Eating healthy while traveling can be difficult, especially when on a plane.  Thankfully, the nutrition website DietDetective.com has made this easier by conducting an annual airline nutrition survey.  Charles Stuart Platkin, the author of the survey and visiting assistant professor at CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, has ranked eight popular airlines with a “health score” based on the variety of healthy offerings and cost.  Coming out on top is United Airlines, with a wide selection of healthy options, and at the bottom is US Airways, with poor choices and not much variety.

Listed below are the rankings and some of Platkin’s recommendations for the healthiest choice on-board:

1. United Airlines (4 Stars)

Best Snacks: “Tapas” (553 calories) or “Lite” (430 calories) options . Both have a variety of healthy, balanced ingredients for shorter flights.

Best Meal:    Turkey sandwich (310 calories), sundried tomato aioli (140 calories), Kettle cooked chips (150 calories). Total = 600 calories

2. JetBlue Airways (3.25 Stars)

Beat Snack: “All Nuts” roasted cashews (170 calories)

Best Meal:  “Shape Up – Wild Garden”: Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus (63 calories), New York Style Pita Chips (130 calories), Sheffa Zesty Snack Mix (118 calories), Emerald Natural Almonds (100 calories), Sun-Maid Raisins (45 calories), Brothers All Natural Asian Pear Fruit Crisps (28 calories). Total = 484 calories

3. American Airlines (3.125 Stars)

Best Snack: Cheese & Cracker Snack Tray – Two Pepperidge Farm two-cracker packs (95 calories), 0.75 ounces of cheese (75 calories), one 1-ounce box of raisins (90 calories), and one 1-ounce bag of mixed nuts (170 calories). Total = 430 calories Platkin recommends skipping the cracker packages.

Best Meal: Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad with SunChips and dressing – Romaine lettuce, chicken and Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheeses. Served with creamy Caesar dressing and SunChips on the side (470 calories)

4. Delta Airlines (3 Stars)

Best Snack: Breakfast — – Breyers Light Yogurt (assorted flavors) (250 calories), Nature Valley Oats ’n Honey Granola Bar (90 calories), Fresh Banana (90 calories). Total = 430 calories

Best Meal: Fruit and Cheese Plate (Available breakfast, lunch and dinner) Aged Cheddar, Havarti and Smoked Fontina, Green Grapes, Pecan Halves, Dried Apricots and Crackers. Total = 475 calories

5. Continental Airlines (2.5 Stars)

Best Snack: (Meant to be shared) Savory Snack Box – Stoned Classics Tortilla Chips (180 calories), Mild Salsa ( 14 calories), Wild Garden Hummus (, 63 calories),  Marinated Olives (153 calories), Azar Fruit and Nut Mix ( 330 calories), Organic Chocolate Chip Granola Bar (, 140 calories), Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (160 calories). Total = 1,040 calories

Best Meal:
Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad – Grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes and button mushrooms over spinach and romaine lettuce, topped with crispy onions and served with Italian vinaigrette. Chicken packaged separately for a vegetarian–friendly option (345 calories)

6. Southwest Airlines (2 Stars)

Best Snack: Honey or dry–roasted peanuts (70 calories)

7. Virgin America (2 Stars)

Best Snack: Veggies and Hummus – Crunchmaster crackers, pickled and garden–fresh veggies including broccoli, radishes, summer squash and tomatoes. Sweet peppadew hummus and curry dipping sauce. Total = 275 calories

Best Meal: Homestyle Chicken Sandwich – Chicken salad, vine–ripened tomatoes and crisp lettuce on hearth–baked nine–grain bread. Served with a Toblerone chocolate. Total = 325 calories

8. US Airways (1.75 Stars)

Best Snack: CaféPlus – Bumble Bee cranberry chicken salad (110 calories), Freshers cream crackers (140 calories), Bare Fruit cinnamon apple chips (43 calories), Emerald Natural almonds (100 calories), Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (120 calories), Toblerone Mini (66 calories). Total = 579 calories

Have you done any of your own research or would you like to share your opinion with us?

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About The Author

Christie Erdman, a guest contributor to the Healthy Travel blog, is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond with a degree in Economics and Marketing. She enjoys traveling, and had the opportunity to spend a semester studying at Universita Bocconi in Milan, Italy during her junior year.

1 Comment

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