Experts reveal the worst food you can eat while flying

There have been a fair few studies on plane food, with many linking altitude as the reason most meals seem ‘plain’.

No, it’s not the airline chef’s fault, or that of the staff simply reheating pre-prepared meals. Evidently, being 30,000 feet in the air negatively affects your tastebuds and sense of smell, according to study by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics.

The study revealed that a combination of dryness and low pressure on planes reduced the sensitivity of human tastebuds for both sweet and salty by 30 per cent.

Read: Travel SOS: How fresh is airline food?

And, according to Fritz Gross, director of culinary excellence at LSG Sky Chefs Asia Pacific, airlines prioritise food safety over taste.

“Our top concern is actually food safety,” said Mr Gross in a Travel + Leisure report this week.

“Because we do such a large volume, we cannot afford to have things in there that are not right. You can imagine how easily an airline can get sued.”

As to the worst food you can order or eat when flying? Mr Gross says it’s pasta. That’s because some foods simply cannot handle the cooking process at altitude.

Read: Airline food facts you probably didn’t (want to) know

All airline foods are pre-prepared and reheated before serving. Pasta is one of the worst foods to reheat safely, and to do so means it will be well overcooked and not even close to al dente.

And, if the ratio of sauce to pasta is off, it will likely lead to a sloppy mess that will be far from tasty, says Mr Gross.

Another report reviewed and rated the foods available on 11 North American airlines and found that pasta and carb-heavy meals may have other negative effects on flyers.

“Eating lots of heavy carbs such as pasta with thick, dense sauces, breads, muffins or cakes will leave you feeling lethargic, cranky, and not full or satisfied,” said Dr Charles Platkin, executive director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center.

“Your blood sugar levels will spike and then fall, which will negatively impact how you feel.”

Read: Four foods to never take on a plane

The best foods you can eat on a flight are those you bring yourself, such as popcorn, protein bars and whole fruits, as well as some foods considered ‘liquid’ such as peanut butter and hummus. Just make sure you take packages that satisfy security and customs rules.

What do you think is the worst food to eat on a flight? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.