6 Airlines That Hacked The Science Of Great Airplane Food

2.72min read

Published 15 July 2019

Flight Centre Author


Emese Graham

Content Manager


It turns out, there are several science-based reasons for airplane food’s notoriously bad reputation. Almost everything about the environment in an air cabin changes the way you smell, taste, and perceive your meals.

The Scientific Reasons People Hate Airplane Food

Research shows that the loud, distracting noises from aircraft engines, pilot announcements, and fussy children (or adults) have the effect of suppressing your ability to taste sweetness, while enhancing umami flavours. 

Studies also show that the dry air in airplanes inhibits your salivary glands, which in turn can limit your ability to taste. [1]

There’s more. Although airplanes use technology that ‘corrects’ changes in air pressure, you’ll still notice a difference at 40,000 feet, which can further impair taste receptors [2]. Many wines and champagnes cultivated at low altitudes typically taste muted while flying for this reason. Whereas wines grown and blended at high altitudes are better suited to taste just as great during flight, according to the findings of Oxford University professor, Charles Spence. [3]

Many studies also suggest that the dishes, glassware, and cutlery you eat with can alter your perception of taste and quality, which doesn’t bode well for airlines that serve in-flight meals in flimsy plastic trays. [4]

Nevertheless, foodie travellers can still have a great in-flight dining experience!

Airlines used to simply boost the salt and sugar levels in their recipes, but with better information from flavour perception research, most now focus on sourcing more naturally flavourful ingredients, herbs, and spices instead. [5]

Best Airlines for In-Flight Dining

A great meal is more than quality food. It’s the way you feel while enjoying it. The best chefs, baristas, sommeliers, and bartenders put as much thought about the dining experience as they do their edible creations. These airlines are no different.

Singapore Airlines


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With Singapore Airlines’ Book the Cook service, travellers flying suites, first class, business, and premium economy can select a delectable in-flight meal in advance. Choose from an exclusive menu designed by their International Culinary Panel up to 24 hours before you board.

Flying suites or first class? Try the lobster thermidor with buttered asparagus, slow-roasted vine-ripened tomato, and saffron rice.



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Expert Traveller Jennie Stewart was thrilled with her experience flying Toronto to Frankfurt with Condor. “The food was delicious, service was great, and wine was flowing!”

Enjoy noticeably high-quality menu options in business class seats, such as beef short ribs with yam, squash, and asparagus or miso style codfish with rice and buttered carrots.



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Fly with Emirates to get a taste of your destination before you land. All in-flight dining menus feature seasonal ingredients and dishes inspired by your route.

Being masters of indulgence, Emirates serves a satisfying seven-course meal in first class, offers “room service” for private suites, and features an Onboard Lounge fit for cinema on their Airbus A380.

ANA All Nippon Airways


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You probably wouldn’t normally say yes to sushi on a plane, but ANA All Nippon’s selections of fresh sashimi are hard to resist. Bursting with the umami flavour that an air cabin’s environment naturally enhances, their business class in-flight menu features tasty selections like seared tuna, jellyfish zensai, and maple salmon jerky.

Fly from Vancouver to sample the creations that earned the airline the Best Business Dining 2019 Skytrax award.

Turkish Airlines


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Turkish Airlines’ in-flight dining has earned high praise from many of our Expert Travellers. Shira Freedman of Toronto shared her fabulous experience dining business class: “The chef comes out and takes your food order for you. The chef can suggest which wines to pair with your meal as well, and their menu is huge! I would highly recommend to anyone going over that way and wants to be spoiled.”

Many passengers will be happy to know that all of the dishes served by Turkish Airlines are halal.

Air France

Photo: Flight Centre Brand Leader, Michelle Suggett of Toronto

With Air France premium seats, you can select your meal in advance and still be pleasantly surprised by the fresh presentation and quality taste. At the turn of the seasons, enjoy a new menu of reds and whites hand-selected for the airline by internationally renowned sommelier, Paolo Basso.

Taste the difference informed travelling makes! Connect with our Expert Travellers today to start cooking up your epic foodie travel journey.

Flight Centre Author


Emese Graham

Content Manager


Flight Centre

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