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Mealtime! For most of us is an exciting and positive time of the day, especially when we think about a meal with our family or friends. However, when we talk about meals on planes the response is not quite the same, in fact, most people are less than excited.

This is not the first time I talk about meals on planes, I have done a video about this on my YouTube Channel a few years ago.  This is not something new and it has been known for as far as I can remember. People usually don’t like plane food. But is it a reality or are there other reasons for this to happen?

Altitude changes everything

Well, it is true that some airlines may serve better meals than others. It is also true that different people have different tastes, so what one may consider reasonable or even good, another person may say it’s horrible and we must accept that. It is all a personal taste of each individual.

But there is another major player here that is altitude. An article published by NBC News from 2013, explains this phenomenon perfectly. When we fly, the cabin must be pressurised so we can survive such a high altitude. Humidity is low and the pressure is kept at a level accepted by humans and other animals. Although this is very positive since it is the only way we can travel at 9144m altitude, it also brings a few issues. The dry air and the pressurisation of the cabin alter our palate. It reduces our taste bud sensitivity, the article says our perception of saltiness and sweetness drops by around 30%. The article quotes a study carried out by Lufthansa in 2010 as a source for this data.

So, most probably, if we were given that food on the ground our experience of it would be completely different. We would probably notice how spiced the food is to appeal to our palate and mitigate this problem.

But not all meals are made equal

Like any other restaurant or eatery, there are good and bad ones. So you may find that with airlines it happens the same thing, and again, it depends on the person’s taste. The fact the meals are reheated also helps to make them feel less pleasant.

But you can still have good experiences. I remember a few with British Airways a long time ago. I had a delicious salmon on a flight from London Heathrow to Sydney, and I will never forget their ham and cheese bread on the morning flights from London Heathrow to Lisbon. It’s all part of the memories I guess.

I think, most of all it’s all about mindset. If we enter a plane with the mindset the food is going to be horrible, no matter how good it may be, it will always be horrible to us. If we chose to have a positive approach and acknowledge that we are in a different environment and that alters the way we appreciate food, we may actually end up enjoying it.