5 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Airplane Food
Airplane food is bad. We all know it. That is if you can even get it, which is becoming increasingly unusual/nonexistent for anyone who isn’t flying first class. It used to be the case that fine dining was not only a regular aspect of flights but also a prime feature with many airlines trying to one-up each other with the food available. Flights offered prime rib, lobster and other delicacies to travelers. Nowadays, you’re lucky if you can pay for a bag of pretzels. So what happened? Why is airplane food so bad? The answers may surprise you.
1. The International Air Transportation Association Regulates the Food Airlines are Allowed to Offer
When economy class first got going, airlines offered food as a promotional tactic. But the expense and logistics of feeding mass amounts of passengers became difficult to handle. IATA stepped in and will even go so far as to reprimand an airline for giving passengers more food than allotted.
2. Your Taste Buds are Numbed
As flight technology advanced, enjoyment of airplane food declined. In the earlier days of commercial flight, travel planes rode low and were not pressurized. Today, planes reach heights of 35,000 plus feet so cabins have to be pressurized to allow passengers to breathe freely (which of course is important). The high altitudes and subsequent pressurization dull your sense of taste and make food taste bland. So, even if airlines could offer good food, you might not notice the difference.
3. You Lose Your Sense of Smell
The scent governs about 90 percent of the taste. What you actually perceive as taste is really your olfactory sense. The humidity level in aircrafts is kept at 20%, which is 10% below the average humidity in home and buildings on the land. The lack of humidity causes your nose to dry out thus weakening your sense of smell.
4. “Unhealthy” Calories?
Airplane foods are also very unhealthy. The average calorie count per food item on an aircraft is 360. The salty, sugary, fatty foods served on aircrafts can also negatively impact your mood.
5. Food Temperatures Keep Changing
Cabin air on flights is recycled every two to three minutes. This dries up any food on board. Air conditioning levels on airplanes are kept high, which can cool down food quickly. Food on aircrafts also has to be reheated, and the constant back and forth between hot and cold does nothing for taste. So, even good food would be subjected to a bad taste environment.
All hope is not lost, however. There are ways to combat the negative food atmosphere of aircrafts. In an environment that dries out your food quickly, the best way to keep foods from turning to cardboard is to keep the food moist. Sauce-based dishes do well on planes because the moisture is inherent in the dish. While salty and sweet snacks are more easily enjoyed at low pressures, savoriness is not greatly affected by the high altitude because it is so intense. Foods with strong savory flavors can still be tasted up in the air. Lesson: Let’s get an Umami Burger airplane service.