Why Does Food Taste Different on an Airplane?

Why Does Food Taste Different on an Airplane?

Did you know your basic taste sensitivity decreases with increasing altitude?

We can taste six different flavours, such as sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (savoury) using taste buds located in our mouth. There are a few factors that influence how the taste buds perceive the taste of food:

  • Humidity
  • Air pressure
  • Sense of smell
  • Sound

Once you are on an airplane, all these factors change which affects your ability to taste food.

The airplane cabin drops humidity level to about 12 %, drier than most deserts.

Even inside the pressurized cabin, it is equivalent to standing on top of a 2500m mountain and the fluctuations of height decrease the pressure inside the cabin, compared to when you are standing on the ground.

A combination of low humidity and low pressure leads to xerostomia where your mouth is dry from reduced saliva flow. This lowers your taste buds’ sensitivity by about 30 % and consequently, your food may taste plain. Y

our nose plays an important role in tasting food as the smell can be a huge component of flavor. Low humidity levels dry your nose leading to a decrease in your ability to sniff odors. In addition, the constant sound of the engines, often over 85 dB, can impact a nerve called the chonda tympani that runs from your taste buds to the middle of your ear.

As a result, the sensitivity of your taste buds decreases as a response to the nerve’s responsiveness to sound.

‼️[TAKEAWAY]!! the same recipe prepared on the ground may need to be slightly adjusted if you plan to cook it onboard‼️

Personally, I keep that Maldon salt close and ready in my galley 😏

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