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Jim Eagles: A smelly predicament

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Feedback from Herald readers has confirmed that high-altitude stinks are the number one concern for airline passengers. Photo / Thinkstock
Feedback from Herald readers has confirmed that high-altitude stinks are the number one concern for airline passengers. Photo / Thinkstock

Forget about obese people, drunk men, garrulous women and squalling babies. What airline passengers fear most, it seems, is being seated next to someone who pongs.

Last week I reported on a survey by travel search site Skyscanner which found that top of the list of people you don't want as your neighbour in the air was someone with bad body odour. I was a bit sceptical because I don't recall a bad experience in that regard. But your feedback confirms that high altitude stinks are indeed the No. 1 concern.

Readers sent in comments like:

"My worst experience was a young Japanese woman who farted continuously from Singapore to Auckland while pretending to be asleep. Everyone around was nauseated."

"The farters. I once had to get the vomit bag out on a flight as it was simply unbearable."

"I sat next to someone with a colostomy bag all the way to the UK. I would normally be sympathetic, but the combination of tummy rumbles and gurgles and then the odour ... oh dear."

"The guy in front emitting those silent yet deadly smells at a frequency which makes one wonder if a small animal did crawl up there and die, while the guy behind belched not once but multiple times thinking that the noise would be deadened by the general plane sounds."

"I once did a 12-hour flight sitting next to someone who obviously ate raw garlic. A couple of times he turned to speak to me and I nearly collapsed."

"The guy who sat behind me and took his shoes off. The whole cabin filled with eye-watering foot odour for a 10-hour flight. I sat fanning myself the whole time, hoping I wouldn't be sick."

"Definitely bad body odour including stinky breath. After that, people who are constantly clearing their throats with that horrible phlegmy sound."

"Someone who has travel sickness. The smell of puke is just unbearable."

"Smell's the worst thing you can encounter and there's little you can do about it. I've put perfume in my handkerchief and sniffed it frequently."

"I can't stand sitting next to, or near, women who must spray half a tonne of perfume on themselves at duty free before boarding a plane."

All I can say in response to those horror stories is that I now regard my dicky sinuses in a whole new light. I used to complain that after any flight I suffered days with a blocked nose. Now I realise it's a blessing in disguise.

And, on a positive note, because they're made of carbon fibre the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners are said to offer a much more pleasant atmosphere in their cabins. Just hold your breath until they come into service.

- NZ Herald

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