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Food, Feet and Farts

pete_c

Guru
Flight attendant tips for dealing with unpleasant odours on an aeroplane.
 
By Beth Blair
20 December 2016
 
After the safety demonstration had ended, my colleagues and I were completing our final cabin walk-through before sitting in our jump seats for takeoff when several flight attendant call buttons throughout the cabin began chiming. The questions from passengers were all the same: What’s that smell?

A male passenger announced loudly that the scent was reminiscent of fuel or oil from his war days. A buzz began and the passengers began to panic. After coasting up and down the aisle a final time, the only thing I could pinpoint was that the odour was in the rear of the cabin. As we were still taxiing, I called the captain and told him about the peculiar scent and the near-hysterical passengers. The captain agreed it was best to turn the plane around and have maintenance check out the aircraft.

As the captain made an announcement explaining our change of plans, a passenger discreetly motioned to me. “I think I figured out what where the odour is coming from,” he said while pointing to the couple in front of him. Indeed. The couple had been indulging in a homemade curry-infused dish.

Egg salad, limburger sandwiches... all far too smelly for flight. And the stink doesn't stop with food.

Considering that ceiling fans and roll-down windows are not options aboard commercial aircraft, limiting and avoiding stenches is imperative and every passenger must do their job to help keep the cabin air smelling decent. Here's what you can do to avoid olfactory offences.

No, you shouldn't take off your shoes

By now you’ve probably seen the passenger-shaming photos of people propping bare feet up on fellow passenger seats. Guess what: It’s not okay.

In fact, your shoes should never be removed inflight. Feet have 250,000 sweat glands, more than any other body part, and emit roughly half a pint of sweat every day. If you must, wear comfortable shoes but the only time you should take your shoes off when flying is when going through security.

Yes, avoid stinky scents

Strong perfumes, colognes and lotions can trigger allergies or headaches. Chelsea Meirose, a flight attendant for a US carrier, tells passengers to not even think about removing nail polish or painting fingernails and toenails. Nail polish and polish remover are noxious and quite the mess to clean up if either spills.

The safest scent is no scent at all. Smelling as neutral as possible will offend no one.

Yes, you should be mindful of what you bring to eat onboard

During a recent episode of the Awesome Etiquette podcast, hosted by etiquette experts Daniel Senning and Lizzie Post, the topic of eating in carpools was covered. Senning said that sometimes food scents and odours in confined spaces aren’t limited to obvious spices, like curries or garlic. “Some people are sensitive to bananas while other foods to avoid are tuna fish and Italian subs.” When in doubt he says, “Stay away from foods that are smelly or messy.”

Or just stick to what's being offered onboard the plane. Chances are, if the airline has it for sale, it's a food item whose qualities (aromatic or otherwise) were designed with passengers in mind.

“There are so many smells that circulate an airplane, and many passengers have a heightened sensitivity to them,” says fight attendant Chelsea Meirose, who also concurs that flying is not the time to make a tuna fish sandwich. “Smells travel quickly onboard. Opt for the slightly less potent in-flight snack before we welcome you aboard or enjoy it in the terminal.”

No, don't overdo it at the airport bar

Not smelling like a pub when you board the aircraft is another good idea. Sitting at the hotel lounge for hours can make your breath reek of alcohol, and if airline employees smell it they may deny you boarding. As any airline employee will attest, it’s easier to deal with a drunk on the ground than it is in the air since escorting passengers up a jetway is much easier than being rerouted to the closest airport once in the air. Your best bet is to enjoy one or two drinks but don’t indulge in more than that. If you’re partying the night before, keep your drinking in check too. You may not smell any next-day stench, but everyone else will, and your fellow passengers will resent you.

Yes, the lavatory is your friend

Humans, well, naturally transmit gas, and there’s not much you can do about it... other than escape to the lavatory to relieve yourself.

It's worth keeping mind, since science says that people are actually more prone to flatulence when they're flying — the drop in pressure makes you feel more bloated. So before flying, avoid high fibre foods that inspire such reactions, like beans.

No, do not change your baby on your tray table

Family travelers have a lot to deal with before even mentioning what babies do best. Parents who need to change a stinky nappy should always carry plastic bags that seal well so no smells sneak out. A major faux pas is changing infants on tray tables. Instead, parents should have a nappy changing pad onhand and ask the flight attendants were the best location is to change the nappy. Oftentimes it’s galley floor or an empty row of seats. When in doubt, it’s best to ask.

* * *

What do you do when you’re a passenger and heinous scents surround you? Assuming you can’t get away or change seats, make sure the overhead air vent is your best friend. Open the valve full blast and make sure it’s blowing your way. Next, close you’re eyes and feel the wind in your hair. You’ll be on the ground before you know it.

Beth Blair is a former flight attendant and a freelance writer.
 
 

pete_c

Guru
No.
 
Just read it on the BBC.
 
Historically being a frequent flyer saw this stuff all of the time working for an airline but not frequently sometimes flying 1-2 times a week.
 
Recent flights have noticed (last couple of years) that passenger etiquette is at all time low these days and that has been every recent flight.
 
Wife and I talked about this over dinner tonight. 
 
She saids it not just on aeroplanes; it's everywhere these days. She referred to it as common sense manners.
 

mikefamig

Senior Member
I tend to agree with your wife but I don't know if things are not as clean as they used to be or we just have too much information now.
 
I'm paranoid about sleeping in a hotel now with all all the media about bed bugs and germs and when I eat at a fast food joint I can't help but think about the way the food is handled after the Chipotle disaster. I don't want strangers touching my food.....ever. When I was 20 years old I would sleep on any horizontal surface and some not so horizontal and i don't like to talk about the things I put in my mouth.
 
I suspect that maybe we are just more aware? Maybe due to our age? Good topic for debate.
 
Mike.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
I flew every week with the exception of maybe two from January to June a couple of years ago...I dreaded it based on the above listing (I could even add more!).
 
I have a lot more respect for people that have to do this as part of their business/employment now!
 

pete_c

Guru
I did have a pleasant experience one time in an unpleasant situation.  I went to visit a cousin in Paris for a couple of days while working in the EU.
 
The house was a typical style older home.  The main part of the house had a staircase that went up some 5 floors with bedrooms on each floor.  I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, slipped down two flights of stairs and broke my tailbone.  I just wanted to go home after that experience.  I couldn't carry my flight bags and even sit on the plane.  That said the flight attendants did help me much; I used a bed of pillows and stayed in a horizontal position for some 8 hours back to the US.  They helped me get off of the plane and get my bags et al.  I did have to carry a donut style pillow for about 2 weeks such that I could sit.
 

jon102034050

Active Member
pete_c said:
I did have a pleasant experience one time in an unpleasant situation.  I went to visit a cousin in Paris for a couple of days while working in the EU.
 
The house was a typical style older home.  The main part of the house had a staircase that went up some 5 floors with bedrooms on each floor.  I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, slipped down two flights of stairs and broke my tailbone.  I just wanted to go home after that experience.  I couldn't carry my flight bags and even sit on the plane.  That said the flight attendants did help me much; I used a bed of pillows and stayed in a horizontal position for some 8 hours back to the US.  They helped me get off of the plane and get my bags et al.  I did have to carry a donut style pillow for about 2 weeks such that I could sit.
 
Haha, thanks for the laugh - this sounds like a terrible situation
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
pete_c said:
She saids it not just on aeroplanes; it's everywhere these days. She referred to it as common sense manners.
 
It's an extension of the "Me Generation" attitudes.  All too often these folks fail to appreciate that a stable community requires an acceptance of adjusting their own behaviors for the sake of the greater good.  Granted, there's a lot of private behaviors that have been unfairly abused for far too long (race, gender, etc).  But that's resulted in a swing of the cultural pendulum of excessive personal entitlement.  Not everything deserves such silly, me, Me, ME, ME, ME!  treatment.  Yet these self-entitled babies refuse to accept that being part of a stable society requires being fluid in how much you demand from it.   Nope, it's all take, take, take and screw anyone that gets in their way.
 
I'm all for finding ways to support "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  But not without accepting the costs that come with it.  That's just common sense.
 
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