How Much Should You Take From the Snack Basket?

“L iterally had my hand slapped out of the C+ basket…Took a bag of kettle chips, 1 pack of oreos and then was slapped away from getting a packet of chocolate covered blueberries. FA said ‘there is not enough for everyone and that she only has 1 basket’…sitting in 20F, ATL to DEN on a 757 that is older than dirt.”

Aside that I do not believe a member of the flight crew can get away with “literally” slapping the hand of a customer, the experience imparted by FlyerTalk member SSF556 does raise an interesting question: how much should you take from the snack basket?

How Much Should You Take From the Snack Basket?

As part of the service for passengers seated in the premium class sections aboard the airplane during a flight, members of the flight crew of Delta Air Lines will walk through the cabin and offer passengers snacks from a basket from which each person can help himself or herself. The snacks vary and do change in rotation; but they usually include sweets such as candy or cookies, savory items such as chips or pretzels or nuts, and usually fresh and dried fruit.

There is no rule — written, verbal or implied — as to the limit of the number of items one can take out of the basket; but all variations usually apply: some passengers take one snack; some take more than one item; and some decline to take anything at all. Theoretically, it all “evens out in the wash” — or so one would think.

“It’s very impolite to get 3 items when a basket full of items is offered to you”, advised FlyerTalk member Bakpapier. “Take one, and two is already really stretching it to be honest. If I wanted to take two, I would politely ask rather than just grab whatever the heck I want without any consideration for the other passengers.”

That sounds fair enough; but some FlyerTalk members took issue with the next thought: “The fact that you get something for free on the flight doesn’t mean you can just take unlimited amounts of whatever you want.”

One such FlyerTalk member is Ny76, who responded with “Are you serious? For Free? Its not free – you paid for a class of service (no matter how you got there), and to say that you are being greedy for taking more than one micro snack pack?”

Perhaps — but could that mean that Delta Air Lines is not supplying enough snacks? FlyerTalk member DiamondInTheRough recalls that “There have been a few times when by the time FA gets to the last row of C+ there are literally only DL cookies and peanuts left. One time it happened, I told FA I will pass and (I think as a joke) FA threw couple of peanuts bags on my table tray as he felt I should have snack on a longish flight (if I recall it correctly it was a 4 hour flight with only one pass of the snack basket).”

FlyerTalk member MS02113 argues that “Many of the snacks in the basket are significantly smaller than one would typically find in a vending machine. Given the premium that Delta charges for Comfort+, the expectation of more than one 20-cent, 0.5-ounce bag of chips is not unreasonable.”


Yes, yes, I know — I can hear the eyes rolling now, as there are more substantive things about which to be concerned in this world; but here is the way I see it with regard to this topic…

…I agree that whether a passenger is assigned to a premium seat aboard an airplane either by paying cash, redeeming miles or getting upgraded, that passenger is usually paying for that seat somehow — and if the seat is meant to be an upgrade from the typical seat in the economy class cabin and one of the differentiators is to freely take some items from the snack basket, I see no problem with that.

In fact, my experiences with the snack basket are similar to that of FlyerTalk member Upthewazzu: “Almost 100% of the time the FA insists that I take another (or two more).” I do not believe I have ever taken more than three items from the snack basket at any one time; but if I ever wanted more of any particular item, a polite request always resulted in the flight attendant happily obliging — unless, of course, the supply of that item had been depleted.

In my opinion, a passenger should not have to worry about whether or not there is enough of a particular item available for everyone aboard the airplane. If a particular item is in limited supply, perhaps the flight attendant should let the passengers know so that no one gets short-changed…

…but then again, I have found myself on the short end of FEBO — which is an acronym that stands for Front Even Back Odd, meaning that on flights with an even number, passengers in the front of the cabin are served meals first; while on flights with an odd number, passengers in the back of the cabin are served meals first — where my first choice of meal was no longer available. Should the other passengers be concerned about that?

While I would certainly balk at someone who grabbed a full snack basket from a flight attendant and blatantly emptied all of the contents into a personal bag, I really do not believe that taking three small items is a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Source: Delta Air Lines. Illustration by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “How Much Should You Take From the Snack Basket?”

  1. JH says:

    “which is an acronym that stands for Front Even Back Odd, meaning that on flights with an even number, passengers in the front of the cabin are served meals first; while on flights with an odd number, passengers in the front of the cabin are served meals first”
    Wait !! This is EXACTLY the same order of service…it should say “while flights with an odd number, passengers in the BACK of the cabin are served meals first”…at least that’s the way it’s been on the flights I’ve taken 🙂

    1. Brian Cohen says:


      Thank you for pointing out that really ridiculous error on my part, JH. I have since corrected it.

      I am just shaking my head at myself on that one…

  2. Ed says:

    I think the ideal method would be to take a few at a time until they are gone so that everyone has a (relatively) equal chance on getting a snack they would like.

    I think a harder question to answer would be about snacks in a lounge. I was at CDG *A lounge today and a lady had an empty carry-on suitcase. She proceeded to opened it up, dump ALL the packaged snacks into her suitcase, close it up and repeat when the replenish the snacks. She did this until her suitcase was full.

    Annoying to me cause I could never get any of the packaged cookies, crackers, chips, etc. Also, IMO, this was stealing yet no one said a word in the lounge.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I have never actually seen that happen, Ed — but I have heard many reports of similar situations.

      There is nothing wrong with taking a snack — even a few snacks — on the go for later; but to dump ALL of the packaged snacks into a suitcase is simply blatant theft.

      Even if all of the packaged snacks were for herself, they can only last so long anyway. I once had a small sealed bag of pretzels in my travel bag but did not realize how long I had it; and they were beyond stale and tasted terrible.

      As Joan Baez — actually and originally, The Band — once sang in the song The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down:

      You take what you need and you leave the rest,
      But they should never have taken the very best…

  3. JH says:

    @ Brian – no biggie…I’ve made a post-it note (specifically for AA flt numbers) so I’ll know where to sit & get served first! You know we can’t survive a flight w/o their “delicious” food!!! Lol 🙂

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is actually not a bad idea, JH

      …except that I happen to find the flights which — for some unknown reason — are the exceptions to FEBO…

  4. Darth Chocolate says:

    Well DL knows the status of everyone in every seat. For D1 or First, on flights with actual meals, they should ask for preference according to status. Would not be so hard to do as well with the snack basket in C+ (but may be awkward). However, since most of the offerings are carb heavy, most times I’ll pass on the basket.

  5. Captain Kirk says:

    Take one, and then ask if you can take a second. Don’t just jam your hand into the basket like you’re a 10 year old trick or treating at the house that leaves the basket outside and take half a dozen pieces because you can. It’s just simple manners.

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