You’re on a 16-hour flight and it’s your second meal on the plane. Right this moment, you’re hating yourself because you should have bought that sandwich at the airport, that one with fries on the side, that one which is so much better that what is now being served to you. It’s not like you can return this and look for a restaurant, because you’re up in the air and flying at 40,000 feet.

Airplane meals are usually heated or frozen in the ground rather than prepared in the plane itself, and unless you’re in first and business class (some airlines hire big time chefs to prepare the food for this section), the food that will be served to you will probably not be the best meal you’ll ever have.

Here are some things, however, that may change your perception on airplane food. Tests and experiments have been conducted by different groups and institutions, and most of them have had nearly the same results.

The first theory: It’s probably not the food, but our taste buds and the environment airplanes should fly into. One research says that the environment where we consume our food is one of the most crucial things to be considered.

A study has been conducted with a small group of people. They were blindfolded and given sweet and salty food items in silence and noise coming from headphones. The results state that when there was noise in the background, participants rated their food as having less flavor—they found their food less sweet and less salty. Also, the researchers found out that the participants responded to experiencing more crunchiness of the food when in a noisy environment.

This means that when airlines say that they’re continually improving their food on the menu, they could be telling the truth. So don’t get hopping mad when they say that they’re working hard to make your food scrumptious! If you’re really curious about it, you can try eating the food in a quiet place when after landing.

Also, being on high altitude could affect one’s senses. Another theory is that because of the thin air altitude, your sense of smell could be highly affected, so it’s also possible that when your sense of smell is not working the way it’s supposed to, the flavors could change.

Another thing you can do to make your food be more tasty is by using those little packs of sugar, salt and pepper delivered with your meal.  This may not necessarily be the healthiest thing in the world, but if you want more flavor, these small sachets will be your best friends in the air. Some travelers have even confessed to having more sugar in their coffee than usual, because somehow they feel like the flavors are less strong when they’re flying.

These are just mere assumptions, and the ones who have conducted the tests could be wrong, but the next time you find your airplane food bland or absolutely horrible, you will already have some new theory to back this up.

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