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Revealed: The best airline food tips for eating at 36,000ft

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Good quality food is an essential ingredient in air travel. Airlines that serve the best airline food cultivate loyalty among their frequent flyers, and those that disappoint passengers can expect to lose out to the competition. 

Over the years, airline food has developed a reputation for being mediocre at best, but times have changed, and there are airlines who have secured contracts with catering firms that supply meals you can actually look forward to. 

Even so, eating at 36,000ft is different to dining on the ground for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the effect on the stomach of being in the same seat for hours on end in a pressurised aircraft. As we shall, quality and moderation are the two words to bear in mind when you’re hungry in the air.  

Best Airline Food Tips

International Airlines Lead the Way

The world’s best airlines take their food seriously and employ top chefs to design their menus. You can expect to find a wide variety of dishes on their menus, from traditional Asian cuisine to western dishes such as steak and pasta. Some airlines even offer the option to pre-order your meal before your flight, ensuring you get your preferred option.

Low-Cost Carriers are Improving

Low-cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryanair who specialise in short haul flights are not comparable to long haul carriers when it comes to food.  However, they now offer a range of hot and cold snacks, sandwiches, and meals for purchase on board. These airlines also have vegetarian and gluten-free options available, catering to a wider range of dietary requirements.

Snack Attack

When it comes to snacks, there are some airlines that stand out. JetBlue is known for its complimentary snacks, which include popcorn, chips, and chocolate chip cookies. Alaska Airlines offers a popular fruit and cheese platter, while Delta Air Lines has a variety of healthy snacks such as almonds, dried fruit, and Kind bars.

What to Eat Before a Long Flight

If you really don’t want to eat airline food then a meal before you board is the obvious choice, either at home or in the airport.  This will help you avoid the unhealthy snacks available on board. Choose something that’s high in protein and fibre, like grilled chicken or fish with a side of vegetables. This will keep you feeling full and energised for your flight.

What Not to Eat on an Airplane

While airlines offer a variety of food and snacks, there are some foods you should avoid on a flight. Fatty, greasy foods can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable, while spicy foods can cause indigestion. Carbonated drinks can also lead to bloating and discomfort, so it’s best to stick to water or herbal tea.

Can You Ask for More Food on a Plane?

Flight attendants will be happy to provide you with an additional snack (providing you don’t bother them while they’re still dispensing the main meal trays), or you can bring your own. Just make sure they are not messy or have a strong odour that could disturb your fellow passengers.

The Perfect In-Flight Sandwich

A sandwich is a popular choice among air passengers who bring their own food.  Choose something that is easy to eat and won’t make a mess. Avoid sandwiches with strong-smelling ingredients such as tuna or egg salad, as these can be unpleasant for your fellow passengers.

Should You Eat on a Long Flight?

Yes, it’s important to eat on a long flight. Your body needs fuel to keep going, and skipping meals can lead to fatigue and jet lag, but choose wisely.  Stick to meals that are high in protein and fibre, and avoid sugary or fatty snacks.

How to Avoid Gaining Weight When Flying

Unsurprisingly, sitting for long periods of time and eating high-calorie foods can lead to weight gain when flying. Drinking a lot of water will help to hydrate you and the frequent trips to the loo will get you out of your seat to stretch your legs.  

Opt for healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, nuts, and granola bars instead of high-calorie options. Take regular breaks to stretch your legs and move around the cabin to get your blood flowing. You can also perform simple exercises while seated such as leg lifts and ankle rolls to keep your body active.

In conclusion, the best airline food and snacks can be found on international airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Qatar Airways, but even low-cost carriers are improving their in-flight dining options. It’s important to eat a healthy meal before a long flight and choose foods that are high in protein and fibre while avoiding greasy, spicy, and carbonated foods. 

If you really do find that the tray meal is not enough to satisfy your appetite then you can ask for more, but you may find that if you wait a little while the peckish feeling disappears anyway. 

Finally, stay hydrated, take breaks to stretch your legs, and choose healthy snack options to avoid gaining weight while flying. 

Best Airline Food Tips
Photo by Aleksei Zaitcev on Unsplash

Best Airline Food: Questions & Tips

What is the best food on an airplane?

 Some of the best airline food can be found aboard flights provided by the top airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Qatar Airways.

What’s the best meal to eat before boarding for a long flight?

The best food to eat before a long flight is probably a high protein low carb meal. 

What not to eat on an airplane?

 Fatty, greasy foods, spicy foods, and carbonated drinks.

Can you ask for more food on a plane?

 Yes, most airlines will be happy to provide you with an additional snack or meal.

What is a good sandwich to take on a plane?

Anything that’s easy to eat, doesn’t smell, and doesn’t make a mess. 

Should you eat on a long flight?

 Yes, it’s important to eat on a long flight. You need to keep your blood sugar levels up.

How do you not gain weight when flying?

Stay hydrated, choose healthy snack options, take breaks to stretch your legs, and perform simple exercises while seated.


Why shouldn’t you order coffee on a plane?

 The water used to make coffee on a plane may not be clean or properly filtered, which can lead to potential health risks. It’s best to stick to bottled water or other beverages.

Why should you drink water when flying?

 Flying can lead to dehydration due to the low humidity levels in the cabin. Drinking water regularly is advisable at any time, and in the air it can help keep you hydrated, allowing you to arrive feeling refreshed, or at least, not quite as jet lagged as you might have been.

Should you drink a lot of water before flying?

 Well, not a lot, but it helps to maintain hydration by drinking small amounts regularly.

Why shouldn’t you order a Coke on an airplane?

 Carbonated beverages such as Coke can lead to bloating and discomfort while flying, so it’s best to avoid them if possible.


Can I eat my own sandwiches on a plane?

 Yes, you can bring your own sandwiches on a plane and eat them during your flight.

What sandwiches don’t need refrigeration?

Sandwiches made with cured meats such as salami or pepperoni, peanut butter and jelly, and most vegetarian sandwiches do not require refrigeration.

Can I take my own sandwiches on an easyJet flight?

 Yes, you can bring your own sandwiches on an easyJet flight.

Upset Stomachs

What is ‘jet belly’?

 Jet belly is a condition where you experience stomach discomfort, bloating, or gas while flying.

Does flying affect your bowels?

 Yes, flying can affect your bowel movements due to changes in air pressure and dehydration.

How do I prepare my stomach for a flight?

 Avoid eating heavy or greasy foods before your flight, and stick to meals that are high in protein and fibre. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before your flight.

How long before a flight should you eat?

If you eat before you leave home or the hotel then it’ll probably be about 2-3 hours before, which is enough time for it to settle.  If you eat at the airport, choose a lighter meal, if you’re worried about indigestion or bloating. 

Is it better to fly on an empty stomach?

It’s not ideal, but if you’re not hungry then a light snack is a good idea. 

Is it good to fly on a full stomach?

 It’s not recommended.  It  can lead to discomfort and indigestion during your flight.

What settles an upset stomach before flying?

 Ginger or peppermint tea can help settle an upset stomach before flying.

What should I eat before flying to avoid bloating?

Stick to meals that are high in protein and fibre, and avoid greasy or spicy foods that can lead to bloating. Drinking plenty of water can also help prevent bloating during your flight.

Long Haul Eating

What can you not do on a long flight?

 Avoid sitting in the same position for extended periods of time, and try to get up and move around the cabin every hour or so. Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages as they can lead to dehydration.

How many meals on an 8 hour flight?

 On an 8 hour flight, most airlines will provide at least one meal and possibly a snack.

What should I eat on a 10 hour flight?

 Stick to meals that are high in protein and fibre, and avoid greasy or spicy foods. Drinking plenty of water is also important to stay hydrated during your flight.

How many meals on an 11 hour flight?

 On an 11 hour flight, most airlines will provide at least two meals and possibly a snack.

How can I survive a 14 hour flight?

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get up and move around the cabin every hour or so
  • Rest your ears using earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones
  • Rest your eyes with an eye mask
  • Get comfortable using a neck pillow and blanket


What do airplane pilots eat?

 Airplane pilots have access to the same food and beverage options as passengers, but they may also bring their own meals and snacks from home.

Do pilots get first class food?

 Pilots do not receive first class food specifically, but they may choose from the same menu as passengers in first class.

Can two pilots eat the same meal?

 It’s recommended that pilots do not eat the same meal to avoid the risk of food poisoning. Most airlines provide separate meals for each pilot to ensure their safety.

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