10 Things You Should Never Eat on an Airplane

AI generated image of someone on a plane with a tuna sandwich and cheese puffs

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AI generated image of someone on a plane with a tuna sandwich and cheese puffs
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Flight Faux Pas

Just as there are unwritten rules in the office break room about microwaving fish, there are also rules about what you shouldn't eat on a plane. Some of them are about smells that can permeate every inch of that flying metal tube, but many are health and safety related to make sure you don't suffer from a case of traveler's tummy.

Next time your family is headed on vacation or you've got a work conference in Vegas, heed these rules about which foods and beverages to stay away from while you're flying.

Alcohol Drink In Airplane

1. Alcohol

Alcohol dehydrates you on the ground, and that effect is amplified when you're in a low humidity plane. Plus, the high altitude's affect on your blood oxygen can make you feel tipsy faster than usual. Both those things can lead to feeling pretty hungover when you're back on the ground, which is a terrible way to start a vacation. 

Healthy food in boxes, diet concept.

2. Seafood

Just like the office, seafood smells do not belong on a plane. That goes for the tuna salad sandwich you'd buy to-go in the airport and the fish entree they might be serving on your transatlantic flight. This isn't limited to just seafood, either: All stinky foods are out. Sorry, durian, deviled eggs, and that airport wrap with blue cheese and raw onions.

Passenger drinking water in airplane during flight.
Burger King restaurant  at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, Porto

4. High Sodium Food

Do you get swollen ankles when you fly? Eating (or drinking) items high in sodium will only make that worse. Having too much salt can cause bloating and dehydration, symptoms that already happen often on planes and ones that you don't want to exacerbate. So skip bringing fast food and cans of high-sodium bloody mary mix on the plane.

Related: Things You Should Never, Ever Do on a Plane

Airline meal served in the business class cabin

5. Steak

If you have the option of steak for your in-flight meal, it's better to choose something else. Steak will almost always be overcooked because it has to be pre-cooked and reheated on the plane. So unless you love tough, chewy, gray beef, go for chicken or pasta. 

Related: Can You Bring Food Through TSA? Yes, But There Are Rules

Sandwich and glass of tea on the plane.

6. Airline Bag Lunches

You know what's even worse than airplane food? Paying $10 or more for one of those premade bag lunches on a flight with no hot food. The sandwiches are always hard and dry, and they're always a ripoff. Plan ahead and eat before getting to the airport, bring along plenty of snacks, or at least buy something fresher at the airport before boarding. 

Related: 9 Things You Should Never Buy at the Airport

Coffee in the airplane

7. Coffee

Coffee (and tea!) on airplanes is made with tap water, which we already know is bad news. Yikes

Plus, caffeine is a diuretic, so it might make you have to urinate more. No one wants to be in that teeny, smelly airplane bathroom more than they have to.

chipotle burrito
Juanjo P. / Yelp

8. Giant Burritos

Burritos from Chipotle in the airport may seem like a compact, easy-to-eat food on a plane, but think about what's in them. Spicy salsa and hot sauce can cause heartburn, onions can be pretty smelly, and worst of all, beans can cause very potent gas. Don't do that to yourself — or everyone around you.

Airline meal served in the business class cabin

9. Soup

Soup would generally be a good choice for eating on a plane since it's generally easy on the stomach, especially if it's brothy and full of vegetables. But the problem lies in turbulence. If you hit some unexpected bumps and you've got a full bowl of hot soup, bad things can happen to you and your pants. 

Spicy crunchy corn snack in hand.

10. Anything Too Messy

Cramped quarters and unpredictable turbulence mean that anything messy should be out of the question. Foods like Cheetos, Doritos, and Buffalo chicken wings leave your hands a mess, and trying to contain that to your own 1-foot-by-1-foot personal space is basically impossible. If you're lucky enough to be sitting in first class or have a whole row to yourself, go nuts with the sticky fingers.