7 Airline Snacks That Will Make You Renounce Your U.S. Citizenship

Farewell, stale pretzels—international carriers are treating economy passengers right.

I am particularly grossed out by the idea of celebrating Uncle Sam today. Our country is in shambles, my reproductive rights are kaput, and my neighborhood grocery store was fully out of hot dogs. It's enough to make a gal wonder: Is it time to toss my beagle into a quarantine unit and head for international shores? Maybe. If international airline snacks are any indication, the expat life could be the life for me.

When I say "airline snacks," I don't mean "airline meals." I mean the complimentary nibbles you get on a short-haul flight, usually under three hours. The state of U.S. airline snacks is dismal (looking at you, stale pretzels). But across the globe, international carriers are treating economy passengers to high-end chocolates, piping-hot empanadas, and more. Grab your approved carry-on, stow your electronic devices, and let's review the international carriers with the best complimentary airline snacks.

Singapore Airlines

Per a Singapore Airlines (SIA) spokesperson, SIA was the world's first airline to offer complimentary meals in economy class—even for short-haul flights under three hours. "SIA's short-haul flights offer economy class passengers the choice between two main courses that may include local, Western, or regionally-inspired dishes," the spokesperson told The Takeout. "With more than 40 newly-created dishes, passengers can experience delightful new main courses even if they fly to the same destination multiple times a year." Economy options include a savory fried carrot cake with prawns, as well as congee and laksa, a spicy noodle soup.



While Emirates is known for its luxurious multi-course meals in first class, the airline keeps short-haul economy passengers fed, too. The economy snack menu change regularly, but the airline's website currently lists a mozzarella and sun dried tomato sandwich served on rye and turmeric bread. Emirates also has a long-standing partnership with Dilmah Luxury Teas, offering a full slate of high-end hot teas to passengers including turmeric, coconut, and vanilla tea.


Copa Airlines

If the reviews are to be believed, this Panama-based airline is a bit of a toss-up when it comes to bag handling and general flight logistics. But Copa remains at the top of my list after serving up the tastiest airline snack I've ever had. I flew to Ecuador with the airline in 2018 and was positively stoked to receive a piping-hot cheese empanada as my complimentary economy snack. Some reviews suggest that Copa may have adjusted its in-flight snack system during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic; still, that empanada left an impression.


It's also worth noting that, per reviews like this one, Copa appears to be one of the few remaining airlines to serve coffee in ceramic mugs. I don't know if they're entirely turbulence-proof, but they're a huge step up from the paper cups you'll see on U.S.-based carriers.

Air France

Air France has a reputation for culinary excellence, and that doesn't stop in economy class. While short-haul passengers won't be able to take advantage of luxurious in-flight meals, several travel blogs report that every Air France passenger receives either a stuffed croissant or sandwich during short-haul economy flights. Once again: so much better than pretzels. When did American carriers decide pretzels were a good idea?


Swiss International Air Lines

It's no wonder TikTokers are extremely into Swiss Air's complimentary Swiss chocolate. The bars, which are distributed to all passengers during the fight, are made by Chocolat Frey, an iconic Swiss chocolate manufacturer that sources its chocolate from an ethical cooperative in the Ivory Coast.


Austrian Airlines

One TikToker's trash is another man's treasure. That's how I feel about the above video, in which a TikToker laments the fact that they received a chocolate coin during their short-haul flight. Ungrateful teen! That's a big-ass chocolate coin! Again, way better than pretzels!


Also worth noting: An Austrian Airlines spokesperson told The Takeout that passengers on all short-haul flights (up to 180 minutes) have access to a snack selection known as the Austrian Melangerie. The brand writes: "Whether it's Wiener Schnitzel, Wiener Melange (Viennese coffee) or the traditional Kaiserschmarrn, we prepare the highlights of Austrian cuisine for you." It's not free, but it is Austrian.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand flight attendants are famous for handing out bite-sized hard candies—"lollies," to the Kiwi community—near the end of each flight. They've even been known to get passengers involved, inviting youngsters to help distribute the candies within their cabin. The candies are said to reduce the unpleasant ear-popping sensation that occurs during descent—but they also just look plain tasty.