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This Is the Best In-Flight Drink, According to Science

This Is the Best In-Flight Drink, According to Science
Jennifer Billock

What’s your drink of choice when flying? Maybe it’s a healthy bottle of water, a zesty bloody mary, or a sugary Coke — but whatever it is, you might want to try ginger ale next time; it’s a unique drink to have in the air, and scientists can back that up based on the scientific properties of the drink.

Ginger ale has a long history. It was invented in the 1840s and took the world by storm, both as a mixer and a standalone drink. In the 1920s, it became a bootlegger’s favorite drink, because it made their illegal hooch a bit more palatable for those imbibing. Now, it’s fallen out of its former glory on the ranked soft drinks list, but there is still one place it takes first place: the sky.

Ginger ale is the drink of choice for many on a plane, and there’s actually a scientific reason behind it. Our taste buds work differently when we’re way high up, and everything tastes just a bit duller. That means things that are typically sweet or salty don’t quite taste as powerful.

And that’s what gives ginger ale its place in the world of airplane success stories. The sweetness you taste it on the ground is dulled in the air, making it sharper and more intense—something your taste buds are probably craving in the airline world of less-than-palatable meals and snacks.

Plus, it’s good for your stomach.

“Ginger helps ease stomach upset with nervous flyers,” nutritionist Lauren Grosskopf told Travel + Leisure.

View Comments (13)

13 Comments

  1. fotographer

    November 7, 2019 at 6:24 am

    I prefer a nice G and T with lots of ice and 2 limes

  2. Long Zhiren

    November 7, 2019 at 8:24 am

    What’s better is the higher concentration ginger beer. Qantas serves Bundaberg. It would be nice for other airlines to follow suit.
    IMO, Australia’s Saxby’s is better. Coca-cola’s Africa product Stoney Tangawizi is the best. In a pinch, the American Reeds or Schwepps’ variety will do.

  3. CCB01

    November 7, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    My husband drinks ginger ale on every flight. Now I know why. We don’t drink soda anywhere else.

  4. Dougg

    November 8, 2019 at 4:56 am

    Huge problem with the story, there is NO ginger in Ginger Ale. Read the label, what’s in Ginger Ale are the chemicals for ginger flavoring. There is no ginger in the drink.

  5. CUTiger78

    CUTiger78

    November 8, 2019 at 5:53 am

    Blenhiem ginger ale, please. It’s the best.

  6. tedcole

    November 8, 2019 at 6:30 am

    The problem is the 30 grams or so of sugar.

  7. gregori

    November 8, 2019 at 6:31 am

    flyertalk, stick with your expertise. While ginger has many positive effects, it’s doubtful that many of the ginger ales actually contain any significant amount of ginger. What ginger ale does contain is 32 grams of added sugar. That’s 8 teaspoons of sugar per can.
    No science would agree with you regarding it’s the best drink while flying.

  8. Long Zhiren

    November 8, 2019 at 7:35 am

    Chai tea has ginger in it. I’m surprised airlines don’t serve it more. A bunch of black pepper will spice it up too.

  9. azmojo

    November 8, 2019 at 8:49 am

    How do you catch a buzz with ginger ale?

  10. HiAperture

    November 8, 2019 at 10:44 am

    azmojo, adding Jack Daniels does the trick for me.

  11. snidely

    November 8, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    I always have tomato juice. (Never drink it anywhere else. Started years ago because it seemed to be healthiest drink. BTW, is there a Diet ginger ale?

  12. allbrosca

    November 11, 2019 at 8:08 am

    I have long heard that Tomato Juice was the one that tasted better in the air. Personally I go for Clamato juice or a spicy Bloody Caesar (clamato, vodka, etc. – very popular in Canada!) which I can generally only get on Air Canada

  13. sam737

    November 12, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    well, it’s not really “according to science” but according to a “nutritionist Lauren Grosskopf” (by the way nurtitionist is not a protected qualification, anyone can call herself ‘nutritionist’), who happen to be a “Senior Principal Scientist at The Kraft Heinz Company” that manufactures, inter alia, a ginger ale. Such a coincidence!

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