An interesting question, no doubt. Sadly, not an original one, as Food and Wine Travel Editor Salma Abdelnour demonstrates in this blog post. "I've always wondered what the deal is with tomato juice on airplanes," she says. "I mean, why so many people feel compelled to drink it in the air, but almost never on the ground. Ditto ginger ale, but tomato juice is the bigger mystery because I've actually witnessed ginger-ale consumption at ground level."
Someone must be drinking it on the ground though, because back in October 2007, La Guardia airport was flummoxed when someone spilled tomato juice on an X-ray machine. Unless that juice was just being transported to the plane for in-flight consumption.
And while few people may be drinking tomato juice as is, back in 1997, The New York Times reported that Bloody Mary mixes were a growing craze. "There are now dozens on the market, ranging from sweet, ketchup-like concoctions to incendiary brands spiked with chilies. With so many different tastes in the bottles, you have to pick a mix just the way you'd pick a favorite bartender." The article also reports that Bloody Mary mixes, "have been part of air travel since the 1960's, when an American Airlines executive tasted the mix and ordered small containers of it for in-flight service. Other airlines followed suit."