DietDetective.com conducted a survey that provides calorie information of inflight menu items and snacks from 12 major airlines to come up with a «Health Rating» and «Best Bets» in terms of healthy options. Each airline received a star rating, with five being the highest.
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If you’re a frequent flyer and conscious of what you eat, the ratings are extremely helpful because they include advice on which meal and snack options are the best. The average number of calories per food item for 2015 on airlines is 400, and the survey found a decrease in food options over last year. The results surprised us, so take note of the three healthiest airlines (all which make their nutritional information publicly available) and three unhealthiest airlines (which two of the three refused to participate in the survey) for next time you’re in the skies.
From healthiest to least healthy, the airline rankings are: Virgin America (4.5 stars), JetBlue (4 stars), Delta (4 starts), Air Canada (3.25 stars), United Airlines (3.25 stars), American (2.75 stars), Alaska Air (2.5 stars), Southwest Airlines (1.5 stars), Allegiant Air (1.5 stars), Spirit Airlines (1.25 stars), Hawaiian Airlines (1.25 stars), Frontier Air (1 star)
View the full list of airlines and analysis.
- Virgin America: 4.5 stars, with average calories overall at 352.
Best Bets: Udi’s Granola with Yogurt and Fruit, Protein Box, Provencal Tuna Sandwich, Ginger Chicken Soba Noodles, Protein Plate, and Vegan Wrap.
Avoid: Individual snacks, since they are high in calories (even the nuts); Jet St Kid Pack; Grilled Chicken Sandwich.
- JetBlue: 4 stars, with average calories overall at 327.
Best Bets: Pump Up meal box, and on flights that offer them, the Eat Up Cafe box, yogurt and granola, Kale & Quinoa Salad, Spicy Soba & Korean-Style Chicken, and Veggie Platter.
Avoid: Individual snacks and the Grilled Chicken and Brie Sandwich.
- Delta: 4 stars, with average calories overall at 512.
Best Bets: Peanuts from the free snacks, EATS Tapas box, continental breakfast, LUVO Grilled Chicken Wrap or Roast Turkey & Havarti Wrap (depending on which flight you are on).
Avoid: Snack boxes and individual snacks, which are high in calories; Roast Beef Slider Combo; and Black Angus Burger.
- Spirit Airlines: 1.25 stars, with average calories overall at 423.
Best Bets: Bring your own food or the cup of noodle soup.
Avoid: Muffins, Nuggets & Nuts, and the individual snacks.
- Hawaiian Airlines: 1.25 stars, with average calories overall at 588.
Best Bets: Bring your own food, or try the popcorn. With meals, don’t eat the bread, treat, or dressings.
Avoid: Individual snacks and the high-calorie items offered with meals.
- Frontier Airlines: 1 star, with average calories for snacks (only options available) at 356.
Best Bets: Bring your own, or the jerky.
Avoid: Basically all the snacks, but especially the candies.