Complimentary in-flight meals are overrated ... said no economy passenger ever. When you’re crammed in the middle seat between two armrest hogs, a free treat can be a welcome distraction 30,000 feet in the air, particularly when your last meal was hours ago. Here's a list of the best snacks airlines have to offer (we promise, no pretzels). 

A small pile of pretzels rest on the corner of a white napkin on an airline tray. Next to the napkin is plastic cup filled with water and ice.
Pretzels are a familiar companion of many travelers in the US © SweetBabeeJay / Getty Images

Stroopwafel

Not sweet on your seatmate? Grab a free Stroopwafel on your next United Airlines flight. For bonus points, place the thin, caramel-filled waffle cookie on top of your steaming cup of coffee or hot tea, then enjoy the melty goodness.

Island snack mix

While it may not be as good as getting lei’d, Alaska Airlines’ Island Snack Mix is an in-flight aloha for travelers regardless of where they’re headed. Honey-roasted sesame sticks, dried pineapple and macadamia nuts offer that perfect balance of salty and sweet that satisfies all your cravings. 

Magnum ice cream bars

With the cabin air conditioning blasting, you may need to bundle up in your blanket to enjoy them, but free frozen treats can be a nice in-flight surprise. British Airways has been known to break out miniature chocolate-dipped Magnum ice cream bars that are heaven among the clouds. 

A person holds a cookie with the words "Delta" and the company's symbol etched on it.
Delta's Biscoff cookies is a popular airline treat © Melissamn / Shutterstock

Biscoff cookies 

Who doesn’t love Biscoff cookies? The crunchy brown sugar and cinnamon treat has gotten us through many a flight. But if you take Delta's friendly skies regularly, these Belgian baked goods can start to seem a little ... dry. 

Hello Kitty kids’ meals

Sometimes a whimsical theme makes airline snacks seem even tastier. EVA Airlines’ Hello Kitty-shaped carrots and cantaloupe make cleaning your plate fun no matter your age. They’re accompanied by Hello Kitty buns, Hello Kitty pasta, and Hello Kitty cake that you eat with your Hello Kitty fork and spoon. 

Chocolate chip mustache cookies

Ever passed the flight time with a selfie photo shoot? Then you’ll love JetBlue’s Belgian Boys chocolate chip cookie mustaches, which are the perfect photo prop. We won’t tell if you sneak an extra package into your carryon for later.

A trio of alfajores rest in a dallop of dulce de leche mousse on a white plate.
Indulge in a cultural treat on LATAM Airlines © Juanmonino / Getty Images

Dulce de leche Alfajores

We always appreciate an in-flight snack that gives us a glimpse of a country’s culture. Alfajores are a traditional South American sandwich cookie made with honey, almonds and spices, and the version served by LATAM Airlines is filled with creamy dulce de leche.

Full Ethiopian feast

If you’re flying throughout the continent of Africa, then you can forget about tiny bags of bone-dry pretzels. Ethiopian Airlines’ lasagna-style version of doro wat – the country’s national dish of spicy chicken stew and spongy injera bread – is a hearty sky-high filler. The mustardy potato and green bean salad on the side is oddly cravable, too. And the full meal is free to every passenger from the first to the last row.

Poached artichokes

Say what? While they’re renowned for first-class dining experiences, Turkish Airlines also offers coach customers free food that’s pretty incredible. Typical meals include delectable olive-oil poached hors d’oeuvres like artichokes alongside grilled kofta that is out of this world. Plus cake! Never skip free cake.

Best free in-flight cocktails

Free flight food is good. Free flight booze is better. Many international flights offer free wine and beer with a full meal service, but there’s something special about getting a free cocktail, particularly when it sets the mood for your destination. Shout-out to Hawaiian Airlines’ Koloa Rum punch and Cayman Airways’ Seven Fathoms Rum punch, both of which are pleasantly beachy. And did we mention free?

You might also like: Why Bloody Mary's taste better in the air

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