As long as there have been commercial flights, there has been plane food with a ground level reputation. Indeed, for the most part, inflight food options are pretty unappetising; a culinary hell for those with a discerning, or picky, palate. However, when you’re at 35,000 feet with a rumbling stomach and not the option to simply pop down to your local corner shop, onboard stodge is your only choice.

The options at the airport aren’t much better. Many of us have experienced a flight cancellation and been stuck at the airport for hours with nothing but the ubiquitous airport Burger King to satisfy our stomachs. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The answer? Pack your own nutritious snacks to get you through. With this in mind, here are 6 IDEAL snacks to take in your hand luggage.


You’d be surprised at all the types of food you’re allowed to take in your hand luggage. Pretty much all solid foods are allowed. even live lobsters if in special clear, sealed, spill-proof containers with ice. So turn all that fresh food in your fridge that would otherwise perish while you’re away into something delicious to snack on while you travel.


If you’re in need of a protein fix, then Jerky could be the answer; a high energy food, it’s sure to get you through any long-haul flight. This dried, cured, and seasoned meat served in chewy strips and chunks comes in all sorts of flavours, including BBQ flavour, sweet and hot, honey glazed and perhaps best of all, cracked black pepper. 

It’s not just the flavours that make this the perfect travelling companion. Because jerky meat is cured, it means that its longevity without spoiling is ideally suited for journeys, short or long. See also; salami and chorizo. Just be warned, these guys are massively moreish (and a little stinky too; open on board with discretion). They are also high in sodium, so be sure to stay hydrated or you’ll be disembarking with a sore head.


Fresh fruit is, of course, a wonderful snack; healthy, refreshing and a giver of that all-important sugar boost when a day of travel is starting to get you down. Should you be travelling from tropical climes, then make sure you’re packing some local treats. One exception, of course, is the infamous durian. In many Asian countries, this stinky, love-it-or-hate-it fruit is banned in elevators, hotels and almost universally, on any mode of transport. The musty, garlicky, oniony, savoury smell isn’t conducive to confined spaces, that’s for sure. Spare a thought, too, for adjacent passengers should you be cracking open a satsuma mid flight; those guys could temporarily blind a man with just the flick of a wrist. Should you be worried about your fruit going bad, the dried stuff is a great alternative. 


Cereal bars – or breakfast bars as they were known before that Brexit joke – can be fruity, nutty, grainy, crispy, crunchy, crumbly, and more; a versatile, veritable feast compacted into a few dry bites. There’s a cereal bar for every taste and what’s more, they’re sold in most airports. Solid choice, then, we think. They fit easily in your luggage and retain their freshness fairly well against the airline elements. An inoffensive odour means they’re a more sociable choice than the two above. Just mind how loudly you chew; they can be stubborn beasts.


Since trail mix is good enough for sustaining mountaineers and trekkers, we reckon it will do the job for any long-haul flight too. Seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin, and pomegranate are by nature dry and therefore are easily kept in zip-lock bags or resealable tubs, available to enjoy at any stage of your journey. They’re a relatively healthy option too and sustain well for when you’re hungry but can’t face any plane food. Just be sure to check the sustainability of what you’re planning to take on board before you buy; the production of some nuts isn’t particularly good for our planet.


Also healthier than most in-flight snacks are vegetable crisps. These baked slices of root vegetables (including sweet potato and beetroot) are less carb heavy than the traditional potato version, and ‘baked’ usually denotes a healthier preparation than a method using excess oil.