Alaska Airlines and Air Canada share the top spot in a study of the healthiest in-flight dining options.
In the 2019-2020 edition of the Airline Food Study, 11 North American airlines were assigned a health score based on criteria including healthy nutrients, calorie levels, level of transparency, improvement, menu innovation, sodium levels, meal availability on short-haul flights and water quality.
Of the airlines studied, Alaska Airlines and Air Canada emerged the leaders, each pulling off a four out of five score. The study was released jointly by DietDetective.com and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center.
Study authors applauded Air Canada for innovating its in-flight menu over the last year, with new vegetable-packed additions -- more than other airlines -- like grilled chicken and wild rice "superfood" salads along with California rolls.
Alaska Airlines was lauded for its transparency on nutritional information and for being the "clear leader" in the industry when it comes to sustainable initiatives: it was the first to ban single-use plastic straws, replacing them with paper alternatives, and launched a campaign asking flyers to bring their own water bottles.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Hawaiian Airlines landed at the bottom of the heap for failing to disclose nutritional information or galley water violations for the study.
Want to watch your calorie intake when flying? Authors point out that full meals or "mini meals" are better options than individual snacks which generally contain little to no nutritional value. They also recommend avoiding excess carbs like pasta, breads, muffins or cakes which cause blood sugar spikes and drops, leaving you feeling lethargic and cranky.
Here are the results of the Airline Food Study:
- Air Canada, Alaska Airlines
- JetBlue, Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- Spirit Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
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