BUSINESS

Airline food getting healthier on most carriers, study says

Delta Air Lines jumps from 8th to first in food ranking

When you are traveling 550 mph at 35,000 feet in the air, your food choices are pretty limited.

The good news is that the overall trend in airline food is improving, with one of the world’s largest carriers making huge strides toward healthier food over the last year.

That was the assessment from Charles Platkin, a public health expert at City University of New York School of Public Health who has been analyzing airline food for nearly 15 years. He released an annual ranking last week of airline food.

“You are starting to see a major push forward,” he said.

He found the biggest improvement at Delta Air Lines, which jumped from 8th out of 12 airlines in 2013 to second place this year, behind Virgin America.

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FOR THE RECORD

Dec. 1, 2:45 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that Delta Air Lines was tied with Virgin America in first place in an annual airline food ranking. Delta ranked second, tied with JetBlue.

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Delta introduced items from packaged food maker Luvo, including fruit and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and vegetables and hummus wraps for lunch and dinner.

“When an airline like Delta makes a move like this, it’s a really big move that is going to start a trend,” he said.

Low-cost airlines like Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit ranked at the bottom, with food choices so limited and unhealthy that Plotkin advised fliers on all three carriers to bring their own food.

Platkin blasted Hawaiian Airlines for refusing to provide any nutritional information, forcing him to hire nutritionists to estimate the calorie count for the airline’s meals and snacks.

The nutritionists projected that the average meal on Hawaiian is loaded with 1,056 calories, more than twice the 481 calories in an average meal on Virgin America.

Hawaiian said it offers "a locally made selection of items for purchase that are popular for island visitors."

In a statement, the airline added: "Those with specific tastes or dietary needs are welcome to bring their own meals onboard."

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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