Why Airline Food Tastes Horrible

There are various reasons why we would want to travel by airplane and even though we prefer it most people usually hate the travel part. That is because of issues like going to the airport, going through security checks, sitting on the airline’s tiny chairs and eating airline food.

In terms of the taste of airline food, a number of people often consider it horrible. And that is largely true and there are a number of reasons usually given for that and they include:

Scientific Reasons

Our taste buds have been shown to be killed by the cabin’s low air pressure. The low humidity in the cabin tends to dry out the nasal passages and for us to be able to smell we need the dispersing nasal mucus.

When the sense of smell is suppressed definitely the true taste of food is missed even if the food is best-prepared, the food would still taste flavorless.

Surprisingly from the study that was conducted in 2010 and commissioned by airline Lufthansa, only the salty and sweet senses are affected. Other senses of bitter, sour and spicy tastes remain largely unaffected. That is why the airline food is often saltier and highly spiced.

Apart from the flight cabin dry air, also the loud noises associated with aircraft also tend to suppress sweet foods taste. Your ears just like your mouth and nose influence the taste of food.

Logistical Reasons

It is not easy to be able to prepare and serve flavorsome food to a number of people when they are all up there with the clouds. All meals are prepared on the ground because of safety standards of food. The food would then be packed and refrigerated to be able to last until distribution.

When on-board, the packed food will have to be reheated in conditions that are not ideal using convection ovens for safety reasons. Open flames and microwaves used in our homes are not allowed.

Apart from the manner the food is prepared; the airline staff has then within a short amount of time to be able to serve very many people, potentially hundreds. They try to serve faster to minimize the chances of airline food getting cold and drying out.

Definitely the type of food that the staff can serve is affected.


The result margins for profit for airlines are usually low and for that reason the airlines have
to try when the situation allows by minimizing their operational costs. There are cost pressures as the cost of the fuel airlines use and also to be able to buy and maintain planes is expensive.

The food sector would therefore provide a welcomed opportunity to save some much needed cash. Food is generally bought and cooked in bulk and therefore the reason why you will find common staple foods like curries and stews.


Travelers tend to be different and some are susceptible to food allergies. Travelers maybe allergic to nuts, vegetables and gluten among others. Because of this, the complexity of serving airline foods becomes even more difficult and some foods may be left out.

In conclusion, a number of airlines have been actively engaging and trying to find ways to improve the taste of airline food. Some airlines are considering fifth sense or umami-rich menu, foods with strong natural flavors, while some are considering changing their light and plastic cutlery, and serving
product that is gluten free among other possible ways.