Travel etiquette tip: PLEASE don’t spray perfume on planes!

I have had some interesting trips lately, with everything from insane weather delays to rude teenagers. But Victoria Secret perfumethis next lady takes the cake for shockingly bad behavior.

I was flying from DFW to La Guardia, not a short flight, and wasn’t lucky enough to have a Main Cabin Extra seat. After the movie ended I was a little bored, and started looking around at my fellow travelers. I saw a lady a couple rows in front of me holding some sort of small bottle. As I’m always curious, I tried to get a better look. Was it lotion? Makeup? Unfortunately I soon realized it was neither of these, as she took the lid off and sprayed something all over herself. It only took a few milliseconds for the smell to reach me–it was full blown perfume.

Y’all, I don’t even know where to start with this. Simply sitting next to someone wearing overpowering perfume can be enough to send me into a migraine attack; actually getting sprayed with a noxious smell can make me incapacitated. And I know I’m not the only one out there with a sensitivity to scents! I don’t care how good you think you smell!

Travel etiquette violations like not waiting your turn to board or putting your bag in an overhead bin far away from your seat are certainly annoying, but this is one etiquette violation that has serious health implications for others. If you are flying, please do not wear perfume or cologne. And please, PLEASE do not ever spray anything scented on a plane!! It is very likely you will make someone sick.

For this particular flight I immediately took some medicine and then breathed through my pashmina until the scent passed. Luckily I only had a minor headache for the rest of the day. But I shouldn’t have to do that at all! Remember, when you fly you are sharing a small confined space with lots of people—the things you do could have more of an impact than you intend.

Readers, have you seen people spraying perfume on planes? What did you do?

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  1. I think the more they use, the less they are aware of how strong it is to others.

    ( and I often wonder what other odor they are trying to cover up)

  2. Wait hold on, since when did stowing the bag in an overhead bin become bad etiquette?
    Its a cascading effect – the first obnoxious traveler to bring over sized luggage on the aircraft means all of us others find our space taken and progressively keep moving further ahead. Are we to recompense for the bad etiquette’s of other’s now?

  3. Totally agreed. I have an asthmatic response to some perfumes. As unpleasant as this is, my girlfriend suffers from lupus, and unfortunately she gets a nasty immune system response to free spraying of perfumes, including migraine and cold-like symptoms. That sort of activity can ruin days of vacation for us, and I wish the airlines would simply ban it.

  4. I’m always tempted to bring a surgical mask with me when I travel. I’m highly sensitive to perfume, cigarette smoke residue on a person and anything else with a strong smell (some laundry detergents and fabric softeners as well as candles and air fresheners). I get an instant migraine, nausea and asthma symptoms. I normally will breathe through fabric or even with my hand over my nose and mouth. I always have a 12 inch square of fleece fabric in my car to hold over my nose and mouth when I drive by a local refinery.

  5. I was on a flight last night and a girl whipped out a nail polish bottle and started painting her nails! It was a 8:30 PM flight so I don’t know where she was going afterward.

  6. Grow up, stop whining and bring your Claritin and migraine meds. It takes all sorts to make a world. I for one am sick of the perfume mafia. A lot of people smell bad at close quarters. It helps. This smacks of the princess and the pea and it is getting worse.

  7. The worst. Right up there with stale sweat and death breath. I don’t understand why people feel the need to do this. Any Westerner with reasonable hygiene (or even passing) hygiene does not smell enough that artificial perfume is an improvement.

    And I believe that duty free stores should be banned from giving testers before people board flights.

  8. Not true. I just returned from a business trip to Philadelphia. Guy on my left kept farting throughout the flight (PHL to LAX) and the person on my right smelled musty. I was very glad I had a small amount of perfume (sprayed when I got dressed that morning) on my wrist that I could smell periodically to block this out. I don’t think anyone went into anaphylactic shock as a result. I could have lived with the BO, but the farts? Give me a break. All these people crammed into close quarters smell bad.

  9. To SN (if you happen to see this nearly two years later): You need to educate yourself. Something smelling “bad” is not the same as something making you physically sick, and people asking not to be accosted by fragrances and other chemical odors are not doing it because we think it “stinks” or because we want to have some Nazi-like control over others. If we get even one whiff of perfume we become physically ill, sometimes with symptoms that last for days. In my case it is instant migraine and nausea that can get bad enough to end me up in the E.R. Medications can have serious side effects and should only be used when absolutely necessary, and they don’t always work. I think you are the one who needs to “grow up” since you seem to believe that your discomfort from smelling B.O or farts outweighs the excruciating disabling pain that we get from your “fragrance”. It is like whining about a splinter in your finger while the person next to you just got his finger chopped off with no anesthesia.

  10. I was on a 4 hour flight right in front of someone who thought immediately after boarding was an excellent time to try her new duty-free purchase of some heinous perfume. My throat immediately closed up: my first asthma attack in 10 years, so I don’t even have an inhaler anymore. I took Benadryl and an anti-inflammatory, wrapped something around my face to try to filter it. Nothing made enough of a difference. It was several days before I felt ok again. From my point of view, it’s at least as damaging to others as smoking on board, and should carry equal legal penalty.

  11. JW-I get migraine, with “excruciating disabling pain”, as you put it. I take my migraine meds with me everywhere. It is the anti-perfume lobby that are the Nazis, not the rest of us who grew up knowing it “takes all sorts to make a world”. If you don’t like the world, don’t enter it. I see no reason why everything has to be re-calibrated for the convenience of a minority who are “sensitive” to perfume and claim it is an allergy, which it isn’t, and expect everyone else to accommodate them. You have meds, take them. That is what meds are for.

  12. Perfumes and after-shave products have chemicals in them.

    Perfume is also passe.

    Who I their right mind wants to breathe in chemicals in an airless capsule?

    A lot of the offenders are cabin crew.

    At least farts and b.o. are organic and won’t send my sinuses into full-blown inflammatory mode.

  13. Everything has “chemicals” in it. Matter is made up of”chemicals”. Perfume is certainly not passé. New ones are released regularly and it is a very large industry. You are breathing in “chemicals” all the time in the airless capsule whether or not anyone is wearing perfume. Scent “chemicals” are primarily organic, just like farts and B.O, but smell a good deal nicer.

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