Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

September 26, 2021
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Hunger pangs in the air

Tight connection and now you're starving?
Too bad.

Canadian and US in-flight food service in economy has either disappeared entirely or morphed into the occasional sandwiches or "snack boxes" that can be purchased on some longer flights. Otherwise it's a beverage and peanuts or pretzels and maybe not even those.

As a rule of thumb you can expect nothing to eat on flights of less than three hours. Longer than that and many airlines, but not all of them, will sell you something to eat for $5 or $6. Best either brown bag it or plan to grab something between connections if you have time. Here's a sampling of what you can expect. For the full skinny check the individual airlines' websites and look for "in-flight service" or words to that effect.

Air Canada: Newish On Board Café service offers everything from candy bars to Subway sandwiches costing anything from $1 to $5 on flights over one-and-a-half hours. The longer the flight, the greater the selection.

American: Bagels, wraps and sandwiches for purchase on flights over three hours at US$5 apiece. Remember, connection times don't count so if you're flying on two separate legs of two-and-a-half hours apiece, no goodies at any price.

Continental: Nothing for love or money except on flights of over three-and-a-half hours between 11:30am and 2:30pm -- in which case you might be lunch. Breakfasts and dinners are never served.

Delta: Basically nothing except your choice of chips, cookies or crackers from the flight attendant's basket.

United: Choice of four snack boxes on flights between three and five hours. They contain a variety of small packets of food from salami to cheese to chips and nuts, apple sauce and crackers and jam. Quite good value especially if you've been travelling without a morsel since before breakfast. At US$5 they represent a reasonable value.

WestJet: Look for snacks of chips, crackers, nuts and, oddly, Campbell's noodles, for $2 each on flights of over two-and-a-half hours. For $6 you can also buy a sandwich on such jaunts.


This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.