This Airline Serves the Unhealthiest Food of Any U.S. Airline

Flying to or from Hawaii anytime soon? You should probably avoid this airline.

Airplane-lunchPavel Skopets/ShutterstockIf you’re planning on taking a long trip to or from Hawaii, you might want to think twice before booking a flight with this airline. According to a study published by Dr. Charles Platkin, director of the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center and founder of DietDetective.com, Hawaiian Airlines serves the unhealthiest food of any U.S. airline.

The study’s findings reveal that the average snack box contains 342 calories, the average individual snack contains 460 calories, and the average meal contains a whopping 971 calories. When averaged together, that’s a mean of 568 calories. Hawaiian Airlines didn’t provide any food information, so all of the nutritional information are estimates by Diet Detective nutritionists. (How many calories should you be eating every day? This equation will tell you the exact amount.)

Even though you should really avoid eating at high altitudes, sometimes hunger can become unbearable. So, if you must eat while you’re aboard, the study suggests to snack on the Hummus & Pita Chips. “It’s really the best choice, and better than any of the individual snacks, which are very high in calories,” says the study. If you decide to skip the snacks and take advantage of the complimentary meals, the study suggests the Penne Pasta Bolognese Sauce and green salad.

“In the end, it would be best to eat before you board the plane; otherwise you might wind up feeling lethargic and cranky after one of these calorie-heavy meals,” the study says. The study also lists an estimated calorie count for every item on the Hawaiian Airlines’ individual snack menu, which range in calorie count from the Trail’s Best beef and cheese sticks at 100 calories to Island Princess Mele Macs at 1,120 calories. (Find out the 13 things airlines won’t tell you—but you should definitely know.)

“There are a few airlines that realize serving clean, tasty, healthy food is what consumers want and need. However, most are still not getting the message that serving healthy food and providing transparency (e.g. nutrient information and ingredients) is important,” Dr. Platkin told Reader’s Digest. “Airlines should take note…there is a plethora of research that food directly impacts mood. Feeling bad after a salt and fat/sugar-heavy meal, even if it’s tasty, could make passengers unhappy about their entire travel experience. So, for the airlines, improving the health quality of the food could potentially increase customer experience and brand loyalty.”

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Brittany Gibson
Brittany Gibson is a regular contributor to RD.com’s culture, food, health, and travel sections. She was previously an editorial intern for RD.com and Westchester Magazine. Her articles have appeared on Buzzfeed, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo, and MSN, among other sites. She earned a BA in English from the University of Connecticut