Why Does In-Flight Food Taste Bad?


You may agree that the in-flight meals have a really bad reputation. But have you ever asked yourself a question: “Why does it tastes so bad?”

Reheated meals

Let’s start from the beginning. One of the main criteria for any tasty food is freshness. However, freshness is what the in-flight food lacks. Of course, spending a few extra hundreds or thousands of euros can make all the difference, as a business class could offer you several courses separately, including prawns, prosciutto, steak in black pepper cream sauce or even a French macaroon for dessert.

Back in the economy class, reheated meals, packaged in aluminium containers is all you get being a passenger there. This is because most airlines freeze pre-made meals on the ground and reheat them while in air.

Environment impacts our sense of smell

The environment, in which the food is served, also plays an important role in how taste is perceived. Unfortunately, the aircraft’s environment tends to supress our sense of smell and, as you may already know, smell is one of the most important factors in taste. Dry air and a high decibel level in the cabin interferes with how we perceive food. It turns off our sweet tooth and we lose the ability to taste salty and sweet meals.

Umani taste

You have probably seen the flight attendants moving down the aisle with glasses filled with tomato juice. Therefore, Lufthansa estimates people consume as much tomato juice as beer aboard its flights. Flying enhances the umani (savoury taste) and you naturally crave for seasoned food. This is how the crave for tomato juice is explained.


If you are not a fan of tomato juice, there is another trick you can make the in-flight food taste better. Just add more salt, pepper or sugar to your meal! However, if you don’t consider this to be an option, we still have some good news for you. More and more airlines are now adding naturally intense flavours (orange, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, etc.) to their in-flight meals instead of adding more salt or sugar.