The Best Domestic Airlines for Food
For years travelers have been waxing poetic about the Golden Age of travel, when airplanes were luxurious and flight attendants served real, plated meals. But if our readers’ reviews are any indication, we may be returning to a time when airlines care about the onboard experience.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, Travel + Leisure asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Airlines were rated for a number of qualities, including food. And the votes rolled in for airlines that still know how to treat customers right when it comes to food service.
Travelers flying with the best airlines for food in the country can look forward to more than really sad breakfast sandwiches and or a candy bar in place of dinner. Now, these top-rated carriers are tapping celeb chefs for restaurant-worthy menus, curating award-winning wine lists, and serving regional specialties that will transport you to your destination before you’ve even left the tarmac.
On Alaska Air, for example, you can experience the Pacific Northwest by enjoying a drink from a local distillery while on your flight (think: Alaskan Ice Bay IPA, Sun Liquor gin).
Hawaiian Airlines, similarly, “offers a travel experience that is filled with ‘aloha,’” said one pleased World’ Best voter. Another reader agreed. “After expecting the usual fare of a tiny bag of stale peanuts, we were ecstatic over the food service. It was delicious and served with a smile.”
Even if you’re not dining on china in First Class, a complimentary soda or snack can go a long way in distinguishing a greedy, budget airline from a reader favorite. “No extra nickel and diming…AND they somehow had it in their budget to give free sodas,” said one T+L reader about his or her experience with Southwest Airlines. “Why can’t other airlines do this?”
Read on to see the complete list of America’s best airlines for food. You may even work up an appetite.
No. 9 American Airlines
No. 8 United Airlines
No. 7 Southwest Airlines
No. 6 Delta Air Lines
No. 5 Sun Country Airlines
No. 4 Alaska Airlines
No. 3 JetBlue Airlines
No. 2 Hawaiian Airlines
No. 1 Virgin America
Readers applauded Virgin America for its unique approach to service: you can order your desired snacks and meals via the seat-back entertainment system. The San Francisco-based carrier was also celebrated for having the healthiest food onboard a domestic flight. “The food on this airline should be a model to other domestic airlines,” said one very satisfied T+L reader. Snacks are hyper local (San Fran’s own 479° Popcorn) and way more exciting than a bag of crushed pretzels.