Airline snacking survey with health ratings

It’s been almost six years since I did an airline food investigation, and much has changed. No longer are airlines serving those high-calorie, tasteless meals that had up to 1,500 calories. Now they are serving prepackaged snacks and sandwiches, and some are even offering healthy selections. Here are the offerings and ratings (Health Score: 5 stars = highest rate, 1 star = lowest rating):

United Airlines

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.

Health Score: (*****)

United has the most variety and the most healthful choices. The Smartpack is trans-fat free and "vegetarian-friendly."


Best Bet: Go for the Ritebite or the Smartpack (if you’re sharing)

Total Calories: 895 (Smartpack), 550 (Minimeal), 650 (Quickpick), 580 (Ritebite)

Exercise Equivalents: (Amount of walking to burn off the calories) 231 minutes (Smartpack); 142 minutes (Minimeal); 168 minutes (Quickpick); 149 minutes (Ritebite)

Cost: $5 per box

Snack Choices:


• SunGold Creamy SunButter (1.5 ounces, 266 calories)

• Bear Naked All-Natural Fruit and Nut Granola (1/2 cup, 280 calories)


• Vermont Village Cannery Organic Peach Applesauce (4 ounces, 80 calories)

• Glacier Ridge Farms White Cheddar Cheese (0.75 ounces, 50 calories)

• Pita Shack Multigrain & Honey Lavash crackers (0.9 ounces, 120 calories)

• Hero Strawberry Preserves (2 ounces, 64 calories)

• Bali’s Best Latte Candy (1 candy, 15 calories)

• Emer’gen-C Fizzing Drink Mix – Tangerine (1 packet, 20 calories)


• Hormel hard salami slices (1 ounce, 110 calories)


• Rondele Peppercorn Parmesan cheese spread (1 ounce, 70 calories)

• Venus wheat crackers (1 package, 60 calories )

• Mott’s Healthy Harvest Granny Smith applesauce, unsweetened (1 cup, 50 calories)

• Kettle Classics natural potato chips (1 ounce, 150 calories)

• Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (2 cookies, 120 calories)


• Jack Link’s hickory-smoked beef jerky (1 ounce, 60 calories)

• Just the Cheese Baked Cheddar Cheese Snacks (1/2 ounce, 75 calories)

• Stoned Classics all-natural blue tortilla chips (1? ounces, 180 calories)

• La Victoria Thick n’ Chunky salsa (1.5 ounces, 15 calories)

• SunRise honey coated trail mix (2 ounces, 205.5 calories)

• Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (2 cookies, 120 calories)



• Bumblebee Sensations Lemon & Pepper Seasoned Tuna Medley (3 ounces, 110 calories)

• Late July Organic Crackers (1 package, 100 calories)

• Wild Garden Hummus (1 jar, 73.5 calories)

• Stacy’s Multigrain Baked Pita Chips (1 ounce, 130 calories)

• Fino Selections Gouda cheese (1 ounce, 101 calories)

• Newman’s Own organic California raisins (0.5 ounces, 45.5 calories)

• Mini-Toblerone (12.5-gram bar, 66.5 calories)

 Continental Airlines

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very helpful.

Health Score: (****) Not much variety, but low-calorie, high-impact meals.

Best Bet: Both sandwiches are fine; the light mayo is a nice touch

Total Calories: 285 (turkey), 316 (ham)

Exercise Equivalents: (Amount of walking to burn off the calories) 73 minutes (turkey); 81 minutes (ham); 21 minutes (peanuts); 13 minutes (pretzels)

Cost: No charge

Snack Choices:

Flights over two hours:

• Turkey sandwich (170 calories, including packet of Hellmann’s light mayo) or

• Ham sandwich (201 calories, including packet of French’s yellow mustard)

• Carrots (35 calories)

• Fun-size candy bar (80 calories)


Flights under two hours:

• Honey-roasted peanuts (1.5 ounces, 80 calories)

• Mini pretzels (1.5 ounces, 50 calories)

American Airlines

Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Helpful.

Health Score: (***)

The meat, nuts, raisins and cheese in the snack pack have enough protein and fat to satisfy you.

Best Bet: Skip the breakfast muffin unless you have nothing else (but split it with your seatmate). If you buy the snack pack, get rid of the cookies and the Goldfish.

Total Calories: 710 (snack pack) 440/420 (breakfast muffin)

Exercise Equivalents: (Amount of walking to burn off the calories) 183 minutes (snack pack), 108 minutes (blueberry muffin); 113 minutes (chocolate muffin)

Cost: $4, snack box; $2, muffin

Snack Choices: (snack box)

• Pepperidge Farm Goldfish (0.75 ounces 100 calories)

• O’Brien’s Cured Meat (32 grams, 110 calories)

• Lorna Doone Cookies (2 cookies 140 calories)

• Kings Raisins (28 grams, 90 calories)

• Carr’s Table Water Crackers (7.5 grams, 2 crackers, 30 calories)

• Le Petit Fromage Cheese Spread (0.75 ounces, 70 calories)

• Emerald Deluxe Mixed Nuts (1 ounce, 170 calories)


Breakfast Snack:

Otis Spunkmeyer Muffin (4-ounce chocolate muffin, 440 calories; blueberry, 420 calories)

Charles Stuart Platkin is a syndicated health, nutrition and fitness columnist and founder of iWellness Solutions. He can be reached at

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