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United Airlines

This Is How Many Calories You’re Eating on United Airlines

This Is How Many Calories You’re Eating on United Airlines
Taylor Rains

United Airlines has jumped on the plant-based food train and will begin offering healthier, vegan-friendly inflight meals starting in 2020. Meals like red beet hummus with roasted vegetables, roasted curry cauliflower with whipped hummus and pomegranate, and vegan stuffed grape leaf with dolma infused yogurt certainly sound healthy. But just how healthy are they?

While United does not advertise the nutrition facts of its menu items, several online nutrition sites like Diet Detective do. And they’ve broken down the ingredients, carbohydrates, calories and protein content of United’s Choice Menu options. You’ll find these available for free or for purchase in economy on most flights to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and within North America, including the Caribbean and certain Latin American countries.

So we’ve done a little research to find out just how many calories–and low-carb options, high protein options, and gluten-free options–you’ll find on your next thought. And the results may give frequent United Airlines fliers a little food for thought. Although the airline is moving towards these healthier options, there are still dishes and snacks offered that may be more calorie-heavy than you think.

While we don’t have calorie counts or ingredients lists for the meals you’ll get on United in other classes, we do have all the details on what you can expect to eat on your next flight in the FlyerTalk forums. For menus, tips on what’s good to eat and actual photos that aren’t taken by the public relations department, check out the following threads:


Image Source: United Airlines

Complimentary Snacks: The Free Food on United Airlines

  • Byrd’s Maple Wafers: 70 calories
  • Pretzels: 60 calories
  • Stroopwafels: 120 calories


Image Source: Think Jerky

Individual Snack Menu

  • Think Jerky (Gluten-Free): 100 calories, 2g fat, 5g carbohydrate, 16g protein, 380mg sodium, 5g sugar
  • GourmetNut Power Up Antioxidant Mix (Vegetarian)(Gluten-Free): 280 calories
  • Lillie’s Q (Vegetarian)(Gluten-Free): 150 calories, 1g fat, 15g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 200mg sodium, 0g sugar
  • Haribo Gold-Bears Gummi Candy: 420 calories
  • Pringles (Vegetarian): 375 calories
  • Hummus and Pita Chips (Vegetarian): 160 calories total
    • Classic hummus: 50 calories, 9g fat, 15g carbohydrate, 1g protein, 150mg sodium, 0g sugar
    • Crispbreads: 110 calories, 6g fat, 12g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 125mg sodium
  • M&M’S (Vegetarian): 230 calories, 9g fat, 35g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 35mg sodium, 31g sugar


Image Source: United Airlines

Snack Box Menu

  • Tapas: almonds, breakfast crackers, bruschetta, dark chocolate sea salt caramel, flatbread crackers, hummus, mint, olives, and parmesan peppercorn spread (Vegetarian)
    • 495 calories, 26g fat, 49g carbohydrate, 17g protein, 1088mg sodium, 11g sugar
  • Classic: cheddar spread, Oreo cookies, crackers, pretzel chips, root beer float marshmallow, salami, Twizzlers
    • 496 calories, 26g fat, 62g carbohydrate, 13g protein, 1270mg sodium, 19g sugar
  • Select: chocolate chip cookie bites, chocolate chip crispy square, dark chocolate sea salt pumpkin seeds, fruit and nut mix, gummy bears, and kettle corn snacks (Gluten-Free)
    • 510 calories, 23g fat, 72g carbohydrate, 8g protein, 195mg sodium, 42g sugar
  • Kid’s: applesauce, beef stick, cheddar crackers, fruit snacks, and graham snacks
    • 350 calories, 10g fat, 60g carbohydrate, 4g protein, 436mg sodium, 26g sugar

The ingredients for each snack box can be found on the packaging labels.


Image Source: United Airlines

Bistro on Board

On most flights lasting three hours or more within the United States, and to/from Central America, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, customers may purchase breakfast, lunch, and dinner items from United’s Bistro on Board Choice Menu. Meal selections vary on flights between Honolulu and Guam. Breakfast is available from 5:00 AM to 9:44 AM and lunch and dinner is available from 9:45 AM to 8:00 PM. Diet Detective obtained the health facts for select bistro items.

Bistro Breakfast

  • Chorizo Breakfast Sandwich: Cage-free fried egg, pork chorizo patty and smoked cheddar cheese on a ciabatta roll – $7.99
    • 480 calories, 28g fat, 34g carbohydrate, 21g protein, 870mg sodium, 2g sugar/104 minutes of walking
  • Overnight Strawberry Almond Oats: Coconut oatmeal with yogurt, shredded coconut, chia seeds, and strawberry compote, topped with almond coconut granola – $6.99
    • 450 calories, 25g fat, 53g carbohydrate, 10g protein, 55mg sodium, 14g sugar/97 minutes of walking
  • Banana Bread Pudding: Banana bread pieces and butterscotch chips baked in vanilla egg custard, topped with oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Made with Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt – $8.99
    • Total: 530 calories, 19g fat, 79g carbohydrate, 11g protein, 520mg sodium, 51g sugar/114 minutes of walking

Bistro Lunch and Dinner

  • UNO Pepperoni Deep Dish Pizza: Pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, Romano cheese and tomato sauce in a deep dish crust – $9.99
    • 630 calories, 35g fat, 55g carbohydrate, 21g protein, 1220mg sodium, 4g sugar/136 minutes of walking
  • White Cheddar Cheeseburger: Beef patty and white cheddar cheese on an asiago bun. Served with Sir Kensington’s ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise on the side. Lettuce, tomato, and pickles available upon request – $9.99
    • Cheeseburger only: 550 calories, 13g fat, 39g carbohydrate, 30g protein, 810mg sodium, 3g sugar/119 minutes of walking
    • Add Kettle brand sea salt potato chips – $3.99
      • 150 calories, 9g fat, 16g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 115mg sodium, 0g sugar/119 minutes of walking
    • 700 calories, 22g fat, 55g carbohydrate, 36g protein, 196mg sodium, 3g sugar/151 minutes of walking
  • Chicken Parmesan Sandwich: Breaded chicken, mozzarella cheese and basil marinara sauce on an Italian-herbed ciabatta roll – $9.99
    • 430 calories, 14g fat, 46g carbohydrate, 25g protein, 1170 mg sodium, 3g sugar/93 minutes of walking
  • Mezze Sampler: Seasonal wheatberry almond salad, red pepper hummus, whole almonds, and triangle pita pieces – $9.99
    • 501 calories, 30g fat, 48g carbohydrate, 14 g protein, 515mg sodium, 14g sugar/108 minutes of walking

Based on Diet Detective’s research, all snack items should be avoided except for the hummus. The tapas snack box has the highest calorie count, but can be salvaged if you skip out on the cheese spread. As far as the Bistro on Board menu, the overnight strawberry almond oats is a reasonable breakfast option if you leave out a few granola toppings. For lunch and/or dinner, the mezze sampler is filling and the healthiest option. The chicken parmesan sandwich is breaded with over 1100 mg of sodium and the bread pudding is a sweet dessert with 51 grams of sugar, so both should be avoided. Parents should also pass on the kids’ snack box as the contents contain a lot of calories and sugar.


Image Source: United Airlines

Pre-Order Meals

United has started allowing customers to pre-order their meals on eligible flights departing from their Los Angeles and Washington Dulles hubs. These meals can be chosen starting five days before the flight and up to 24 hours prior. Once you have selected your meal, you cannot change it. However, you may ask the flight attendant on board if you can change your meal and will be accommodated if possible. This is a good option for customers who want to do a little more research on their meal before their flight.

Can I Order a Special Meal on United Airlines?

United tries to cater to every passenger and offer special meals for religious, health, and other reasons. As of now, they offer:

  • Asian Vegetarian
  • Hindu (Indian) Vegetarian
  • Vegan (strict)
  • Vegetarian Lacto-ovo
  • Child
  • Gluten-intolerant
  • Jain
  • Japanese
  • Kosher
  • Halal

These meals are available on trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and most intra-Pacific international flights, South American flights to or from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru, and in premium cabins on North American flights 2,000 miles or more. They can be requested during booking or by adding a special request to the reservation.

What Can I Order on United Airlines If I Have Allergies?

United has a list of allergens in their food, such as peanuts, eggs, dairy, and coconut. According to United’s allergen chart, all bistro menu items contain dairy, while the oats are the only option that does not include wheat. A full list of United’s Choice Menu allergens can be found on their website.

In general, United does not have the most health-conscience menu out there, with a health score of 2.75 / 5 stars and an average calorie count of 360 according to Diet Detective, however, the new menu coming in 2020 may change that. Currently, the complimentary and food for purchase items pack a lot of calories, but United does do a good job of offering food suitable for a variety of eaters.

View Comments (7)


  1. r m a h

    December 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    i don’t think m&m’s are vegan….they are ~~~milk~~~ chocolate.

    “M&M’S (Vegan): 230 calories, 9g fat, 35g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 35mg sodium, 31g sugar”

  2. Dublin_rfk

    December 11, 2019 at 4:40 am

    I (personally) don’t fly for the meals and have an open view of what is edible. But before United commits to a ‘new age’ ‘snowflake’ menu they had better look at the demographics of their customers.

  3. azmojo

    December 11, 2019 at 7:38 am

    Please do not perpetuate the myth that vegan = healthy.

  4. titaniumfemme

    December 11, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Where are the low carb options mentioned early in the article? None of the food mentioned is low carb. As a diabetic who controls the illness through diet, I find the food options on United to be hopeless.

  5. Bradhattan

    December 11, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    I dont recall parmesan being vegan – Tapas Box item.

  6. Long Zhiren

    December 12, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Where can you look to see the nutrition for the meals on international flights?

  7. eng3

    December 12, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Showing Saturated Fat would be more useful than Total Fat. For example, the burger is 13g Total Fat vs the Mezze Sampler is 30g with about the same overall calories.

    UA will be expanding the pre-order feature and let you choose online/app. The preview screen shows nutrition information

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