From coffee made out of cat droppings to puddings sprinkled with edible gold or ice-cream made from water found only on an African mountain top – it is no secret that the successful and wealthy do have the palates that are ‘special’ to say the least. And when it comes to dining aboard a private jet cruising at 30 000 ft, making any kind of food taste delicious becomes a challenge that only experts can take on and succeed.
While it might surprise some, it has been scientifically proven in numerous testing facilities, including Lufthansa’s that our senses tend to numb as soon as the aircraft climbs into higher altitude. In fact, pressure stacks up, humidity drops to some 4% (drier than in most desserts) and noise level increases to over 85 decibels. All of that makes you taste food the way you would taste it when suffering from an extreme cold whilst sitting in the Sahara desert on a mountaintop 2100 m high.
“In fact, the taste of salt decreases by up to 50% and the compromised sense of smell makes the food twice as bland, while bitter and spicy flavours are almost unaffected. Despite that, enjoying your beloved Beluga caviar onboard a private jet is possible,” says Vitalij Kapitonov, the CEO of KlasJet. “For one, private jets are quieter, which in this case means tastier. Take, for example, Cessna Encore. Its effective perceived noise level is 58.3 dBA, while Boeing 737 reaches sense-numbing 71.8 dBA, according to FAA. Nevertheless, serving high quality food on a private jet is undoubtedly a challenge both, financially and from the quality point of view.”
First off, according to specialists at On Air Dining, it can cost up to £20,000 to develop a dish for business aviation that is designed to overcome the impact of altitude. Moreover, add the costs of transportation. Then couple that with the need to reheat the food even during the most popular short journeys of business aviation, which means top chefs blast chill the food to keep it away from the danger zone of bacteria, and you have yourself a real quest. Adding to the challenge is the ability to cater to dietary preferences.
According to different studies, 31% of the world’s population consider themselves vegan and there are over 10 million vegetarians in the UK and the US alone. It goes without saying, the ability to order vegan or gluten free food is a big advantage of flying private. However, it all highly depends on the operator, his experience in the field and the willingness to go out on a limb for you and your dietary preferences.
According to the KlasJet executive, “it all comes down to a mix of knowledge and courage. It is without a doubt a field where making the extra step in order to exceed every imaginable demand counts. If you ask any frequent flyer, service and catering are the most important things in business aviation. The knowledge that opening an incorrect $2000 worth of champagne or wine is equal to throwing it out of the window and a solid network of catering partners are the factors which allow the more experienced operators to offer the right taste at the right altitude.”