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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

America’s ABCs: “Always Be Chewing”

posted by on August 20 at 11:28 AM

The fact that we Americans have constructed our lives around the near-constant consumption of garbage food—every move we make through a given day takes us past fast food outlets, vending machines, donut shops, etc.; we eat during our commutes, we eat at work, we eat while we watch TV—has nothing whatsoever to do with the obesity epidemic and anyone who suggests that there just might be a connection between the near-constant consumption of empty calories and weight gain is a fatphobic bigot.

With that out of the way: United Airlines has announced that it will no longer be providing free snacks in coach.

Beginning Sept. 2, United Airlines will no longer hand out complimentary pretzels and cookies to economy class fliers across North America.

The airline is also dropping complimentary meals in domestic business class, effective Oct. 1, except for premium transcontinental flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York. And it’s expanding the BOB, or buy-on-board, food offerings.

Oh, and the BOB prices are going up, also Oct. 1.

There will be much screaming and yelling, of course, but all this development means is that United passengers may have to go two, three, or four hours without mindlessly stuffing junk food into their mouths. United passengers who want to eat crap during their flight will actually have to consider whether or not they want the crap being offered badly enough to pay for it.

If the do, they can purchase it and go right on chewing. If not, they can struggle through a few snackless hours.

RSS icon Comments


I still think people should be charged by their total travel weight (person, luggage, etc) for the flight.

Posted by monkey | August 20, 2008 11:31 AM

@1, AMEN!!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 20, 2008 11:35 AM

I'm fatphobic. It's just gross and uncalled for when you have to sit next to and/or see some putrid whale. Vomit.

Posted by Fatphobic Bigot hiding behind a number of names today for kicks | August 20, 2008 11:37 AM

I've actually been chewing at my desk all afternoon (I'm on the East Coast).

I do that a lot... i.e. fail to take an actual lunch break, and then munch my lunch all afternoon.

My lunch today? Collard greens. Seriously.

My point? Sometimes it's okay to ABC. I'm not really eating a lot. I'm having a bite of collards every ten minutes or so. So nutritious! So delicious!

Posted by Andrew | August 20, 2008 11:39 AM

I like @1's idea, though would you still require exorbitantly overweight passengers to buy two seats?

Posted by Ziggity | August 20, 2008 11:41 AM

Airline food is bad. I didn't eat it when it was free. I will not eat it if I have to pay for it. They still let me bring food in my carry on, so if I need to carry a lunch during a long flight I can.

Posted by Jonny H | August 20, 2008 11:46 AM

today i got up at 4:30 EST, and got dropped off at the Cincinnati airport at 5 a.m. my flight was at 6. nothing was open - i was unable to purchase a healthy breakfast - no poppy seed muffins, no granola. i then had a 3.5 hour flight to salt lake.

so, eating the measly peanut butter crackers delta deigned to grant me is mindlessly stuffing junk food in my mouth?

you fly enough to know that's bullshit.

Posted by max solomon | August 20, 2008 11:46 AM

@7: of course he does. But that would ruin the argument, and where's the fun in that?

Posted by Abby | August 20, 2008 11:49 AM

As someone who has 100,000 miles saved up on United, I'm peeved.

Time to start packing sandwiches - and screw the Hitler Youth screening us at the airport.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 20, 2008 11:53 AM

This wouldn't be so bad if TSA wasn't intent on seizing anything you want to bring on board so that you're forced to buy foor court crap at inflated prices.

Posted by ru shur | August 20, 2008 11:53 AM

I don't understand you people. Pack a fucking nutrition bar. You should only have a series of $5s for your vodka. Tell them to keep the orange juice. Who even likes that shit?

Posted by Mr. Poe | August 20, 2008 11:54 AM

At my Seattle desk, chewing on organic, grown-in-Bellevue blueberries. Yummmmm

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | August 20, 2008 12:08 PM

max - Poppy seed muffins & granola purchased at airport = sugar, grease, 7-11 garbage disguised as healthy food.

Posted by Sue Ann | August 20, 2008 12:14 PM

@13: the airport should provide better options. Do they? Well, maybe, but not always. When I fly from home (or better, my parent's home) I can take stuff from there that's better, but if I'm somewhere else, what can be purchased in the airport is my option.

The Anaheim airport was particularly dreadful for this- I had to rush to the flight after a trade show ended (so I'm already cranky and hungry), only to find pretty much nothing that's any good for you there.

But, y'know, any time you're hungry around your flight it's because Americans need to be eating all the time, right?

Posted by Abby | August 20, 2008 12:21 PM

SO Much for "TOLERANCE"...we are all two faced clowns.

Posted by sir jorge | August 20, 2008 12:22 PM

Going without something to eat for 4 or 5 hours has never killed anyone without a metabolic disease, being a little hungry shouldn't make anyone over the age of 2 cry. Catching a flight at 5 am is no different than catching one at any other time of the day if you simply put a bagel (or something) in your carryon. Several airlines no longer provide complimentary beverages either. It is not a big deal.

Posted by inkweary | August 20, 2008 12:30 PM

1. By providing snacks, soft drinks, and free baggage checking, Southwest is now the most full-service airline. The legacy airlines have sunk to the level of the legendary People Express.

2. Attending baseball games in Chicago on vacation I discovered the "man-mountain" phenomenon. At 350-400 pounds and up, these fellows' bodies intrude into the seats on either side, making them unusable. Yet they only buy one ticket, not the three they're taking up.

Posted by United and America suck | August 20, 2008 12:31 PM

Screw you, I want my snacks. I'm flying at 6am on Norwegian tomorrow from Kiruna to Stockholm, and am expecting some tasty yoghurt, warm dark bread and coffee.
The reasons for cutting back the snacks have nothing to do with health. The cut back will probably have no effect on public health. Why make a health issue out of it? Because you think you're better than people who like snacks?

Posted by ams | August 20, 2008 12:33 PM

Didn't you already post this same snark a couple of weeks ago?

Posted by confused | August 20, 2008 12:35 PM

My God, you're an idiot, Dan. A tiny bag of pretzels can hardly be responsible for the obesity epidemic. Grow the fuck up.

And it's interesting how your "I'm just telling the fatties what they don't want to hear" has quickly turned into constantly lambasting the fatties for their sloth and gluttony. For a lapsed Catholic, you're sure a moralistic blowhard.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 20, 2008 1:22 PM

Hey, that all sounds well and good but when I got on a united flight from Denver to Chicago at 5:30pm with a small snack i packed myself for the 2.5 hour trip (I know I should be able to make it that long between feedings) I ended up rationing it all night long. The landing in Chicago was aborted after we had touched down and we spent the whole night on the tarmac at Gary Indiana's airport because they didn't have adequate fuel, a way to get more fuel on the plane, or anyone to drive those stairs up to the side of the plane. We went well over 12 hours and were only given a very old stale granola bar. What made it even worse was that many people had lost whatever food was in their stomach on the aborted landing. If United had put enough fuel on the flight to allow for us to attempt another landing in Chicago we wouldn't have needed extra food - whichever way they go they need to provide for their customers basic needs at the very least.

Posted by dave | August 20, 2008 1:37 PM

Abby @14 - the "Anaheim airport" should facilitate air travel. The Anaheim airport is not your mom. The Anaheim airport is in Santa Ana.

Posted by Sue Ann | August 20, 2008 2:32 PM

18. A lot of major companies are cutting back in the name of anything from public health to saving the environment, but in reality the reason for it is to cut costs. The alibi is nothing more than a public smokescreen.


Most of the flights I take are short, like 2-3 hours short. I never really needed the water, coffee or pretzels/peanuts they came around and gave us, but I took them because why not, they're there. I can manage... though this doesn't affect me because I fly Southwest, which has not followed the industry's lead in cutting back on everything while continuing to charge more and more for less and less.

They can cite fuel costs all they want. Southwest pays the same costs and isn't shoving this crap down our throats. The truth is that their accounting and business model sucks.

Posted by Gomez | August 20, 2008 2:47 PM

@21 Call the waaaambulance.

Seriously, you show me anyone who can't survive for 12 hours without food. People can go weeks without food if they need to. What a decadent culture we have.

Posted by F | August 20, 2008 3:10 PM

Also, I would seriously doubt that any middle- to upper-class American has ever been hungry in the sense that their body is telling them they need food desperately. What we call "hungry" is usually a vague idea that you want to eat something, sometimes out of boredom, sometimes because it's arbitrarily mealtime.

Posted by F | August 20, 2008 3:14 PM

Last time I flew out of Sea Tac I bought a turkey sandwich from Subway there (and I brought ny own empty bottle that I filled up at the drinking fountain). I also brought a bag of dried bananas. You don't have to eat crap on a plane.

And if you are going to charge me extra because I way 220lbs. Then I want you to pay extra for your screaming kid and be charged by the decibel and duration of their crying/screaming.

Posted by elswinger | August 20, 2008 3:19 PM

@22: then why do they have a McDonalds, if the only job is to facilitate air travel? Jackass. Go act superior somewhere else.

Posted by Abby | August 20, 2008 3:30 PM

And on AlaskaAir flights, you can't buy on board with cash.

Posted by K | August 20, 2008 3:48 PM

The best strategy for managing long flights with no free food is to bring a big, empty bottle through security, fill it up with water, and then buy the jumbo fried chicken and biscuits package from the airport Popeye's*. Then distribute biscuits and chicken wings to your neighbors on the plane; you will be everybody's friend.

*This obviously only works at airports that have a Popeye's.

Posted by Greg | August 20, 2008 3:59 PM

Why do you hate people who eat?

Flying can take a long time. Sometimes you end up with almost no time between planes. Having a meal or a snack provided on your plane is a nice convenience.

Posted by Piwacket | August 20, 2008 5:38 PM

Sometimes the free food and over-priced booze is the only thing available to help me ignore how much I hate airline travel. Why oh why do trains have to suck so much on this continent?

But seriously, Dan, you need to lighten the fuck up. I eat right (most of the time) and exercise, and I'm still fat. So what? I like my body the way it is, and I'm healthy as a horse. Study after study (including one today in the nytimes) have shown that weight is not a good indicator of health.

I eat what I like (so does my boyfriend, that crazy skinny bastard) and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by Patrick | August 20, 2008 5:48 PM

Besides, I always thought the food and drink was already part of the cost.

Posted by elswinger | August 20, 2008 9:24 PM

What almost everyone said, plus food raises blood sugar, which makes people calmer, less agitated, and less likely to get into a "situation" on the plane. Air travel is already overly stressful. Why the airlines want to make travelers MORE stressed and angsty is beyond me.

Posted by Kat | August 21, 2008 1:11 AM

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