What’s the deal with a surplus of airline food?

By Tim Nelson
Updated May 08, 2020

Given the state of the world and the widespread cancellation of events over the last few months, it’s fair to say that many people out there miss traveling right about now. Airports are so slow and empty that TSA employees have time and space to assemble food pantries.

In fact, people miss the experience of air travel so much that they’re willing to eat airline snacks from the comforts of home. Imperfect Foods, an online grocery delivery company that aims to eliminate food waste by selling off surplus foods, has taken to offering JetBlue snack trays of cheese, dried cherries and crackers for $2.99. While you’d think that nobody below 30,000 feet would want to pay for paltry snacks, Imperfect CEO Philip Behn tells The Washington Post that the company has sold 40,000 of the snack trays.

Between greatly diminished demand for air travel and policies currently preventing JetBlue from serving or selling snacks on board, Behn says there were plenty of snack packs to give away.

“Almost two months ago, before it became a nationwide pandemic, this catering and airplane meal supplier said they saw a decline in economy and business-class seats,” he told the Post. “This was one of our first covid-19 food waste recovery opportunities. We could only take a fraction of what they had.”

JetBlue isn’t the only airline letting stymied travelers get a taste of what they’re missing. United is offering an online discount code to buy the famous Daelmans stroopwafels it serves in flight. You can use offer code FLYAWAY15 for a 15 percent discount at checkout.

In addition to Imperfect Foods’ work to secure excess snack packs through Jetblue’s food supplier, the Post notes that JetBlue’s snack inventory has made its way to Feeding America, food banks, and hospitals. Other airlines including Southwest, United, and Delta have also donated hundreds of thousands of pounds of food to food banks and other relief efforts around the country and world.

So if you want to complete the experience of imagining you’re on a plane (since you’re already sitting down for hours at a time anyway), maybe these snack boxes will do the trick. Meanwhile, I’ll be counting down the days until I can be on a real flight complaining about snack prices again.