If you’ve ever been on a plane only to have someone sit down next to you and start noisily chewing on a tuna salad sandwich to kick off a long-haul flight, you know the seemingly endless hell supplied by people who lack acknowledgment of the basic rules of airplane food etiquette. Worse yet — is that person you? Ask yourself the following questions when deciding whether and what food to bring on a plane, says Sharon Schweitzer, a cross-cultural consultant, international protocol expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide:
1. Can I smell the food from 12 inches away?
"If so, don’t bring it onboard."
2. Does the food drip, leak, or heaven forbid — squirt?
"If so, don't even try"
3. Do I need utensils to eat it?
"Reconsider if it disturbs a seatmate."
4. Will the meal impact fellow passengers at all?
"If so, don’t bring it."
5. If you're debating whether you should or shouldn’t bring it — don't.
If you don’t want to be that stinky food offender and receive the evil eye or a public shaming, then reconsider bringing any of these pungent foods onboard:
Fish: Do we need to explain?
Bleu cheese (or stinky cheese) of any kind
Bacon: What is delightful to some is offensive to others
Cabbage: You’re kidding, right?
Chili or chili dog with onions: Too much of everything in a tight space. It's a no.
Clam chowder: Fish or shellfish of any kind is a faux pas.
Eggs of any kind
Garlicky dishes, onions, and onion rings: The odor of garlic or raw onions as well as and deep-fried breading is intense.
Ranch dressing: It begins to smell like foot odor in a confined space.
Spicy foods: Especially curry
Yogurt: It can be nauseating if you’re not the one enjoying it. And, if it sits for a few hours? It can be nauseating even if you are the one eating it.
As for what is OK to bring, Schweitzer says easy and non-fragrant choices like applesauce, bagels, cereal bars, carrot and celery sticks, or dried fruits are always a great choice: mild, inoffensive, and often healthy to boot.
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