Ask anyone what they think about airline food, and they're likely to say "I don't think of it at all because there isn't any."
Virgin America came in first among a dozen airlines this year for its snacks (low-calorie PopChips and nuts) and more substantial options such as a high-protein turkey sandwich and roasted pear and arugula salad.
"This airline is off the charts when it comes to focusing on food," the Diet Detective survey says.
Air Canada came in next with options including vegetarian panini with red pepper hummus or celery and carrots with ranch dip, followed by Alaska Airlines, which serves a Mediterranean tapas box with hummus, almonds and a chocolate bar. Of course there are some caveats, one of the most often being "best shared" to keep the calorie count low.
Southwest ("Go for the nuts and skip the pretzels and other items"), Frontier and Allegiant scored lowest. Comments on Allegiant: "The media representative was annoyed that I’d even contacted the airline. They did not provide nutritional information for most of the food. Also, they made it clear that their foods were not healthy."
The real takeaway from the survey? Carry your own snacks to fly on the healthful side. Cereal such as Kashi or Shredded Wheat, fruit roll-ups, fresh fruit, energy bars, yogurt, sandwiches and beef jerky are good items to bring. Check the Transportation Security Administration's list of foods allowed through security.
Check out DietDetective's full survey results.