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Fly&Dine Tuesday: Beware the In-Flight Tuna Tasters

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Welcome to Fly&Dine Tuesday, a new monthly column that explores the intersection of food and travel with the help of new TPG Contributor (and expert food writer) Jason Kessler of Fly&Dine, the best online source for dining while you fly.

Hey! You in 34B! Drop the tuna and put your hands where I can see them!

If you’re like the guy in 34B, you’re one of the worst people on Earth. In fact, I believe that people that consume stinky food on planes rank just slightly behind drivers that never switch off their turn signals. I think we can all agree that anyone who opens a styrofoam box full of chow mein on a plane deserves to sit between babies on flights for the rest of their lives.

JetBlue certainly agrees, and that’s why they focused on these funky flyers in the latest video from their “Flight Etiquette” series. “Rule #19: How Not to Pack a Snack” shows an insufferable schmuck chowing down on a rogue’s gallery of smelly foods (canned tuna, egg salad, bleu cheese, etc.) as his horrified seat mates try to keep their cookies from being tossed.

If you can prevent yourself from gagging, check out the whole disgusting video here:

This situation is my olfactory nightmare. When you’re crammed into a metal tube for hours at a time with a bunch of strangers, consideration truly matters. Seat-kickers and ignorant parents may have drawn the most ire of participants in Expedia’s recent Airplane Etiquette Study, but “pungent foodies” definitely made the cut as one of the most annoying types of passengers on a plane—and I’d put them even higher than the 32% that they garnered.

By bringing stinky food onto a plane, you’re making a very clear statement that your tasty desires are more important than the nasal comfort of everyone sitting around you. It’s not that I care that you’re eating on the plane – I’ve literally made a career out of eating on planes – it’s that you’ve chosen to inflict your gustatory terrorism on everyone else.

Simply put, there are foods that work on airplanes and there are foods that don’t work. Here’s a handy list of things to keep in mind the next time you’re thinking about bringing a five-course meal on-board with you:


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Hot foods inherently smell more than cold foods because the heat activates volatile compounds in whatever you’re eating and spreads them through the air. With little air circulation on a plane, that means your fellow passengers are forced to inhale your meal alongside you. Choosing cold foods for your in-flight enjoyment is the best way to keep you volatile compounds to yourself.


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There are so many reasons to focus on fresh foods when packing your flight snack, but odor is certainly towards the top of the list. Fresh foods inherently smell better than boxed or canned foods because they’re not packed away in a tiny container with all of their intense, concentrated smells. Opening a can of tuna on a plane is like starting a mini-war with biological weapons. Making a spicy tuna sandwich using fresh tuna from your local fishmonger, however, is an excellent idea.


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Let’s face it, the words “airplane” and “garam masala” do not go together. Instead of a highly involved Northern Indian spice blend, how about a salad? If you’re trying to be as unobtrusive as possible in your flight food, simple is the key. The fewer ingredients, the better.


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This is less about smell than just good old-fashioned decorum, but you’ve got a greater chance of trouble the more elaborate your meal gets. Spills, smells, and other troubles arise when there are too many components to your tray-table dinner. Compact dishes like sandwiches and wraps are a great way to keep your meal to yourself.

Flying is stressful enough as it is. Take a moment to make sure you’re being considerate to your fellow passengers with whatever snacks you choose to bring onboard and everyone will enjoy the flight a little bit more. If you’re the guy in 34B bringing tuna on the plane, just know that I spoke to the Devil and he’s reserving a middle seat for you in Hell.
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