The Best Airline Meals You Can Purchase

When was this made?
When was this made?

Last fall I learned that most airline meals – for coach class – are typically made anywhere from three to 18 months in advance.  That includes your breakfast omelet… Since then I’ve always ordered a special meal as I know that my Hindu vegan dishes will be made to order.  It’s not so bad if you’re in business or first as your meal may actually be made the same day, possibly the day before.  If you’re flying up front on Etihad, Austrian or Turkish Airlines, chances are you’ll have a chef on board too.

What if you’re stuck in steerage and you didn’t have chance to pick up anything at the airport?  Some airlines offer food for purchase on otherwise food-free flights, or even as an upgrade to regular offerings.  Here are your best bets:

Delta Air Lines has a new line of healthy menu items from Luvo in the economy cabin on transcontinental flights between JFK and LA, San Francisco and Seattle.  Luvo Inc is an Atlanta-based company committed to providing healthy meals made with natural and sustainable ingredients, no added trans-fats, and hormone and antibiotic-free proteins.  The meals are complimentary for customers seated in Economy Comfort and available for purchase for customers seated in Economy.  Offerings include Luvo Quinoa Crunch Wrap (360 calories), Luvo Grilled Chicken Wrap (400 calories) and Luvo Roast Turkey & Havarti Wrap (440 calories).

Air France allows you to pre-order an “à la carte” meal up to 24 hours prior to departure on its long haul flights.  You can select from traditional French, organic, Italian, fresh seafood options or an extravagant menu  from the renowned Maison Lenôtre. Prices range from 12 euros for “La Dolce Vita” Italian option to 28 Euros for the Maison Lenôtre.

This is what first class on Iberia gets you - terrible.
This is what first class on Iberia gets you – terrible.

American Airlines offers “fresh breakfasts” (as opposed to the one made 12 months ago), and “light and fresh meals” (also as opposed to the one made 12 months ago) for purchase on domestic flights over 3 hours. Between $6.79 and $9.99 will get you a breakfast sandwich, fruit and cheese plate, or a cobb salad among other offerings.

United Airlines has a Bistro Scramble as a select breakfast on certain flights but there’s no mention of when it’s made, so beware if you’re as leery of eggs on a plane as I am.  On certain flights the Bistro On Board repertoire extends to a chicken stir-fry ($9.99), Asian-style noodle salad ($8.49), and an Artisan Cheese selection ($7.99). Sandwiches include a chicken wrap and a roast beef and cheddar baguette (both $8.99).

Of course this all pales in comparison with Korean Airlines whose very own farm provides organic produce, chickens, eggs and beef for its inflight catering.  The farm was started by the family that owns Korean Air in 1991.  They were way ahead of the inflight catering curve.

Finally, I sought the advice of Nikos Loukas, founder of and consultant to the airline catering industry.  Nikos suggests that you go to the airline’s website and see how much space they devote to inflight meals.  The more information there is, the better off you’re likely to be.  I have to say, my research proved this to be very true.

BonVoyage et Bon Appétit!

5 thoughts on “The Best Airline Meals You Can Purchase

  1. Reblogged this on Hot, Cheap & Easy and commented:
    Note to HC&E readers….I love Jayne McAllister’s healthy philosophy towards food, so I am sharing this excellent post with you…especially for those of you who travel by air!

  2. This is interesting to know. I had no idea. If the option is there to order to my own specification like Austrian Airlines, I have done so as I preferred a “fresher” version and I’ve done the same on Air Asia too. I’m going to put your post on Twitter. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Victoria, it’s a good idea to order a special meal on longer flights. They are usually made to order.

  3. Thank you Jayne. I think I will be doing more of the same!

  4. Good to know! I hope more airlines offer healthier options. Some of the in-flight meals I’ve had lately were worse than I expected.

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