11 US Airline Snacks, Ranked From Worst To Best

We've all been there — you're on a long flight, and suddenly the hunger pangs start. Should you have stocked up on snacks at the airport convenience store? Should you have just given in to the astronomical airport restaurant prices and gotten dinner before your flight? Never fear because, luckily, airplane peanuts are a thing of the past! While some budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant still offer the bare minimum on flights (read: nothing), other U.S. airlines have really stepped up the snack game recently. 

While very few things will beat the morning Biscoff cookies that airlines like American Airlines and Delta provide, some of the recent afternoon snacks have truly piqued our interest. Want to know which snacks to indulge in and which ones to skip the next time you travel? Here's our ranking of the 13 worst to best complimentary afternoon U.S. airline snacks on flights right now.

11. Traditional Airplane Pretzels

Old habits die hard for airlines like Southwest, United, and American Airlines that are still serving the traditional bag of small airplane pretzels. Don't get us wrong –- when hunger strikes in the middle of a flight, even traditional airplane pretzels can seem like a haven.

Ultimately, in terms of U.S. airline snacks, we've ranked these pretzels in last place based on taste, portion size, and general utility. While the complimentary snack is appreciated, the lackluster taste leaves something to be desired. The tiny amount of pretzels provided does very little to fill us up and curb mid-flight hunger. The last thing you want to do is begin your trip hangry! In addition to leaving your stomach practically empty, often the combination of the ultra-dry, chalky texture and the over-saltiness of these bags leaves your mouth parched. We've all finished a bag of these pretzels only to discover that we're out of water and the drink cart is nowhere to be found. Disaster! And with the airplane snacks out there now? They're better than nothing, but that's about it.

10. Nuts.com Almonds

The other classic U.S. airplane snack of the past? A bag of peanuts. Similarly overly salty and not filling, these nuts are more suited to a dive bar than an airplane. Enter: Nuts.com Almonds served on Delta flights. According to Nuts.com, almonds are among the most nutritious nuts and full of health benefits, ranking them much higher than traditional peanuts. These almonds are coated in a small amount of salt that adds enough flavor without overpowering. They are also high in protein (6 grams per serving) and can effectively curb your hunger on a long flight.

Why the low ranking? Allergies. Per the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, about 4.5 million Americans report having a peanut allergy, and two out of three of those folks may have a corresponding tree nut allergy. Due to these concerns, most airlines have done away with peanuts over the years. To us, it makes sense –- no need to tempt fate in a confined space that can't be easily escaped. So, while these almonds from Nuts.com are good quality, filling, and delicious, their lack of allergy consciousness ranks them near the bottom of our list. Your midflight snack shouldn't pose the risk of accidentally endangering your seatmate.

9. Chifles Plantain Chips

When it comes to airplane snacks, JetBlue has always been a top contender, offering five unique snack options out of an adorable snack bin. In fact, it was on a JetBlue flight that many people discovered the iconic Terra chip. Would these chips, Chifles plantains, be ranked higher if they hadn't had such a high-quality predecessor? Perhaps, but replacing Terra chips with Chifles plantain chips was a miss for us.

Don't get us wrong, we love a plantain chip as much as the next person, but this particular brand isn't our favorite. The combination of the small size of the bag and the fall-apart texture means that many of the chips have broken down into crumbs, something that makes for both a big mess and an empty stomach. And while we love a salty bite, this particular brand leans overly so. If you decide to go with this snack choice on your next JetBlue flight, we recommend buying additional water at the airport to help with the salinity! 

That being said, plantain chips get style points for being a more unique airplane snack option and breaking up the monotony that is travel. Not to mention, they are currently JetBlue's only gluten-free option.

8. Savory Snack Mixes

Savory snack mix has been a staple onboard Southwest flight for a while now. As Thrillist reports, United Airlines has also joined the fray with a Savory Snack Mix from Summer Harvest as one of its three new snack options. Often filled with a mixture of mini pretzels, mini breadstick bites, and rye bagel chips, these bags come with a side of childhood nostalgia (Gardetto's, anyone?).

In terms of U.S. airline snack ranking, we kept a few things in mind. Pros: savory snack mixes provide much more variety than those previously ranked. They also seem to fill us up slightly more than the pretzels or plantain chips would and have a wonderful salty flavor. That being said, airplane snack mixes tend to be a little boring and dry. The brittleness of the breadstick bites, in particular, tends to mean a messy experience and could result in finding crumbs in your clothes days later. Still, if you're looking for a savory and safe option on your next Southwest or United flight, a snack mix could be the one for you!

7. Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar

Sometimes the brands of airplane snacks can seem so random that you wonder if they were only made for this singular purpose. So, when you see a familiar brand like Sun Chips while flying the sunny skies, it can provide a certain level of comfort and excitement. Sun Chips are an incredibly reliable snack. Not too salty, dry, or crumbly, it is a solid choice when mid-flight hunger strikes. As far as various Sun Chip flavors go, not all Sun Chips are created equal. So, when we saw that Delta offered the Harvest Cheddar flavor, it definitely helped boost its ranking. Made with whole grains, it may fill you up slightly more than the other chip options.

But Sun Chips are not nearly as nutritious as they claim to be. While they have 2 grams of fiber and protein per serving, it's still full of significant amounts of sodium and genetically modified corn. Other cons? The bag, while quieter than it used to be, is still quite loud and could wake your seatmates or annoy your neighbors. Probably not the best option for a redeye.

6. Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Bar

Looking for something sweet? A chocolate chip Chewy bar could be the treat for you! Another one of JetBlue's extensive snack options, these granola bars have recently replaced the gluten-free Goodie Girl cookies. If you need a more filling option on your next JetBlue flight, Quaker Chewy bars are full of 9 grams of whole grains per serving and may help curb hunger. We love its chewy texture for a mess-free experience and the ratio of chocolate chips scattered throughout the bar. 

However, be warned that these bars are quite sweet, and if you're looking for a "healthy" granola bar option, this certainly isn't it. With 7 grams of sugar and only 1 gram of protein per serving, it won't keep you full for long. The other reason for the lower ranking? Its replacement of the Goodie Girl cookies means that JetBlue is down to only one gluten-free option.

5. Cheez-It Crackers

In the throes of the unknown while airborne, we can't help but crave any semblance of comfort and familiarity. Well, nothing says comfort like one of our most beloved snacks, the Cheez-It. Always a crowd pleaser, these cheesy morsels can definitely improve any JetBlue flight. In terms of taste, few things beat its perfectly salty, sharp cheddar flavor. Between the addictive savoriness and crunchy texture, this is the snack you find us reaching for more often than not.

Of course, in terms of cons, it's this crumbly texture that might end up all over your clothing and seatmate. Finding a mess of bright orange crumbs all over your luggage the next day is never an ideal start to a trip. In terms of nutritional value, there's also something to be desired. Made with real cheese, this snack offers 3 grams of protein, but the small serving bag probably won't satisfy an empty stomach for long. With little other to offer in terms of nutrition and allergens, we've settled this popular snack in the middle of our ranking.

4. Undercover Snacks Dark Chocolate + Sea Salt Chocolate Crisps

Looking for something sweet but healthy on your next flight? Another one of United Airlines' newest snack offerings could be the one for you! In the treats category, The Dark Chocolate + Sea Salt Chocolate Crisps by Undercover Snacks is definitely a win in our books. Made with dark chocolate and quinoa, these crisps are the perfect sweet but not too saccharine pick-me-up. We love the crispy but mess-free texture too!

These treats definitely rank high for their crunch and flavor but also for their health consciousness. Made with nutrient-rich quinoa, this snack has 2 grams of fiber and protein, promising to keep you fuller for longer than other sweet alternatives. These crisps are also gluten-free, nut-free, and kosher, making them safe for a greater variety of passengers to enjoy. Finally, the uniqueness of this snack ups their cool factor and can help break up the monotony of any flight. Nicely done, United.

3. Stellar Vegan Butter Pretzel Braids

Move over airplane pretzels of old; there's a new kid on the block! In our opinion, these vegan butter pretzel braids from Stellar Snack's mother-daughter team are one of JetBlue's best snack offerings right now. In terms of nutrition, these pretzels are made with the simple ingredients of whole wheat flour, vegan butter, and sea salt. With 3 grams of protein and no sugar in sight, this snack is sure to keep any potential hunger pangs at bay. Plus, the fact that it's vegan, non-GMO, and baked in the USA ensures a more environmentally friendly product than other contenders.

The flavor of this snack really sets it apart from other pretzels. With a soft crunch and the perfect amount of salinity, you're sure to be left satisfied. And while some other healthy pretzel alternatives tend to taste a bit like cardboard, these have a light, buttery flavor that will leave you wanting more. Bonus points for the colorful and evocative bag design!

2. Kate's Real Food Organic Energy Bar

In our healthy snack ranking, granola bars have always been one of our top picks. Packed with delicious ingredients that will actually fill you up, we're always looking for the best new finds on the market. And these next two top spots are definitely no exception! The number two ranking goes to these organic energy bars by Kate's Real Food. Gluten-free and organic to boot, this Delta Airlines snack is the perfect healthy option for flight fuel. Each energy bar has 4 grams of protein to keep you full and satisfied all flight long.

With a number of delicious and unique flavors in rotation from White Chocolate Macadamia to Lemon Coconut, you really can't go wrong with this snack choice. In terms of texture and flavor, these bars are soft, chewy, and not too sweet — exactly what we're looking for in a granola bar. These may just become your new favorite Delta snack!

1. That's it Apples + Mangoes Fruit Bars

United's newest snack takes the top spot for afternoon airplane snacks. The Apples + Mangoes Fruit Bars by That's It have it all. In terms of accessibility, this snack is fully allergen-free, gluten-free, plant-based, kosher, and paleo-approved, making it a fruit bar that truly all can enjoy. As the saying goes, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," and the two servings of fruit loaded in every That's It bar (apple and mango, to be specific) is a great way to load up on Vitamin C, Potassium, and other vitamins to keep you healthy. We also love the 3 grams of fiber and lack of added sugar to help keep you full all flight long.

In terms of taste, these fruit bars are fresh and sweet without being overpowering. And with so few added ingredients, they truly taste like the fruits they claim to be! The soft texture of the bar is easy to eat and ensures a mess-free experience upon landing. Next time you fly United, be sure to check out this transcontinental superstar.