Repulsive body odour: the #1 pet hate for 25% of air travellers

By Chris C., September 16 2014
Repulsive body odour: the #1 pet hate for 25% of air travellers

Passengers who emit a pungent body odour are considered the worst seatmate to have by over 25% of travellers, according to a recent survey by

That’s ahead of parents who let their children run wild throughout the cabin (20.1%), armrest hogs (13.5%) and the perpetual chinwagger (5.54%), and comes in second only to passengers who recline their seat (35.4%).

But with body odour now the number one concern of more than a quarter of the travelling public, the survey raises the question – has personal hygiene taken a nosedive?

Geoffrey Thomas, editor of says that “there has been a significant shift in passengers’ gripes about their fellow travellers, who are either not conscious of their odour or don’t care.

“With online or (mobile) phone check-in now widespread, offending passengers are slipping through the traditional checks and only coming into contact with airline agents at the boarding gate. The agents, under pressure to get the flight away, let offenders slip through.”

That particular scenario has already been realised by low-cost airline Jetstar, which earlier this month instigated a trial of ‘cabin baggage officers’ at the boarding gate to crack down on passengers sneaking excess luggage past the traditional check-in desks.

Unfortunately though, travellers can still carry-on their own unique scent – much to the distaste of over 25% of the jetsetters surveyed.

That problem only intensifies when passengers are rushed on their journey to the airport, when running to make a tight connecting flight or after a day spent in a hot climate.

In 2010, two passengers made international headlines when they were given the boot from flights in Canada over their repulsive body odour – while south in the USA, three domestic flights have been diverted this year over on-board disputes spurred by the Knee Defender.

Now banned by both Qantas and Virgin Australia, the Knee Defender attaches to the legs of your seat’s tray table and ‘defends’ your knee space by physically preventing the passenger in front from reclining.

It’s a good idea in principle, but one that breaches both airlines’ conditions of carriage – which could result in the passenger being restrained, removed from the flight, banned from the airline or even prosecuted if refusing to remove the device after being asked by a crew member.

If you’re in the collective 19% of travellers who distain armrest hogs and the non-stop chatterbox-types, new aircraft cabin designs could one day make these concerns a thing of the past.

Award-winning designer James Lee thinks he’s solved the problem with the invention of a two-tiered armrest that could make its way onto planes, trains and other modes of shared transport:

Similarly, the Airbus inflight entertainment helmet is a sure-fire way to avoid those endless conversations…

The helmet supports 3D and holographic video, motion capture gloves and a remote control to interact with the unit, and for a breath of fresh air, the helmets can be individually air conditioned and can include “means for diffusing at least an odorous substance.”

What's your pet passenger hate – offensively-scented travellers, seat recliners, carefree parents, chatty seatmates, armrest hogs, or something else entirely?

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 340

My pet hate is pet hates

09 Nov 2011

Total posts 88

This would for the most part refer to travelling in Economy, although I have encountered the occasional chatter in Business, who is quickly abated by one of my obvious glances to arrest the issue. Armrest hogs aren't a problem for me as I shove them into there own space. Seat reclining in my opinion is a right if you have a button and should be able to do so if you desire so I never complain to passengers in front who recline. I have had a person behind me attempt to create a scene over me reclining slightly as he had a laptop on his tray. I quickly advised him that he has his space and I have mine so deal with it. Children are an issue and a very touchy subject  - I have seen many hot discussions on this site so will leave that alone. I would have to say that obese people are my pet hate as they have no choice but to become part of your space. I would appreciate if airlines started to crack down in the fatties and give the passengers back their 17 or 18 inches wide in economy. If you are as wide as 2 seats, then pay for them!! My other pet hate would have to be the person who sits in the window seat and shuts the blinds so they can read!?!?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Jan 2012

Total posts 335

The other 75% have bad BO.

27 Jan 2012

Total posts 117

Atttn: AIiportAddict; get off here!




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