Why An Airplane Pasta Meal Will Probably Be Mediocre

If you've ever traveled by airplane, be it for a quick two-hour trip or a long overnight flight, you're probably well-aware that commercial airlines aren't exactly offering an all-you-can-eat buffet up there. When seated in the main cabin for domestic flights on major U.S. airlines, there may not be meal service at all. And while they may offer a non-alcoholic beverage and peanuts or pretzels for free, you may find yourself shelling out a few bucks for additional food to tide you over. Passengers on international flights and/or those seated in first or business class can sometimes get complimentary meals, however (via Smarter Travel). 

Even if in-flight meals are available and you decide to grab one, chances are that the airplane food will taste different than you expect. This isn't a dig at the airline flight attendants who heat and serve your meal — it's that the lower air pressure and the dry air in an airplane cabin at high altitude messes with your senses of taste and smell, according to BBC Future

Many airlines have been taking steps to try to dispel the reputation that airline meals are tasteless. For example, German airline carrier Lufthansa works with celebrity chefs to try to create gourmet in-flight meals that can still be considered delicious even when the senses are dulled (via CN Traveler). Even if steps are taken to improve airline meals, however, there is one dish that experts recommend you should pass on when in the air. 

Pasta can become overcooked on flights

If you're considering getting a pasta dinner on your next flight, maybe it's best to wait until you get back on solid ground. Fritz Gross, LSG Sky Chefs Asia Pacific's director of culinary excellence, discussed the various hurdles and complications when it comes to preparing airline meals with CNN back in 2012. According to Gross, cooking pasta on an airplane at high altitude is a tricky process, often resulting in an overcooked, pasty product instead of the al dente texture many people prefer. It is also difficult to nail the balance of sauce and pasta on a flight, Gross says, which often gives the meal a texture that's too wet or dry.

It's not just the off-putting texture that may turn you away from an in-flight spaghetti dinner. Dr. Charles Platkin's 2019 investigation into airline food (via DietDetective) explains that pastas, breads, muffins, or anything with a large amount of carbohydrates can leave one feeling listless, discontented, and cranky. 

The next time you're on a trip through the sky, you should probably skip the pasta — and maybe even pack your own snacks.