HOME ARCHIVE 2019

Smelly passengers can make a flight unpleasant for others


By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I haven’t flown to Europe lately, but when I did, I always made sure that I had plenty of deodorant. Because after being at airports and on planes for about 16 hours, there is a good chance that the human body will start smelling, well, less than pleasant.

Which is why a recent story caught my eye about a family being bumped from an American Airlines flight because other passengers complained that they smelled.

After leaving the plane, the husband went around the airport terminal asking people if he smelled.

“We stopped several people in the airport and, it’s embarrassing, but we asked them, ‘Do you think we smell?’” he told the New York Daily News. “Because we just got kicked off a plane for smelling.”

This may not have been a good idea. How would you react if someone asked you a question like that?

Most people would not be honest. I would probably not tell him the truth, either.

“I don’t smell anything,” I would say, politely stepping back a few feet.

On one flight from New York to Houston, which was the last leg of three flights coming back from Europe, I had the misfortune of sitting near a man who reeked of body odor.

I asked a flight attendant if there was a seat available a few rows toward the front of the plane, which wasn’t packed. I made sure she heard the reason. I said it quietly so that the person with the offending odor would not hear me.

She felt my pain because she smelled it also, and I was able to change my seat and put adequate distance between me and him.

From then on, I only had to put up with the smell was when I passed him on my way to the bathroom in the back of the plane.

People who do not like to wash or use deodorant, or find some other way not to smell, should not fly on airplanes. Once inside that enclosed tube, there are very few options for the other passengers, especially if the plane is full.

It would have been torturous to sit near that guy for four hours. I didn’t pay for that.

The people who drew complaints on the American Airlines flight might have gotten so used to their own odor that it didn’t bother them. But then there are the rest of us.

“The ... family [was] asked to deplane last night after several passengers, along with our crew members, complained about their body odor,” the company said in a statement. “The family were provided hotel accommodations and meals, and rebooked on a flight to Detroit today.”

(Here we go again with the deplaning. I told the bus driver that I would have to debus at the next stop, and he had no idea what I was saying. In Europe, I also had to detrolley.)

So, all you have to do to get a free room for a night and food on the airline’s tab is to smell?
I hope they also provided plenty of soap and deodorant.

I don’t want to be insensitive or politically incorrect when it comes to issues like this, but if I am, so be it. Just like there is no smoking allowed on airplanes, there is also no offensive odor allowed. If you think I am wrong, or have a similar story to share, drop me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com.