Passengers on an Indonesian airplane nearly came to fisticuffs with the flight crew on Monday because they could smell the stench of two tons durian in the cargo area.
Durian is known as the world’s stinkiest fruit.
“If you’ve smelled a durian even once, you probably remember it,” Smithsonian.com once wrote. “Even with the husk intact, the notorious Asian fruit has such a potent stench that it’s banned on the Singapore Rapid Mass Transit.
“Food writer Richard Sterling has written ‘its odor is best described as … turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock.’”
In April, the smell of durian rotting in a cupboard at an Australian university’s library was mistaken for a gas leak, the Associated Press reported. The building was evacuated and crews wearing masks showed up.
According to the BBC, about two tons of the fruit was in the plane’s cargo hold.
“The thorny durian is a delicacy in much of Asia but also controversial - you either love it or hate it,” wrote the BBC. “Its potent stench means it’s banned from public transportation, hotels and even planes in certain countries.”
Pasenger Amir Zidane wrote on his Facebook page on Monday that he and his friends were among the last to board the flight to Jakarta at Fatmawati Soekarno Bengkulu Airport in Bengkulu, Indonesia, and “the scent of duress was already felt.”
Zidane wrote that when he complained to a flight attendant about the stink and the heat on the plane she handed him a piece of paper and told him to put his complaint in writing.
He said he talked to an “officer” on the flight who told him that the plane was going to take off anyway.
“Man, this is a bad smell,” Zidane said he told the officer.
He said he finally turned to his fellow passengers asked: “(Who) on the plane wants to fly?”
He said no one wanted to stay on the plane.
“Even the old ladies” were tormented by the smell, he wrote. “They’re all just making a noise.”
A reporter with Indonesia’s Antara news agency, Boyke Ledy Watra, who was also on the plane told the Jakarta Post that “several passengers argued, occasionally almost coming to blows, with flight crew members before deciding to leave the aircraft.”
Zidane wrote that the passengers were allowed to leave the plane while the crew unloaded the sacks of durian from the plane. His Facebook post about the incident has been shard more than 20,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.
The flight left around 11:40 a.m., an hour later than scheduled, the Post reported.
“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,” Sriwijaya Air senior corporate communications manager Retri Maya said in a statement to the Post on Tuesday.