Airline food: expensive for what it is and generally not blood-sugar friendly. Solution: bring your own. Seems fairly logical -- I pack whatever works for me into a reasonably sized bag or, alternatively, I buy something from an airport vendor. Either way, I board the aircraft with my meal. Shouldn't be difficult.
About 5:45 a.m. Monday, I approached the gate for my flight out of Seattle as I have many times before. On my person: one rolling suitcase of appropriate carry-on size, extender zipper properly closed; backpack containing toiletries, medications, laptop, and other TSA inspectables; and one meal-sized bag. I'll admit it up front -- the contents of the bag were not to be consumed on this flight, but they were readily identifiable food: two boxes of crackers that Almost Dr. Sis can't get easily where she lives (see above). They were a gift for her.
Gate Agent: (as he scans CT's ticket) "Have a good flight."
CT: "Thanks." CT starts walking toward jet bridge with her luggage. Gate Agent takes the next passenger's ticket then notices that his machine is indicating something from the previous scan.
Gate Agent: (to CT) "Wait, you're in an exit row. Are you willing to assist?"
CT: (turning from jet bridge door) "Yes."
Gate Agent: (notices paper bag in CT's hand) "Oh, you can't have three bags."
CT: (raises paper bag such that contents are visible): "This is food."
Gate Agent: (with a withering look) "Yeah, but you're not really going to eat all those crackers, are you?"
Now, at that moment, I have to say I was a bit taken aback. First of all, if I'd been carrying, say, a McDonald's bag of the same size, would you, Mr. Gate Agent, have bothered to question me about my baggage count? Secondly, what business was it of yours whether I was going to eat the entirety of what was in said bag? Food is food is food. As far as I know, your airline allows people to bring their own meals onto the plane and doesn't limit the type of food they purchase in any way. Sure, Manchu Wok is kind of gross to contemplate at 6 a.m., but you're operating a flight that lands in a time zone two hours ahead of this one. If I wanted lunch at 11:00 CST to adjust to the switch, it wouldn't be strange for me to have containers of General Tso's Chicken and Black Mushroom Tofu on hand since your flight doesn't reach its destination until nearly 12:30. But oh right, if I'd been holding a bag from a commercial food vendor, you wouldn't have blinked.
So, Mr. Gate Agent. I don't appreciate your rolling your eyes at me one little bit. For the record, not one of the flight attendants had any problem with the bag in question as it fit under the seat in front of me anyway, along with my backpack.
Just because I had my camera handy once I did manage to get myself some lunch at O'Hare, allow me to offer you a visual aid:
McDonald's sack containing a salad and a small cup of water.
Same McDonald's sack vs. bag containing two boxes of crackers.
Tell me, Mr. Gate Agent -- what, besides your attitude, is wrong here?