17 Times Plane Food Totally Betrayed Passengers And Gave Us Trust Issues

gross plane food

Ah, the romance and fun of travel! Airport selfies! Travel outfits! Fun destinations! Food poisoning! Yep.

Traveler’s diarrhea is a common thing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And it doesn’t just come from the destination or a foreign country’s water. A lot of the time, it can come from the plane itself, since that 500 mile-per-hour tube full of humans is basically a Crock-Pot of simmering bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Sorry — we had to pull you from your blissful ignorance.

If you dare to learn more, keep reading.

Even flight attendants won’t eat food aboard planes, and that’s because it’s old, not fresh, contaminated with ACTUAL diseases, and is basically tasteless.

Not to mention the fact that everyone on a plane is passing gas. Yikes. Long story short: Avoid plane food at all costs, and bring a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Oh, and never, ever drink the water.

We warned you.

There are plenty of things that can go wrong when ordering food on board a plane.

You might end up with something soggy, old, and filled with a mystery substance — or you might end up with a dead insect inside your dish. Sounds appetizing, right?

Here are 18 times plane food seriously let us down:

1. That time everyone got sick on an Emirates flight from eating the fish. 

Long story short: Never eat the fish on an airplane.

Seriously. It was fish. And loads of people got sick, and sick fast. Live And Let’s Fly put it perfectly when they stated, “Tray tables and armrests onboard airplanes are much more likely to contain germs and viruses than lavatories. But the fact that so many passengers got sick so quickly points to food poisoning. It’s always the fish, right?”

2. The time we got served a freaking moth in our food.

Imagine settling into your flight, downing a bottle of red, popping in your headphones to watch a movie, and eating your flight meal.

Next imagine that you eat your food only to find a disgusting insect inside of the tray.

Apparently, one passenger chowed down — and found a moth at the bottom of her dish.

Yep, a real, dead moth.

Thanks, United, for the hospitality!

3. The time we warned airlines about allergies… and they served us bad food anyway.


Apparently, two siblings who boarded an Emirates Airlines flight — and who totally told the airline ahead of time that they were allergic to tree nuts — were forced to sit inside an airplane while other people chowed down on tree nuts (which took the form of cashews in their chicken).

According to one news outlet, “The two spent the seven-hour trip sitting in the rear of the plane with blankets pulled over their head.” Yeah, that sounds really freaking fun. And not at all dangerous.

4. The time we asked for vegan food, but got fed almost nothing.


So if you’re vegan, make sure you pick your airline pretty carefully.

When you request vegan food for a flight, you’d think you’d get tofu or a veggie pasta or something, right? Nope.

To one airline, nuts and crisps counted as food. Yep, one vegan passenger who pre-booked vegan fare got nada on board a flight.

She said, “I had to rely on the kindness of the cabin crew who fed me peanuts and crisps, but I felt sick and dehydrated after all the salt I’d been eating.” That’s not just not unprofessional — it’s inhumane.

5. That time everyone got sick with a “stomach virus,” but the airline made it sound like no big deal.

Was it something they all ate — or did they all somehow board while already sick?

Apparently, the airline didn’t think it was a biggie, according to Tech Times. Really makes you think.

If people get sick on your airplane, you better make sure you follow up with some sort of information.

Luckily, the internet exists so that people can warn others (even though it shouldn’t be their responsibility).

6. And the time we got served a fly in our salad. Mmm.

One passenger complained that their daughter had a fly in her salad, according to a tweet.

If you click and look real close, you can see it. And yes, it’s gross, and makes us never want to eat on a plane ever again.

Can we please avoid insects in our food? That’s just a foundational request. Thanks.

Nothing is worse than getting a bug in your food when you’re stuck on a plane for hours on end.

7. That time we got served a pile of something brown and mushy, but we’re not sure what.

If we can’t figure out what the food is, the rule is simple: we shouldn’t eat it.

In one tweet, a passenger complained of getting a pile of not-very-discernable food.

Is it rice? Meat? Pasta? Sludge? We can’t tell.

Now, plane food is by and large not the best. But when you get something that doesn’t even look like food, you have to wonder what is going on.

Do the other passengers have brown slop, too? Or did something very bad go wrong with your one tray?

At this point, you should probably just order a bottle of wine and some crackers, and put the slop out of your mind.

8. That time listeria was found in the food. Yum!

American Airlines was recently found to have served food spiced with Listeria.

Actually, it came from food preparation services at LAX.

Apparently, “Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.”

260 out of 1600 people die, says the CDC.

Now, this doesn’t happen too often — but the fact that it could happen is scary.

9. That time we put our bottle of water or bag of chips in the seat pocket — and it got covered in germs.


Never store your food in that plane seat pocket. 

The fated seat pocket is legit the dirtiest place on the whole airplane — probably dirtier than the toilet.

That’s because “dirty diapers, used tampons, and loose condoms” are tucked into those crevices, along with tissues filled with nose goo and all sorts of other fluids.

Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Keep a bag of food items at your feet, on your lap, or above your seat.

It may be less convenient, but it’s a sure to be a lot easier than going to the doctors or puking your guts up.

10. That time your food trash was sent to landfills — but not recycled. 


We should do better! Airlines: Can you please start recycling?

Humans make a lot of garbage, and according to the International Air Transport Association, nearly 6 million tons of trash are produced yearly.

It’s not really recycled, either, which is disgusting — so it’s sent to landfills or is incinerated.

It’s kind of a betrayal to pay all this money for a flight that will take your food and contribute to human waste.

We think airlines should behave ethically; they’re already polluting the skies with jet fuel. Do we have to make it any worse?

11. The many times the plane water was filled with bacteria….

Like E.Coli. Yep, E.Coli was found in plane water tanks. 

…37 species of bacteria, that is.

According to a paper titled Bacteria that Travel: The Quality of Aircraft Water, the water on board flights is filled with bacteria.

One flight attendant actually confessed to Time, “I won’t drink the tap water… I just don’t always trust the cleanliness of the aircraft and the testing of it.” But why?

A study on plane water found that the water tanks are straight-up “conducive for microbial growth.”

Worst part?

Some airlines still have the nerve to charge passengers for contaminated water.

12. That time everyone got cholera.

In ’92, an Aerolineas Argentinas flight poisoned its passengers by serving them — get ready for this — shrimp with cholera.


One person actually died.

If this sounds like a disease you might contract in the 1800s, you wouldn’t be wrong.

The disease, which causes severe diarrhea and dehydration, and usually comes from dirty water, is not common in industrialized countries.

13. That time we ate frozen — and not fresh at all — food.

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The food you’re eating on a plane has — sorry to tell you this — been premade, frozen, and then reheated.

Plus, it was likely frozen for up to a week, if not more, before it makes its way to your tiny, little, no-good tray table.

According to Thrillist: “As a rule of thumb, food is prepared 10hrs before it gets eaten.

Those “Made Fresh!” stickers are there to mock you.

It’s not ready-to-eat by any means at this stage; generally, chicken is cooked 60% of the way, and steak 30% to done, with the final phase occurring onboard.”

If this sounds sort of gross to you, you’re not alone.

There’s nothing more appetizing than sitting in a tube full of bodily fluids and passed gas while snacking on something tasteless, weird-looking, and kind of old.

14. The time we found out that plane eggs are not exactly eggs. 


So, don’t eat the damn eggs, okay?

So what the hell are they if they’re not eggs?

In fact, they’re made of something called an “other substitute,” according to one flight attendant.

We can’t imagine what sort of “other substitute” would convince us that we are eating eggs, but if you ever find yourself on a red-eye that serves a nice breakfast platter of eggs and bacon (AKA mystery meat.)

You can ponder this while you gag.

15. The time our plane meal clocked in at nearly 1000 calories.

Apparently, Hawaiian Airlines serves up a meal that contains about 971 calories, according to Diet Detective’s nutritionists.

And that’s a lot, especially when you consider the fact that most people eat between 1,500-2,500 calories daily.

Meanwhile, India Airlines clocked in a meal at 2,000 calories.

The fact that you’re sitting for several hours on a plane is already bad enough. Eating not-great, highly caloric food only makes it worse.

Apparently, if you’re in First Class, you’re getting even richer, more caloric food.

Why does this matter?

For one, planes are just not the place to eat food.

The food is gross, wildly over-spiced (because your taste buds are affected due to the humidity changes), and people get gassy on board a flight.

Why waste your calories on such a gross dining experience?

Handy tip: Bring your own food, like a salad or a wrap — something healthy that’ll keep you full.

16. The time an airplane served the grossest burger ever.

Lots of people have complained about the burger, which apparently turned out to be made of chicken. Huh.

Literally, the internet has decided this burger is the grossest food ever. And who can blame them?

It looks like a blob of something totally indiscernible.

Have you set your eyes upon this “cold, crumbly pork” burger? It’s despicable.

Apparently, it comes with a “patty made of mystery meat, processed cheese, and few shreds of cabbage, a wilted lettuce leaf and an unidentified watery, thin, brown-red sauce.”

17. That time we all enjoyed dinner with a dead body aboard.

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In fact, dead bodies fly planes all the time.

When a person dies, they often have to be transported.

So, it’s not uncommon! It shouldn’t freak you out, either.

But the idea is sort of unnerving, even if it doesn’t do anything bad to our food. You wouldn’t want to eat in a restaurant with a dead body, would you?

Bonus: The time 17,000 pictures were uploaded to a website dedicated to gross or terrible plane food.

In fact, the site Airline Meals collects pictures of some pretty gnarly food from over 500 airlines.

You know, like this “gluten-free” meal — WHICH TURNED OUT TO BE A SINGLE BANANA.

If someone served you a single banana as a gluten-free meal, you’d be shocked, right?

A gluten-free meal is not just a piece of fruit, like a vegetarian meal is not just an apple.

The best bet for a semi-healthy flight without contaminated, disgusting food?

Here are some valuable tips: Bring your own food, eat the rolls (as they tend to be freshest), the soup or the stew have the most flavor (since this meal is generally not dried out), and never, ever — for the love of all things holy — put your food in that seat pocket.


And if for some crazy reason you do get sick on board (it happens), it’s key that you tell a flight attendant and get lots of water into your system.


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