Booted Off Plane For Body Odor

September 20, 2010

in Odor Stories

The smell of death. A battlefield? A morgue? No. I smelled this awful aroma on a Southwest airplane.

Sometime circa the summer of 2000, three friends and I were returning to San Jose from LAX. Everything started off normally. We arrived, checked in, and patiently waited an hour to board our flight. This is where things completely left the realm of normality, and proceeded into an episode of Seinfeld.

We took our seats first thanks to holding Group A boarding passes. We choose wisely – front of the plane, next to the seemingly well groomed folks. After about 5 minutes of passengers coming down the aisle past us, two elderly women boarded. They were dressed in old fashioned church garb. We didn’t pay much attention to them until they walked past us and a smell permeated the cabin. This wasn’t BO. It wasn’t bad perfume. It was the smell of death. You tried to breath, and instantly your body rejected the air. It was toxic. “Jesus Christ!” a gentlemen from the row behind yells. The women pass and head to the back of the plane. We think the ordeal is over. It’s not.

We sit at the gate for about 30 minutes and nobody tells us why. We then see stewards rushing new seat cushions to the back of the plane. We don’t put two and two together quite yet. Fifteen more minutes go by, and all of sudden the sound of people vomiting is apparent. Then it starts getting closer. We can tell that the person vomiting a minute ago is further than the person vomiting 45 seconds ago. The person who vomited 30 seconds ago was further than the person who just chucked 15 seconds ago. It’s getting closer. But what is it?

As the sounds of vomit get closer to us, we understand why. The two elderly women are now walking back up the aisle to the front of the plane. They pass us, and we hold our breath for dear life. The gentleman behind us isn’t so lucky as he yells “get out of here!”.

Turns out the delay was caused by the poor passenger these women sat next to being violently ill. He puked all over the place. These women smelled so bad they were asked to leave the plane. Then another 30 minute delay while they found their luggage. To this day I have never smelled an odor 1/10th as pungent and foul as those ladies smelled. All I can describe it as is decaying flesh. That was truly my flight from hell.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

DR September 21, 2010 at 4:13 am

Wonder if one of these women may have had an onset of gangrene or some kind of infection? I have heard that gangrene has a very disinct and foul odor. Maybe on some part of her body that still allowed her to be active for a short period.


Karl September 21, 2010 at 4:24 am

Yes, I'm a very criticle person and believe I have a sixt sence reading articles as this one as fabricated. If this writer want me to believe this fairy tale he/she should provide airline, flight number, date and location so that i can check it out. I'm sure something like that would make it into the local newspaper or would had been recorded. If it was indeed that bad, no one ever would forget it and could document it. Entire plane was puking? Give me a break! It was't the two ladies smelled so bad, it's your story!


steve June 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm

you are ignorant with a fragile grasp on reality, I have experienced a similar smell from people that look healthy,


ps September 21, 2010 at 2:39 pm

This one's a little over the top, even on Air WalMart. I was on an intl flight once where some unwashed Allah worshippers gave off an unbelievable funk and were requested to use deodorant or get off the flight (15 odd years ago), which also got a blurb in the paper. And they did stink to high heaven but there was no grabbing the airsickness bags. So I believed this one at first until the mass vomiting was mentioned.


Morgan September 21, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Just because it didn't turn out the way that you think it should, doesn't mean it didn't happen!

Have you ever smelled rotting flesh, as in gangrene or possibly a flesh eating bacteria? If not, you should try being enclosed in a pressurized container with it. IT WILL MAKE YOU VOMIT!!!


ps September 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Then how did they get on? Figured that on security or on line to board would have spread the funk.


TheBrit September 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I just had to comment to say screw you. They are not "Allah worshippers." They are Muslims.


ps September 24, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Figures coming from a "Brit"…NOT. Yes they are muslims. Cant deny that. Even Scandanavians and Nederlande folks see them as they are. Allah Akhbar.


Morgan September 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

It's possible that one or both of the Lady's may have had contact with an carrion flower.

Carrion flowers or stinking flowers are flowers that emit an odor that smells like rotting flesh. While a typical flower may be stereotyped as a colorful, sweet-smelling structure that attracts insects and rewards them with pollen or nectar, this scenario is somewhat perverted for carrion flowers because of the repulsive nature of the scent to most humans. Carrion flowers attract mostly scavenging flies and beetles as pollinators. Some species may trap the insects temporarily to ensure the gathering and transfer of pollen.


Many plants in the genus Amorphophallus (family Araceae) are known as carrion flowers. Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), which has the world's largest flower head, is also called "carrion flower". Rather than a single flower, the titan arum presents an inflorescence or compound flower composed of a spadix or stalk of small and anatomically reduced male and female flowers, surrounded by a spathe that resembles a single giant petal. This plant has a mechanism to heat up the spadix enhancing the emission of the strong odor of decaying meat to attract its pollinators, carrion-eating beetles and "flesh flies" (family Sarcophagidae).


Flowers of plants in the genus Rafflesia (family Rafflesiaceae) emit a repulsive odor, similar to that of decaying meat. This odor attracts the flies that pollinate the plant. The world's largest single bloom is R. arnoldii. This rare flower is found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. It can grow to be 3 feet across and weigh up to 15 pounds. R. arnoldii is a parasitic plant on Tetrastigma vine, which grows only in primary rainforests with no visible leaves, roots, or stem. It does not photosynthesize, but rather uses the host plant to obtain water and nutrients.


Plants in the genus Stapelia are also called "carrion flowers". They are small, spineless, cactus-like succulent plants. Most species are native to South Africa, and are grown as potted plants elsewhere. The flowers of all species are hairy to varying degrees and generate the odor of rotten flesh. The color of the flowers also mimics rotting meat. This attracts scavenging flies, for pollination. The flowers in some species can be very large, notably Stapelia gigantea can reach 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter.

Smilax or Nemexia

In North America, the herbaceous vines of the genus Smilax are known as Carrion flowers. These plants have a cluster of small greenish flowers. The most familiar member of this groups is Smilax herbacea. These plants are sometimes placed in the genus Nemexia.


The sources of the flowers' unique scent is not fully identified, partly due to the extremely low concentration of the compounds (5 to 10 parts per billion), but simple amines present in decaying flesh, the appropriately named putrescine and cadaverine, are known to be present. Dimethyl sulfides, including disulfide and trisulfide have been detected in Amorphophallus.


rerere September 23, 2010 at 2:23 pm



D-Money September 23, 2010 at 5:29 am

Ok, Mr. Botanical, cutting and pasting from wiki doesn't do anything to help your story along. Only thing I smell is this huge pile of BS story.


Morgan September 23, 2010 at 7:23 am

D money, if you smell something, its probably because you didn't wipe after a bowel movement.

I guess you weren't taught that during you're potty training a few years ago!

Its not my story. I get disgusted with people, like you, that go through every story just to say their lying. Just because you may travel more than others doesn't mean that you're an expert. Personally, I believe that most, if not all, of the critics on this forum never fly at all!


D-Money September 23, 2010 at 9:17 am

People that post TRUE stories don't get nearly as defensive as the people that post made-up stories.

Our calling-out an obviously made-up story is taken as an insult on that person's "creative writing" skills.

If the story were true, I'm sure we'd get nothing more than a "whatever" from the author. Instead, we get a Botany 101 lecture.


Morgan September 23, 2010 at 7:25 pm

While I am NOT the author, I don't understand how a few can believe that they now everything imaginable regarding air travel.

I believe you're confrontational people & this is the only excitement that ever creeps into your lonely world.


Stories April 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I smelled salted fish ad there was this guy with his shoes on the floor. The hostess came and sprayed the area but the chemicals make me sick


Sanjey June 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

i know a girl who regularly gets barred from clubs for smelling like this. The punters ask the bouncers to remove her or they will leave themselves. She can smell out a large room in minutes, and the smell lingers for hours. It sticks in your nose, and makes you heave. I think she must have a metabolic disorder of some sort.


Justin June 30, 2013 at 12:00 am

What's causing her issue? Is it bad breath, a skin condition, or private part problem?


Jason July 25, 2018 at 9:10 pm

Hmmm, my experience is no judgement If flying WN. You get what you pay for


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