There’s not all that much to look forward to when flying domestic economy. The seats all have limited space, limited recline, and all offer pretty much the same experience. Yet there are a few ways carriers differentiate themselves, including their snack options.
Now, I would never book a flight solely for the snack offered, as there are way too many other, more critical factors to be considered. But there are definitely winners and losers when it comes to in-flight offerings. Here’s how I rank the free snacks offered on the major U.S. carriers.
United’s Stroopwafel: The Supreme Champion
Nothing even comes close to the stroop. If I had the option to pick ten different snacks, I’d probably take eight or nine stroopwafels and mix thing sup with the last two. Maybe.
When United ditched the stroopwafel, there was basically nothing left to look forward to when flying with them. Fortunately, they brought it back.
The JetBlue Smorgasbord
I never knew an airline would offer such an array of snacks in economy class. My first experience with JetBlue was utterly miserable, and I hardly remember any of it. But I do know that they offered quite the pick of snacks. Not only do you get something better than a bag of pretzels, but you actually get a selection of more than two options.
JetBlue’s snacks picks include Terra potato chips, popcorn ships, Cheez-its, chocolate chip cookies, and pretzels. That’s probably enough to make almost anyone happy. I think the PopCorners popcorn chips are even gluten free.
They just don’t offer a stroopwafel. Which is a bit of a problem.
Maple Wafer Cookies: United
These are surprisingly tasty. I’d never had the maple wafers until a flight late last year with them. They don’t compare to the stroop, but they are the next best option. Both have been only available on United’s early flights, although I haven’t seen the maple wafer cookies in a number of months (maybe they are only on mainline?).
Half the time I’ve traveled United with my kids, they get preferential treatment from the flight attendants, including being able to select snacks from the first class basket. SkyWest flight attendants have made my kids’ day even nicer multiple times. The Oreos and gummy bear snack picks you see in the featured image at the top? All thanks to my cute kids.
KIND Bars: Delta
Delta has the best selection of snacks of the U.S. “Big 3” in my opinion. That’s because they actually have a bit of a selection, a la JetBlue, but not quite as nice. Among their offerings is the KIND bar, which is often what I pick flying Delta Main Cabin. This is a tasty choice and better than any of the other offerings.
On my most recent flight, Delta had a number of other snacks, including bananas, single salted caramel pretzels, and belVita crackers. But I may be out of bonds here, as I’ve traveled in Comfort+ almost every flight lately, and I’m not too sure if the snacks differ between Comfort+ and economy. My guess is that they don’t, making Delta economy solidly the best of the U.S. Big 3.
Biscoff Cookies: Alaska, American, and Delta
The biscoff cookie is the airline snack standard, in my opinion. It pairs well with coffee, but it also fine on its own. There’s nothing special about it, and plenty of passengers enjoy it. Par for the snack course, you might say. If there is nothing else more appealing, it’s what I’ll go for every time. Sometimes it’s the only option offered.
Complimentary peanuts used to be Southwest’s thing. Well, in addition to never charging change or cancellation fees. But they’ve since abandoned peanuts as their go-to snack. I’m not crazy about peanuts, but I also don’t consider them bottom of the barrel. That’s reserved for the next option.
But the question remains: does any airline still serve peanuts? I think they were added to Delta’s snack options last year, but I haven’t seen any lately.
Pretzels: Alaska, Southwest and United
Let’s face it, I already am not a fan of pretzels. Something that dry and salty is just made worse on an airplane. If I’m going for salty, it should be peanuts. Not pretzels.
Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit
Oh, wait. They don’t offer free snacks. My bad. Fork over a few greenbacks, and they might hook you up with a high quality can of pringles.
I know there are folks our there that can’t stand the stroopwafel, so I’m sure they’ll shake their fists at my rankings. But I generally find that United’s sugary treat is loved by enough that it deserves top marks. I’ve also flown primarily United and Delta lately, so I’m a bit behind the curve when it comes to anything else American might offer. It’s only been Biscoff cookies, last I recall.
What do you think are the best domestic economy in-flight snacks? Or do you bring your own to avoid the airline’s poor offerings?