Here's a report from CBS This Morning investigating how Delta Airlines' relationship with chef Linton Hopkins may lead to better airline food. Last October, Hopkins won Delta's weird web competition Cabin Pressure Cook-Off, landing a spot on an airline culinary team that serves some nine million meals to passengers each year. Science can help explain why airline food has traditionally tasted so bland: While cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet, the humidity level inside an airplane sits at just four percent, causing diners' sinus cavities to close. As a result, our taste buds' ability to perceive "saltiness" is diminished by 30 percent, "sweetness" is dulled by 20 percent.
The answer, then, lies in other flavor components outside salty and sweet. "Certain foods just die," Hopkins says. "It's not just about salt making something taste good, we're going to dial up the aromatic components." The result is first-class meals like Hopkins' pickled shrimp with Sriracha mayonnaise, which can be paired with selections from Delta's "sky sommelier" team. Go, watch: