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Food & Drink In-Flight Experience Travel Etiquette

7 Foods You Should Never Eat on a Plane

Bringing your own food on the plane makes perfect sense, both for your taste buds and your wallet. But whether you’re packing your own snacks or buying a gate-side meal to-go, you should avoid these seven foods—for your sake and those around you.

Food You Can’t Finish

Pineapple on a plane

If you decide that a long flight is the time to tuck in to a special treat, more power to you. Just make sure you have time to finish it—or that you’re okay with throwing it away before you land. In most countries, you’ll have to declare any food (even packaged items) before entering, and something that you’ve opened up might not make it in.

Fresh fruits and vegetables usually won’t be allowed in, either, due to agricultural concerns. (The U.S. Customs and Border Control Agency offers this helpful guide, but other countries will have different rules.)

Instant Soups

woman eating noodles on a plane.

Some people will tell you to bring a cup of noodles or other instant soup aboard a flight and ask the flight attendant for boiling water during meal service. Although a mug of hot soup may sound enticing, it’s a bad idea to keep a cup of scalding liquid near your lap when turbulence could strike at any second.

Plus, many prepackaged ramen cups have close to half of your daily recommendation of sodium, which certainly won’t help you fight jet bloat.

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Noisy Foods

Man eating salad on plane

Crunch… crunch… crunch. Put down the chips or raw vegetables—your seatmate does not want to listen to you chew. Crunchy foods can sound louder than a jet engine when you’re basically chewing right in your seatmate’s ear. Remember that the person next to you has nowhere to go, so save the noisy foods for when you land.

Messy Foods

woman eating sandwich on plane.

If you’d struggle to tackle what you’re eating on a full-sized table with actual metal utensils, don’t attempt it on a tiny tray table with flimsy plastic forks and minimal elbow room. Airplanes aren’t given a deep cleaning between most flights, so you might be leaving crumbs or other leftovers behind for the next occupant of your seat.

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Smelly

In-Flight Meal

If you’re tempted to bring hardboiled eggs, tuna fish, or other strong-smelling food aboard, stop and think about whether everyone trapped in the small cabin with you wants to smell what you’re eating. (The airlines are big offenders on this one, too—often offering a fish option at dinnertime.)

Greasy Foods

Woman eating greasy food on plane.

Grabbing a fast food meal can be the cheapest and easiest airport option, but it’s really not the best choice for flying. A greasy meal ticks both the “smelly” and “messy” options, and the often-high sodium content of fast food options contributes to jet bloat.

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Peanuts

eating peanuts on plane.

Tiny packets of complimentary peanuts have mostly disappeared from planes due to the growing number of peanut allergies in the world. Packing a peanut butter sandwich or bag of nuts isn’t just inconsiderate—it could also be dangerous if you have a severe allergy sufferer on your flight.

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Follow Caroline Morse’s travels on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Boston.com, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

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E-mail her at cmorse@smartertravel.com.

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