3 Crazy Facts About Food & Drink Preferences of Business Travelers

3 Crazy Facts About Food & Drink Preferences of Business Travelers

Hanger hits a little different for everyone, but it’s an unwelcome phenomenon across the board.

And especially while on the road — no one needs a meltdown at 30,000 feet. That’s why we weren’t surprised to find out that business travelers’ favorite airline also happens to be the one with their favorite snacks. 

Lola.com surveyed over 1,000 frequent corporate travelers to better understand the ever-changing food and beverage preferences of road warriors.

Who do they turn to? Are they buying or bringing food? Wine or coffee? Are peanuts still an acceptable in-flight snack? We wanted all of the answers.

You got snacks?

So which airline takes the cake for best in-flight snacks? American Airlines (27%) and Delta (26%) were the most popular.

These are also the most preferred airlines for business travel by 28% and 25% of business travelers, respectively. Coincidence? It’s unclear.

When asked which factors influence travelers’ airline preferences, flight time options (66%) and price (66%) were most cited — but no mention of snacks. Perhaps it’s a subconscious influence, or simply brand loyalty — people like what they know.

Either way, the correlation between best snacks and top preferred airline is clear.

How do the rest of the airlines’ snack games stack up? The results identify clear favorites. Here’s the definitive ranking of best snack brands, according to frequent business travelers

best-snack-brands (1)

Airplane food gets a lot of flack, and not without reason.

Most airplane meals are lame microwaved attempts at random meals, like roast beef or bolognese — things that should be eaten fresh out of Grandma’s oven, not peeled out of the plastic wrap and picked at out of a makeshift cardboard bowl.

But, snacks matter to frequent travelers, and are where airlines can redeem themselves. The best snacks come pre-wrapped, whether you’re in the air or on the ground, making it possible for airlines to satisfy customers, even without a fully functioning kitchen.

So what are business travelers snacking on? The top five snacks of choice are: 

  1. Peanuts
  2. Pretzels
  3. Cookies
  4. Chips
  5. Crackers


Not surprising — peanuts are the classic airplane snack and pretzels seem to have staked claim as the allergy friendly option. We also need to give a special shoutout to Delta and their Biscoff cookies, undoubtedly the best airline-cookie pairing out there. 

Hydration Station

But a snack isn’t complete without a beverage. The go-to? Twenty-eight percent of business travelers stick with water, with soda as a close second.



Flying used to be treated as a luxury — champagne toast during takeoff, anyone?

But, the days of drinking on the plane are on the wane. Forty-one percent of business travelers said they like to have a drink during a flight, but only 18% indicated alcohol as their top drink of choice when flying — 8% choose wine, 6% go for a cocktail, and 4% prefer beer.

Breaking down these stats by gender paints an interesting picture.

Are men or women more likely to be drinking on flights? The answer: female flyers. Women are 73% more likely to drink wine on flights, while men are 43% more likely to stick with coffee. 

The data also reveals a new behavior pattern: more than half of frequent travelers opt to bring their own food rather than buying snacks at the airport. And women are 30% more likely to do so than men. 

So what’s driving this change?

Maybe an increase in health consciousness, or perhaps travelers are just tired of paying $14 for a soggy sandwich. Either way, more than half of frequent travelers are trading in the airport Chili’s for an on-the-go homemade meal. 

What’s next?

The data is clear: traveler’s food and drink preferences are changing (and maybe even influencing their airline choices).

So what’s next?

Airports, food vendors, and companies with traveling employees need to start paying attention to travelers’ preferences and purchasing behavior as they continue to evolve.

But for now, we’re off to see what all the hype for snacks on American and Delta is about. 

About the Author: Kathleen Burns
Kathleen Burns was a Content Marketing Associate at Lola.com from 2019-20.