Unless you scored seats on your own private jet, flying home for spring break holds a few certainties: You will encounter a squealing baby, someone with a hacking cough and in-flight food that is unpalatable to a starving refugee.
What happened to edible airline food? The burgers have radioactive cheese and the hot dogs are stomach-rupturing torpedoes, and that’s if they decide to feed you at all. If you have a long flight and are not on a hunger strike, you are on your own food-wise. But if you apply just a bit of forethought, you can ensure you have some tasty snacks or even a decent meal to get you through that screening of Baby Geniuses 2.
As you prepare for a pilgrimage to LAX this weekend, you have two options: Bring your own grub or buy something once inside the terminal. To avoid paying $14 for a breakfast burrito, and because food is one of the few things allowed through airport security, choose the former.
For food with substance, whip together a sandwich to wrap and store in a Tupperware container. For convenience, you can bring along a Larabar or a Kashi Roll bar, but here are a few more specific suggestions.
Ever wonder why you feel run over by a truck when you step off a plane? It’s because of dehydration. It is far easier to become dehydrated when traveling at high altitudes, so snack on some juice-filled fresh fruit (pears or oranges) and drink plenty of water, and you won’t have to worry about bloodshot eyes as you greet your parents on the other end of the flight.
Another idea is pancakes. You can pack them full of fruit, nuts and spices, and they will keep warm for hours if wrapped in foil. Use oatmeal and eggs with a pinch of baking powder for some stupid-simple but tasty pancakes. If you want some protein, toss a scoop of whey powder into the batter, and you have a complete meal to get you through a layover.
If you are stumbling into the airport at 7 a.m., chances are you did not grab breakfast. But that can be fixed by grabbing a bit of cereal before you head out the door and putting it either in a plastic baggie or grabbing a single-serving box. You can’t bring milk past security, but, if you refuse to spend money and don’t mind approaching hoboland, snag a cup from Starbucks and serve yourself some milk from the condiment table.
But between packing and not forgetting your hair dryer, food might be the last thing on your mind until you’ve gotten through the invasive full-body scans. If you do not care about spending some money, there are actually some decent eateries within the LAX terminals.
California Pizza Kitchen ASAP is a solid choice for better-than-fast food but not quite wallet-busting fare. LAX has one in Terminal 5 and another in Terminal 8. There will be laughs for everyone else on the plane if the flight happens to be serving gross microwavable pizza.
Jody Maroni’s Sausage Kingdom, located in Terminal 6, caters to tired and stressed travelers who want to bite into a big juicy sausage-dog. Another decent Terminal 6 spot is Monet’s California Deli, which serves breakfasts and deli-style soups and sandwiches. For something familiar and filling though, check out Chili’s Too, a truncated version of Chili’s in Terminal 4. In Terminal 5, Creative Croissants offers tasty sandwiches and other goodies while El Cholo Cantina has surprisingly good Mexican food. Terminals 2 and 7 have Wolfgang Puck Express if you’d like to give one last farewell to The Lot’s pesto chicken salad sandwich. For something light and refreshing, head to Terminal 1 for a cup of Pinkberry. To catch a game as you grab your food, Terminals 1 and 6 each have a Home Turf Sports Bar.
Of course, if you just want the airport experience and feel Mickey D’s or Burger King calling, LAX definitely has you covered. McDonald’s resturants are in Terminals 1, 5 and 7, and Burger Kings are in Terminals 2, 3 and 4. And if you need a caffeine fix, most terminals have a Starbucks.
So don’t think you have to contemplate wrecking your digestive tract if you get the munchies during a flight. Just put in a couple minutes of forethought and enjoy something decent to offset the screaming babies.
Mimi Honeycutt is a sophomore majoring in print journalism. Her column “Gingersnaps” runs Wednesdays.