5 Rules of Airplane Snacks, According to a Flight Attendant

updated Dec 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

It’s true that you can actually get a good meal, maybe even a great one, with wine pairings to boot, on an airplane — that is, if you’re flying first class. For main cabin passengers, it’s another story altogether. Airlines have whittled down their complimentary onboard options to a selection of itty-bitty packets of peanuts and pretzels — and that’s if you’re lucky. And while we will admit to having a weakness for those Delta Biscoff cookies, the spicy speculoos-like treats aren’t enough to sustain us on a flight longer than a couple hours.

So, while we have a few tried-and-true go-tos, we’re always on the lookout for new ideas. And who better to turn to for advice than someone who spends the better part of her days at 35,000 feet?

Meet Carol Rayes, a San Diego-based flight attendant for Delta Air Lines with 39 years of experience in business. We asked her for her tips on what to pack — and just as importantly, what not to — when you’re traveling the friendly, albeit no-frills, skies.

(Image credit: Delta Air Lines)

1. Pack some protein.

Protein-packed snacks will keep you full and help carry you over until you reach your destination and can have a real meal. String cheese, Greek yogurt, and salted almonds are a few of Carol’s favorites.

2. Avoid foods that leave waste behind.

She’s talking pits, not packaging. In other words, skips foods like olives and cherries (or even oranges and apples, which have peels and cores to contend with) in favor of quick and clean foods like grapes, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, and carrots.

3. Just dip it.

You can jazz up those cherry tomatoes and carrots with small containers of your favorite dips, like Ranch dressing, guacamole, and hummus. Individual packets of nut butters are another great option (and they’re high in protein, too).

4. Avoid strong-smelling foods.

This is really a courtesy to your fellow passengers more than anything else. Think twice before packing gorgonzola or other stinky cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna fish, and anything that’s heavy on garlic.

5. Wrap it up.

If you can’t make it through the flight without a real meal, Carol says a sandwich wrap is the easiest to transport and to eat on the plane. Her standby is a whole-wheat tortilla with turkey, hummus, and arugula.

What’s your best airplane snack advice?