Step upon an aircraft and your sense of taste looses its bearings. Our bodies change in the air to adapt to the atmospheric pressures surrounding us, which in turn decreases our sense of taste by about 30 % when we are at high altitudes. So as unnappetizing as airplane meals are, it’s not the food itself that deteriorates, but the body that is reacting to the high altitudes. The way we taste food depends 80 % on hot it arrives to our noses. Thanks to the filetred air conditiong, the mucus in our nasal passages get dried out, impeding our sense of smell. So it’s reasonalbe to expect food to seem less inviting on planes.
The science of airline food has opened a new front in the battle for passengers in the upper-class cabins. The Fraunhofer Institute, Lufthansa has been able to study how to best pair sauces with foods according to science. In Great Britain, chef Heston Blumenthal has been working with British Airways and studying the perception of various ingredients in airplane meals.