Cheap seat cuisine has long been the subject of airline jokes and complaints, and for good reason. It pays to be informed as quality and availability of airline food varies widely from airline to airline and flight to flight. As a rule, always check with the airlines before your flight to see what’s available. If you must have special food or you're on a restricted diet, consider carrying food onboard.
Don't expect anything, even if you're flying First Class
In-flight food service has suffered in recent years due to intense cost-cutting, with food and beverage among the first items to be slashed. In some cases, food is available during the flight, but only for an additional fee.
Check the airline and flight
Some domestic airlines provide no food service (snacks or a meal) on some or all of their flights, while others offer limited and no-frills options. In an attempt to differentiate themselves, some full-service carriers, like British Airways, actually showcase their in-flight food service by enlisting famous chefs to create special menus. Be sure to check our airline profiles to see what popular airlines offer on board.
Order a special meal
If you have certain dietary requirements, you can request a special meal for select flights when you book. For example, passengers who need vegetarian, low-fat or kosher meals should request them. However, airlines do not always guarantee availability and often require that you request special meals a day or more in advance of a flight. If you have made a special meals request, it should be indicated on your boarding pass. To play it safe, call the airlines 24 to 48 hours in advance of your flight to reconfirm your request.
Brown bag it
Maybe you have little kids who are finicky eaters. Or maybe you need to take medication on a full stomach. Or maybe you just want to know what you'll be eating. To ensure you get a good meal on the plane, or if you don't like the sound of what you'll get, pack your own. Given the food options at many airports, you can easily pick up something before boarding if you don't have time to bring something from home. Something to consider if you're flying internationally: there may be limitations on what food you can bring into a new country. In some cases, you may not be allowed to take certain foods onboard. Check individual airlines’ websites in advance to play it safe.