Flight Grounded Because Passenger Objected to Odor of Durian

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By NTD Newsroom
November 7, 2018World News
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Flight Grounded Because Passenger Objected to Odor of Durian
A Thai fruit vendor waits for customers behind a display of durians in Bangkok on June 1, 2018. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

An Indonesian airplane was delayed for an hour because the passengers complained about the odor coming from the cargo hold.

A Sriwijaya Air flight was scheduled to depart from Bengkulu airport on the island of Sumatra on the 150-mile hop to Jakarta at 10:40 a.m. on Nov. 5.

Passengers crossing the tarmac from the gate to the airplane noticed a strong smell coming from the airplane.

The plane was carrying a little over two tons of durian fruit, a spiky-shelled, soft-fleshed fruit, which many people think smells like rotting flesh or dirty socks.

Passengers said that odor was strong when they entered the cabin. Many decided to exit the plane rather than endure the odor throughout the flight.

A plane from Indonesian airline Sriwijaya Air
A passenger plane for Indonesian airline Sriwijaya Air sits on the tarmac in Jakarta on Nov. 3, 2010. (Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the Jakarta Post, some passengers nearly came to blows with flight attendants when the passengers tried to get off the plane.

Even though airline officials told passengers that there was no danger, passengers refused to be mollified.

Eventually Sriwijaya Air had to give in. Airline employees offloaded the malodorous fruit, and the flight departed about an hour behind schedule.

The pulp of the durian is strongly scented.
The pulp of the durian is strongly scented. (EquatorialSky/Wikipedia)

Malodorous Cargo

Apparently, durian is considered to be very tasty by many people, but its odor is considered to be exceedingly unpleasant by almost everyone, according to CNN. The smell of the fruit is so strong, Singapore has banned durian-eating on its subways. Some hotels bar guests from eating the fruit in their rooms.

According to CNN quoting AFP, Sriwijaya Air official Abdul Rahim told national television station Kompas TV “Durian is not classified as a hazardous material to be transported on a plane,” on the night of Nov.6.

He added that they placed coffee powder and pandan leaves—sweet-smelling leaves that are widely used to flavor desserts in Southeast Asia—on the plane “to absorb the durian smell.”

He explained that the airline routinely packed the fruit with coffee powder and pandan leaves “to absorb the durian smell.”

Sriwajiya Air’s Senior Corporate Communications Manager Retri Maya told The Jakarta Post that the airline had the right to carry the stinky fruit.

“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,” she said in a statement. “Many airlines do this.”

The King of Fruits, durian
Durian, dubbed the “King of Fruits,” on Nov. 24, 2011. ( CC-By-SA-3.0)

Durian Causes Planes to Crash?

According to ABC.net, some passengers mentioned an air crash from 2005 which some people blamed on durian in the cargo hold.

Mandala Airlines flight 91 was scheduled to fly from Polonia International Airport in Medan to Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. The plane crashed into a heavily populated neighborhood just seconds after taking off, killing 100 passengers and 49 people on the ground.

The plane was carrying over two tons of durian. Investigators at the crash site reported smelling the fruit, so some people blamed the fruit for the crash.

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee reported on Jan1, 2009, that the plane tried to take off with its flaps and slats retracted, which caused the crash.

However, the durian-caused plane-crash rumor had four years to grow, and obviously, is still alive.

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