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There’s not a lot of Food Network-like creativity you can muster up in the galley of a 767, but the airlines – or, at least, their contracted vendors – are trying.

But this year’s annual survey of airline food by Hunter College and City University of New York School of Public Health Prof. Charles Platkin showed vast improvement in the nutritional value of airline food served to economy class passengers.

While Virgin America again came in first on Platkin’s list – “still doing a fantastic job of creating healthy food and offering strong choices in all but the individual snack department,” Platkin said – he was most encouraged by the improvements made by Delta Air Lines.

Delta contracted with Luvo, a supplier of packaged health foods, and jumped from eighth last year on Platkin’s list to tie for second this year with JetBlue.

“Delta has come a long way and is absolutely most improved,” Platkin said. “The airline finally woke up and started offering many healthy options — fantastic. Delta is working with Luvo. Luvo’s philosophy: ‘We believe if you can change the way you eat, you can change your life.’”

Delta now offers fruit and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and vegetables and hummus wraps on afternoon and evening flights.

Platkin called it a harbinger of things to come.

“When an airline like Delta makes a move like this, it’s a really big move that is going to start a trend,” he said.

As for other major airlines, Platkin said:

  • United: “United can do much better. The individual snack averages are very high and not nutritious. The meal boxes are OK, but also nothing exceptional. The meal offerings are going in the wrong direction: higher calories, and not one super healthy and nutritious offering in the bunch.”
  • American: “My best guess is that American Airlines is suffering from growing pains. Its menu is not very healthy, with not too many offerings (13 total items available) … For such a large airline to not pay attention to its food choices is a travesty — especially when Virgin America, JetBlue and Delta are making improvements.”

The worst offenders were the low-cost airlines like Spirit, Allegiant and Frontier, Platkin said, mostly since the choices are limited.