America’s Healthiest and Unhealthiest Airline Meals

Ranking airlines' nutrition, from Virgin America’s edamame and portobello mushroom wrap to Southwest’s Wheat Thins

Let's face it: Airplanes are traumatic environments — the turbulence, the terrorists, the 2-year-olds — and we travelers are left to eat our way to comfort. (When else in life would you voluntarily eat sugar-dusted pretzels washed down with two cans of bloody mary mix?) And though we passengers tend to enjoy eating at regular intervals, airline meals often come at too high a caloric price. To add insult to injury, many airline meals, particularly the ones we'd never choose ourselves were we on the ground, are no longer included in the price of a ticket.

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Not until recently did airlines begin to consider the health and dietary risks of their complimentary snacks and in-flight meals. A decade ago, the average coach dinner contained 1,054 calories! But even now, many companies fail to make nutrition one of their primary concerns.

Luckily, there are people like Dr. Charles Stuart Platkin, better known as the Diet Detective, who, each year, surveys most of the major air carriers, requesting the nutrition facts of all the food they serve on their economy-class domestic flights. He rates these airlines from zero stars to five — five being the healthiest — and offers some interesting tips regarding nutritious sky eating. Platkin is the first to say that many of the airlines, as well as their typically overseas-based catering companies, have come a long way toward providing healthier options for passengers. Still, as evidenced from the recent lawsuit filed against American Airlines and Sky Chefs for allegedly serving a Miami passenger a chicken dinner contaminated with deadly bacteria, they’ve got miles to go.