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Should You Let Your Kid Eat That Airplane Food?

by Holly Riddle

Jan 6, 2020

Pavel Kobysh | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Sometimes traveling with kids, especially flying, can be so hectic, you’re just glad if you can get the kids fed. Worrying about whether or not they’re actually eating something good for them might be out of the question. However, it is still something to consider when possible.

 

The Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center conducted a study recently on airline food, comparing 11 different airlines and their health scores. Health scores were calculated based on factors such as nutrients and calories found in on-board dining options, airlines’ transparency levels when it came to nutrient and ingredient information, menu innovation, meal availability on short flights and water cleanliness, among others.

 

“This year Alaska and Air Canada share the top spot as the airlines with the ‘healthiest’ food choices in the sky, with Delta and JetBlue tied for second,”  said Charles Platkin, executive director, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center.

 

Across all of the airlines, the average number of calories in on-board menu items is about the same — 375 calories per serving. The average airline meal is heavy in sodium, though, with each meal containing around 800 milligrams, more than 40 percent of the daily recommended limit.

 

Alaska Airlines stood out for its environmental impact when it comes to on-board dining, as it was the first airline to replace plastic straws and encourage passengers to bring their own water bottles onboard.

 

The Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center report gave Hawaiian Airlines a “Shame on You” award for not providing all of its nutritional information for the study.

 

The center recommends traveling families opt for full airline meals or mini-meal options over individual snacks offered across airlines, since those snacks generally have little to no nutritional value. It’s also recommended passengers avoid carb-heavy in-flight meal options such as pasta, breads or muffins, since the carbs found within can lead to blood sugar spikes, which negatively impacts mood and attitude — something you definitely don’t need while traveling.

 

The report’s 11 airlines studied included Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Delta, United, American, Frontier, Allegiant, Spirit, Hawaiian and Southwest.

 

Despite its “Shame on You” award, Hawaiian did not come in last place, but took second-to-last place, with Southwest Airlines taking the bottom spot. The report noted Southwest offers very few healthful food offerings and it advises passengers to bring their own snacks, such as nuts or fresh fruit, when flying with Southwest.

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