Since when do a pack of peanuts and a Coke constitute lunch? Since airlines started skimping on food—that's when. These days, meals are rarely served on flights under four hours long, and when food does appear, portions are puny. To prevent a growling stomach on your next flight, grab a to-go meal from an airport restaurant. You may be happily surprised. Here, airline employees share their favorite airport chow.
Salt Lake City Airport
Expert—Marnee Kahle, Delta flight attendant
Restaurant—Wall Street Deli, Terminal 2, Concourse C
Must order—The Central Park sandwich: veggie bread piled high with turkey,
tomato, cucumber, and green pepper.
Los Angeles International Airport
Expert—Tom Albanese, Southwest pilot
Restaurant—El Paseo Café, Terminal 1
Must order—A No.3 breakfast burrito—a tortilla stuffed with potatoes, eggs, and bacon.
Expert—Marc Dolan, JetBlue flight attendant
Restaurant—Bay Bridge Deli, Terminal 1
Must order—Roast beef with mashed potatoes, green bean
salad, and a bread stick. “Comfort food,” Dolan says.
Expert—Scott Zirbel, Southwest flight attendant
Restaurant—Comida Buena, between A and B concourses
Must order—The turkey sandwich with guacamole and green
chiles. “Flight attendants run off the plane to get them,” Zirbel says.
Expert—Sid Graham, Alaska Airlines captain
Restaurant—Macheezmo Mouse, Concourse A
Must order—A healthy, tasty burrito. Spice it up at the self-service salsa bar.
San Francisco Airport
Expert—Laurie Sebestyen, United flight attendant
Restaurant—Il Fornaio, International Terminal
Must order—Coffee and a muffin. “They have good coffee as far as
American coffee goes,” Sebestyen says. “It tastes Italian.”
Tips for eating to-go meals in the air:
Avoid strong-smelling food; it can stink up the entire plane.
Pick up your own utensils. A lot of airlines won't have a fork for your spaghetti or a spoon for your soup.
When possible, choose foods wrapped in paper, foil, or plastic, all of which are easy to dispose of.
It's better to bring too many napkins than too few.
Always grab a lid for your drinks.
Photography by Terrence McCarthy
This article was first published in May 2002. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.