Posted by: Hil | August 3, 2008

Flying Lessons

I was so excited for this flight, because it was going to provide me with the perfect opportunity to illustrate how you can still eat well even in airports if you just prepare a bit.  Unfortunately, I forgot to prepare for the possibility of a four hour delay!  Hopefully, some helpful bits of wisdom will emerge from my saga.  First: my pre-flight lunch.



By the time I get down to my last meal before a vacation, my fridge is usually pretty bare.  For lunch, I managed to scrounge up a cup of split pea and barley soup, a few pieces of fire ants on a log (cranberries instead of raisins) and some plain celery sticks.  I had to eat lunch quite early in order to catch my shuttle to the airport.  I was still quite full from breakfast and the stress of packing had dampened my appetite, so I couldn’t finish my soup. 


I was so proud of myself for packing a small bag of apple rings and pistachios.  I figured that this small snack would carry me through between lunch and a late dinner in Seattle.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think through the fact that my lack of appetite at lunch would probably reemerge later.  When I heard that our flight was delayed by an hour, I decided that I needed to break into it sooner than I had planned.  It was delicious, but ended up being more like a completion of my abbreviated lunch.  Lesson #1:  pack lots of snacks, especially if you don’t have a filling meal in your stomach.


Our delay kept getting longer.  At this point, our late dinner was going to be very late indeed.  I decided to hunt for a second snack for the plane.  I was stuck in a mediocre wing of the airport without many good food options.  I was about this close to caving in and buying myself a Starbucks brownie, but I decided to give the terminal one good sweep before doing so.  Lo and behold, buried in a bookstore was this welcome sight.


I pounced on a Chocolate Pecan Pie Luna bar.  Lesson #2:  do your best and don’t give up…options may not be the best, but there’s probably something better than that pastry you’re eyeing.  I also got a big bottle of water, which I downed.  This instantly made me feel much better.  Lesson #3:  Stay hydrated.  I passed the delay time wandering the terminal and talking on my cell phone.  I had my pedometer in my pocket today, and I actually clocked a fair number of steps doing that.  And it felt much better than just sitting…I knew I was going to have to do that on the plane later.  Walking around really kept me sane.


After two hours of delay, they finally loaded us onto the plane.  At this point, they informed us that something was wrong with the plane that needed to be repaired.  After we sat on the plane for an hour, they reported that the replacement part was also broken, so we had even more of a delay.  Our flight attendant made small talk with everyone and tried to keep us entertained, but this wasn’t the most fun experience in the world.  Lesson #4: Plan for the worst case scenario…flights often get delayed.


Eventually, they allowed us to get off the plane to stretch our legs.  It was definitely past dinner time by this point and I was hungry.  There were very few options, so I ordered an overpriced but innocuous sounding bowl of tortilla soup.  Yeah.  It wasn’t tortilla soup.  It was not a spicy tomato based soup with strips of tortilla.  It was a mystery base (I suspect cheddar cheese) topped with Sun Chips.  It was really pretty gross.  But hunger has a wonderful way of making everything taste good.  And, on the plus side, it actually was full of chunks of all kinds of vegetables.  This certainly didn’t make the soup healthy, but it made it feel a bit nicer going down.  I was very jealous of the husband’s choice…fried chicken strips.  At least he knew what he was eating!  Lesson #5:  Know what you are ordering before you order it.


We eventually got off the ground, the plane making very frightening noises the whole time during take-off.  When we finally landed, it was four hours after our original arrival time.  Tack onto that the time to get our luggage and drive to the in-law’s house in the suburbs and it was very late by the time we got home.  The in-laws wanted to feed us something when we got there, so I had a sourdough English muffin with all-fruit jam, which was a comforting dessert.

I got horribly sick to my stomach in the middle of the night.  I blame the scary soup.  But we are here, we are safe, and we are being bribed by our airline with a discount on our next flight.  I hope to have more inspiring food news for you soon!



  1. Thanks for the tips. I always end up eating poorly or nothing at all and then being grumpy and dehydrated. Your method seems much better.

    – Heather

  2. i think you did pretty great considering the circumstances! i can’t believe they were such a nightmare though, i’m sorro you had to go through all that :/

  3. You did excellent. Thanks so much for the tips- they are awesome. I love how you give us all advice for dealing with real-life food crises. I am flying to Austin on Friday and am now inspired to pack lots of snacks and (this is my favorite) not give up!

  4. oh geez—what a disaster! i fly a lot and have had my fair share of experiences like these so I feel your pain. Thanks for the tips too!

    Have a great vacation!

    oh–and ‘fire ants on a log’—SO CUTE : )

  5. I know the horrors of flying. Hubby travels for a living and for the past couple of weeks his flights have been delayed or canceled. He sat on the runway in Newark for about two hours waiting for takeoff. However you did good girl with your snacks. But that soup … it looks scary

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