Many of us know how dreadful the food can be on an airline—some even can be completely tasteless.
But why does it taste the way it does? One of the main reasons is that the food served to you is not fresh. It’s made before the flight, then re-heated minutes before it’s served. This goes for both first class, business class and economy paying passengers.
The other reason meals taste different is the high altitude. According to Charles Spence, a food author and professor, “the lower cabin pressure, dry cabin air and loud engine noise all contribute to our inability to taste and smell food and drink”. A third of our taste buds become numb due to the change in altitude.
So what do we do? We for sure can’t do much to improve the food we eat, but we can make it taste better 30,000 feet higher with these few tips.
Put On the Headphones
(Image source: Bridesmaids, the Movie)
Interestingly enough, canceling out the surrounding noise can make your food and drinks more appetizing to your taste buds. More specifically, noises that have tinkling, high-pitched notes, which can boost how we perceive “sweetness by 10 percent”. Whereas sounds with lower-pitched notes boost bitterness by 10 percent as well.
(Image source: Virgin America)
Pause the film that you’re watching on your entertainment screen. This helps you focus more on what you’re putting into your mouth and less on what’s playing in front of you. I’m sure you’ve heard that eating while watching TV is bad for you? Rather than becoming a mindless eater, pay more attention to the flavors as they hit your tongue. The less distraction, the tastier the meal.
Choose Your Wines Wisely
(Image source: Business Insider)
Not all wines are created equal, and some taste even better at higher altitudes. One could even say they were designed to be enjoyed while flying. For instance, Malbec from Mendoza in Argentina is made in the Mountains, where altitudes are already high. As such, this certain wine can be even more enjoyable at 30,000 feet rather than on the ground, as many can attest.
Keep your Nose Wet
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Did you know that your nose can play a large role in how your food tastes while flying? Since the airplane’s dry air also dries out your nasal passage, it hinders how you perceive flavors. As such, carry a nasal decongestant, moisturizing nasal spray or even a nasal douche (yes, that’s a thing), and clear your nose before you drink and eat.
Nonetheless, clearing your sinuses can also effect the other smells around you. Hopefully, your neighbor sitting beside you doesn’t have an off-putting odor!
Read next: How to look great even after a long flight
(This article first appeared on Traveller.com.au.)