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Michael Bennett is the former Senior Producer of the Travel Channels west coast operations and is currently a travel writer for Savoy and Black Enterprise Magazine. Michael is the host of Globetrotting on BET's BET on Jazz Network. For travel question write to

Airline Food

When news breaks journalists are usually among the first on the scene. Often
that journey requires a plane ride to another region of the state or a trip
across the country. If you've been required to fly on a moments notice the
meal service the airlines provide, regardless of what one might think of its
nutritional value or taste, can be a life saver. There's nothing worse than
covering a hot story when your stomach is grumbling from a lack of food, not
to mention the energy drain on your body.

If you've grown to depend on stale sandwiches and other tasteless foods to
quell those hunger pangs you are in for a rude awakening. The airlines
curtailed most of their meal service following the September 11 terrorist
attacks. And as some of you have discovered by now that service still has
not been fully restored and may never again.

No two airlines have the same policy when it comes to meal service. American
Airlines serves food on flights of four hours or longer in coach and two
hours in first-class. Continental serves food on flights that depart within
two hours of traditional meal times; 7am-9am, 11am-1pm, and 5pm-7pm.

On United there's no food in coach on flights less than 1,700 miles, about 4
hours. Delta provides meals in coach on flights longer than 1,750 miles.
First-class Delta passengers get to eat about every two hours.

So if you're flying across country with a series of connecting flights rather
than a lengthy non-stop flight, you could go the entire day without a meal.
If you have short connection times between flights you won't have time to run
to the nearest airport restaurant for a meal.

For those of you who have a few minutes to grab a bite to eat, airport
eateries are the biggest benefactors of reduced meal service. Long lines,
poor service and less than healthy cuisine are commonplace at most of these

And to further compound matters the food service at some airports are on the
wrong side of the security checkpoints. You're anxious to get to the gate to
check-in for your flight. As you approach the gate you remember your flight
doesn't serve food. It suddenly hits you that the airport restaurants are on
the other side of the security checkpoint. Do you go hungry or do you go
through security a second time and risk missing your flight?

The obvious answer of course is too brown-bag it.

But if you insist on playing the game of chance with airline food service,
better your odds by calling the airlines ahead of time to find out if your
particular flight serves a meal. I would call when you make the reservation
and again a day or so before departure.