Staving off starving on domestic flights

Written by admin on June 4, 2009 – 5:35 pm -

It depends on the airline, but if you’re flying domestically, chances are good you aren’t going to be served food. Lord knows how much money the airlines are saving by cutting out the tiny packages of pretzel snacks that used to be served with your soft drink.

Before heading to the airport, check to see if there’s a meal included. Even if there is, you might want to pass. Airline food can be akin to food much in the same way as military music may be an ersatz form of music.

Yesterday I was on a scheduled five-hour-plus flight that took more than six hours. I’m usually fine without eating but realized I’d left for the airport three hours prior to the flight. My stomach was audibly growling.

I broke down and bought a “chef’s” salad and a beer for $15. The beer won the taste prize by miles.

Looking around, I could see and SMELL so many different meals. I am not a curry fan and the odor made me queasy. The people sitting next to me had raided McDonalds and smells of grease were intensified in the confined area with minimal circulation.

So what food should pack for flights? Here are some ideas:

Power bars, snack mixes, raisins and candy are compact. The later should be in moderation if you’re traveling with children. Sugar highs are great recipes for making kids want to run up and down the cramped aisles.

Peanut butter sandwiches, bagels with cream cheese or your favorite sandwiches cure lots of hunger pangs

Fruit (fresh or dried) is healthy and you’ll feel virtuous in the calorie department.  When grapes and cherries are in season, freeze them at home and by the time you’re ready to eat them in flight, they’ll have that fresh taste. Ditto goes for many sandwiches. Pack them in a small-insulated bag.

Raw vegetables with a dip can be filling and are good for vegetarians and the weight conscious.

If you’re watching your budget or are a quasi-gourmet, steer clear of buying food at the airport. Chances are it was made in an off-site kitchen hours before it reached its destination. And it may sit there even longer. The main exception is yogurt which may not make it through security.

Stop at your favorite deli and have them pack a picnic. Please steer clear of sauerkraut. People dislike food smells on planes. A business flyer said,  “It’s generally the leisure traveler who thinks it’s a good idea to bring barbeque food or chicken laced with garlic accompanied with cabbage.”

Other musts — and you’ll be sorry if you forget them:

Napkins, a plate or something that can serve as one, utensils (plastic – to insure they pass through security screening), a couple of plastic bags for leftovers and hand wipes should be on everyone’s list. And do bring a plastic bag so you can dispose of your garbage. It’s only polite to try to keep planes clean.

Some people go to extremes. On one Paris-New York trip and another between Los Angeles and Washington, DC, I sat next to passengers who had picnic boxes prepared by the glitzy hotels where they’d been staying. I was surprised since we were in business class. But they shared the religion of refusing to eat airline food and drank only bottled water.

How are you dealing with hunger without fainting from starvation on flights that are longer than a few hours? This is where the Boy Scout mantra of being prepared needs to be taken to heart!

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis.

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |