It seems that my local airline had really cut down on feeding passengers lately. Last time they only had food for sale (despite flight booking mentioning a meal). And what little they had sold out immediately thanks to extra 3h sitting in the plane, waiting for de–icing.

I have round trip flight booked with them soon and now it's even clearly "no meal served" on the booking, despite flights being noticeable 3.5h in length.

So I am pondering what are the optimal options here. I guess the limitations are:

  1. Security friendly (nothing remotely liquid).
  2. Off the shelf (no kitchen before heading back).
  3. Convenient to consume.

My thoughts keep circling chocolate bars... Doesn't seem particularly appealing as main mid–day meal.

  • 5
    I've seen people bringing in food from Wendy's and such and eating it. If you are taking something on a plane, I suggest you keep it to something that does not smell weird.
    – edocetirwi
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 19:52
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    I am addicted to dried mangoes, they are light but makes you feel so full after eating them. Very easy to put anywhere... Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:13
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    @pnuts they will never be a problem at any security points in any airport, they are dried and factory sealed, the bags are re-sealable (the good brands) and they are rich. An apple will never make me feel full the way dried mangoes does. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:25
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    @pnuts never been there, but I almost had dried mangoes (factory sealed) in my bag for all my travels, I was never asked to remove them. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:29
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    What about a picnic designed for eating on a plane? That particular one is sadly only available from LHR T5, but I've seen similar things from restaurants and shops in other airports too
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 23:08

5 Answers 5


Pack the Right Food

Personally I never leave my house without an apple or two. This is especially true if I am about to begin a journey of any kind, be it by car, train or plane. So I would say any fruit you can pack without risking transforming it into mush, and that doesn't require tools to peel or eat, is a good candidate: apples, pears, oranges, (bananas if you are careful), etc.

If you need more calorific intake, then you can consider cereal bars or energy bars. These comes in various shapes sizes and flavours, and should help boosting your energy levels.

Finally, an all time favourite of travellers, packed peanuts, or other peeled nuts in general, are a good source of energy and good fats. You can either buy them in small (couple tens of grams) packs. An alternative is "borrowing" them as you visit airline lounges, bars, etc.

A Few Side Considerations

On a different note consider that carry-on luggage weight restriction might impact on your ability to pack food for the journey. Not so long ago I had to remove three apples from my backpack, and put them in my coat pockets, because of a 12kg weight limit for carry-on.

Moreover, keep in mind the some food items you plan on bringing might be subject to import regulations, if not banned. This is often the case for fruit, meat and dairy so think in advance. Worst-case scenario you just stuff your face right before landing, and you should be fine. :)

  • 3
    @pnuts You mean your allergies or those your fellow travellers potentially might have? Do you know if airlines are actually thinking of banning peanuts on flights for this reason? I thought the world had had enough already with school bans.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:06
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    For fresh fruits, pay attention to any laws about importing them to where you fly. A friend of mine had to peel their oranges before being allowed to bring them into the United States at a time. Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 21:14
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    @jonathanreez Some people are so allergic (including going into anaphylactic shock) to nuts, especially peanuts, that just sitting next to a person who eats them is enough to trigger an attack. (I happen to know 2 persons who have this.) Others think they are that allergic and will go into histrionics when peanuts come anywhere in their field of vision. I have seen that happen too. Caused a 90 minute delay on a plane when during boarding the pantry was restocked and this guy saw the peanuts and went amok. Security had to take him of the plane.
    – Tonny
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 14:31
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    southwest still serves peanuts to every passenger. i have no problem bringing them on any plane—if someone is that allergic to peanut dust, they probably shouldn't be flying, or should have made special arrangements. it's none of my concern. peanuts are an extremely common food.
    – user428517
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 16:39
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    @sgroves People with a really bad allergy will usually make special arrangements with the airline. Often they can have reserved seats, away from the pantry and the flight-crew is told to stay clear of those passengers when serving out the peanuts. Keeping 1 meter of clearance is usually enough and setting the overhead airducts to blow air away from the passenger. (In case someone eating peanuts 2 rows away sneezes in the direction of the allergic person.) Peanut allergy is particularly bad, because most people have no idea what harm they can do to someone who has a really serious case.
    – Tonny
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 21:41

Gorp aka Trail mix is a good high-energy food. You can buy it ready-made, but it's quite cheap to make to your preference using ingredients from a bulk food store.

I also second or third the recommendation of dried mangos- a large resealable bag of Philippine brand dried mangos is a lot of food and doesn't weigh much- Costo has them for about CAD14- for almost 2lbs of concentrated deliciousness.

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I've tried dried apricots, but they have side effects that my fellow travelers may find undesirable. Jerky is good too, but it should be consumed in flight since meat products are usually banned from that kind of entry. Fresh fruit such as bananas are nice, but again could pose an issue.

The bulk food store should also have things like wine gums, unwrapped candy bars, chunks of bittersweet chocolate etc.

If you brought them on board, you could probably get hot water for a cup of noodles, but I've never tried that. I imagine they would balk at a bowl.

Everything tends to get more expensive once you get to the airport, so planning ahead is a good idea if money is an object. If it isn't, there are often places beyond security that will prepare a lovingly crafted take-on meal for you- I think the Wolfgang Puck restaurants do that.

  • I didn't know the dried mangoes were sold in North America... I shall have to start looking harder for them in the U.S. I made sure to bring some back with me last time I went to the Philippines. - haha
    – reirab
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 20:20
  • @reirab Costco has them. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 20:29
  • @Azor-Ahai Unfortunately, there aren't any Costcos in the part of the U.S. where I live. However, thankfully, I have found the dried mangoes at other stores since I posted that comment. I ate some on the way out the door to work this morning, actually. - haha
    – reirab
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 15:10
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    @reirab i am sorry for your loss Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 17:37

The list is long!

  • trail mix
  • granola bars
  • biscuits
  • cheese
  • avocados
  • sandwiches
  • chocolate
  • cereal bars
  • energy bars
  • cookies
  • crackers
  • dried fruit

ok but eat before you land (international):

  • fruit
  • vegetables
  • 2
    note that if your sandwich contains meat, you may need to eat it before you land as well.
    – Jonas
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 12:00
  • cheese is another one to be careful of, depending on what kind of cheese it is - you may want to make sure its fully consumed before landing; and if its cream cheese you may be departing with it at security. Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 16:59

I would recommend having a small cheese selection, preferably sliced in packages, a nice sliced salami and bread. Adding some greens on top would make it more appealing, lettuce and avocado would be the safest and easiest in that case, though lettuce needs some preparation in advance, all the rest can be just bought at a supermarket before your flight. Don't worry about plastic knife and fork, they wouldn't mind giving you one for free even if you don't buy anything. I've tried this combination on a flight before and had a pleasure. Our flight had free tea/coffee service, although no food, and that added on the joy. Not to mention you definitely won't feel hungry after all these, they're completely safe in your backpack (no spilling risk) and they don't take up much space.

  • I got told off at security in the UK for bringing a container of soft cheese/cream cheese. Apparently security considered it a liquid of some sort. Not sure if that is universal or not.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 10:15
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    I've flown around the Nordic Countries and Germany, also once from Croatia, with cheese and avocado, never had a problem. It might depend on the country or maybe even the officer checking you, I never thought it's risky, but thanks for the information.
    – downhand
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 11:02
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    The TSA classifies "Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)" as a 3-1-1 item.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 11:24
  • @StrongBad Are those a problem if "hidden" between slices of bread? Or only in a container by themselves? Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 13:34
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    @AlexanderKosubek according to this blog "Anyways, the wonderful folk at TSA said she could take the bagels on board and the lox, but the cream cheese was out! But being proud civil servants – an oxymoron if ever there was one — they agreed that it would be okay, and she could bring it on board, if the cream cheese was spread on the bagels. Please write this down for future reference." So bread might also work, but with the TSA you never know, the extra density of the bagel might be key.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 11, 2015 at 13:40

I'd stick to things like dried fruits, granola bars, cheese and crackers even. A sandwich should hold up pretty well too. Fruits and veggies like apple, bananas, carrot sticks, etc. are great options as well.

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