The Random Hack That May Just Make The Food On Your Next Flight Taste Better

Just like hospital food, the so-called "cuisine" served on planes has cultivated a reputation for being close to inedible. Whether you're in business class or coach, eating airplane food can sometimes be akin to chewing cardboard because, well, the dishes served onboard are often bland or just plain unsavory. Even renowned chef Gordon Ramsay refuses to touch airplane food with a 10-foot pole, and he's cooked a whole lot in his time. "There's no f***ing way I eat on planes," he told Refinery29 emphatically. "I worked for airlines for ten years, so I know where this food's been and where it goes, and how long it took before it got on board."

But it's not just how the food has been prepped; the fact that you are thousands of feet up in the air plays a huge factor in the taste, too. According to Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, "There are several reasons for this: lack of humidity, lower air pressure, and the background noise," (via the BBC). Additionally, when you're mid-air, something in your taste buds changes. 

A study commissioned by the German airline Lufthansa found that your sensitivity to sweetness and saltiness is significantly reduced when you're traveling up high in the sky. Granted, the plane isn't exactly the ideal place to indulge in gourmet dining, but wouldn't it be nice to munch on something more palatable? As it turns out, to make plane food taste better, all you need to do is slip on a pair of headphones.

Headphones can help make plane food taste better

Who would have thought that the very thing you likely already bring with you on your travels would be the same item that could potentially make your in-flight culinary experience a touch better? Speaking with Food & Wine, Professor Charles Spence advised travelers to put on noise-canceling headphones by the time flight attendants start distributing meals as these cans will "cancel the sound of the engines." 

Spence elaborated: "The 80-85 DB of the engine noise while flying negatively impacts our ability to taste sweet and salty," so you may want to wear the headphones and stream your favorite playlists as you eat, "Given that the more you like the music, generally speaking, the more you like food." If you don't have headphones, don't panic as earplugs will work just as well. Now, if you really want to elevate your in-flight meals, James Beard's award-winning chef Nina Compton shared with CNN that beef dishes are typically the tastiest. 

Also, it pays to bring your own condiments to enhance the flavor of your meals. "One of the things that I always carry with me is a little pocket salt ... Sometimes I carry a little bit of Tobasco just for the added kick," she revealed. "Cooking for the masses, you have to basically please every palate. You don't really see things like curries on the menu because not everybody likes that." Just make sure that it's under the limit, of course!