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4 Secrets to Getting a Better Airline Meal

Sometimes shelling out extra cash while traveling isn’t worth it. In this case, however, it’s encouraged.

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Airplane Tray Table; Shutterstock ID 534992401; job: Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM)VIETNAM STOCK IMAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK

Opt for à la carte

While most long flights offer a free meal, sometimes it’s better to opt out and try tastier, à la carte options instead. You’ll have to pay extra, but traveling is the perfect excuse to indulge. Plus, you may be able to use frequent flier points to pay for meals. Some airlines like Air France and Austrian Airlines have chefs on board. One à la carte dinner option on Austrian Airlines includes wiener schnitzel, deep-fried veal cutlet, a cucumber and potato salad, mousse au chocolat and fresh bread.

On a shorter flight? Try a snack box. Several airlines are trying out the trend of offering traditional convenience-store snacks (like jelly beans and stick salami) and healthier options like hummus with crackers and crudités. Believe us, once you get your food, you’ll hardly be thinking about how much you paid. Did you know that United Airlines’ in-flight menu got a huge upgrade?

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Order special meals

Slightly cheaper than the à la carte airline meals are the special-diet meals. Vegan, vegetarian, kosher and other special options are readily available on flights these days. Plus, some of these offerings have more veggies than the conventional airline meals; you might as well get a few nutrients in when you’re above the clouds. LonelyPlanet.com recommends opting for an “Asian vegetarian” dish that adds more flavor and flair to avoid a potentially blasé vegetarian meal. Check out these foods nutritionists eat when they travel by plane.

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Cute little Asian 18 months / 1 year old toddler baby boy child wearing blue sweater eating food during flight on airplane. Flying with children, Happy air travel with kids & little traveler concept; Shutterstock ID 794633467; job: Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM)YAOINLOVE/SHUTTERSTOCK

Buy your meal before you get on the plane

While this might seem glaringly obvious, buying food before you even step onto the plane might be your best bet. Some airports these days have replaced standard fast food options with trendy bars, restaurants and fast-casual dining spots. You’ll still find good ole Dunkin’ Donuts and Hudson News, but there is so much more to choose from. If you want a more cost-friendly option, bring in wrapped foods from your pantry at home. As long as they haven’t been repackaged and are sealed in their original container, they should pass through TSA screenings. Check out the best airport restaurants in the US.

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Eat outside of your comfort zone

When you’re in the clouds, the cuisine options are not as plentiful as they are on the ground, making your flight the perfect opportunity to try something new. Whether you want to try one of the special diet meals or choose from something else on the limited menu, the sky is the limit. Of course, the quality won’t be top notch, but if you like it on the plane, you’re even more likely to enjoy it on the ground. Plus, your tastebuds drastically change when you’re at high altitudes, so something you previously turned your nose up at might actually be pretty tasty at 30,000 feet. Here are some surprising foods that you can bring through airport security.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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