Spence's words seem to bolster the findings of other experts who've probed the issue of awful in-flight meals. As John Hansman, the director of the International Center for Air Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explained last November: "It’s actually very hard to cook at those altitudes...they generally are just doing reheating.”
While increased sugar and salt compensates for the lack of taste, Spence advances another grim finding: Boredom makes you hungry. "With nothing else to do," he says, "food becomes an appealing distraction. And when it is being offered for free it will be even harder to resist.” The consequences of mindless snacking while watching TV have been pretty well-documented.
On the positive side, airplane food is rarely offered on domestic flights in the United States, so the only time you're likely to be presented with the option of an airline meal is on an overseas flight. Suffice it to say that you can heed the warnings from Spence, and perhaps take the advice of globe-trotting chefs who abhor the stuff.