Healthiest (and Worst) Airlines

It’s that time of the year. Many of us travel over the holidays to see family. Some of us went home for Christmas, and more will be flying throughout the holidays. This is the season of family gatherings. For many, that means getting on planes.

Planes are notorious spots for picking up illnesses. People frequently blame airport colds on air quality in the flight. However, planes have significantly better air quality than you think. One problem can be an ill seat neighbor; if a person next to you is coughing, the cleanest air in the world won’t help much. Another problem is filthy tray tables and bathrooms. Additionally, the air is arid. Colds are more easily transmitted when humidity is very low.

Of course, an important part of health is diet, and a new report has ranked airlines on their food. While a couple of meals on planes certainly won’t derail your long-term health goals, we thought you would be interested in how different airlines compare.

The airlines were ranked by Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and DietDetective.com. Their scores were based on the nutrition and calories in both their and snacks. Additionally, they looked at if meals were available on short flights, nutritional labels, the food’s sodium levels and the quality of their water. The full report says which options are healthiest, along with their nutritional values, for 11 major airlines.

Air Canada, which flies all over the U.S., took the top spot. They have a health score of four out of five. They offer a variety of healthy salads and meals with vegetables.

Alaska Airlines tied with Air Canada, also receiving a score of four out of five. They list their food’s nutritional information very clearly. They have high protein and low-calorie choices. Southwest Airlines came in dead last, with a score of 1.7 out of five. Their only offerings are chips, pretzels and cookies.  

The water on all the planes fared poorly. The very best rated water came in with a 3.3 out of five. Most were significantly worse than that. While we all know you can’t bring fluids through security that are more than 3.4 ounces, you can bring an empty water bottle. If you fill it from a fountain at the airport, you are most likely drinking much cleaner water than what you are offered in the air. It’s essential to stay hydrated while flying but ask for bottled water or seltzer.

We always like to pack our meals and snacks for flights. That way, we can make healthy choices before leaving home. Frequently, we eat on planes not out of hunger but boredom. So, if we’re going to eat just for the pleasure so something to do, having baby carrots or a piece of fruit can give us a satisfying crunch without the fat and calories of other snacks. We aren’t against eating treats altogether; we just think it’s best to do so when you can focus on the snack and really enjoy it. Additionally, when food on planes cost money, we would much rather bring a brown bag than spend a lot of cash on subpar eats.
December 05, 2019
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