Why everything tastes different on an airplane

The atmosphere in an airline cabin reduces your ability to detect these tastes by about 30%. Most affected is our ability to taste sweet and salty foods. // Image via NBC

The atmosphere in an airline cabin reduces your ability to taste by about 30%. Most affected is our ability to taste sweet and salty foods. // Image via NBC

Did you know that an airplane cabin is actually drier than some deserts? In some cases, humidity can measure in at less than 12%, reports Travel + Leisure. It should come as no surprise, then, that in an environment like this, your taste and smell start to drift.

Scent starts to deteriorate the minute you step on to a plane, and plummets once you’re airborne. Sweet and salty foods are the ones that suffer the most. According to a study from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, the atmosphere in an airline cabin reduces your ability to detect these tastes by about 30%—think of it as your taste buds going numb.

The good news: All of those other delicious flavors (spicy, bitter, sour) aren’t as impacted. So what do airlines do to make up for that? Add more salt, of course.

Wine and other alcohol tastes differently as our body dries out, too. Liquids tend to expand and contract as the environment changes. On an airplane, wines can thin out and taste more acidic than they would on the ground. One way around this: if you’re going to have a glass of wine on your flight, do it early when you’re less dehydrated.

[H/T Travel + Leisure]


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