The surprising drink that tastes better on a plane

Kristine Tarbert

We all know the reason airplane food can taste a little funky is because our taste buds tend to go haywire at such a high altitude.

But it might surprise you to hear what one of the most popular drinks is on a plane, given that it’s not something many people love chugging down while on the ground.

Matt Tebbutt revealed on the first episode of the new UK series of Food Unwrapped, that umami-rich foods and drinks take the cake while in the air.

He said it’s because the fifth sense of taste, focusing on savoury umami, isn’t bothered by a change in altitude.

And that is why tomato juice is so popular with airline passengers.

Tomato juice becomes more popular on a plane. Photo: Getty

Even though they may generally not enjoy something like a Bloody Mary on the ground, once in the air, it is one of the few things that retains its flavour, while lessoning the acidic notes people dislike.

The drink is actually as popular as beer when it comes to what people order on flights, with UK airline caterers Alpha LSG, revealing they supply 90,000 litres of tomato juice every year.

Source: Giphy

So if you’re feeling a little let down by you next plane meal, try some tomato juice and you may be surprised.

And remember, it’s not the chef's fault the food tastes so, well flavourless.

Plane food is generally bland because your tastebuds are affected by altitude. Photo: Getty

“At 35,000 feet, the first thing that goes is your sense of taste," Grant Mickels, the executive chef for culinary development of Lufthansa's LSG Sky Chefs, told Conde Nast Traveler.

Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, also confirmed as much to the BBC. He said our taste buds are to blame for the food being bland in the skies.

“Food and drink really do taste different in the air compared to on the ground,” he said.

“There are several reasons for this: lack of humidity, lower air pressure, and the background noise.”

Got a story tip? Send it to

Want more celebrity, entertainment and lifestyle news? Follow Be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram