A Health Expert Ranks The Best and Worst Airline Food

There’s no denying airline food is bad. Your dehydrated, in-flight meal is usually reheated into oblivion, making it a shriveled up mess. Sure, some airlines offer decent food and booze, but that's more the exception than the rule. 

But if you’re a frequent flyer, you might be interested in Dr. Charles Platkin’s airline food rankings. Platkin, director of the Food Policy Center at Hunter College in New York, is the author of the annual Airline Food Survey. Citing the nutritional information of meals served to economy class passengers on domestic flights, Platkin ranks airline fare from worst to best on a five-point scale.

Platkin’s data was compiled into a nifty infographic by Sidney Sullivan, a social media producer at Alaskan NBC affiliate KTUU. Although the graphic does misspell the word "Health," it's still an enlightening visualization of the study's findings. Platkin’s survey also notes the average amount of calories per menu choice, with a data set stemming back from 2012.

The study’s criterion uses health and calorie information of individual foods, in addition to an airline’s willingness to provide useful information about the food it serves. "We are looking at the nutrients in these foods when they are provided, as well as innovations moving towards healthy, tasty, inexpensive, sustainable foods," Platkin writes.

 Coming as a shock to no one, budget airlines Spirit and Frontier serve the most paltry meals, both factoring in with a score of 1 and tying for ninth place. Virgin America, with its illuminated cabins and perpetually smiling CEO, Richard Branson, ranked first on the list with a score of 4.25.

If you’re feeling a little bit more pedantic about the food you eat on a plane, check out Platkin’s full synopsis here. Then feel free to bring a sandwich on the next plane you take.  

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster