But there’s one thing that many people think you should always do, and that’s drink ginger ale.
Bloody Marys you may have heard of (as being touted as something that tastes better at 40,000ft), but ginger ale? Let’s dive on in and work out why.
The refreshing soft drink known as ginger ale first started off as ginger beer – an alcoholic Victorian-era beverage invented in Yorkshire, England.
The first evolution of the drink occurred in about 1851, when the first ginger ales were created in Ireland (ironically, given this is the Irish we’re talking about, with no alcohol).
According to Thought Co, “The carbonation was achieved by adding carbon dioxide.” The next stage in the drink’s evolution came in 1907, when John McLaughlin, a Canadian pharmacist, invented the modern Canada Dry version of ginger ale.
McLaughlin sold his product to local drugstores that used the carbonated water to mix with juices and flavouring to create soft drinks to sell to their soda fountain customers.
According to Thought Co, “By 1907, John McLaughlin had refined his recipe by lightening the dark colour and improving the sharp taste of his first Ginger Ale. The result was Canada Dry Pale Dry Ginger Ale, which John McLaughlin patented.”
“This ‘pale’ style of ginger ale made a fine, flavorful substitute for club soda, especially during the Prohibition era in the U.S., when the spice of the ginger ale covered up the less-than-refined illegal alcoholic spirits available.”
This brings us back to you. Why should you reach for ginger ale on a flight rather than beer or gin or wine, or even a fruit juice?
The main reason is taste – it is arguable that ginger ale tastes better at altitude than it does on the ground.
This is because our taste buds act differently when we fly, thanks to the combination of drier air and cabin pressure, which inhibit our sense of taste and smell. To put this into perspective, the air inside your plane’s cabin is about as dry as it is on top of a mountain peak that’s 7,000 feet above sea level.
Video: flight attendant discusses what your drink order in flight says about you.
Sweetness and saltiness are dulled the most. So drinks like the bloody mary which are a bit hectic on the ground can actually seem a bit boring, leaving a fresher – more moreish – taste behind than usual. In other words: the satiating flavours punch through, and the sickly sweet ones don’t.
Travel + Leisure reports that when it comes to ginger ale, “When you’re in a plane, a ginger ale’s extra sweetness may not register on your taste buds, making your ginger drink extra-dry and sharp.”
They also report that the ginger itself (in the ginger ales that actually contain ginger) can make you feel good, due to its medicianal benefits and anti inflammatory properties. They also point out its bubbles disspate quicker than other drinks like Diet Coke, which means its better for flight attendants (as they can serve it more quickly).
Ginger is also recommended by some to help you cope with travel sickness, as it can reduce the feeling of nausea.
There you have it. Put that in your cup and sip it.