A professor of nutrition at City University in New York says airline food is becoming more healthful. “The overall trend is getting better,” Professor Charles Platkin says. “There’s at least one healthy meal alternative on inflight menus.” So, professor, where do the airlines rank?
Let’s begin by noting that a lot of FT discussion pivots on the row order used to serve meals and not so much with the healthfulness of the menu. FT members want a choice of options and not what’s left over. But there are some stomach-punching comments.
Nonetheless, according to the professor, the top healthful-menu award goes to California-based Virgin America. Platkin gives thumbs up to their low-calorie options like arugula salad and oats for breakfast. He gives Virgin America 4 ¼ stars out of five. But he doesn’t actually taste the food. Since 2000, he’s been doing his analysis from pay-per-menus that he collects. Ingredients (fiber) and calorie count are what matters to the professor.
The worst healthful food ranking goes to Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, although the professor does single out their inflight nuts and low-carb beef jerky as not too bad for us. The same goes for Allegiant’s turkey sandwich (280 calories).
Second and third best meals in the sky went to Air Canada and Alaska Airlines, Platkin told the LA Times. AA, Delta, UA, and US Airways are not even in the same area code. They ranked in the middle of his healthful-menu list. The nuts or Wheat Thins thumb-wrestling option on Southwest Airlines is pretty limited, he claims.
Here are some other menu highlight:
US Airways serves a fine barbecue chicken salad (190 calories). American Airlines gets it done in under 300 calories with Insalata Caprese salad. United offer a chicken spinach salad and Asian noodle salad for around 300 calories, plus a dandy 318-calorie ham and Cheddar rustic ciabatta sandwich for breakfast.
On Air Canada, the professor likes the roasted chicken wrap with salsa, coming in at less than 400 calories.
And now comes my discovery. Type the menu items into your computer. Whatever meal spellcheck rejects is probably healthful.