Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Not Really One Word Wednesday: Airplane

Well, Justin and I have been traveling quite a bit lately- practically every other week this month! This week, I was lucky enough to use an upgrade into first class on United. This was my lunch:

• warm nut mix of almonds, cashews, pecans, and walnuts

• a grilled chicken salad with edamame and yellow and red bell peppers over a bed of romaine lettuce with sesame dressing and a warm whole wheat roll.

• and for dessert, a warm chocolate chip cookie. It was actually all quite good.

I have a chocolate chip cookie theory that if they served the warm cookie and glass of milk to everyone on the plane, not just first class, customer service ratings would greatly improve!

I’ve also been eating the “for purchase” spinach salad with gorgonzola, walnuts and dried cranberries when I sit in economy (which is 95% of the time). It is a much fresher offering over the snack box choices and I have been very pleased with these new options. I find the United fruit, nut and cheese plate to be a pleasing and hearty snack.

So, we'd like to know:

What do you eat on the airplane?

Do you pack your own food?

Do you buy something ahead of time or one the plane?

Any recommendations for food at key airports like SFO, ORD (Chicago), DEN, or others?

I’ll share my answers if you share yours!


Frankie B said...

I generally avoid airport food when I can. Likewise airplane food. On international flights and particularly long cross-country flights (e.g. BOS to SFO) it's unavoidable, however.

There's a Mexican restaurant in the mezzanine at DEN that's decent, as I recall (but I can't remember the name). If I can find a Chili's at an airport (MSP, IAD) I can usually deal with that pretty well - I like their burgers. There's a Legal Sea Foods at BOS, but most often I'll have eaten in the North End before getting on the plane, or else it's first thing in the morning, so I'm well satisfied.

Some fair number of times, when traveling from home, I'll bring food with me (sandwich, munchies). Mostly, though, I'd rather look forward to the food at my destination (whether it's going out somewhere decent away from home, or eating at home when I return).

Lauren said...

I wish I could say I avoid airport food but I don't. Partly because I don't plan ahead enough, partly because I am traveling so often, partly because I am not prioritizing that over other things. That said here are my go-to-s in the Bay Area Airports:

In SFO, I like the hot breakfast sandwich at Boudin- egg, cheese and bacon or sausage on an English muffin. For lunch or dinner, I like the wonton soup at the Chinese restaurant in the food area in terminal 3. At the end of the terminal by gate 90, Peet’s is good for local coffee and pastries.

In Oakland, stop by Fenton’s, local ice creamery since 1894, recently featured in the movie UP in the final scene, for a cone of ice cream.

At San Jose, skip the food court and keep walking to Noah’s Bagels in terminal C to have the bagel dog or egg mit bagel (egg, cheese, bagel sandwich).

Any other recommendations for the Bay Area airports?

Claire Koenig said...

Most of my trips are Southwest hops from Northern to Southern California, so my in-flight food is peanuts or pretzels. There's a new venture called Vino Volo, designed to be a pleasant stop for a nice glass of wine and a snack. It was started by someone who left his corporate job to do something he wanted to see on his travels. There's one in OAK, in Terminal 2, before you head out to all the "new" gates. They've got about 10 locations throughout the US so far. I glanced at it last weekend as I left for and returned from San Diego. Maybe next time... Meanwhile you can check it out at

Lauren said...

Claire, that sounds lovely. I will look for those! Here's the rest of my recos:

In MSP, both the French Meadow Bakery and Ike’s are local favorite restaurants that have set up shop in the airport. Two thumbs up for anything at either of those. I’ve never had it, but the bloody Mary at Ike’s is a marvel for the number of things in the garnish- could arguably be a meal.

In DEN, the BBQ chicken pizza at Wolfgang Puck in the upper level, central food area is worth the walk. I’ve also had the hot rotisserie chicken and steaming mashed potatoes for a bit of comfort food. The salads tend to be overdressed for ask for them to go light on the dressing. The mac and cheese is a carb bomb- but sometimes it’s worth the splurge. A side of that is more than enough with a salad.

At ORD, help?!? I’ve been to the Wolfgang but the seating is always packed and for some reason it isn’t as good as Denver. I’d love some suggestions as I am traveling here more and more.

Marc said...

I think you're absolutely right about the warm cookie and milk as a way of making fliers happier at a low cost to the airline. In my opinion, airlines have done a terrible job in understanding consumer's psychology and the best way to get more money from them. Continually asking for money -- $5 here, $15 there, and so on is bound to make people unhappy as it is one more reminder of the pain of payment. An across the board increase in ticket prices would have probably had less blow-back than the bag fee, while earning the same revenue if designed right.

On food: I usually fly Southwest in the U.S., so packing food is a necessity. I usually bring a sandwich, or some fruit and nuts. But even if I flew another airline, I'd bring my own because the vegetarian options are usually awful (that hideous fat free salad dressing, the "healthy" dessert option instead of a reasonably good cookie).

On airport eating: the Flying Pegasus stand at Chicago's Midway airport (a transfer point for Southwest after/before the OAK-MDW non-stop) has some decent Greek food, like a flaky spinach or mushroom and cheese pie. A little messy, but better than average as airport food go. At SFO's international terminal, outside of the security area, the pastries from the Italian stand are good (the chain that has a cafe at Union Square).

Possibly the most impressive food scene I have experienced was in Seoul's Incheon airport (whichever terminal Singapore Air flies from). The basement has a few different multi-ethnic restaurants. My travel companions an I ate at a place with Chinese, Korean and Japanese options. The meals were surprisingly large, reasonably priced and tasty. Singapore's airport also has some impressive food options, mostly because they are simple and reasonably priced, like the kaya toast (toast with a slab of butter and a coconut jam) or spicy noodle soup (laksa) from a place called something like Kilkarny Coffee Shop.

Lauren said...

Great comments, Marc. I've never been to the Seoul or Singapore airport but they sound very interesting.

I also wanted to share this link to a recent article in the NYTimes that a friend sent about the power of the warm chocolate chip cookie. Apparently, DoubleTree Hotels and Midway Airlines are already onto this theory: