The quality of airline food has always been hit or miss.  I find it annoying to bring my own food if I’m flying coach, and now that airlines are selling food, many of them have had to step up their game.  Here is how the airlines have stacked up in recent passenger polls.

Domestic Airlines:

Not one U.S. airline placed in the top three in ANY category in the AirTrax survey of 18.8 million air travelers.  That being said, the two U.S. airlines that scored the highest in Travel and Leisure’s World’s Best Awards were Virgin America and United.

United Airlines offers tasty tapas, turkey sandwiches, chicken Caesar salads and fruit trays if you like healthy choices. They offer more options depending on the length of your flight.

Jet Blue gets high marks for their free Terra Blue Chips and their boxed meals.  I am partial to the animal crackers.  For purchase, the healthiest choice is the Shape Up. The roast beef sandwich is very popular.

American Airlines has a good Cheese and Cracker Snack Tray, and the Premium Nut Blend is also good.  On longer flights they offer a good Boston Market chicken Caesar salad with chips. The Boston Market deli chicken pesto and Boston Market turkey carver are also good.

The Delta Airlines freebie, Biscoff cookies, are my favorites!  Ask for extra.  They are delicious and now they are available in supermarkets.  For snack boxes, the fruit and cheese plate is yummy.  The Breakfast Snack is a healthy yogurt and banana.

Virgin America gives you PopChips which I love.  For meals, my favorites are the chicken sandwich, and the Hummus and Vegetables.  Other offerings are a spinach and strawberry salad and an artisan cheese selection. You can order on-demand dining from the touch screens in the seat backs.  San Francisco’s Humphrey Slocombe ice cream is very popular.

Hawaiian Airlines gets rave reviews for still serving complimentary meals on domestic flights in coach!  The snacks include macadamia nuts, and sweet potato and taro chips.

International Airlines:

Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, has a ‘flying chef’ program that recruits from Michelin starred restaurants.  They won the Best Food for First Class Award from AirTrax, an organization that tracks airline satisfaction.  Etihad’s goal is ambitious – to make you feel that you’ve eaten at a 5 star Michelin restaurant in first class. The review we read was for the food in coach and it was rated ‘tasty’ and there was a good selection.

Cathay Pacific has real honest to goodness kitchens aboard their flights with skillets, toasters, steam ovens and rice cookers!  Economy passengers get real metal cutlery and Häagen Dazs.  Economy passengers may also have unlimited Cup Noodles throughout the flight.

Singapore Airlines has a two-time James Beard winner and a three star Michelin restaurant owner in charge of their onboard food.  The food varies according to the destination (i.e. Japanese tea service for flights going to Tokyo) and is rated very highly.

Emirates serves seven course meals to first class passengers. Economy passengers receive gourmet offerings such as smoked tuna, lamb brochettes, sticky date pudding and cheese and biscuits.

Air France has a well-known chef choosing the onboard menus and they rotate chefs every eight months.  The menus in both First and Economy classes change every ten days to keep it interesting for their Frequent Flyers.

Turkish Airlines is rated very highly and won the AirTrax Passengers Choice Award this year for Best Food All-Around.  It placed in the top three airlines in business, premium economy and economy classes.  They offer delicious local fare and have a good selection.

Austrian Airlines won the Passenger Award for best business class food in the AirTrax survey.  The food comes from a catering company that provides food for many upscale restaurants throughout Europe. They focus on good wine pairings, and offer eleven varieties of coffee to choose from.

Premium Economy’s Best Food Award went to Air New Zealand.  They offer mainly seafood, paired with native wines.  They also have tasty kid-friendly menus.

AirTrax’s Best Food for Economy Class went to Thai Airways. Alcoholic drinks are complimentary, and their Thai offerings are very tasty.

This website, www.airlinemeals.net, is devoted to photos of airline meals posted by travelers. You can even browse by airline.

Rather bring your own? Here’s a video of travel snacks that are airline approved.