The Food And Drink Options For Every Major US Airline, Ranked

What's the deal with airline food, anyway? Despite the sheer number of jokes associated with the type of food served 10,000 feet in the air, there's nothing to joke about being served bad food on a flight that you paid a lot — and we mean a lot — of money for. Plus, the last thing you want to worry about when making travel plans, rushing from gate to gate, and preparing for a stressful day in an airport, is a lackluster ham and cheese sandwich.

The in-flight offerings of many airlines are often dependent on the distance or the amount of time the plane is in the air. For shorter flights and "puddle jumps," you might as well pack a bag or two of pretzels in your carry-on since there might not be much in the way of fine dining. But for longer flights, you can rest assured that many domestic airlines offer satiating and tasty meals as a part of the in-flight experience. If you are a frequent flier, check out the premium member's club in your terminal for even more delicious (and convenient) options. Here are some of the best domestic airline food and drinks you can find in-flight or in-club.

10. Spirit Airlines

Despite all of the jokes about Spirit Airlines, we can tell you that you certainly get what you pay for. To keep costs low for passengers, Spirit does not offer any complimentary snacks or beverages during its flights regardless of distance. Soft drinks, mixers, juices, coffee, and bottled water are going to set you back $4 each, while a can of Bud Light, Heineken, or Sam Adams IPA will cost you $9. Liquor nips, including gin, rum, tequila, and bourbon, will cost you a shocking $10 each, while cocktail combinations are closer to $14. It's almost like Spirit is asking you not to order from its drink menu.

The snacking options on Spirit Airlines vary in cost, but they all are not as substantial as a hungry passenger would want them to be. The cheapest packaged blueberry muffin or Oreo sleeve is $4, while the pricier chips and salsa combo pack is $6. The most expensive snacking option, the Café Snack Box, which includes cookie thins, almonds, a cheese spread, and crackers, will cost you $9. Not only will these food options leave your wallet empty, but your stomach, too.

9. Frontier Airlines

If you are trying to curb unnecessary spending on your next vacation, you should book your flight with Frontier Airlines. Although this carrier does not offer formal meals while in-flight, you can pick and choose from several snack options that combine alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including Buzzballs mixed drinks, beer, alcoholic seltzers, and tiny bottles of spirits and wine. The available snacks include almond M&Ms (and only almond M&Ms, sorry folks with tree-nut allergies), cup noodles, Pringles, and a relatively small cheese tray.

Frontier ranks low on our list because no complimentary beverages or snacks are included in your ticket price. This means you'll have to fork over a lot of money for the snacks you could buy much cheaper at the airport or a convenience store on your way there. We recommend taking advantage of Frontier for its relatively cheap airfare — not for its array of snacking and food options.

8. Southwest Airlines

Uh oh, what happened to the food? Oddly enough, Southwest does not offer any food for sale on its flights. However, it provides complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and small snacks, like pretzels or cookies, for flights over 176 miles. The slightly more impressive part about Southwest is that it offers one of the most extensive arrays of alcoholic beverages for purchase of any domestic airline. You can purchase four types of wine, including Stone Cellars California Rosé and Mossel Bay Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, whiskey, tequila, rum, beers, hard seltzer, and spiked lemonade. Guests with Hawaii service can also order Kula Toasted Coconut Rum and Kona Brewing Big Wave Golden Ale.

Southwest would have scored higher on our ranking if it had offered more food options for purchase. The craze of rushing through the airport during a layover or getting a whole family on the plane in one piece is a challenge enough — if you forget to pack food, you'll have to be hangry in your window seat the whole time.

7. Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant Air is a budget-friendly airline offering scheduled and chartered flights in the United States. Since its flights are relatively short and made for low-cost travel, there isn't an expansive list of meals and in-flight dining. If you're looking for a whole meal aboard Allegiant, the closest thing you'll find is its premium snacking options. $7.99 will get you an Olli meat and cheese tray with Fontina cheese, crackers, and Genoa salami. With the perfect balance of protein, fats, and carbs, this small meal will satisfy you on your, albeit short, flight home.

If you're looking for a sizeable snacking option to get you through the stressful flying experience, you should try Allegiant's Signature Snack Packs. The Big Box ($13.99) includes brownie crisps, pitted snacking olives, crackers, and an array of spreads to DIY your snacking experience. For $10.99, you can purchase a Tapas snack pack with artichokes, corn crackers, hummus, olives, a fig bar, and cookies. Or, if you want to save a couple of bucks, pack your snack bag to take to the airport.

Allegiant wins some brownie points for its unique signature cocktails available on board. If you're flying through Las Vegas, you can purchase an Aperol Spritz (with the bottle opener thrown in as a souvenir), a classic Boulevardier cocktail, or a Negroni. Select flights also feature Italian bitters, Ole Smokey moonshine, and Kentucky Bourbon, which we have yet to see offered by other carriers.

6. JetBlue

JetBlue offers several dining options for economy customers and members of its premium Mint membership. Flights over two hours can snack confidently with JetBlue's EatUp Boxes, which cost upwards of $9 each and include your standard salty and sweet combos. However, if you're feeling more like a meal, JetBlue offers EatUpCafe options on select flights more than three and a half hours with options like a ham and cheese croissant, cheese plate, vegan Southwest kale salad, and turkey and pepper Jack sandwich. These meals will set you back about $12 to $14, but they will fill you up after you forget to grab something to eat at the airport.

Mint customers have access to various food options onboard their JetBlue flight. Breakfasts include fruit, smoked trout crostinis, pancakes, and savory frittatas. The lunches, dinners, and shut-eye meals feature pasta, paninis, braised meats, and cold salads. Menus differ slightly depending on the direction you are flying and ingredient availability but are generally more diverse than some of the lower-ranking airlines on our list. JetBlue is also placed lower because it doesn't offer lounge access.

5. United Airlines

United Airlines may not be our top pick for food, but you can get some meals on board, depending on the distance you're flying. Flights under 800 miles don't come with any complimentary snacks for economy passengers, but you can purchase in-flight snack boxes for flights over 500 miles, and Bistro on Board meals for flights over 1,500 miles. Breakfast Bistro on Board options are $8, including mixed berry overnight oats, plant-based chorizo skillets, and hot butter chicken and egg biscuits. Lunch and dinner Bistro on Board options include chipotle chicken bowls, beer cheese pretzel burgers, and cheese and fruit trays for $10.

If you are flying economy on an international flight over 800 miles, you can expect an entrée, salad, and a snack served during your time in the air. United First customers traveling over 800 miles will receive a hot meal, while those destined for Hawaii can expect nuts, a pre-arrival snack, a hot meal, and dessert. Alcoholic beverages are also complimentary in all premium cabins and cost about the same amount as other airlines. Passengers can choose between Mango Cart wheat ale, Jack Daniel's Whiskey, and select wines. United Clubs don't offer full meals, but you can expect complimentary bar service, non-alcoholic beverages, and light snacks — perfect for waiting through a layover.

4. American Airlines

American Airlines is slightly more stingy regarding what kind of food you can order on its flights. Complimentary snacks, like cookies and pretzels, are guaranteed for all flights where non-alcoholic beverages are served. But you have to travel more than 1,300 miles in economy before you can start ordering snack packs and light fare, including a mezze plate with hummus, Asian chicken shaker salad, or orzo pesto shaker salad for between $9 and $11. Passengers flying in First, Business, and Premium Economy can order meals inspired by a partnership with the James Beard Foundation and collaboration with chef and Registered Dietetic Nutritionist Ellie Krieger. The alcoholic beverages aboard this flight are average compared to other airlines and include six types of wine, eight spirits, and two ready-to-drink cocktails available on select routes.

The best meals American Airlines offers can be found in its Admirals Club. If you're taking an early morning flight, you'll want to start your day with some breakfast tacos, made-to-order avocado toast, overnight oats, yogurts, and pastries. Lunches and dinners may include sweet and sour beef with brown rice and quinoa, made-to-order guacamole, pasta, soups, and light desserts. The plethora of options at the Admirals Club boosted American Airlines up in our rankings, even if the food in-flight is nothing to write home about.

3. Delta Airlines

Delta is one of the biggest airlines in the world, so you would expect its in-flight fare to include more than just those delicious Biscoff cookies. Outside of the complimentary snacks, individuals flying more than 900 miles can order snack boxes, while individuals flying more than 1,500 miles can order fruit and cheese plates or chicken salad sandwich plates for $12 each. First Class customers flying more than 900 miles have even more access to Delta's delicious meal options, including wild mushroom ravioli, chicken cacciatore, and French bread pizza. Like other airlines, Delta has made attempts to localize its food options. For example, select First Class flights departing Atlanta can sample Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q's short ribs. However, you won't see the same regionality with Delta that you see with smaller carriers like Alaskan Airlines or Hawaiian Airlines, both of which offer more exciting fares than Delta.

The Delta Sky Club, the flight's lounge, offers seasonal, rotating food choices for its premium customers. For breakfast, you should expect to see a wide spread of pastries, bagels and spreads, oatmeal, frittatas, and warm breakfast sandwiches. Lunches and dinners can include soups, salads, sandwiches, antipasto, hummus, and crudités, and a dessert station complete with comforting brownies and cookies.

2. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is another domestic carrier that does not skimp out on food options. The in-flight fare depends on the length of your flight and what class you're flying. Main class and premium class passengers flying more than 775 miles can order picnic packs stuffed with snacks like potato chips, hummus, cheese, nuts, and dark chocolate for around $7. The meal options on flights over 1,100 miles are more substantial and include a sunrise breakfast sandwich, protein platter, ginger beef wrap, or vegan salad. These meals require a pre-order and cost a little over $10 each. Alaskan Airlines also offers several alcoholic beverage options not otherwise provided by other carriers, including Straightaway margaritas, Five Farms Irish cream, and Crater Lake hazelnut espresso vodka.

First-class passengers receive more comprehensive meal options for all flights over 670 miles. These options may include breakfast sandwiches, Greek yogurt, ranchero eggs with chicken chorizo sausage, or braised top-blade beef with roasted fennel. Alaska Airlines also likes having local brands in its options, including ice cream from Portland's Salt & Straw for dessert. You'll also find several options for food in the Alaska Lounge if you are traveling through select west coast airports. Breakfast guests can expect continental food options like oatmeal and yogurt and hearty sandwiches, soups, and salads for lunch. Overall, Alaska Airlines offers thoughtful and regionally-sourced food and drink options.

1. Hawaiian Airlines

The award for absolute best quality airline meals goes to Hawaiian Airlines. Its fare is reasonable, and its edible fare is leaps above the other domestic airline companies. The menu for in-flight dining depends on your destination, but it is all guaranteed to be excellent. Hawaiian Airlines' in-flight menu is inspired and advised by Honululu's MW Restaurant and executive chefs Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka. If you're flying to Hawaii from a West Coast city, you can expect breakfast options like Hawaiian sweet potato hash, cage-free eggs with cherry tomatoes, and Canadian bacon served with a honey mustard sauce. West Coast dinners include Pea Risi e Bisi, a rice-zucchini-and-pea dish, with a tropical basil macadamia nut pesto and roasted asparagus. Folks traveling to Hawaii from Boston or JFK can expect similar options, with the addition of yummy roasted shiitake mushroom and vegetable fried rice or a roasted vegetable salad with miso yuzu vinaigrette. After dinner, enjoy a coffee from Lion Coffee's Hawaiian Airlines blend or an exclusive On The Rocks after-dinner cocktail.

The Hawaiian Airlines' lounges' food also doesn't disappoint. Platinum, first class, and some business class fliers departing Honolulu can sample the array of snacks, hot food, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in the Plumeria Lounge before traveling to their next destination. In addition, if you're visiting one of the five smaller Premier Clubs, you'll have access to Pau Hana snack mixes and non-alcoholic beverages while you wait for your flight.