This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
It is 2018, and someone's rotten guts have brought a plane to a solid standstill again.
This keeps happening: In 2015, it happened, the notorious Poo Plane OG; in 2016, it happened, when a man on a plane to Paris pissed on another passenger and started a plane-wide brawl; in 2017, in precious little August, a plane rose from the holy ground of Oklahoma City airport but turned right back again and landed because it stank too badly of some unnamed funk. And this weekend, when you were just trying to get on with your life, a plane grounded on its way from Dubai to Amsterdam because one of the passengers refused to stop farting.
Let's just quote the actual news about it, and then we can dive deep into the usage of the word "refused" in all reporting of the incident:
An unnamed older gentleman on a Transavia Airlines plane was forcibly removed from the aircraft after it made an unscheduled stop in Vienna, Austria.
According to reports, two men who were sitting next to the person in question asked the man to cease passing wind, something which had allegedly been going on for some time.
Whether the man had a medical condition or was just doing it to annoy those around him is unclear, but it was so bad and smelly that a fight reportedly broke out.
After warnings from airline staff and even an intervention from the pilot, the plane was forced to land so police could come aboard and deal with the situation.
Austrian police officers responded to the request by coming onboard with dogs to remove the flatulent individual. Footage of the incident was shared on social media by Alfred Dekker.
—The Independent, or at least the Indy 100, February 17, 2018
Two sisters in an adjacent row were also removed from the aircraft as part of the Fartageddon, and the quotes given to De Telegraaf about it do rather suggest there was something more going on than some guy aggressively farting in a middle-row seat to rile and antagonize the people around him:
It was crazy that we were included; we had no idea who these boys were. We just had the bad luck to be in the same row and we didn't do anything.
They did not do anything to justify the bizarre behavior of the Transavia crew.
Do they sometimes think that all Moroccans cause problems? That's why we do not let it sit.
We had to find our own flights home with another airline.
All I will say is that the crew was really provocative and stirred things up.
Listen, here are my main takeaways from this, and there are only four of them so you can sit tight— this will only take another 50 to 1,000 words:
- I am pretty composed, anus-wise. I think I have a pretty composed anus. We have a nice symbiotic relationship, my anus and I, built on a solid foundation of trust, and basically, what I am saying is I very rarely shit or fart unless I actively want to. I don’t really like passing gas in front of anyone, ever, so I will excuse myself to a bathroom to do it if I absolutely have to. (A lot of people would argue that I am actually pathologically uptight about farting and should seek therapy and/or medical help.) It’s been a fair while since I shat my pants. I think that, if you need to fart, up to a very certain point: You can suppress that need. You do not need to be farting up a storm on an airplane. You do not need to be farting at all on an airplane. If you have farted so many times that the people around you have complained about the farting, then you have farted too many times by far.
- Equally, an exercise: How many times would the person in the middle seat next to you on a plane have to fart before you dinged the "Call Hostess" sign and made a complaint? One fart: I would have to tolerate. Accidents happen. Two to three farts: I am going to, in my head, start to think bad thoughts about the person next to me. Dubai to Amsterdam is just a little over a seven-hour flight, and the average human person passes wind 14 times a day, or 1.7 times an hour. The flight allows for an average fart rate of 12.75 per person, per anus. But also I think about my own inherent Englishness—two opposing forces: the need to complain, and the need to not complain—driving against each other like high revving tractors. How many farts would I tolerate before I complained? Farts six through 12 would see me eye-rolling and tutting. If the farts exceed 12, I’m going to think violent thoughts. But am I ever going to complain about it to another human? So much so that the flight is landed in Austria? I’m not sure that number of farts even exists.
- I think if someone asked me to stop farting, I would stop farting. I would not refuse to stop farting. Can you imagine the intense and burning feeling in your chest when someone—a stranger!—asks you to stop farting because you are farting too much. Sometimes you have to fart: I appreciate that. But if someone has locked eyes with you and asked you directly, "Please, sir: You have to stop farting, or I will land the plane"—if the captain had got on the intercom and asked everyone to stop farting—I would stop farting. I understand farting. I have farted in my life before. I have had incidents when I have wanted to fart but chosen not to. If someone asked me to stop farting, I would stop farting so hard my body would clench in on itself, wholly inverting, and I would die.
- I think it is time to admit that we, humanity as a whole, are not physiologically designed for air travel. We need to knock this on the head. We keep shitting and fighting and pissing and farting to an absurd degree on it. We go dehydrated and deranged. I recently flew 12 hours to the West Coast of America on one of these so-called airplanes, and I nearly lost my entire mind in doing so. The human mind cannot occupy itself for 12 straight hours before going mad. Elon Musk recently sent a car into space as some sort of elaborate Bond villain–level goof, and all I can think when I see that spaceman mannequin locked in there is: What if that was a human person? Would they explode themselves to death with the sheer force of their suppressed farts? Would they be up there, like I was, genuinely enjoying two random episodes of New Girl? Would they eat a heavy beef-based meal and feel salty and sick about it for 18 straight hours? We can barely deal with flying a few thousand feet above the ground. We are not, collectively, ready for space. The Fart Man of Austria–Dubai is a warning for mankind and its future: Do not go into that great, dark frontier. You’ll shit yourself madly to death up there.
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