In the past I have blogged about the various food items available for purchase on different airlines. I even confessed that I have (on a number of flights) forked over way too much money to dine on way too little portions. And, that’s not saying anything about the actual quality of the meals. So imagine my surprise when I opened a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal and saw that the paper’s staff had made it their mission to “find the best of these unfree lunches.”
The paper’s test began by “procuring sample snack boxes from six carriers — Air Canada, American, ATA, Northwest, United and US Airways.” But, instead of dining above the clouds the reporter took each meal home to sample the fare there. The change in environment didn’t seem to heighten the dining experience because the paper says (as many of you frequent fliers may have already known) its “snapshot of airborne cuisine 2006 is dismal for the most part.”
Here’s what I found to be the most noteworthy findings of the study:
“Cheese food” is used liberally in many of the airlines meals. However, upon further testing there was “almost no real cheese” in any of the “cheese” items.
The paper also found the calorie and fat counts for some of these “pseudo-meals” to be “disturbingly high.”
But, the reviews were not all bad. “Journal” writers say that there were a “few things we might choose to eat when not trapped in a Boeing 737.” Among them: Air Canada’s muffins were deemed “delicious” and the paper also gives the “thumbs-up” to the airlines sandwiches.
But in the end, it was United Airlines that was found to offer the “buy-on-board lunch” among North American airlines (or at least the ones that were sampled). The positive review came after the paper’s staff members dined on United’s meal box, which contained “Bumble Bee tuna, organic crackers, Newman’s Own raisins, and mini-Toblerone.” Overall, the paper called United’s $5 buy-onboard lunch meal “a smart selection of brands we know and like.”
At the other end of the spectrum was ATA. The paper says the airline had the “worst snack box,” and gave it a definite “thumbs down.” “Journal” staff members categorized ATA’s $2.95 snack box as “skimpy and chaotic.”