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Why does food on the plane lose flavor?

Almost always, drinks and food on the plane don’t taste good. Why do we have this taste problem when we fly?

When we board a plane, we always leave something on the ground: our taste. Yes, because the food on the plane (and also the drinks) have a different taste, due to the lack of humidity in the cabin, the lower air pressure, and even the background noise. At about 10,000 meters, the atmospheric humidity is less than 12%, a value which, on the ground, is reached in deserts. And the combination of air dryness and low pressure reduces sensitivity to sweet and savory foods by around 30%, says a 2010 study conducted by the German Fraunhofer Institute, commissioned by the German airline Lufthansa.

A second factor that affects the perception of flavors is sound. A study published in 2016 in the Food Quality and preference magazine found that people who eat with loud background noise (such as that of an airplane) experience less sweet and salty, but much more the crunchy consistency, compared to who eats in silence.

The noise, moreover, makes the taste of ripe tomatoes more intense and therefore the fact that tomato juice and Bloody Mary are ordered more often than on the ground does not seem at all random.

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