = 840 calories, 181 minutes of walking.
Signature Sandwich Combo $9.99
Boar’s Head Deluxe Roast Beef sliders on a pretzel roll topped with romaine lettuce and crispy fried onions (540 calories). Accompanied by a side of horseradish sauce and mayonnaise. Served with Kettle Classics Natural Potato Chips (80 calories / 0.5 ounces) and a Dancing Deer All-Natural Chocolate Chip Cookie (80 calories). Total = 700 calories, 151 minutes of walking.
US Airways (480-693-0800, www.usairways.com )
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.
Comments: They’ve replaced several high-calorie individual snacks with lower-calorie versions. For instance, the cookies were reduced from 550 to 330 calories, and the nuts went from 1,020 to 320. They also got rid of the M&M’s and kept the chips and salsa (only 140 calories). While they are definitely moving in the right direction, they still need to add a few really healthy snacks (other than nuts). Many of their high-calorie meals have also been lowered, but it would be great if they offered their meals on all flights lasting more than two hours.
Health Score: (**3/4)
Best Bets: The only individual snacks that work are the nuts and the chips and salsa; the rest lack nutrient value (and have too many calories). The snack boxes are not the best choices either, but if you have to choose, the CaféPlus has canned BBQ chicken, which will provide protein. Keep the almonds and give away the cookies and jelly beans and you’ll be OK. As for meals, for breakfast the Egg and Turkey Bacon Sandwich is a bit high in calories (470 calories), but it’s a better choice than the fruit and cheese plate, which won’t fill you up. Also for breakfast, you can opt for the Yogurt Parfait at 350 calories (it’s the granola that adds all the calories). For lunch or dinner the Barbeque Chicken Salad is a great protein-packed, low-calorie choice at 190 calories, also in December try the Chef Salad. The Smoked Turkey and Brie Sandwich at 560 calories is not bad either, and if you pass on the cookies and the chips I can really recommend it.
Snacks and Snack Boxes
Snack Boxes (Available on most flights of more than 2.5 hours departing between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.)
Bumble Bee Chicken BBQ (150 calories), wheat crisps (230 calories), almonds (100 calories), chocolate chunk cookies (100 calories) and jelly beans (90 calories). Total = 670 calories, 145 minutes of walking.
Café Snack $4.50
Madi K’s Almonds roasted salted blend trail mix (170 calories), Pepperidge Farm Distinctive crackers (4 crackers, 70 calories), Glacier Ridge Farms white Cheddar cheese (50 calories), Oreo cookie (100 calories), Brach’s Star Brites mint (20 calories). Total = 460 calories, 99 minutes of walking.
Fruit and Cheese Platter $8.00 (Available as of 12/1/12)
Fresh seasonal fruit paired with a trio of Brie, Cheddar and smoked Gouda accompanied by Pepperidge Farm crackers. Total = 480 calories, 104 minutes of walking.
Breakfast Croissant with Fruit & Yogurt $8.00 (Available as of 12/1/12)
Flaky croissant filled with turkey bacon, cheese and egg salad complemented by fresh fruit and yogurt. Total = 680 calories, 147 minutes walking.
On flights of more than 3.5 hours (excluding US Airways Express, US Airways Shuttle and transatlantic flights)
Fruit and Cheese Platter $8.00 (Served on flights departing between 5 a.m. and 7:59 p.m.)
Fresh fruit served with almonds, Brie, Cheddar and smoked Gouda and Pepperidge Farm crackers. Total = 480 calories, 104 minutes of walking.
Egg and Turkey Bacon Sandwich $8.00 (Served on flights departing between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.) (Available until of 11/31/12)
Nine-grain flatbread with sliced egg, roasted red peppers, turkey bacon and arugula with fresh fruit and yogurt. Total = 470 calories, 102 minutes of walking.
Yogurt Parfait $5.00 (Served on flights departing between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.)
Vanilla yogurt with blueberries, strawberries and granola. Total = 350 calories, 76 minutes of walking.
Smoked Turkey And Brie Sandwich $8.00 (Served on flights departing between 9:01 a.m. and 7:59 p.m.) (Available until of 11/31/12)
Smoked turkey breast, frisee lettuce, Brie and cranberry chutney on a nine-grain flatbread with Sun Chips and Milano cookies. Total = 560 calories, 121 minutes of walking.
Barbeque Chicken Salad $8.00 (Served on flights departing between 9:01 a.m. and 7:59 p.m.) (Available until of 11/31/12)
Fresh romaine and mesclun lettuce with tomato and cucumber slices, topped with sliced barbecue chicken served with light ranch dressing. Total = 190 calories, 41 minutes of walking.
Chipotle Chicken Lavosh (Available as of 12/1/12) (No price available)
Sliced chicken tossed in chipotle mayonnaise with tomatoes and fried onions on California lavosh bread served with Sun Chips and Milano Cookies. Total = 540 calories, 117 minutes of walking.
Chef’s Salad (Available as of 12/1/12) (No price available)
Fresh romaine and spring lettuce mix with tomato and Cheddar cheese topped with sliced smoked turkey and roast beef served with creamy cilantro dressing. Total = 290 calories, 63 minutes of walking.
Spirit Airlines (800-772-7117, www.spirit.com)
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.
Comments: This year Spirit was helpful in providing information. Nice work. They’ve added a few snacks, but nothing that’s very healthy. It would be great if they added at least two healthy offerings. Also, how about a few healthy meals in addition to the snacks – many of your flights are longer than 2.5 hours – it’s a profit center!
Health Score: (* 3/4)
Best Bet: The cup of noodle soup at 300 calories is the only choice that will feel like a real meal. Watch out for the Nuggets & Nuts at 600 calories, and all the muffins are at least 400 calories. Not the best choices unless you split one (if you’re the type who can do that). Bringing your own food is also a good option.
Southwest Airlines (214-792-4223, www.southwest.com )
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful; really very nice people.
Health Score: (*3/4)
Comments: Not much variety, and not much in terms of nutritional value. They need to add a few healthy items. How about an apple?
Best Bet: Go for the nuts and skip the pretzels and other items.
On select flights
· Nabisco Airplane Cookie (120 calories, 26 minutes of walking)
· Ritz crackers (200 calories, 43 minutes of walking)
· Wheat Thins (100 calories, 22 minutes of walking)
Frontier Airlines (800-432-1359, www.flyfrontier.com)
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: None.
Comments: The airline did not respond at all to my calls or emails nothing. Not even an acknowledgment. One of the few airlines I’ve ever dealt with that has done that. Keep in mind, the calorie counts for all foods were estimated by the Diet Detective nutrition staff.
Health Score: (* 3/4)
Best Bets: For individual snacks, it would be best to go with the chips and salsa or the oatmeal. In case you didn’t know, skip the fudge (or share it with 10 friends), but don’t expect to be filled up. The Mediterranean Snack Box with hummus, bruschetta, dried fruit and olives is not bad if shared; just skip the cookies. As for the kids’ snack boxes, the Flip’s Surf Shop & Snack Shack would be OK if you have two kids, but it’s high in calories (480). In terms of meals, the veggies with hummus dip are a great choice. The Roasted Turkey Sandwich is not bad either, if you skip the mayo (100 calories). The fruit and cheese has too many cheeses and not enough fruit. As for breakfast, the Evol burrito is better than the Continental Breakfast (which includes an unhealthy muffin).
Snacks and Snack Boxes (Available on flights of more than 200 miles)
· Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory fudge $5.00 (464 calories, 100 minutes of walking)
· Peanut Butter M&M’s $3.00 (480 calories, 104 minutes of walking)
· Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co. Almond Chocolate Cherry Crunch trail mix $3.00 (230 calories, 50 minutes of walking)
· Haribo Gold-Bears Gummi Candy $3.00 (450 calories, 97 minutes of walking)
· Chex Mix Traditional $3.00 (210 calories, 45 minutes of walking)
· Tostitos Bite-Size White Corn Chips & Medium Salsa $3.00 (360 calories,78 minutes of walking)
· Pringles Original Potato Chips $3.00 (220 calories, 48 minutes of walking)
· Quaker Golden Brown Sugar Oatmeal $3.00 (200 calories, 43 minutes of walking)
· Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers $1.00 (210 calories, 45 minutes of walking)
Mediterranean Snack Box $7.00
Hummus, bruschetta dip, wheat crackers, dried fruit, olives, almonds and Biscoff cookies. Total = 576 calories, 124 minutes of walking.
Flip’s Surf Shop & Snack Shack $6.00
Barnum’s animal crackers, GoGo squeeZ Applesauce, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Old Wisconsin Turkey Stick, and Grammy Sammy Yogurt bar. Total = 480 calories, 104 minutes of walking.
Meals (Available on flights of more than 700 miles departing 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
Roasted Turkey Sandwich $6.50
Roasted turkey breast on cranberry sunflower bread with Swiss cheese, lettuce, sliced tomato and a cranberry mayonnaise with horseradish. Total = 652 calories, 141 minutes of walking.
Veggies and Hummus $5.50
Sliced carrots, red peppers and zucchini with hummus dip. Total = 240 calories, 52 minutes of walking.
Cheeseburger Sliders $7.00
Two cheeseburger sliders with lettuce, tomato and condiments. Total = 420 calories, 91 minutes of walking.
Fruit & Cheese Assortment $6.50
Beechwood Gouda, Sweet Basil Jack, White Cheddar, Peppercorn Shallot Cheddar and Brie cheese served with red and green grapes and Sun Rich fresh sliced apples and assorted crackers. Total = 450 calories, 97 minutes of walking.
Breakfast (Available until 10 a.m.)
Continental Breakfast $5.50
Otis Spunkmeyer apple spice muffin served with yogurt and Sun Rich fresh sliced apples. Total = 370 calories, 80 minutes of walking.
Evol Potato, Egg & Cheese Burrito $4.00
Scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, red and green bell peppers, Cheddar cheese and tomato salsa on a flour tortilla. Total = 380 calories, 82 minutes of walking.
Allegiant Air (702-505-8888, www.allegiantair.com)
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Not very helpful.
Health Score: (* 1/2)
Comments: The media representative was annoyed that I’d even contacted the airline. They did not provide nutritional information for most of the food. Also, they made it clear that their foods were not healthy. It shows.
Best Bets: The snack boxes are not great in terms of health (not just calorie-wise). Among the individual snacks, nuts are the healthiest choice. Low-carb fans might consider Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. Overall, the turkey sandwich low in calories with protein and fat to fend off hunger is your best choice. I’m a big believer in eating a mini-meal instead of mindlessly consuming high-calorie snacks.
E.A.T. Snack Pack $5.00
Old Wisconsin Beef Stick, 0.5 ounces (170 calories), Emerald Almonds, 0.63 ounces (100 calories), Sesame Snack Sticks, 2 ounces (260 calories), White Cheddar Cheese, 0.75 ounces (86 calories), Milano Cookie/2 pack, 0.75 ounces (120 calories), Twizzlers/2 pack, 0.32 ounces (60 calories). Total = 796 calories, 172 minutes of walking.
Deli Snack Pack $5.00
Old Wisconsin Pepperoni, 1 ounce (160 calories), Stacy’s Pita Chips, 1 ounce (130 calories), Parmesan Peppercorn Cheese, 0.75 ounces (70 calories), SnackWell’s Crème Sandwich Cookies, 0.85 ounces (110 calories), M&M’s Fun size, 0.53 ounces (73 calories), Bob’s Mint Peppermint Flavor (50 calories). Total = 593 calories, 128 minutes of walking.
Kids Pack $5.00
Goldfish Cheddar Crackers, 0.5 ounces (70 calories), Welch’s Fruit Snacks, 0.9 ounces (80 calories), Oreo Cookie/2 pack, 0.78 ounces (107 calories). Total = 257 calories, 56 minutes of walking.
· Gardetto’s Original Recipe $4.00 5.5 ounces (770 calories, 166 minutes of walking)
· Jack Link’s Beef Jerky $4.00 1.5 ounces (120 calories, 26 minutes of walking)
· Planters Salted Cashews $4.00 3 ounces (490 calories, 106 minutes of walking)
· M&M’s Peanut $3.00 3.4 ounces (490 calories, 106 minutes of walking)
· Pringles $3.00 2.6 ounces (375 calories, 81 minutes of walking)
· Snickers $3.00 3.29 ounces (510 calories, 110 minutes of walking)
Turkey Sandwich (Price Not Available)
Turkey and Monterey Jack cheese on a pretzel roll with stone ground mustard. Total = 280 calories, 60 minutes of walking.
Ham Sandwich (Price Not Available)
Ham, provolone and salami on Asiago roll. Total = 325 calories, 70 minutes of walking.
Looking for tips to make your travels healthier? Check out the Diet Detective’s Last-Minute Vacation Diet Cheat Sheet at www.dietdetective.com/columns/
Bring Your Own Snacks
Even if you ate before you left home, you are still going to get hungry. We often underestimate the amount of time a trip can take. A two-hour flight could mean four or five hours of travel. Keep in mind that you can take most foods through security, but you need to check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for the latest rules about carrying on food and water: www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm
Here are some ideas for snacks you can bring or buy at the airport:
– Water: Buy it after the security checkpoint to take onboard. Dehydration can cause or exacerbate hunger, jet lag and fatigue.
– Cereal: Kashi, Shredded Wheat or other low-calorie cereals. Look for portable choices at under 120 calories per cup. You can also look for cereal in a cup. It’s portion controlled in 1.5-ounce packs that are easy to store and easy to use.
– Fruit and salads: Stick with fruits such as apples and oranges that can withstand some rough treatment. You can even bring a banana if you put it in a container such as a banana saver ( www.bananasaver.com). Grapes or almost any other fruit can be carried in a plastic container. Also, they often sell cut up fruit or salads in the airport. They’re a bit more expensive than bringing your own, but at least they’re healthy alternatives to what is served onboard.
– Energy bars: Although they tend to be high in calories and fat, they are generally better than a slice of pizza or a candy bar at the airport. Choose Larabars; they have nothing but healthy ingredients.
– Sandwiches: Pre-cut them into portion-controlled sections so you can pull them out at different times during the trip without making a mess. Chicken, turkey, cold cuts and cheese (on 100 percent whole-wheat bread) are all great options for sandwiches on the go.
– Soy chips and PopChips: Both portable, low-cal, high-fiber snacks. (www.glennys.com, www.popchips.com ).
– Peel-and-eat tuna and salmon cups: Chicken of the Sea makes these easy-to-open cups that give you a quick protein source. With no draining required, this wild-caught tuna or salmon is perfect for on-the-go lunches and snacks.
– Nuts: They’re a good source of protein, and they help fend off hunger. Portion them into 1-ounce bags (about 160 calories each).
– Dried or freeze-dried fruit and vegetable snacks: Eat dried fruit in moderation; it’s high in calories. (e.g., www.sensiblefoods.com, www.brothersallnatural.com, www.funkymonkeysnacks.com).
– All Natural Fruit Roll-Ups (no sugar added): Check out Stretch Island Fruit Company’s Original Fruit Strips, FruitaBü and Smoooshed Fruit Rolls ( www.stretchislandfruit.com).
– Whole-Wheat Crackers: Make sure to get 100 percent whole-wheat crackers such as Ak Mak (www.akmakbakeries.com) or Dr. Kracker (www.drkracker.com).