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Healthful airport food, favored airlines and more

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Layover munchies

Who says you can't eat healthy at an airport? According to the 2009 Airport Food Review just released by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), travelers can find healthful meals at airports in Detroit, San Francisco, Phoenix, Houston and Newark, the top finishers in the survey.

Bad news for Washington-area travelers: BWI Marshall, Reagan National and Dulles International were among the lowest-ranking airports (11th, 12th and 13th, respectively, with Dulles tying Chicago's O'Hare International for that 13th spot).

The committee's dieticians examined the food served at 17 of the nation's busiest airports. Each restaurant received a point if its menu offered at least one low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian entree. The airport then received a percentage score, which was calculated by dividing the number of restaurants serving healthful fare by the total number of restaurants.

For the first time in the review's nine years, one airport scored 100 percent. That honor went to Detroit's Metropolitan Wayne County.

The airport with the least-healthful food options was Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (score: 66 percent).

"Greasy airport food is often as big a pain for travelers as long lines or baggage fees," Susan Levin, director of nutrition education for the PCRM, said in an e-mail. "Low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian meals can help prevent many common health problems, and healthy eating can even make passengers feel less frazzled."

Small airlines fly high

Zagat's 2009 Airline Survey is out, and smaller airlines have soared above major domestic carriers.

Zagat asked 5,895 fliers who flew a collective 97,600 flights last year to review 16 domestic and 73 international airlines as well as 30 domestic airports.

JetBlue Airways, Virgin America and Midwest Airlines got high marks for their comfort, food and service. American, Delta, United and US Airways, meanwhile, fared poorly. Continental got the best reviews among the major airlines.

As for international economy travel, Singapore and Emirates led the pack.

Some other results:

-- JetBlue and Virgin America had the highest-rated in-flight entertainment for domestic flights.

-- Southwest Airlines and JetBlue had the best-rated luggage policies.

-- Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club and Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan were the top-rated frequent flier programs.

-- Oregon's Portland International was the top-rated airport. Last year's winner, Tampa International, dropped to second place. New York's LaGuardia Airport placed for the third straight year.

You can check out the survey at http://www.zagat.com/airline.

Travel ticker

Art Basel, the international art show and sister event to Art Basel in Switzerland, is heading to Miami Beach. More than 250 galleries from the world over are scheduled to participate in the event, which will take place Dec. 3-6 in Miami's Art Deco District. Info: http://www.artbaselmiamibeach.com . . . President Obama is making his mark on holiday train shows at the Chicago Botanic Garden and the U.S. Botanic Garden in the District. In the Chicago exhibit, which ends on Jan. 3, the model trains will run past miniature versions of the first family's home in Chicago and the house where the first lady grew up. The D.C. exhibit, which runs until Jan. 10, includes the White House, complete with the first daughters' swing set . . . Travelers who sign up for the British Airways Visa Signature card could earn up to four domestic U.S. round-trip tickets or two trans-Atlantic tickets under a new rewards program. But you must spend at least $2,000 on the card to receive the 100,000 miles you need for the tickets.

Reporting: Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

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