Alaska Airlines offers the healthiest selection of food among the 10
primary mainline U.S. carriers, according to a study by the Hunter College NYC
Food Policy Center and DietDetective.com.
The 2019-20 Airline Food Study rated food offerings of the
10 U.S. airlines plus Air Canada on a five-point scale. Rating criteria
includes calorie counts, healthy nutrient counts, sodium levels and the
availability of meals on flights of more than three hours. The study also
weighs the airlines' level of transparency related to the ingredients of their
food offerings, efforts carriers are making to improve their offerings, cooperation
the carriers gave to the study's authors, and the quality of carriers’ onboard
water, as determined in a Hunter College/DietDetective study in September.
Alaska, with a ranking of 4.0 on a 5-point scale, was the lead U.S. carrier in
the ranking and tied with Air Canada for the overall lead. Alaska also led the
ranking in 2018. Alaska's meals had an average calorie count of 388, and lead
author Charles Platkin praised the airline for its commitment to healthy food,
mentioning options such as its Mediterranean Tapas snack box and its Fresh
Start Protein Platter breakfast.
Alaska was followed in the ranking by Delta and JetBlue.
Each were given a ranking of 2.9. United and American
(2.7 points) tied for fourth among the U.S. carriers, followed by Frontier
(2.0), and then Allegiant, Frontier and Hawaiian (1.9). Hawaiian scored the
lowest rating among carriers with full food offerings. The three ultralow-cost
carriers offer snack boxes and snacks, but not meals.
Coming in last was Southwest (1.7), which offers only
"If the airline really does have a heart (as it does on its
logo), it would care about the food that’s being served. Southwest needs to add
some healthy snacks," the authors wrote.
Hawaiian's low ranking was driven by high-calorie, high-sodium
meals. According to the study's authors, Hawaiian was also the only airline
that didn't provide complete nutritional information.