Which airlines have the healthiest foods—and the safest drinking water? You can find out at DietDetective.com, a website founded by the executive director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center. It has been rating airline foods, from 0 (worst) to 5 (best), every year since 2009, as well as reporting on calories and other nutrition information, best bets (and what to avoid), meal and snack prices, level of transparency in providing nutrition information, and other musings about airline foods and eating at high altitude.
The latest report, released in December 2019, evaluated 11 domestic airlines. Alaska Airlines and Air Canada tied for first place (score of 4.0 out of 5.0), with Delta and JetBlue tying for second place (2.9), followed by United and American (2.7). The worst airline for healthy food was Southwest (1.7), followed closely by Hawaiian, Spirit, and Allegiant (all rating 1.9), and then Frontier (2.0).
In another report, Diet Detective evaluated the quality of water of 10 major and 13 regional airlines, finding that it varied widely across airlines and that many had a high or relatively high number of violations per aircraft, on average, of the EPA’s Aircraft Drinking Water Rule. Piedmont (regional airline), Alaska, Allegiant, and Hawaiian had the highest Water Health Scores, while all the other airlines had scores below 3.0 (on a scale of 1 to 5), indicating possibly unsafe water.
The bottom line advice for extra safety is to drink water only from sealed bottles onboard and not to drink the coffee or tea served.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see How to Avoid Getting Sick on a Plane.