Food Choices at 30,000 Feet

Articles
November 04, 2010

Food Choices at 30,000 Feet

Airlines began offering food for sale on flights in 2003, when US Airways announced its “commitment” to offer the service to passengers on all domestic flights longer than two hours.

Airlines began offering food for sale on flights in 2003, when US Airways announced its “commitment” to offer the service to passengers on all domestic flights longer than two hours. The change to a food-for-fee platform was hyped as a replacement of the awful, fat-laden cuisine for which they became known with gourmet sandwiches and healthier options. Little did we then realize it signaled the end of free food and merely made the fat-laden sugary foods now “pay-for-bite.” CPG snack boxes are what’s available on-board these days. Airtran partnered with Kraft Foodservice for its snack-pack items, as well as new beverage selections such as glaceau smartwater(R) and FUZE(R) Slenderize Strawberry Melon.

United Airlines offers a fresh food menu that includes a 100% Fruit and Berry Smoothie for breakfast and a Spinach Salad for lunch or dinner. Continental Airlines just began serving a new menu last month which it says features “a variety of high-quality, healthy food choices.” Those choices include Asian-style noodle salad, grilled chicken spinach salad, Angus cheeseburger, and Jimmy Dean sausage, egg and cheese sandwich.” Most of these ‘fresh’ options are available on flights longer than 2.5 hours; some are sold, and some are still part of the first class experience.

The trend has evolved – as some airlines are going a step further – and moving into the realm of humane and sustainable. San Francisco, Calif.-based Virgin America announced last month it switched to exclusively using cage-free eggs (only around five percent of total U.S. egg production is currently cage-free). American Airlines began serving Java City™ coffee, which is 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified, this week assuring passengers that the coffee they are drinking was grown on sustainably managed farms with the Rainforest Alliance’s green frog seal on their coffee cups. A scouring of other major airline websites didn’t turn up too much in the sustainable area where snack boxes are concerned. Although, some airlines offered “feel good” purchase options that include a charitable donation. United, for example, has its ‘Eat for Good” snack box which donates one dollar to Feeding America. It contains Bumble Bee Lemon & pepper Tuna Medley, Assorted Pepperidge Farms Crackers, Musselman’s Apple Sauce, and Old Colony Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

There is a great opportunity here for CPG companies and airlines to partner and offer truly healthier and sustainable choices on board.