I’ve been doing quite a bit of air travel recently, which means I need to refill my Klonopin prescription. But of greater concern to you, readers, is that I’ve noticed some people—ahem, sunburnt dude in a polo shirt, seat 23A—need a refresher course in airplane-food etiquette.
When you are in your own home, you’re free to enjoy whatever foods tickle your fancy, and I hope you do so with gusto. May the stinkiest of cheeses and the funkiest of kimchi ever fill your plate. Hell, go to town on some durian. But as with an office microwave, an airplane row is a communal space, and basic courtesy dictates we take care not to bother those around us with our odorous or unsightly mealtime proclivities.
Ergo, the following foods are not acceptable airplane snacks if you want to stay in my good graces:
- Bananas, with peel: I love bananas, but when the inner fruit is removed, the peel emits Yankee Candle-level stank when left at room temperature. I personally don’t mind this much, but I know it bugs the shit out of some people, especially on lengthy flights. Consider eating your ’nanner in the terminal, where you can dispose of the skin.
- Hardboiled eggs: These are another great, portable snack, which is why they’re popular at grab-and-go convenience stores in the terminal. If they’re not pre-peeled, though, they make a big mess of the postage-stamp-sized tray table; even when they are peeled, their sulfurous odor can be off-putting. Consider an Egg McMuffin instead?
- Rotisserie chicken: I didn’t think this needed to be spelled out, because who eats rotisserie chicken on a flight? Esteemed Takeout editor Kevin Pang, that’s who. He claims to have hidden the consumption of his bone-gnawing, sauce-flinging meal under an Ortolan-style sheet, which is even more strange. Don’t be like Kevin; don’t eat whole animals on airplanes.
- Barbecue: Tempting as it may be to get some ribs to go from the terminal’s generic “smokehouse”-themed restaurant, resist. They smell delicious, sure, but there is no way you’re not slathering hickory-smoke sauce all over the armrest, the tray table, my pants, your phone, the call button, etc. Unless you have a suburban-mom supply of wet naps in your bag, this snack is going to end up all over aisles 9 through 17.
- Sushi: Sushi is another food I adore but that does not belong in an enclosed public space. It’s not so much that it smells, but that eating it requires quite a bit of horizontal space: you need to flip open the plastic container, assemble the wasabi-ginger-soy buffet, set the fake grass to the side, make a little assembly line of dipping and eating. It’s involved. And some people are weird about fish smell.
- Speaking of which, fish that smell: Seafood is not appropriate on airplanes. Full stop. Are they eating salmon in first class? I don’t care. You’re in Sub-Plebian Economy, so no fish.
- Mayo-based salads: I will die on a hill defending the deliciousness of mayo-based salads from tuna to chicken to yes, even ham salad (keep your heads up, ham-salad lovers of the world). But like The Byrds sang, there is a time and a season for everything, and the time for stinky-gloppy chicken salad is not on a cross-country, red-eye flight.
- Especially, mayo-based seafood salads: These are nearly cause for an emergency landing. If you are eating tuna salad in the presence of other captives hurtling through the sky at anxiety-inducing speeds with nothing but a thin floor of metal between you and oblivion, I feel only disdain for your selfishness. And may god have mercy on your soul.