Need to take a flight but wondering which airline has the healthiest airplane food? We’ve put together a guide to the airlines serving the healthiest food on their flights – and we’ve made a list of the different meals and snacks that you should know how to ask for, if you want to eat healthy while you’re flying.
Often, the best way to be assured that you’re going to have healthy food on your flight is to just bring it yourself. You can usually get baggies fruit, Tupperware’s of veggies, and little boxes of granola mixes through most security checkpoints.
There are even small packages of natural peanut butters that will easily make their way through TSA inspection.
You can pack a healthy sandwich to bring on the plane or even throw some squares of organic chocolate into a carry-on bag for a healthy pick-me-up snack. Energy bars fit nicely into a purse or a laptop bag, and you might even be able to get away with taking a small carton of non-dairy yogurt with you on your flight (depending on the package size).
Sometimes, however, it’s just not practical to bring a lot of food with you on a plane. At other times, you may have simply forgotten to prepare your healthy in-flight meals ahead of time.
In cases like these – or similar ones – what kind of food can you ask for when you want a healthy airplane meal? And, which airlines are likely to have the healthiest airplane food to begin with?
Types of Healthy Meals on Airplanes
These healthy airline meals (make note of their codes, in case you have the opportunity to reserve them ahead of time) are available on many airlines:
Fruit Platter (FPML)
One of the healthy airplane meals that you can ask for – and probably get on most airlines (typically the length of the flight determines whether you’ll be able to get a meal or snack, however) – is a fruit platter.
A fruit platter is a pretty safe option for those stay away from any unhealthy animal products and it’s a great choice for anyone who wants to fuel themselves up with healthy, natural food.
If you only eat organic when it comes to the “dirty dozen” fruits (these are the fruits most heavily sprayed with chemical pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group), simply don’t the eat pieces of fruit in the “stay away from” category if you’re not sure that they’re organic.
Also, fruit platters tend to come with bread on the side, so pass on that too unless you can find out exactly what’s in it.
Raw Vegetarian Meal (RVML)
Vegetarians and vegans who eat only healthy, plant-based food will want to ask for a raw vegetarian meal (vegans, just don’t eat the parts of the meal that you think might have dairy in it).
The raw vegetarian meal typically contains a salad, small portion of fruit, and a piece of bread.
Again, use the “dirty dozen” list from the EWG group as a guide on which pieces of fruits and veggies to actually eat – if you want to avoid chemical pesticides – and watch the salad dressing (it could be loaded with calories, dairy products, and artificial flavorings).
Ask for pure olive oil for your salad, if you like.
Vegan Meal (VGML)
Many air carriers make the vegan meal option available. This meal does not contain any honey, eggs, dairy products, or meat – and it’s one of the healthiest airplane options you’ll find.
Sometimes the vegan meal will be a healthy pasta dish and other times it will be steamed rice and veggies. You’ll likely receive a healthy dessert of fresh fruit too!
Vegetarian Oriental Meal (VOML)
The vegetarian oriental meal is a vegan meal that’s been prepared using Chinese cooking techniques.
It generally consists of rice, noodles, tofu, and vegetables. You might want to ask about the source of the tofu for the vegetarian oriental meal, however, because there’s a good chance that the soy could be GMO.
Again, this is why it’s always a good idea to bring your own food on an airplane.
Jain Vegetarian Meal (VJML)
A Jain vegetarian meal is sometimes available for those who follow Jainism, an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence toward all living creatures. If you follow a strict Jain diet, you probably avoid eating onions, garlic, root vegetables, and mushrooms, so it can be challenging to find a meal like this on a plane.
Many airlines cater to the Jain diet, however, so ask for a Jain vegetarian meal and you may be surprised with a lunch or dinner that consists of Indian flatbread, rice, and veggies.
This meal is an actually a great option for anyone looking for a healthy airline meal with whole grains and vegetables.
Air Carriers with Healthy Airline Meals
Are you trying to decide between specific air carriers based on healthy airplane meals that they might offer? Are you planning a flight on a certain airline and wondering if they have anything healthy that’s also gourmet?
Take a look at the examples of healthy airplane meals from the following airlines:
This San Francisco-based carrier received the highest marks of all for airlines offering healthy food.
Their flights often feature exciting options like an autumn veggie wrap (with roasted pears and fig mustard dressing)!
Jet Blue’s healthy airplane food consists of delights like kale and quinoa salad, as well as better-than-your-average veggie platters (on all cross country flights)!
This carrier also makes the nutritional details of its dishes available online.
It’s great when an old, seasoned carrier like Delta gets on the bandwagon of offering new options for healthy airplane food.
Delta’s healthy meal choices change a bit throughout the year, but the airline definitely puts nutrition in the forefront of its food options. So, inquire on your flight!
Frontier Airlines offers a healthy oatmeal bowl for breakfast.
On American Airlines, opt for the roasted red pepper hummus with pretzels.
Alaska Airlines’ snack options include healthy multi-grain chips, sun-dried tomato hummus, and Endangered Species dark chocolate.