With all the cuts and slashes in service in the airline industry, it’s no surprise getting a bite to eat in-flight is as rare as getting an entire row to yourself. Meals have been cut for flights under three hours, and on the magical three-to-six-hour flights, there’s no particular standard. Over on Virgin America, it’ll cost you upwards of $9 for a (decent) fruit and cheese plate, while on JetBlue, they bombard you with free chips, cookies, and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (I always want hot chocolate to appear on the menu, but it hasn’t happened yet). Beyond those two airlines (and Continental) though, it’s not likely you’ll run into anything worth sticking your fork into on a domestic flight.
According to Seat Guru’s latest survey, a full 40 percent of passengers agree that a full meal is the amenity they value the most — my guess is because the options for bringing your own snacks are limited by the TSA’s draconian liquid regulations, and the airport options are usually pricey and gross. Anyway, so people want to eat on the plane, and surprise, surprise, they’re disappointed by what they get. The big three airlines came in dead last in terms of food quality. American Airlines, US Airways, and United Airlines all failed the food benchmarks set by Continental, Singapore, and British Airways, who lead the charge in terms of best food in the air. The bottom three, however, aren’t listening to the critics. In fact, they’re saying that this survey is hogwash. “The survey’s results don’t line up with the feedback that we’re getting from our own customers as we rank in-flight service and meal service,” says Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman for United Airlines. Well then! Carry on, United, carry on.