×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Science Reveals Why Airplane Food Tastes So Bad

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the fly-the-tasteless-skies dept.

Science 388

Hugh Pickens writes "At low elevations, the 10,000 or so taste buds in the human mouth work pretty much as nature intended. But step aboard a modern airliner, and the sense of taste loses its bearings. Even before a plane takes off, the atmosphere inside the cabin dries out the nose. As the plane ascends, the change in air pressure numbs about a third of the taste buds, and at 35,000 feet with cabin humidity levels kept low by design to reduce the risk of fuselage corrosion, xerostomia or cotton mouth sets in. This explain why airlines tend to salt and spice food heavily. Without all that extra kick, food tastes bland. 'Ice cream is about the only thing I can think of that tastes good on a plane,' says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. 'Airlines have a problem with food on board. The packaging, freezing, drying and storage are hard on flavor at any altitude, let alone 30,000 feet.' Challenges abound. Food safety standards require all meals to be cooked first on the ground. After that, they are blast-chilled and refrigerated until they can be stacked on carts and loaded on planes. For safety, open-flame grills and ovens aren't allowed on commercial aircraft, so attendants must contend with convection ovens that blow hot, dry air over the food. 'Getting any food to taste good on a plane is an elusive goal,' says Steve Gundrum, who runs a company that develops new products for the food industry."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

388 comments

The good old days... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474439)

PanAm used to cook four-course meals on their flights. What happened?

Re:The good old days... (5, Insightful)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | about 2 years ago | (#39474495)

they removed the kitchens to cram in more people

Re:The good old days... (4, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | about 2 years ago | (#39474753)

Which is quite understandable, if somewhat depressing. The bit I don't get is why so many airlines still insist on serving food which is never going to survive the cook-chill-reheat process properly - even a decent chef would have trouble making a chicken breast and steamed veg, or the vast majority of pasta dishes, taste good under those conditions. Shepherd's pie, or curry, or a burrito, on the other hand, will all come out just fine. It's not always the case, but even in business class, when they actually have put in the money and effort, there seems to be a surprisingly high chance of a menu that just isn't designed to travel.

Re:The good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474497)

Jet fuel got expensive...

Re:The good old days... (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#39474599)

What happened?

Deregulation. Once airlines were deregulated, airlines were free to give customers what they wanted (low prices) instead of what the government thought they wanted (extremely expensive food).

I have read that serving a meal on an airplane costs the airline about $50. I would rather save $50 on the ticket price and bring a sandwich and an apple in my backpack.

Re:The good old days... (4, Funny)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#39474655)

Do they still let sandwiches and apples on? A determined terrorist could disquise plastic explosive as mustard and blow out a window.

Re:The good old days... (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#39474871)

This may be modded funny, but I was serious... this is exactly the type of 'well, it could happen' hypothetical attack that the TSA and it's counterparts around the world would take seriously. Recall that for a time (was it ever reversed?) passangers were forbidden from carrying their own drinks onto the flight out of a fear that the bottles could contain a liquid explosive?

Re:The good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474927)

A determined terrorist could disquise plastic explosive as mustard and blow out a window.

Hell, real airline mustard could do the same thing from just being eaten!

Re:The good old days... (1)

Krau Ming (1620473) | about 2 years ago | (#39475053)

Every sandwich molested and/or scanned before it can get on that plane. Some are even taken out of their wrapper and humiliated if it suspected that there is extra spicy sauce between the bread slices.

Re:The good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474941)

Except that the airlines now also charge you a $50 carry-on item fee for bringing that backpack.

Re:The good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474963)

Deregulation, really?

I am not aware of any regulation from any government covering the taste of food. Exactly what regulation was it exactly that used to prevent airlines serving poor tasting food and which has now been removed allowing airlines to serve us the bland paste we consumers so obviously crave?

Re:The good old days... (1, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39474633)

The peanut farmers successfully lobbied management.

Then when peanuts were proven to be fatal to those with allergies, and banned after the government was lobbied, the potato chip lobbyists stepped in, and the premade-sandwich-maker's union had a few things to say as well.

In the meantime, the people kept demanding cheaper and cheaper air fares, until the airlines finally gave up on subsidized meals and just started gouging people the same as a sports arena with a game on. Captive audience, extortionate prices. It's an obvious way to boost profits, right?

But in all seriousness, I never found airline food to be any worse than any other steamer-tray/precooked meals I've had elsewhere. But I am annoyed that so many airlines have dropped food from their services entirely. I've even had a couple short-haul flights where they didn't even try to serve beverages, so you were effectively treated even worse than cattle: you have to provide water and food to cattle or be charged with animal abuse.

Re:The good old days... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474731)

What happened?

Terrorists.

Re:The good old days... (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#39474739)

In the era of internet searches for flights basically the only thing you compete on is price and times. Everything else only matters to business customers who are contented with champagne and seats which don't jam their knees into their chins.

And safety regulations, which, despite the talking points of some political parties, do exist for a reason.

When the experience of travel matters (say a cruise) you can pitch a more expensive product than the next guy as a different experience that justifies a higher cost. But people view the air travel portion as an inconvenience (which I suppose it is) that must be endured rather than a value added part of the experience. No one likes flying anymore, and if you still do, there are some TSA screeners who will adjust your excitement to approved levels.

Re:The good old days... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | about 2 years ago | (#39474797)

In the era of internet searches for flights basically the only thing you compete on is price and times. Everything else only matters to business customers who are contented with champagne and seats which don't jam their knees into their chins.

I'd be interested to see how Pan-Am era ticket prices compare to business class today - idiotic security aside, is it actually the case (as many seem to think) that you got better service for your money back then, or do you still get the same service for a few grand, with the added option of shitty service for a few hundred?

Re:The good old days... (4, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#39474949)

People do not want to pay an inflation adjusted price of $10,000 per ticket. The olden day there was high service people people who flew would pay for the premium price.
Now the price of Fuel is much higher, and more people are demanding to travel. And the price of any luxury adds a lot to the cost of the flight.

Think about it, A full kitchen where you can put 30 more people per flight. Would add about $200 to the price of your ticket, Just due to the space. Then there is hiring people to do the work, store the extra food... It adds up.

As customers we decided that we would prefer cheaper rates and be treated like cattle, then to pay a lot more and treated like a human.

First diarrhea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474455)

Just finished my airplane meal.

Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to 8k (5, Informative)

gavron (1300111) | about 2 years ago | (#39474457)

The modern airliner cabin is pressurized to a pressure altitude of 8,000ft.
That means that as you go from airport altitude to your cruising altitude the cabin only increases
in pressure to feel like 8,000ft.

That's below the 10,000ft where the OP claims cotton-mouth, and below the 14,000 where you
can't breath, and well below the 35,000 OP cites as cruising altitude.

See: http://tinyurl.com/brmpv3j [tinyurl.com]

The original article is just pure hogwash.

E

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (4, Funny)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | about 2 years ago | (#39474511)

The original article is just pure hogwash.

Indeed, some of the best peanuts I've ever had were on airlines.

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (5, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#39474527)

If cottonmouth tales away your sense of taste, then why does everything taste so much better after a big doob?

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (3, Insightful)

MisterMidi (1119653) | about 2 years ago | (#39474787)

Because your appetite is regulated by cannabinoid neurotransmitters. Your brains can't tell the difference between the external cannabinoids (from your doob) and the ones it produces itself. Maybe they should start handing out space muffins on board :)

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (3, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39474659)

The cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet but with very dry air from outside. Humidifying the air would require carrying many extra gallons (hundreds?) of fresh water.

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#39474789)

The cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet but with very dry air from outside. Humidifying the air would require carrying many extra gallons (hundreds?) of fresh water.

Or, cramming in a few hundred mouth breathers who are stoked on either starbucks (intensifying the dehydration) or fiji water (intensifying rehydration and wallet depletion)... Then again, the real substantial humidity bump happens after they all start complaining about their lousy in flight meal so i can see where the article has a point.

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (2)

ultranova (717540) | about 2 years ago | (#39474893)

Humidifying the air would require carrying many extra gallons (hundreds?) of fresh water.

If you use a heat exchanger to warm incoming air with outgoing air, it should be possible to recover and reuse the moisture.

Alternatively, you could just give up and give people military rations.

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 2 years ago | (#39474999)

...just give up and give people military rations.

One MRE should be enough to frighten the entire plane into fasting.

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (1)

ibwolf (126465) | about 2 years ago | (#39474923)

The cabin is pressurized to 8,000 feet but with very dry air from outside. Humidifying the air would require carrying many extra gallons (hundreds?) of fresh water.

As I understand it, the main reason for the dry air is that it reduces metal fatigue (via oxidization). Planes made of carbon fiber (e.g. the 787) should (or at the very least could!) have less dry air.

OP talked about HUMIDITY (1)

Arrepiadd (688829) | about 2 years ago | (#39474699)

OP says that the ten thousand taste buds (i.e. notice how there was no mention of pressure at that point) work fine as long as there is humidity. Whether at 8 thousand feet or 35 thousand feet, what the OP says is that the really low humidity inside the plane (to guarantee its structural integrity on the long run) is bad for the taste buds and thus for the taste of food.

The article may be crap, but not for the reasons you point!

Re:OP talked about HUMIDITY (2)

ryanov (193048) | about 2 years ago | (#39474843)

The 787 will have a more humid cabin. Will be interested to see if it makes a difference in the food.

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474995)

For me it is due to the air pressure change, not the altitude. My ears plug up and my sinuses get stuffy or otherwise "off". After that I can't taste much of anything (I also feel like shit).

The thing is, it doesn't have to be that way. A few times I have had a pilot that adjusts the cabin pressure just right. I think they took more time adjusting it rather than being lazy. When done that way I couldn't even tell that the cabin pressure changed. It was awesome. Unfortunately I have only ever had pilots that did this very few times out of hundreds of flights.

Re:Yeah... except at 35,000ft it's pressurized to (1)

tunapez (1161697) | about 2 years ago | (#39475003)

The original article is just pure hogwash.

That's what I came to say. I try to bring food on-board whenever I'm aloft for multi-hours, most recently National coney dogs(yes I always bring extra for my seatmate/s discretion). The vote was unanimous, they tasted awesome at 30,000ft. If at all possible, I suspect they tasted better at altitude, but I am extremely biased when it comes to coneys.

Sure blame the taste buds... (5, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | about 2 years ago | (#39474459)

Blame the taste buds? That's like blaming the controller when you suck at video games.

Re:Sure blame the taste buds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474661)

Blame the taste buds? That's like blaming the controller when you suck at video games.

Damn wireless! They delay between when I pressed the button and when it happened in the game got me killed!

Re:Sure blame the taste buds... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474913)

try to find the episode of Heston Blumenthal mission impossible series where he looks at airline at why food doesn't taste as good in the air and how to improve it
he's a michilin star cook so I think he knows thing or two about taste

Really now? (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#39474463)

Food I've bought in the terminal and brought aboard tasted just fine to me. Way too expensive, but that's a different story.

Re:Really now? (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#39474701)

For anyone who likes to fly with their own food, I recommend Calvin Trillin's lovely story "Fly Frills to Miami", which is from his book Alice, Let's Eat.

Brown Bag (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474465)

The food I bring to eat on the plane tastes fine...

But Wait... (3, Funny)

sfhock (1308629) | about 2 years ago | (#39474469)

Why is it that food I bring on board with me still tastes good given all these environmental factors? Oh yeah, cause Airline food just plain sucks...

Alternative Solution (1)

No, I am Spratacus! (2281684) | about 2 years ago | (#39474471)

It seems there is an alternative solution to this problem - don't serve food, and airlines have adopted it for flights that are not at least several hours long.

Re:Alternative Solution (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#39475079)

Indeed.

I'd rather them take the cost off the ticket (somewhere around $50 a person apparently) and bring my own cheaper yet much better food on board or just not eat (I can go a surprisingly long while before I actually get uncomfortably hungry).

Alternatively: sweets, raw veg and fruit (1)

fleeped (1945926) | about 2 years ago | (#39474491)

Can't people survive without cooked food for a flight's duration? Unless you're crew, the current solutions for cooked food look appaling.

Re:Alternatively: sweets, raw veg and fruit (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#39474863)

For flights up to about 5 hours, most do indeed go without as these flights only offer a drink and your choice of overpriced candy bars. After that, people start to get antsy for some free meal of some sort (more so if they have some form of diabetes which you can be sure makes up a good sized contingent on any flight these days.) Why the airlines don't just offer meals that are intended to be cold (a nice chicken salad, a cold-cut sub sandwich, wrap, etc.) is beyond me.

When I travel, I just buy one of these from the dozen or so places in any airport that vends them and don't worry about what (if anything) is going to be served in flight. The airlines really should just forgo any hot meal kind of options completely and just give food vouchers at the gate for any flight that included a meal, and the passengers can just go get the food they actually want and bring it with them.

Re:Alternatively: sweets, raw veg and fruit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39475017)

Not on a flight from Chicago to Tokyo, no.

Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474501)

But... this was in a documentary on TV over a year ago!

Re:Old news? (3, Informative)

neokushan (932374) | about 2 years ago | (#39474621)

I was just about to post the same thought. I remember the show, it was about a "crazy" TV Chef Personality trying to tackle places where food was notoriously bad.

Chef in question - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heston_Blumenthal [wikipedia.org]
Show in question - http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.channel4.com%2Fprogrammes%2Fhestons-mission-impossible&ei=Q4hwT8GrEsii8QPNhay_DQ&usg=AFQjCNFV9XA0VmmjP41FvOGX8fjKBTKZig [google.co.uk]

I can't find any links that go into detail about what the program found out, but this isn't a bad place to start: www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEoQtwIwAw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.terminalu.com%2Ftravel-news%2Fheston-blumenthal-proves-that-british-airways-can-improve-inflight-food-standards%2F6728%2F&ei=ZYhwT83XNsr_8QPLmJ2_DQ&usg=AFQjCNGkMupkhlsjgyVT2VRbmVFHAThPGw

All of the reasons in the summary are gone over - dried out senses, pressurised environments etc. except Heston went a step further and discovered that certain flavours aren't as affected by the different atmosphere. This show aired over a year ago.

Old news indeed.

What a load of BS! (4, Insightful)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#39474507)

I find it hard to believe that because of high altitude, the food is going to taste bad, yet they can send food into space that astronauts say taste just fine. IMO, the reason the food tastes bad, is because the Air Lines are too damn cheap to provide good quality food!

Re:What a load of BS! (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39474571)

I find it hard to believe that because of high altitude, the food is going to taste bad

Winter in Denver above 5000 feet simply can't be that much different than a pressurized cabin, yet people in Denver don't starve to death.

Some of my best meals have been eaten while wearing snowshoes on the side of a mountain/hill. Builds up an appetite, I'm having fun, etc.

Re:What a load of BS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474697)

There's a slight difference between 5000 feet and 30000 feet. You may want to ponder that a bit.

Re:What a load of BS! (5, Funny)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#39474859)

There's a slight difference between 5000 feet and 30000 feet.

Likewise, there's a slight difference between the outside and inside of the cabin at 30000 feet.

Yeah, I bet! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474525)

'Ice cream is about the only thing I can think of that tastes good on a plane,' says Marion Nestle

And only chocolate ice cream at that, eh Nestle?

Psychological effects (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#39474531)

I thought it was psychological effects? Being molested by federal agents, being treated like a terrorist, being herded like cattle at a slaughterhouse, mind numbing boredom waiting around, late of course, sounds like a fun date, what could possibly go wrong? Doesn't everyone else look forward to a full body cavity search before a gourmet meal?

Also only a tiny fraction of my travel, on ground or in airplane is for fun. Mostly its because I have to meet someone at work, training, fix something, somebody far away croaked, etc. Its almost never involves good news. Flying home because granny died last night is going to kind of ruin the dining experience regardless what they do. Or traveling to the worlds most boring, tiring, and pointless meeting while in a bad mood ruins the dining experience. I have traveled for fun, its just that I make 5, maybe 10 business-related trips for each vacation.

Re:Psychological effects (4, Informative)

radaos (540979) | about 2 years ago | (#39474799)

Previous research has linked high noise levels, such as found on aircraft, with the perception of blandness in food. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11525897 [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Psychological effects (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 2 years ago | (#39475071)

If that were true, then food would taste lousy in every pub or sports bar & grill in existence.

Wait, on second thought, you might be on to something!

Not if you fly first class... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474535)

Having flown first class before, I've had many top quality foods. I've eaten a filet mignon that melted in my mouth, champagne cocktails, and decadent pastries.

Different airlines (3, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 2 years ago | (#39474537)

Whenever I fly Singapore, Thai or other Asian airlines the food is fine. However, on Western airlines.......Delta, KLM, BA, etc, the food sucks. Different philosophies maybe?

Re:Different airlines (1)

will_die (586523) | about 2 years ago | (#39474609)

One major difference is the price they charge.
Transatlantic flights on my own dime I go with the cheaper airlines and get small food snacks, when on someone else dime I go with the higher priced airlines, all economy, and get better food.

Re:Different airlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474617)

asian food tend to be more spicy, and they might not be so afraid of salt as the americans

Re:Different airlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474649)

Iberia food is delicious (business class).

Re:Different airlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474773)

Well, yeah. Business class food is much better.

In economy class, Iberia food is just as bad as everyone else's.

Re:Different airlines (1)

berashith (222128) | about 2 years ago | (#39474675)

This is even true for a Delta ticket that uses an AirFrance plane. The Air France flight has great food and flight attendants that are under 45 years old.

Re:Different airlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474829)

I had a totally different experience recently... I had the opportunity to travel from London to Dallas on BA in business class... and the food was excellent. I mean it and I'm french. The only bad thing was some "french mustard"... not french for sure ^^
Same on the way back.

Was I lucky ?

Sounds like a perfect application for sous vide (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474539)

Sous Vide would seem to be near perfect (with proper engineering of the water bath).
Precooking is trivial as is a cook/chill process.
With precooked packets all that is required is a reheat which is not terribly time consuming, especially if the meat is cut thin.
 

Nonsense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474543)

I almost always bring my own homemade food on the plane (nothing complicated, just sandwiches and a fresh fruit), and it tastes perfectly good in the air -- basically the same as it does on the ground.

I maintain that the problem with airplane food is that it is shit.

Excuses (3, Funny)

lfp98 (740073) | about 2 years ago | (#39474545)

Sounds like a lot of lame excuses for cheap tasteless food. Why is it that, whenever I take my own sandwich onboard, it tastes just fine?

it's the lack of atmosphere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474553)

I bet that food on a overcrowded greyhound bus would taste just as bad.

Pizza ovens in plane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474587)

" For safety, open-flame grills and ovens aren't allowed on commercial aircraft"

French president Sarkozy has pizza ovens in his plane [911pizzas.com].

olds (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | about 2 years ago | (#39474635)

Yes, and? This has been known for many years. Most airlines have special kitchens for their chefs to work in which artificially create in-flight atmosphere (pressure, humidity, etc.) so the chefs can taste what their food is like to the passengers.

I don't see any recent breakthroughs mentioned. So what the heck is this blogging nonsense doing on the frontpage?

Re:olds (1)

rHBa (976986) | about 2 years ago | (#39475047)

Mod parent up. I remember learning about this at high school (or was it college) 15-20 years ago.

Ginger-ale at 30,000' (2)

Y-Crate (540566) | about 2 years ago | (#39474667)

Nothing tastes better. I'm not entirely sure why. But it's never quite as good back on the ground.

Re:Ginger-ale at 30,000' (1)

Daetrin (576516) | about 2 years ago | (#39475035)

I agree about ginger ale, but diet coke and V8 also taste great when you're in the air. I like diet coke on the ground, but not so much V8. The only part of the article that seems factual is the part about the air being pretty dry, so i expect that anything liquid seems a lot better than it would under "normal" circumstances

Like everyone else commenting on the article i've found that any food i bring with me tastes pretty much the same as it does on the ground. The airlines may have trouble _preparing_ food at altitude, but there's nothing magical happening to your taste buds. If the airline food tastes bad it's either because they can't cook properly during the flight or it was just bad food to begin with.

Who needs airplane food to taste good (1)

21mhz (443080) | about 2 years ago | (#39474669)

Not being a blue blood accustomed to first class travel, I see airplane food strictly as something to sustain me through a long flight, and relieve the boredom.

On shorter range flights (such as across much of Europe), only drinks are necessary, and anything is vastly better and more convenient on the ground, even in airport restaurants. Short layovers when connecting flights may be a problem, though, so it's good to be able to get a meal sometimes. Low cost carriers know all this, so they offer in-flight food for an extra charge.

This is an economy class problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474685)

"'Getting any food to taste good on a plane is an elusive goal,' says Steve Gundrum, who runs a company that develops new products for the food industry."

They seem to manage OK in business class, from my extremely limited experience. It's only the cattle class food that's awful.

And the snacks I bought at the airport? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474721)

If this is so, why are the snacks I bought while waiting at the airport still just as tasty?

Broccoli... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474741)

... is the reason airplane food is so bad. If you *know* you're going to pre-cook, freeze, and re-heat food, you don't use anything of the brassica family as it'll turn inedible. Broccoli, however, will turn to such a disgusting yellow mush it's an insult to anyone's taste buds. Altitude really doesn't come into play here.

That doesn't mean this wasn't a good read, mind you. But improving airplane food doesn't need science, it just needs some common sense & cooking skill.

Cheapskates! (5, Insightful)

fleeped (1945926) | about 2 years ago | (#39474757)

From TFA, 2nd page, shows the mentality:

FOR airlines like Delta, these are not trivial matters. A decision a few years ago to shave one ounce from its steaks, for example, saved the airline $250,000 a year. And every step of kitchen labor increases costs when so many meals are prepared daily. An entrée accounts for about 60 percent of a meal’s cost, according to Delta, while appetizers account for 17 percent, salads 10 percent and desserts 7 percent.

Delta also calculated that by removing a single strawberry from salads served in first class on domestic routes, it would save $210,000 a year. The company hands out 61 million bags of peanuts every year, and about the same number of pretzels. A one-cent increase in peanut prices increases Delta’s costs by $610,000 a year.

The tastebud stuff sound like pathetic excuses..

I'm one of those weirdos... (1)

Cazekiel (1417893) | about 2 years ago | (#39474763)

...who LIKES airplane food. Why? Dunno. The only thing I don't like is that out of the two choices they give, the best one is always taken by the time they get to my priceline-cheap-assed seat. If it's 'beef or fish', I resign myself, sadly, to the latter before they even get to me. But on the return flight home on my first international flight, they started handing out these pretty boxes to everyone. I thought they were gifts people could buy, as they'd just mentioned the duty-free abilities we had. But the guy comes over and hands me one. Is it stupid that I got all bright-eyed, saying "What... I get one?" when all it was was a boxed lunch of a sandwich, fruit and this ridiculously-delicious shortbread cookie? I need to get out more, I suppose.

Keep the plane pressured then (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#39474821)

I know this is easier said then done and they have reasons for skimping on the pressure. BUUUUT it would be more comfortable if the pressure slowly transitioned from the take off pressure to the landing pressure with no consideration at all for the exterior pressure.

I'm assuming the reason they don't fully pressurize the plane is that it puts strain on the airframe or the cabin or it's hard to keep the plane pressurized. If that's the case just consider making that a feature in future plane designs. Passengers would prefer it. No screaming children clutching their ears.

Just an idea.

Re:Keep the plane pressured then (1)

dlgeek (1065796) | about 2 years ago | (#39475019)

The new 787 is supposed to have a much higher internal pressure for a significant improvement in passenger comfort. (link) [wikipedia.org]

How about the research already done 2 years ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474845)

Another study demonstrated the effect of airplane noise on diminished taste and palatability:

One quick article on the study:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/science-finds-the-plane-truth-about-inflight-meals-2107130.html

Presentation is just as bad (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#39474861)

I'd prefer a cold bento-style lunch over the hot gloopy running-together mess they server on planes.

Re:Presentation is just as bad (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#39474879)

Automatic writing slip - serve, not server. My fingers automatically add in the R whether I intend to or not.

Re:Presentation is just as bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39475037)

I agree. The best airline food I've had is on Korean Air, and Air Japan. All the food is separated, and you get about 10 different items.

Etihad has great food (1)

ehiris (214677) | about 2 years ago | (#39474881)

Great food in economy and they even give you metal butter knives so they might actually cook it because they're not a bunch of wusses.

Bad taste, or just tastes bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39474887)

So now we know that the reason why airplane food tastes so bad. It isn't that the food tastes bad. It's just that at altitude, we all have bad taste! :-)

Of course, that doesn't explain why a fresh-caught trout sauteed with fresh-picked mushrooms tastes like heaven when you are at 10,000+ ft altitude in the Rocky Mountains...

Lies, damned lies (1)

guyniraxn (1579409) | about 2 years ago | (#39474931)

I've bought sandwhiches prior to flying and eaten them on the plane numerous times, they still taste delicious. I don't know what they're doing wrong but it isn't the altitude.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...