Stinky Fruit Pushes Passengers To The Brink, Grounds Flight

by Chris Dong

Imagine yourself stepping through the aircraft door when suddenly a strong whiff engulfs your senses. That whiff becomes the overwhelming stench of durian—a Southeast Asian fruit with an offensive smell.

This very scene unfolded this week on a domestic Indonesian flight, a Sriwijaya Air plane heading to Jakarta from Bengkulu province in Sumatra. Over two tons of durian were being held in the cargo compartment ready to be shipped to Indonesia’s capital city.

Durian is a popular fruit with a spiky exterior and a creamy, soft interior. It’s most notable for its pungent smell which has been compared to the likes of things like dirty socks, rotten food and leaking natural gas. Long before stricter security measures on things like in-flight luggage or suspicious packages on trains and in hotels in the name of safety, durian had already got its stinky self banned from most places.

Many airlines will transport durian as cargo, though, so long as it’s been wrapped according to certain specifications and standards.

However, passengers onboard this Sriwijaya Air flight were not having any of it and complained to crew as they were boarding about the odor that wafted into the cabin. Cabin crew assured passengers that the smell would dissipate once airborne. For a flight that’s only scheduled for one hour in length, much of that time isn’t even at cruising altitude. To that end, passengers began to walk back down the passenger boarding stairs to the tarmac which forced the airline’s hand.

The airline eventually gave in and unloaded sacks and sacks of the durian fruit. The flight then reboarded and took off about an hour later than scheduled.

Sriwajiya Air later said the airline was within its rights to carry the stinky fruit in cargo.

It’s not illegal to carry durian in a flight as long as it is wrapped properly in accordance with flight regulations – carried inside the hold. Many airlines do this. – Retri Maya, Senior Corporate Communications Manager

We don’t have any details on how these two tons of durian might have been wrapped, but judging by reactions it wasn’t sufficient. It seems passengers were well within their rights to put up a stink over this one.

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