Airplane food might taste bad as a result of the air pressure and humidity levels during flight. High altitude and air pressure can decrease a person's sense of taste by about one-third. Airplane cabins are set to low humidity levels to prevent corrosion of the airplane body. The low humidity levels can dry out a person's nose, which can contribute to a reduced sense of taste. Airplane food also might taste bad because it must be prepped, frozen, dried and then reheated, or because of budgetary concerns that prevent the use of high-quality ingredients.
More about what affects the taste of food:
- Tomato juice is considered to be one of the few items that tastes better in the air, because it is less acidic than on land. Airline passengers drink about 423,000 gallons (1.6 million liters) of it per year.
- Astronauts often suffer from facial fluid retention and stuffy noses because of the high altitude, which can greatly affect their sense of taste. As a result, hot sauce is one of the most requested food items during space flights because it can be tasted even with decreased taste bud function.
- Background noise might also make food not as tasty. A British study found that people who ate while being exposed to background noise rated their food as less flavorful than people who ate in silence did.