A Flight Attendant Tells Us What To Do If You're Seated Next To Someone Smelly On A Plane

When you pass someone smelly in a store or on the street, it's usually easy to move away to get some fresh air. On a plane? Not so much. You're stuck in a cramped cabin with no way out, only left hoping that the recirculated plane air will carry the stench away. Being forced to inhale strong odors for hours can make a flight feel unbearable. One country even hopes to ban perfume for pilots and flight attendants — pleasant smells, too, can become stomach-churning in tight quarters.

Thankfully, you aren't forced to suffer in silence when seated next to a stinky passenger. Explore spoke exclusively with Court, a flight attendant and content creator known as @CourtTooFly on Instagram and YouTube. The expert, who's been working the skies for six years and counting, says that flight attendants can help sweeten a smelly situation. "As an airplane passenger, if you're alerted to the issue before the boarding door has been closed, you can alert the flight attendants, and they can handle the issue from there," Court revealed. "It's a touchy subject, but you must be fit to fly, and strong [odors] are part of that."

Let the flight attendants handle the smelly situation

Assuming you don't want your seatmate to give you the stink eye (no pun intended) throughout the flight, asking for help from a flight attendant is the easiest and least confrontational way to handle another passenger's bad B.O. Keep in mind, however, that flight attendants may have to tread lightly when solving the problem. "What flight attendants can do mid-flight is limited, but some things can be done," Court explained to Explore. "Once you alert the flight attendants, there are sprays onboard that can help. The smell could be due to a medical condition, so flight attendants must be delicate in their approach."

On that note, be mindful of how you report the issue to the cabin crew. Voicing your concerns loudly and in front of your seatmate could humiliate them. Instead, try quietly telling a flight attendant in the galley once the seatbelt sign has been turned off, or pass a note to an attendant as they're coming down the aisle.

Smelly passengers can sometimes be kicked off a flight

In the worst cases, a flier who smells bad could actually get kicked off the plane, says Court. "The odor could be due to a medical condition or, simply, someone could be wearing a strong fragrance. Either way, if the odor causes airline staff and passengers to become ill, other arrangements must be made."

While this could bring some relief to fellow fliers, you might worry if this could ever happen to you. Generally, as long as you practice good hygiene, you shouldn't have to worry about smelling too funky to fly. Shower before your trip, wear deodorant if needed, and keep your shoes on when in the air (unlike one passenger whose stinky plane behavior blew the internet away). Avoid wearing strong perfumes and other fragrances until you arrive at your destination. Finally, if you have a medical condition that causes body odor, such as bromhidrosis or trimethylaminuria, talk to your doctor about treatment options ahead of your vacation. The right medication or diet plan can help ease symptoms before you fly.