A logical explanation is the journey of our meal from the kitchen to the plane. Food is prepared, cooled and then reheated. But that’s certainly not the only factor at play. Miles high in the air, the cabin must be pressurized and heated. The fact that the air is colder and drier with a lower pressure affects our olfactory and taste perception. As a result, food on an airplane is often as tasteless as during a bad cold. Research in a pressurized cabin has shown that the saltiness and sweetness of a meal drops sharply, while the sour, bitter and spicy parts are not affected at all.
Stimulating our senses can also influence our taste experience. Scientists have observed that if travelers are bothered by disturbing noises, their ability to perceive sweet and salty tastes weakens. Just the flavors that have already suffered from high travel. Umami, on the other hand, can be enjoyed a bit more. So, noise canceling headphones might help you with salt and sugar. Although the latter will do little good to your health. An extra drink, then, to compensate for the dry air.
“Food expert. Unapologetic bacon maven. Beer enthusiast. Pop cultureaholic. General travel scholar. Total internet buff.”