Trimming The Fat

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4 min read

This story appears in the June 1997 issue of . Subscribe »

Did you know that, in the past, the risk of dying from the saturated fat in most steaks served on major airlines was higher than the risk of dying in a plane crash? Fortunately, a recent report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in Washington, DC, which rated the health content of the food air carriers and airport restaurants are dishing up nationwide, has found things taking off in a healthier direction.

"For quite some time, it has mostly been a junk-food haven in airports," says Andrew Nicholson, PCRM's director of preventive medicine, "and airlines have not been too far from [that]. But more and more, if you know where to go, you can get healthy food."

In general, the vegetarian meals available on airlines tend to be the most heart-smart because their fat content is usually low, says Nicholson. United Airlines, for instance, received top honors for the second year in a row for such four-star meals as its vegetarian steak and pasta with curry sauce (6.3 percent fat), and a mushroom ravioli with tomato sauce (13.8 percent fat). Continental Airlines grabbed second place, serving up cholesterol-free entrees such as a green bell pepper stuffed with spicy vegetarian chili, nuts and raisins (27.7 percent fat). Delta Air Lines ranked last, offering a vegetarian ragout (48 percent fat).

On the ground, airport restaurants differ greatly in the availability of healthful low-fat and vegetarian foods, with the best offering numerous choices and the worst serving almost nothing. For example, Los Angeles International Airport, which ranked first, offers a wide array of healthful options such as pasta primavera, vegetarian tostadas and cucumber sushi rolls. At Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport, which ranked last in the report, the best choices were limited to a garden salad, steamed vegetables, fresh fruit and air-popped popcorn.

When seeking healthful food, remember that you'll need to request a vegetarian meal at least 24 to 48 hours before takeoff. Here's to your health!

Road Notes

Northwest's Dining for Miles program lets Northwest Airlines WorldPerks members choose from more than 2,300 restaurants in 57 cities and earn three WorldPerks miles for every $1 (excluding gratuity) spent there. Northwest is also offering 500 bonus miles for every first-time visit at over 1,500 participating restaurants. Call (800) 289-6902 for information.

The Mandarin Oriental hotel in San Francisco is offering business travelers an exclusive Executive Package now through December 31, 1997. The offer includes daily continental breakfast for two, your choice of daily newspaper, a complimentary shoeshine, one hour's use of the Business Center's conference room and late checkout. Prices for the Executive Package start at $275 per night. Call (800) 622-0404.

US Airways has added a touch of class with its new lounge, known as Envoy, in Philadelphia's airport. The lounge, next to Gate A8 in Terminal A, is available exclusively to passengers on US Airways' international business class. Amenities include complimentary business services, such as photocopying and incoming and outgoing fax service, plus ticketing and check-in services.

Lufthansa has lowered award levels for its U.S. frequent flier program, Miles & More, by as much as
44 percent. For example, an economy-class ticket for members has dropped from 90,000 to 50,000 miles.

In the mood for a bit of gambling? Swissair has equipped one of its MD-11 planes with an Interactive Flight Technologies' touch-screen system which allows passengers to play different games of chance on certain flights. Credit cards are used to place bets; winnings go as high as $3,500.

And you thought you were the only one who constantly checked your voice mail! Not so, according to a recent Courtyard by Marriott study, which found that 61 percent of those who had office voice mail checked it at least twice a day while away on business.

Contact Sources

Lufthansa, (800) 645-3880;

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., #404, Washington, DC 20016;

Swissair, (800) 221-4750;

US Airways, (800) 428-4322.

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