The Best and Worst Airlines for Healthy Food

One expert counted all the calories to determine the healthiest airlines for eating. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Have you ever wondered which airlines serve healthier food than others? One nutrition expert ranks them every year, and of 12 North American airlines tested, Virgin America’s economy-class food was determined to be the healthiest.

As for the least healthy? That would be Frontier Airlines.

Dr. Charles Platkin, PhD, who blogs on Diet Detective, asks for nutrition information from each airline to help him compile his rankings – not all of them cooperate. But he publishes calorie information for all the airlines with a 1 to 5 rating for each one.

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Virgin Airlines, which gets 4.5 stars, “is still the clear leader when it comes to healthier foods, but they could still do much better on the individual snacks,” Platkin wrote on his blog. “In fact, all the airlines could do better with their snack choices – there is no clear leader.”

In second and third place were JetBlue and Delta, each with four stars. Platkin has some choice words for Hawaiian Airlines, saying it was “ridiculous” that the airline told him it would cost $17,000 to send him nutritional information on its food. He said the average calorie count for Hawaiian’s food is 588, including 1,266 calories for one meal from Hawaii to New York – that’s more than two Big Macs combined.

In contrast, the average calorie count for Virgin’s food is 352.

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Hawaiian tied with Spirit Airlines as next-to-last on the list with a 1.25 star rating. Frontier got a lowly 1 star, and as with Hawaiian, Platkin doesn’t suggest eating any items on the planes. He says you’re better off bringing your own food.

Platkin’s “Shame on You” awards went to Frontier, Hawaiian, and Alaska Airlines for not providing nutritional information.

To see Platkin’s food breakdown for each airline, see his full article. Below are the full rankings:

Virgin America: 4.5 stars
JetBlue: 4 stars
Delta: 4 stars
Air Canada: 3.25 stars
United Airlines: 3.25 stars
American: 2.75 stars
Alaska Air: 2.5 stars
Southwest Airlines: 1.5 stars
Allegiant Air: 1.5 stars
Spirit Airlines: 1.25 stars
Hawaiian: 1.25 stars
Frontier Air: 1 star

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