Delta, for example, announced that aside from small “snack bags” — which contain cookies, cheese crackers, bottled water, and a hand sanitizing wipe — they will not be selling additional food on any of their short- or medium-haul flights. Beverages will be individual bottled water only, with plastic cups, ice, and glassware also removed.
“In keeping with the Delta CareStandard, our goal is to serve all of our food and beverage offerings in the safest way possible – both for our customers and employees,” Allison Ausband, Delta’s Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service told Insider in an email. “Our changes are an effort to lessen physical touchpoints on board.”
To avoid any risk of infection while eating on a flight, we spoke to two travel and food bloggers to find out what meals and snacks you could bring on-board instead as a good replacement for in-flight meals.
Short-haul flights (under 900 miles)
For short-haul flights, you could easily buy food at the airport, but that can also get very expensive. A much easier and also cheaper option is to scavenge for snacks in your pantry at home before you head to the airport.
“I like to think of it as making a picnic or a charcuterie board of some kind,” Rachelle Lucas, who runs the popular food and travel blog The Travel Bite, told Insider. “You want stuff that you don’t have to refrigerate, that’s going to be shelf-stable, and then also something that gives you a bit of variety.”
Lucas recommends going for snacks like crackers, dried fruits, mixed nuts, and of course, some chocolate. Fresh fruits are also a good option, as long as you eat them before you arrive at your destination.
Rachelle Lucas recommends bringing a variety of different snack on-board, including chocolate, fresh fruits and crackers.
Rachelle Lucas/The Travel Bite
As for drinks, Lucas suggests bringing a water bottle on board. “Bring an empty water bottle and then fill it once you get through. Some people will bring flavor enhancers as well, I also usually bring my own tea.”
If you’re going to bring other liquids in, however, be mindful that they won’t be taken away at security. “The only thing you want to avoid is anything that could get stuck in security, so no liquid or gel,” said Lucas. “Unless you get a small tub of it. I know I’ve had a small tub of Nutella before, peanut butter is great, and I also sometimes bring almond butter in little squeeze packets.”
Medium-haul flights (up to 2,500 miles)
The charcuterie-board rule for short-haul flights also applies to medium-haul flights, except with a few more added snacks.
This could be whatever you want, said Lucas, whether that’s cereal bars, popcorn, or a bag of chips. “It’s great to have these snacks with you because you don’t have to wait for the food to come. As soon as you settle in with your movie or your book, you’ve got your snacks ready to go.”However, Lucas warns against bringing “anything with vinegar, anything with fish, or anything greasy” on-board. “Bringing a greasy burger with you is probably not a good idea,” she said.
Eating on long-haul flights will be a lot trickier. Airline companies have said they will still provide food, but most of it will be pre-packaged and — in business or first-class cabins — will come out on a single tray instead of in courses.
If you want to avoid airplane food, Lucas recommends making your own sandwich(es) along with all your other additional picnic snacks. Healthier alternatives could also be a tasty home-made salad or even a pre-made salad bought at the airport.
“I try to avoid anything heavy like pasta or cheese because I try to eat as light as I can during a flight,” said Lucas. “Another tip is instead of putting salt on things you can put lemon juice on it to enhance the flavor because your taste buds change at a certain altitude and you get bloated if you have too much salt… so lemon juice is usually better.”
If you’re concerned about touching food with your hands, Lucas advises eating your sandwich by holding the wrapper or bringing a spork along — just be careful with bringing other kinds of cutlery because you don’t want it taken away at security.
“For all the other snacks, you could bring a small toothpick to use instead,” said Lucas.
If you don’t want to bring food on-board, there are other ways to spice things up
If you don’t want to bring along your own food, you can always elevate what you’ve already been served, according to food and travel journalist, Kat Odell.
“Definitely bring your own hot sauce or other condiments that can elevate what’s served on a plane,” Odell told Insider. “I try to hack a meal: So, how can I deconstruct what I am served so that it’s healthier: I’ll scrape the sauce off ingredients so that veggies are plain and then add hot sauce, sea salt, or the lemon wedge from a beverage to season the ingredients.”
For beverages, Odell, says to come equipped with more than just water: “I always have Kettl teas in my travel bag and instant coffee from Verve in LA.” For water, Odell also recommends sticking to still water because carbonated water makes you feel bloated at high altitudes.