According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an airline can flat-out refuse to let you fly, if the flight crew decides that you smell like a combination of dead rats and deviled eggs. That’s right: If you have “an offensive odor that isn’t caused by a disability or illness,” you’d better stock up on Little Trees during your walk of shame to the rental car counter. The contracts of carriage for the Big Three airlines—American, Delta, and United—all include similar language, stating that they have the right to remove or deny service to passengers with “malodorous conditions.”
But what if the airline itself is responsible for that stank-ass smell in the cabin? That’s what passengers on a recent Sriwijaya Air flight had to ask themselves—and ultimately, they unbuckled their seatbelts and threatened to walk off the plane.
According to AFP, the flight was scheduled to fly from Bengkulu, Indonesia, to Jakarta on Monday and, in addition to its passengers, it had also crammed two tons of durian into the cargo hold. If you’re unfamiliar with durian, you are one fortunate individual. If you’re not, you know that the fruit has a beyond pungent aroma that “smells like shit and tastes like farts,” like a carpet covered with dried vomit, or like a bag of corpses wearing unwashed socks.
It stinks, is what we’re saying. The passengers noticed, and many of them complained to the crew about both the smell and about all of that extra weight on the plane. “When I boarded the plane, I could already smell the scent of durian. I complained to the flight attendants, but they told me to just fill up a complaint form," one passenger wrote on Facebook. “I yelled at the other passengers 'Who on this plane wants to fly?' They all chanted back 'not us!!'"
The airline eventually relented, asking all passengers to deplane while some of the fruit was removed from the cargo hold. “Durian is not classified as a hazardous material to be transported on a plane," a Sriwijaya Air spokesperson said. “We made the necessary precautions, such as putting in pandan leaves and coffee powder to absorb the durian smell.” (Yeah? How’d that work for you?)
The flight was ultimately delayed for about an hour, and had a safe, durian-free landing in Jakarta. An apology probably wouldn’t have hurt either. Air travel can suck hard enough as-is, even when the plane doesn’t have its own “malodorous condition.”