Nope, you’re not imagining it. And we’re not throwing shade to any airline either. In fact, many airlines actually put in a lot of effort and research into preparing food that’ll taste acceptable during flights! The food would’ve tasted delicious on the ground, but the moment the plane takes off, it loses a lot of its yummy qualities.
So why does the food taste bland? Well, it’s because of the physiological changes your body goes through when you hit such a high altitude. Here are the reasons why it’s impossible to have a gourmet meal on board:
#1 The air is too dry.
It may feel like your taste buds died, but rest assured, the air is just dry. This affects your sense of taste dramatically, and suppresses your sense of smell (which also influences taste).
Stay hydrated! And this isn’t as easy as simply drinking water while on board. To prepare your body, take a few days leading up to your flight to avoid oily and fried foods, and drink water every few hours.
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#2 You had alcohol.
Ah… It’s common for travellers to have a glass of wine to relax on the plane. But doing so dehydrates your body further. Combine this with the dry air, and your food is without a doubt going to taste awful.
Same as above! (And don’t lay off the alcohol, duh.) If you can’t help it, and are already dehydrated, opt for the meal that has the most gravy.
#3 The air pressure is low and the engines are noisy.
You probably wouldn’t guess it, but did you know that low air pressure and loud background noises actually decreases your ability to taste sweet and salty? Airlines actually add up to 30% more sugar and salt to make sure you can even taste it while in the air!
Curiously enough, while you can’t taste salt and sugar, these conditions enhance your tongue’s sensitivity to savoury umami foods. Choose these seasonings for a tastier meal (e.g. pick flavours like cheese and soy sauce over teriyaki). Drink-wise, tomato juice is a popular choice.
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