Times are tough on the tarmac. On most flights these days, things feel decidedly more Welcome to the Jungle than Come Fly with Me.
Seats have shrunk. Fees have grown. Flight attendants are more likely to publicly shame you for overloading the overhead compartment than volunteer to fix you a martini just the way you like it. It’s tempting to file air travel alongside Terrell Owens in “Things that were once shockingly better than present times would lead you to believe.”
But not all airlines have given up the ghost on board. Little things, like top-shelf local gins in the complimentary drinks cart, or handmade shortbread just because, remind us how fulfilling (and, well, filling) air travel can be.
On the world’s most nourishing airlines, you might not eat like a king, but you can make out like a bandit. Here’s our take of the top eight air carriers providing satisfying snacks on a plane.
8. British Airways
Like a Colin Firth film, the vibe on British Airways is always irrefutably English. All cabins nosh complimentary fruit and nut trail mix from UK grocer Waitrose while sipping Twinings tea. Club Kitchen cuisine, available in Business and First Class, serves handmade shortbread from an artisanal bakery in Devon, as well as pastries from Beckleberry’s, Cadbury chocolates and a selection of regionally inspired scoops from London’s The Ice Cream Union.
7. JetBlue Airways
Perennially popular domestic carrier JetBlue is serious about snacking. No matter the length of the flight, JetBlue attendants complement the drinks cart with a basket of always appealing snacks, like lightly salted cashews, animal crackers and rather on-the-nose Terra Blue chips, which might seem an overly twee option if they weren’t so incredibly tasty.
6. Singapore Airlines
The gold standard of snacking in the sky is on board Singapore Airlines. In addition to the sort of ludicrously well-stocked liquor cart that would do Burt Bacharach proud, SIN has an array of complimentary “Light Bites” available at any point between meals. Forget overpriced snack boxes with disorienting, toothpaste-shaped hummus packets; think Singaporean fish porridge, vegetarian noodle soups and earthy edam cheese atop cumin-spiced bread.
5. Air France
Believe in breakfast. Air France flies through nearly 6 million pastries each year in order to provide all cabins with a complimentary hot morning mini-meal, like flaky croissants or pain au chocolat. Sure, breakfast on board is not exactly an early morning stroll to Poilane. But spreading warm orange marmalade on a buttery French pastry beats weak coffee and an $8 pre-packaged muffin any day of the week.
4. Etihad Airways
Snack with a sense of purpose on Etihad. The airline recently spearheaded an organic farming initiative in its native United Arab Emirates, adopting 200 free-range hens and a colony of honey-producing bees to provide sustainable ingredients for Diamond First Class dining. Next up will be a line of signature pickles made from organic, locally grown paprika, chili, onion and dates.
3. Turkish Airlines
Complimentary Champagne and aperitifs in coach? Free soup service, ice cream and platters of hot and cold mezze for all cabins? What’s next – an unlikely endorsement deal with Kobe Bryant? On Turkish Airlines, expect the unexpected. And don’t deplane without trying the airline’s rich Turkish coffee, which may just be the best cup of joe you’ll drink at 30,000 feet.
2. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Want to befriend the cute Amsterdammer in seat 12C? Pledge your allegiance to Dutch gin. Called genever, the Dutch word for juniper, the spirit is a subject of national pride and passionately defended against more widely distributed British gins. On Holland’s KLM, the drinks cart in all cabins includes complimentary Bols genever, a malty distillation and dignified Dutch tradition since the 17th Century.
1. Hawaiian Airlines
From its hub in Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines serves over 20 domestic and international destinations. The breadth of service and multicultural makeup of Hawaii itself is reflected in complimentary onboard snacks like dried mango strips, macadamia nut clusters, pork wushi and savory pandesal, a handheld salted bread snack that is the Philippines’ answer to ham-and-cheese-on-rye.
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