Airplane food doesn't exactly have a reputation for being gourmet cuisine.
The food served on flights has become a typical punch line of the collective "traveling is frustrating" joke. Airplane food is much maligned for its lack of flavor. However, there is actually a scientific reason for those less than tasty in-flight meals.
The air is drier when flying at altitude, which causes the sinuses to shrink. This response affects our ability to taste. Furthermore, the food served on planes is pre-cooked and then frozen or chilled so that it can be re-heated when traveling, which means that the food isn't as fresh as a meal served in a restaurant. If these sinus issues and cooking restrictions aren't enough, a lot of the time airplane passengers experience boredom and tend to look to food as a distraction, which can make an already average meal seem less pleasant.
Still, airlines like Qantas, American Airline and Air France are looking to change the rep of their food with the help of several experts. Delta has even hired the Iron Chef and James Beard winner, Michelle Bernstein to customize their menu.
Check out the video above to learn more about how airplanes are trying to spice up their on-flight meals.
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12 Airlines With the Healthiest Food
12. Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air ranked the lowest on Charles Platkin’s list. The healthiest options for an individual snack are the nuts or the low-carb beef jerky. As for meals, the turkey sandwich is a decent option at 280 calories.Credit: Hemera / thinkstock
11. Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines doesn’t have a wide range of healthy options, but the oatmeal at 200 calories or the chips and salsa at 360 calories are served. The roasted turkey sandwich, which is just less than 700 calories, is one of the lower-calorie meal options.Credit: Flickr / cclark395
10. Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines has limited healthy snack options. The best bets are the nuts or the Wheat Thins, but these are only offered on select flights.Credit: Hemera / thinkstock
9. Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines has limited healthy options but lower-calorie options include the animal crackers, which are 240 calories, and a Cup Noodles soup, which is 300 calories.Credit: Flickr / JanneM
8. US Airways
US Airways has replaced many of its high-calorie snacks with lower-calorie ones, reducing their nuts from 1,020 calories to 300 calories and their cookies from 550 calories to 330 calories. As for meals, the barbecue chicken salad is the best option, checking in at just 190 calories.Credit: USA Airways
7. Delta Air Lines
One of the healthiest options on Delta Air Lines is the Flight Delights snack box, offering items such as salsa, hummus, nuts, and seeds. The box also has a few treats like Nutella and jelly beans, which is why the box has 653 calories. For breakfast, the yogurt parfait is the healthiest option at 290 calories.Credit: Delta Airlines
6. American Airlines
American Airlines offers Sabra roasted red pepper hummus with pretzels, but healthy meal options include a 323-calorie turkey and chutney sandwich. For flights that are two hours or longer, guests can order the 283-calorie Insalata Caprese salad.Credit: American Airlines
5. JetBlue Airways
JetBlue’s healthiest complimentary snack item is the nuts, but the Shape Up box, which includes hummus, multi-seed crackers with sea salt, almonds, ginger snaps, and raisins is, at 496 calories, the healthiest option.Credit: Jet Blue Airways
4. United Airlines
United Airline offers selections such as a grilled chicken spinach salad and the Asian noodle salad for flights more than three hours. These salad selections, with dressing, have 360 calories. Breakfast choices include the yogurt parfait, and a 318-calorie ham and Cheddar rustic ciabatta sandwich.Credit: Flickr / brownpau
3. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines serves a vegan and gluten-free snack box, the Mediterranean Tapas Picnic Pack, which includes multigrain chips, olives, sun-dried tomato hummus, almonds, apricots, apples, and dark chocolate. The snack pack has 533 calories.Credit: Alaska Airlines
2. Air Canada
Air Canada provides healthy fare at less than 400 calories, such as a roasted chicken wrap with salsa, and pasta salad with sun-dried tomato dressing and chicken strips.Credit: Air Canada
1. Virgin America
Virgin America provides nutritional information for each meal on its Travel Light in-flight menu, and each meal is less than 450 calories. Options include breakfast oatmeal; a Protein Meal Box with hummus, nuts, and tuna; and a roasted pear and arugula salad.Credit: Virgin America
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