What to Eat on an Airplane, and What to Avoid

I travel fairly often, and even though some of the flights are relatively short, the time spent in the cab, checking in at the airport, and going through security adds hours on to my travel time.

This means that even though I’m traveling on a 2-hour flight, at some point, I’m probably going to need to eat during my time on the plane.

Eating on planes can be a touchy subject because you’re so close to other people, and if you bring something that invades their space, smell, or cleanliness, it’s a real no-no.

I’ve been trying to be better at packing my food for travel because sometimes I just don’t have precious minutes or patience to spare, but a lot of the time, I manage to find some great stuff at the airport.

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Here are my top dos and don’ts for in-flight eating:

Do: Bring cut vegetables and mini cucumbers. Most vegetables are packed with water, so they will keep you hydrated. They also aren’t messy and need very little prep. Throw some in a Ziploc or find them at the airport.

Do: Bring a thick dip that won’t spill. Dipping your vegetables in a dip like hummus or another bean dip will give them more flavor (the altitude destroys your taste buds while you’re flying) and add a bit of protein and fiber to the mix.

Don’t: Bring smelly foods. Even though you might be craving pizza or a corned beef sandwich, no one wants to smell your lunch. Gross.

Do: Bring an easy meal, like a sandwich with sharp cheddar, tomato, and avocado on Ezekiel bread. Neat and unsmelly, full of nutrients, this is my go-to sandwich for flights.

Don’t: Bring messy fruits. Oranges on airplanes are a disaster unless they’re the little clementines.  The juice from cut fruit like pineapple can leak all over your carry-on and sticky everything in sight. Anything you need to use a napkin to tame isn’t your friend on the flight. Fruits like apples, pears, peaches, and grapes are better. Don’t avoid fruits, though; they’re full of water to help hydrate you.

And if you were really in a rush and didn’t bring anything on board, here’s what to order (or not) from the onboard dining menu – options by Air Canada:

Do: Order the simplest options, and I don’t mean the can of Pringles. Fruit and cheese, snack packs of hummus and crackers, and veggie sticks with dip are always a good choice. Remember – buy food closest to its natural form, and you’re probably making the best choice. Your meal doesn’t have to be a large hot selection; it can be several small options cobbled together.

Don’t: The pizza. First of all, it stinks like a pizza parlor, would you like to sit next to that? It’s also really salty and fatty, which can make you bloated and sluggish for the remainder of your flight. Uncomfortable all round!

Do CLIF Bar Organic Trail Mix bar, which will satisfy your sweet craving healthily.

Don’t: Ramen noodles. Besides the risk of boiling water and noodle spillage, there’s the slurp factor (horrible for the person sitting next to you), the mess (because ramen are not a neat food to eat), and the salt, which can blimp you up on a flight. No-go.

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Happy travels!


UPDATED October 3, 2018



Abby Langer

Registered Dietican, Brand Ambassador, Consultant, Abbylangernutrition.com

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