The World’s Best Airport Food, According to Pilots
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Pilots and flight attendants are more familiar with the ins and outs of travel than almost anyone else. And, after chatting with a number of pilots and flight attendants about what they eat while flying, we decided to query them on the world’s best airports for dining. Below, six pilots share their favorite food-focused airports, and where they refuel.
Delta Air Lines Captain Walter Judy: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
I spent the last six years flying as a copilot on our 757 and 767 fleet, flying domestically and internationally, while working in a management job, and transitioned to being a full-time-flying captain on the MD-88 flying domestically three months ago. So, I’ve eaten at some really good airport restaurants around the world in the past several years. Now, I spend almost all of my time in the Atlanta International Airport, or one of Delta’s Eastern, Southeastern, or Midwestern domestic stations. The food choices in ATL are myriad, and it’s where I have the majority of my down time—lately, that equates to the 45 minutes between landing one flight and taking off again, often changing planes and/or terminals, so it’s a good-spirited running between jets and grabbing food on the way. If I have an hour or more between flights at or near mealtime, I make the trek from gates where my fleet normally lives down to (Terminal) D in order to pick up a laffa—a vegetable and meat wrap—from Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh. The food is tasty, fresh, filling and usually quick, which for me are the important boxes to check. And to come away with a good-sized meal for under 10 bucks is a solid deal. I keep coming back for the laffa with everything, chicken or falafel depending on what’s the freshers, and tzatziki, pickles, feta and kalamata olives. It’s filling, messy, and I skip the rice so the ingredients are mostly vegetables and protein and comes off feeling less heavy or fried than a typical airport option.
Alaska Airlines Pilot Susan Sherman: Portland International Airport (PDX)
Within the US, without a doubt the best airport for dining is PDX in Portland, Oregon. My fellow pilots are always equally excited when we pass through PDX. There are numerous great dining options, but my favorite is a Yumm! Bowl from Café Yumm!
Atlas Air Pilot Starr Blum: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
I used to love SFO to get Blue Bottle coffee and to get a slice or loaf of Boudin Bakery’s sourdough bread to take home if it was my last leg. Boudin is a bakery in San Francisco that is famous for its sourdough bread. Also, many people—myself included—love Rick Bayless’ restaurant in ORD, Frontera Torta. It’s delicious and always a long line. But if I’m hungry and have time, I always go there.
Southwest Airlines Captain Keith Coneby: Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
One of the best places for tacos is right in the center of Houston’s Hobby Airport … Pappasito’s Cantina.
All Nippon Airways Captain Yuichi Nishiyama: Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport (HND)
The Tokyo Haneda Airport, where ANA is based, is my favorite airport in the world to dine. It is the closest airport to the Tokyo metropolitan area, and has more than 40 restaurants and cafes in each of its three terminals. Passengers can enjoy cuisines from all over the world, as well as some of the finest Japanese cuisine including sushi, tempura, soba, ramen, and much more. It would certainly take more than a few visits for a passenger to taste all of the uncountable delights at Haneda Airport. Thankfully for me, I get to enjoy Haneda’s culinary offerings quite often.If you ever have the chance to eat a meal at the Haneda Airport, I would recommend Tsuru-Ton-Tan, an udon noodle soup restaurant located in the International Terminal. Udon is a Japanese thick wheat flour noodle that is usually served with a big choice of broth flavors and toppings. My favorite dish is Sudachi-Udon, which is made with the Japanese citrus fruit sudachi.The citrus taste goes very well with the udon noodle, and is refreshing before or after a long flight.
Feature photo of Edo Market Place in Haneda international airport by Shutterstock.com
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees