Morning Flight: Which airport breakfast to choose?

In the past, an early morning flight would be a choice between an airport breakfast high in fat and salt or the other extreme – nothing at all.

Whether you are taking the 6 am morning flight to Amsterdam or the 9.30am to Glasgow, it’s great to know that choices for breakfast at airports are getting much better.

THE SUPER SPEEDY BREAKFAST – If our mode of operation is to allow minimum time to get through security and to the gate, then breakfast has to be a quick drink and a snack.Carol's breakfast in LA 20150218_093821

Self-serve, eat in or take away cafes are great for speed.  Tea, with a self-serve pot of yoghurt, fruit compote and granola is my healthy choice (about 250kcal total).  A latte with a pain aux raisin is my indulgence treat (about 500kcal including the latte).

A Quick Savoury Snack; the baguette/panini have less saturated fat and calories than the brioche/croissants. An egg and bacon baguette at 430kcal isn’t too heavy on calories, but lots of salt.

The Muffin Myth; portions tend to be large. It isn’t surprising to see Choc chunk muffins at over 500kcal but the Hearty Grains/high fibre muffin at Pret a Manger is 470kcal, Starbucks Rise and Shine muffin is 461kcal and even the Reduced Fat Skinny Berry muffin at EAT is 384kcal. The name sounds healthy but the small plain croissants or similar, have fewer calories. However pastries aren’t healthy food, the salt and fat put them firmly in the ‘naughty but nice’ category.

A Drink; milky coffee adds to the nutritional value of the breakfast, the protein helping to keep us satiated for longer. The skim milk option keeps the calories down.   I avoid fruit juice as the ‘free’ sugar content is quite high, although tomato juice is a better choice, I always drink water.

Fruit Salads; I often find these disappointing, too much cold hard melon and grapes with pips. Whole fruit is the best, and easy to carry to the flight. Oatmeal


A quiet relax with a meal at the diner type eateries, sets us up for the day. Apart from a brief nod to a culinary theme, the fare on offer is largely the same. Even places like Weatherspoon’s, traditionally more like a bar, have the same nutritious options as Frankie and Bennies, Giraffe and Garfunkel’s, to name a few.

Porridge oats with a choice of milk and a choice of fruit/toppings are nourishing and very tasty, the other ubiquitous healthy option is granola with yoghurt and fruit. The combination of grains and milk/yoghurt provides the protein and nutrients whilst being fairly light on calories (depending on the amount of granola).

Weatherspoon’s Greek yoghurt with fruit and honey 385kcal

EAT porridge with banana and honey 284kcalpoached eggs on granary toast with beansiStock_000018470196_Small

Beware A regular full cooked breakfast is around 900kcal and contains more salt and saturated fat that we can’t afford to eat them often.

Better to have two poached eggs on granary toast, at around 380kcal. Most eateries are happy to adapt a menu item and if it seems too light, add roast tomatoes, mushrooms or baked beans to increase the quantity without a blowout on calories.

EARLY OPENING in most terminal cafes is truly impressive. 4 am is fairly standard and many open even earlier.

The smallest regional airports have a limited choice for breakfast, but larger airports generally have a good range of options. Glasgow Airport has several early opening bars.

cheese crackers fruit nuts veg in takeaway carton iStock_000011471421_SmallApart from the newest terminals, larger aeroplane capacities have made many terminals get very crowded at peak times.

If travelling from a small airport or wanting to avoid the crowds, you might be best taking some backup options with you.  Good choices could include a banana, UHT pot of creamed rice, small packets of dried fruit, or a small portion of cheese and some crackers.

© Extravitality 2015

Author: Carol Sadler PhD
Carol is a Nutrition Consultant. She counsels in diet and lifestyle change at Surrey Cardiovascular Clinic where clients have been referred by the clinic cardiologists. Prior to this Carol worked in private practice in Dubai for nine years, where she had various media engagements including Emirates Radio 2 Lifestyle Show monthly ‘phone-in’ on nutrition topics; Gulf News Friday Magazine (weekend supplement) monthly nutrition letter answered; City7 TV appearances on Breakfast Television and Lifestyle Show commenting on nutrition topics. Contributions to local magazines, and organizations, eg Rheumatoid Arthritis Group, Grazia Magazine, Living in the Gulf magazine. She continues to write nutrition articles and blogs, recently writing for Reader’s Digest, and HASTE Academy heart health charity and provides talks on diet issues. Carol is a member of The Nutrition Society, a Registered Nutritionist at the Association for Nutrition, Registration No. 912 and a member of SENSE (self employed consultant Nutritionists group for professional development).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *