Burgers On Airplanes

by admin on October 24, 2013

I was on a four-hour flight last week. I have a major problem with airsickness, so I don’t fly unless I have to, but, well, this time I had to. So I armed myself with my Dramamine, ginger tablets, etc., and boarded the plane. Then a guy sits down next to me with a full bag of food from McDonald’s. Even the unopened bag had a really strong, onion-y, fried food smell. As it happened, he stashed the bag in his carry-on and never took it out again during the flight (which made me wonder if he thought it would still be tasty more than four hours later?) so it wasn’t a problem for me. However, that got me wondering what the e-hell minions think about the subject of taking food on airplanes. I’ve always felt that, in such close and airless quarters, passengers should try to be as odorless as possible (including no perfume, and please, please, take a shower the morning of the flight!).
I do understand that a four-hour flight might make one peckish for something other than peanuts and pretzels, but I kind of feel like something like a turkey sandwich would be more polite than a burger and fries!

So, what do you think? And, if he had brought out the food, would I have been rude to say, “I’m sorry, but I get really airsick, and I think that smell is going to make me throw up”? My airsickness isn’t his problem, and yet… 0818-13

With more airlines offering no frills travel which then puts the impetus on travelers to feed themselves during the flight, I think one must expect to experience all kinds of olfactory sensations.  A McDonald’s meal is pretty ubiquitous but I do agree that it has a particular odor.   I worked at a McDonald’s decades ago when a teen and there is a smell to the trashcans that is distinctly a McDonald’s smell no matter where you go in the US.   It could have been worse.   He could have brought sushi on board to eat.

{ 136 comments… read them below or add one }

Hello! October 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Hmmm, well, I’m guessing if I had the chance to sit next to the guy with McDonalds or sit next to OP who is vomiting, then I’ll choose the McDonalds guy. My point is, if we can’t tell people who get airsick to stay off a plane, we can’t tell the Mcdonalds guy to stay off the plane too?


CJ October 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I am guilty of bringing McDonalds on flights. I travel often and sometimes have no other choice than to grab something in the airport – after a week away from home, I’m not stopping at a grocery store to grab a snack for the flight home – even if I have time after all of my meetings. And I’ve had connections with as little as 30 minutes between, with hours of flight time on either side – no time to do more than grab the fastest food possible. As an insulin dependent diabetic, I’m sure you’d rather I had something to eat than risk a mid-flight medical emergency that might delay or divert your flight.

And that gentleman might have not eaten his meal on the flight, if was observant enough to notice that the food was making you uncomfortable. So I don’t think it that odd that he didn’t eat the meal.


Laura October 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I would bet anything that he noticed the smell was unpleasant and stashed the bag because if it.


Bibianne October 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Now you have all peeked my curiosity… Hubby and I will travel in a little over a month… Would banana muffins offend anyone? (without nuts, just in case)


Abby October 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I don’t think you have the “right” to expect your seatmate not to eat, however, if it’s truly going to make you sick, he might prefer to not eat it rather than have to jump out of the way while you vomit, in which case warning him might be a kindness.

I think though, in the future, as other have pointed out, you need to mitigate the airsickness yourself as best you can. I do not think it would be wise to expect all passengers to adhere to a universal set of rules as to what constitutes acceptable airplane meals, nor do I feel like passengers are doing anything impolite by eating McDonalds instead of turkey sandwiches.


White Lotus October 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

As a veg, I order special meals. It’s in my profile, automatically, and I also check. As a frequent long-haul flyer, I know those meals do not always appear and are sometimes inedible. I do not know how it is possible to render innocent oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts inedible, but they can do it. I can’t eat anything that isn’t vegetarian because I will get sick. As I get older, I must have real food with actual nutritional content and not too many calories.
I ALWAYS carry emergency food, and my principle concern is nutrition, so I pick up meal replacement bars and little bags of nuts and fruit. Specifically. “Trail Mix” anymore almost always contains chocolate and I don’t want candy. I want protein and fiber. Food is so iffy on airplanes and airports, often not appearing or available, wildly expensive and not very good if you have to buy it, so I think it only makes sense to take an emergency stash. Mine’s not particularly tasty, but it does the job when I need it, and stores over a month-long trip to several countries. But if you LOVE McD’s, it probably smells wonderful to you, and it wouldn’t occur to you that someone else (like, say, me) might be sickened by the smell. And if you’re willing to pay airport prices for McD’s, I think it’s clear you LOVE IT. I try to be charitable and hope for quick consumption, but then I don’t get airsick, either. Ask to change seats.


joni October 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Wouldn’t requesting to change seats require another, unsuspecting stranger to endure the odors that the OP finds offensive? That hardly seems polite.


Ashley October 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I once traveled to Finland with a layover in Germany. It’s a long flight from Chicago to Frankfurt and while they did feed us on the plane, not all of it was good so I picked at what I could, and made a mental note to look for food at the airport. I speak German, but once I got there and got through security and was back in a spot where I was waiting for my plane, my brain was so fried that even if I wanted something else, all I could manage was the numbers on the McDonalds menu. And since I only had an hour to make it all the way across Frankfurt airport, McDonalds basically turned into the ONLY choice. Yes, some chicken nuggets made it onto the plane with me. The only person it upset was a little girl who got mad she didn’t have any chicken nuggets.


inNM October 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Allow me to preface this by saying my expertise comes from spending the last 6 years or so flying at least twice a year and spending no less than 16 hours in airports and on airplanes (if I’m lucky) to fly home to visit my family.
When you have to fly across the U.S. and you’re probably going to spend 6 -8 hours in transit, you tend to pick the earliest flight available, which is usually the 4 – 6 am run. For some reason, I cannot wake up and eat breakfast before 6 am (however, I can eat breakfast perfectly fine at that hour if I don’t go to sleep). Even if my flight leaves at 4 am, 6 hours later I will be starving by the time I land The options at most airports at 4 am is limited, and my options are limited even further by dietary restrictions. I realise that we’re all in a small confined space for the next 4 hours and I’m not going to intentionally offend those around me by bringing the most noxious smelling food that I can find; however, I am asking that you extend me the courtesy of being able to stand the scent for a small part of the flight while I consume some food.
Have you ever gotten a headache from not eating? Imagine having that same headache while on a flight, in turbulence, where the pressure changes are felt in the cabin. I’m sensitive enough to these changes that I can tell if the plane is changing speed or altitude in my sleep; my ears still pop on every flight (and I’m an adult in my late 20’s) and, in extreme cases, I’m so dizzy that I have my head between my knees. Would you like to add a pounding headache and nausea to that, or could you bear with me for 20 minutes or so while I eat, then dissipate the smell with the air vent?


viviennebzb October 24, 2013 at 12:58 pm

I usually try to consume any food (besides snacks) before I board the flight, as it’s just easier than trying to juggle everything in that tiny little seat. However, I cannot bring myself to label anyone as rude for doing otherwise. Many flights offer nothing at all in the way of actual food, as well as many of the things they do offer are (imo) sub-par. I am curious as to why the person in the OP put the food away and didn’t eat it…hours old McD’s…makes me nauseous just thinking about it!


June First October 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I’m actually eating sushi while I’m reading the comments, so I got quite a chuckle. I personally have no problem with sushi (obviously), but the smell of tuna fish gets me every time.

We were on a long flight when the people assigned to the seats behind us ran on at the last minute with styrofoam trays of deep fried shrimp and fries. Normally, it would smell ok. But toss in turbulence and it was TERRIBLE.

For me, this issue is not about “dictating what others can eat”, but about respecting others’ space. You wouldn’t bring a loud game without headphones, right?
As for the people who say, “Sometimes you don’t have a food choice”…it’s called planning ahead. Bring trail mix, ham sandwiches, whatever. That’s better for you than McDonalds, anyway.

I do agree that if someone is actually in this situation, it’s best to ask a flight attendant if you can switch seats.


Kirsten October 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm

– “Those smells were bad enough, but then airlines started eliminating in-flight meals ‘causing more and more travelers to carry on grocery bags full of native foods, like extremely pungent cheeses. She called the combination of unwashed body odor plus stinky food the “international bouquet”.

Gosh, how utterly frightful! Having to smell “native foods” from the country you travelled to! I mean, how simply ghastly. Naturally one couldn’t possibly show any tolerance for a culture different to one’s own, and one must come up with a sneering term for it instead.

“Native food”! It’s FOOD. I marvel some people bother to travel at all.


helen-louise October 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

AS @ 17 – I wish that there existed anti-allergens for scent/solvent allergies! I have two different asthma inhalers, prescription-only eye drops, a saline nose spray, a steroid nose spray, and heavy-duty antihistamines – and I will *still* be wheezing and sneezing if someone is wearing too much perfume or, worst of all, starts applying nail varnish or spray deoderant!

The problem is that most people can use these products without harm to themselves, and even those who *can* imagine others reacting to them find it hard to imagine how bad the reaction can be. I need to have a conversation with some friends who visit us most weekends because their perfume makes me wheeze into the night, and that’s going to be difficult because how do you say to someone “You wear too much perfume and it makes me ill” without it sounding like a comment on their personal hygiene?


twik October 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I wonder what all these queasy people would have done back in the days when they actually provided hot meals? Would they have argued that the rest of the passengers shouldn’t eat, because it affected them?

There is no food that is guaranteed to be inoffensive to absolutely everyone. I’m afraid it’s up to individuals to deal with their hypersensitivity, and not expect the rest of the world to avoid eating. Trail mix is not going to keep me going on a trip that may start with me at the airport at 7 am, and end up getting to my hotel by 8 pm. inNM gives a good description of what I’m like when I’ve gone without food too long. This is just as unpleasant to me as the smell of my hastily-grabbed lunch may be to others.

It might be considered rude to other passengers to travel by air in the first place if you’re likely to get sick on the plane, but as you say, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. And for many of us, that includes eating.


Abby October 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm


“Wouldn’t requesting to change seats require another, unsuspecting stranger to endure the odors that the OP finds offensive? That hardly seems polite.”

Well, not everyone finds it offensive. Smelling McDonalds doesn’t bother me. If the smell was say, cat urine or spoiled milk, then yeah, I’m guessing finding a taker to switch you seats is probably going to be a challenge.

The problem with changing seats is that A. most flights these days are completely booked, so you couldn’t move to an empty seat, you’d have to ask to switch, and b. the times when you can switch (ie. the seatbelt sign is off) people are boarding and flight attendants are frantically preparing the area for takeoff- someone asking to change seats because someone else’s food is making he or she feel sick is definitely going to get that individual an eyeroll.

It’s just a bad situation. No, it’s not the other passenger’s problem if OP gets airsick, but it might become his problem if OP throws up on him. Or has to keep climbing over him to make it to the bathroom on time. Or stands up during a seated time and causes a panic on the airplane. I think it’s totally fair to warn him that the smell of food is making an already precarious situation worse, but I can’t think of a polite way to say it, or to make it sound like OP doesn’t expect people to go hungry to accomodate her.


Lisa October 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Air travel is rough. Most of the time when I have a connection it is so short that I have to dash through the airport to make my flight and I’m lucky if I even have time to buy food on the way. So yes, the food goes on the plane with me.

Food is far less offensive than BO, perfume, etc.

IMO It’s just part of the flying experience and there’s no way around it.


Karen L October 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I sat next to a girl on a plane who took out nail polish remover and started to give herself a manicure.


Lola October 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I guess I shouldn’t bring pickled herring and fresh onions on rye bread onto my next flight. (I jest, I jest!) OP, you are correct that a considerate traveler avoids bringing strong olfactory triggers on board. That said, a Mickey D’s really doesn’t belong in that category. If you’re a super smeller, carry a small jar of coffee beans or something.


Kendra October 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

@June and others who say “bring an inoffensive sandwich”….that is not always possible.

I am not a frequent traveler. I don’t usually go further from home than I can get by car in one day. However, a couple of years ago, my family and I got to go to Disneyworld!! I live in the west, so the trip was going to take all day; leaving at 6am pdt and arriving in FL at 9pm edt. Basically, we were going to be traveling 12 hours straight time. Since we were going to be traveling for 3 meals, we brought bagels with cream cheese for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch and pasta salad with chicken for dinner. We also brought some “snack” foods, peanut butter, crackers, chips, fig newtons etc. We thought we were set for food for the day. Security confiscated almost all of our food. They took our sandwiches, bagels and salad because they weren’t “commercially” packaged. They took our peanut butter because it counted as a “liquid”. They also took our chips and fig newtons because we had put them in baggies and they weren’t “in their original packaging”. When we finally got through security, all we had left were our fruit snacks. We had three connections. The connection we had near to lunch time was so short we only had 30 min to get across the airport, so we grabbed lunch from some fast food place and took it on the plane with us.

With air travel being what it is today, you can “plan ahead” with the best will in the world and still be forced to eat from whatever the airport has available. Sometimes it just works out that you will have to eat on the plane. There is no way to know if your seatmate is going to be enticed or repulsed by your food smells and trying to account for every possible scenario that may affect a stranger is just crazy making and definitely too much to ask.


merry October 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm

I don’t think “Plan ahead bring a ham sandwich” is reasonable. Nearly 1/2 the time people will be flying home from vacation or business events and simply may not have access to a ham sandwich. I wouldn’t eat a sandwich I bought at noon at Disney then , took out in the sun to wait 15 minutes for the 45 minute shuttle to the airport (2 hours before departure per security instructions) Then eat it on the seconds second flight at 6 pm (with only 40-60 minute lay over between flights) I don’t consider a sandwich that’s been room temperature for 5 or 6 hours edible. A McDonald right by the gate may be the only choice.

Not every Hotel is has room service or cafe where a person can get a to go sandwich , not every hotel is near a grocery store and not even grocery store sells sandwiches(I don’t think its reasonable to suggest people buy a loaf of bread and luncheon meat plus condiments , lettuce , tomato and maybe a knife solely to make a sandwich to take on a plane and dispose of the left overs) , not every hotel is without walking distance of a sandwich shop (sure at least one of ….McDonald , pizza place , Taco bell or a sandwich shop is most likely but it wont always be a sandwich shop)

A 4 hour flight isn’t 4 hours of traveling its travel time to the airport , cleaning security , tarmac time , flying time , retrieving , baggage time etc. and with airlines love of lay overs lay over time. Its completely realistic that someone could have been traveling for 6-8 hours including waiting for 2 hours in an airport with a closed concourse and only 40 minutes to travel across an entire major air port before a second or 3rd 3-4 hour flight. I don’t think its poor planning on the passengers parts to be hunger at that point.

Plus McDonalds/BK aren’t on the list of vomit inducing smells. There is a likelyhood flying out of England the meal will be a curry , that certainly doesn’t have less odor then a cheese burger.


Cat October 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I would have asked to change seats with someone who did not get airsick and who did not mind the odor of fast food. It is far worse to subject the person next to you to your being ill in a barf bag than it is to tell them that you get airsick and that you need to change seats.


KJR October 24, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I had kind of an opposite thing happen this summer — it was about a 6 hour flight, and we got some kind of “snack box” with crackers, peanuts, olives, etc. Then the flight attendants proceeded to heat up the most wonderful-smelling meals for themselves…it must have been lasagna or something like that. But the strong aroma was wafting heavily throughout the aircraft. It was so funny, because my husband and I were getting all excited thinking it was for us! It was kind of a let down when we figured out we weren’t getting any! 😀


Jaxsue October 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Like every other traveler, I’ve had to deal with the less-than-pleasant aspects of flying, particularly odors. I have had the occasional seat mate with the McD’s bag, but that is far down on the offensive list (body odor is #1). I hate the smell of fried food, but that’s my issue. I fly frequently, and make a point to eat before I board the flight. It’s not for any other reason than I am just more comfortable doing that. I avoid smelly food and fried food. I also take snacks with me, just in case (am diabetic and can’t afford to “bottom out”). But while I am probably more detail-oriented in this way, I don’t expect my seat mates to be that way.
My last flight, food was an issue, but it wasn’t odor. In the seats directly ahead of me, on both sides of the aisle, were a mom and kids. She had brought a bag of food. Problem was, it was messy stuff, so mayo, meat, and all kinds of stuff kept falling to the floor (ick). The mom made no move to clean it up or apologize for the mess (and it kept happening, so it wasn’t like she didn’t know!). The flight attendant had a great poker face, but you could tell it didn’t please her. TBH, the sight of food goop plopped all over the floor was much worse than any odor!


Ergala October 24, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Last time I flew was last year and it was a very long flight with no lay overs. On our return flight my mom packed us sandwiches and cookies and brownies. We were able to bring them on the plane with no issue (My A&D ointment for my fresh tattoo however was confiscated). I would normally say the OP needs to get over it….but once I read that he didn’t eat it……well that threw me into her camp. MacDonald’s smells kind of good when it’s hot and fresh, but once it cools it becomes stale and you get the cold greasy smell and it lingers. I have to say I’d probably be feeling icky if I had to smell that for 4 hours. Why he let it sit there for the whole flight is beyond me but YUCK!


mark October 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I feel sorry for flight attendants. I can just imagine the joy of some one on a flight asking them if they can switch seats because the person next to them is eating some McDonald’s food.


AS October 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Sorry for the repost, but I had to reply to some of the commenters who keep saying “plan ahead”. There maybe several reason for a person not being able to plan ahead and get granola bars, or finish eating their food before they board the flight. Some that come to my mind are – this flight might be after another flight that they took in a series of connecting flights, with a very small gap between the two / or the previous flight was delayed. They may have some medical condition where they have to eat full meals at the right time. They have had to pack up in a hurry or have been traveling away from home for several days at this time. They are visiting home for a tragedy, like a loved one passed away, and are in no mental state to prepare ahead thoroughly.
We don’t know what is going on in the lives of others. We should not judge everyone using the same yardstick, and dismiss anyone who does not fit the parameters of people who could plan ahead.


WendyW October 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I will say the worst offense I ever smelled on a plane was caused by a flight attendant. We had boarded and were in line to take off. Suddenly a horrendous burnt rubber smell permeated the plane. It was truly awful. It was so bad that most passengers were asking each other if something had gone horribly wrong with the plane. Turns out the attendant had burnt her lunch in the galley microwave. The smell lingered most of the flight.


Salmon Roll October 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Excuse me admin…
But sushi normally does not have a very strong smell at all. I should know– I regularly indulge in this delicious treat. If it smells, then something has gone horribly wrong and it should be avoided!

If it’s the visual sight, that’s your problem, not mine. If you don’t like it, simply don’t look.
Certainly it is much easier to avoid unpleasant sights than unpleasant odors or sounds. Read a book, play with your phone if allowed, but by all means, don’t stare at me while I eat my sushi! Now that’s rude.


Marie October 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I am very much suprised by the responses here. I was always taught that when you eat while on a transport (a confined space while being close to strangers), you must make sure you are not bothering them. Not by littering, not by smell.

Now, a sandwich doesn’t smell a lot. Neither do candybars or oatmealbars as someone mentioned. A banana? Sure, you can smell it, but it’s not a penetrant smell that will linger.

Deep fried food, however, is a very penetrant smell that even sticks in your cloths and hair. In a confined space, everyone around you will smell your food. This will either make them hungry, or a little nauseous. Either way, it’s not pleasant.

I understand that people need to eat during a flight. But to bring deep fried food on a place? It’s disgusting. There are always options for people with dietary restrictions, such as to bring your own food. If you know you have an early flight, prepare something at home you can eat. If you’re at a hotel, there will probably be a supermarket you can visit the day before your flight, or ask the hotel to prepare you a breakfast box. It’s really not that hard to bring something that is tasty and will satisfy your needs, without bothering your fellow passengers with unwelcome odors.


twinkletoes October 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I don’t think he was wrong for bringing MD onto the plane. There are not many options in some airport and at least with MDs you know what you are getting. Its unfortunate that the smell was unpleasant for you but I agree with everyone else, the passenger probably realized this and put it away. Perhaps you could consult with your Dr before you fly next time so you can get a prescription for anti-nausea medication, you may not need it but its nice to have in case you do. I think the smell from the lavatories is far worse than any food smell I can think of especially on long overseas flights. As a side note I am a season flyer and always travel with a bag of snacks, like granola bars, dried fruit, crackers and instant chicken soup in the paper envelopes (ask the flight attendant for hot water). I bring extras and offer up when the need arises.


Ergala October 24, 2013 at 6:54 pm

@Kendra my stuff wasn’t in commercial containers and they had no problem with any of it. My friend flew up here and back home in August and I made him brownies for the plane. He had no issue with those either. Maybe they have become more relaxed but I’d be seriously irritated if they took my sandwich just because it was homemade. I was mad enough they took my A&D tube. I flew down to Texas with it just fine, no issues. Then when we were flying back here from there they started grilling me about where my baby was because I had that ointment. I tried to explain I had a fresh tattoo and needed to keep it moist and protected. The woman rolled her eyes and threw it away right in front of me.


Vicki October 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Another factor is that food tends to taste blander on jet planes, because of the low air pressure and low humidity. That means that the turkey sandwich on rye with lettuce and butter that I might enjoy on the ground will have little flavor in the air. That’s a reason for bringing more strongly-flavored and stronger-smelling food on flights, and a lot of the time the flavors carry.

I once bought a pizza while running between terminals at O’Hare, got to my plane just before the doors closed, and ate half of it before the plane took off. But that worked because I was hungry *then* and just short on time; it doesn’t align well with trans-continental or trans-oceanic flights.


Ann October 24, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I either eat during a long layover, or hopefully find a Subway and take that on board (always a turkey or ham sub). I leave home with a feed bag meant for the carryon, and usually replenish it wherever I am (mostly flying to family).
Someone upthread asked about muffins. That made me think of another point-crumbly things. Many brownies and cookies stay together well (as do Fig Newtons), but big huge muffins make a giant mess, at least with me.


Marie October 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I’m confused, since I’ve never traveled with an airline that allowed you to bring your own food on the plane. No drinks, water, food, unless it was purchased after the security checkpoints. I guess if you’re traveling from one state to another in the US, it’s okay?


Anonymouse October 24, 2013 at 9:12 pm

@AS and Kirsten
No, perfume on a plane, bus, or any confined public transport is not ok, purely because of the number of people with extreme allergic reactions to it. And no, you can’t simply take an anti-histimine and get over it (for myself, it triggers my asthma so allergy pills won’t subdue the reaction, and my inhaler only works when I’m no longer subjected to whatever triggered the attack in the first place. Someone wearing heavy perfume will result in a several hour delay while the plane lands and I go to a hospital). And switching seats is not always possible. As well, if you are in a small plane (the one I took from Yellowknife several years ago only had about 30 seats) you can smell it anywhere in the plane. Something like BO or McDonalds, while annoying, is very unlikely to trigger a severe medical problem, so it’s inconsiderate, but not rude.


Jewel October 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm

@ Kirsten — I find it amusing that you’d assume that my mother’s dislike of being enclosed for hours in a metal tube with stinky food smells and poor air circulation equates to cultural intolerance. Considering that she chose to return to those same countries for a month-long visit year after year (presumably eating plenty of that native food every day) shows that you’ve made quite an interesting assumption.


J October 24, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Sorry, but I am hypoglycemic. If I need to eat, I am going to eat. If you don’t like it, sorry sparkle sparkle princess…see what the airline can do about moving you. I am not going to risk a hypoglycemic coma because I may offend you. On short flights I can probably pack away something in my purse, but a 13-hour trip? Forget it.

No matter what, someone who thinks they’re super-special is going to be mad about something on a flight. On one short trip where I had packed my OWN odorless (it was just under my nose and I couldn’t smell anything) protein bar and began to snack in-flight, the lady next to me called the stewardess (without saying a word to me) and complained that I should not be allowed to eat because she was hungry and had forgotten to bring a snack. The flight attendant explained that she could not tell me not to eat my own snack, and offered the lady a bag of peanuts, which she refused. She then spent the next 45 minutes with her arms crossed, pouting.


kingsrings October 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm

One time I brought a Burger King meal onto the plane with me. I honestly didn’t think beforehand how much it would stink up the space. But it sure did, and I got dirty looks from my seat mate about it. I won’t bring fast-food onto a plane again if I have any control over it. That’s the thing though – like others have said, sometimes it’s the only food choice there is. You can’t expect people to go hungry just because their food might stink. If it’s possible to pack non-smelly food to take on the plane, then so be it, but that’s not always a choice, either.


Gracie Lou Freebush October 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Some of the people posting on this board seriously need to grow a pair of balls when it comes to airline travel. If you can’t handle the smell of someone else’s airport food purchase then STAY HOME. Geez Louise.


Saucygirl October 24, 2013 at 11:03 pm

The problem with trying to bring “inoffensive smelling” food onto a plane is that such a thing probably doesn’t exist. I fly frequently, and when pressure is bad I get nausaus. I also hate the smell of coffee under normal circumstances, and when nausaus it can tip the scales to me actually being sick. I have yet to meet another person who feels this way about coffee, so I can’t imagine anyone would think twice before accepting the cup of coffee that is offered on most morning flights. Nor would I expect them too.

Love the idea of vasoline in nose. I also fly with peppermint lotion which I use throughout flight to make that my main smell (and I’m sure it annoys at least one person sitting near me).


inNM October 25, 2013 at 12:12 am

@Marie, some points.
1. The problem is that because of people’s varying sensitivities, you will probably be offending someone, no matter what you bring, even if it’s home made. So you could (a) not eat lest you offend someone or (b) eat something knowing whatever you eat may offend someone. In the same regard, if I’m in a plane, and someone pulls out some food, I can attempt to bear the scent, I can turn on the air vent and blow the scent away, I can wrap a sweater or scarf or blanket across my face until the scent dissipates. We’re all uncomfortable, and none of us are doing these actions to annoy anyone else. It’s not that I’m eating food to satisfy vanity or some unnecessary requirement. We eat because we’re hungry or we need to consume the food for another urgent reason. Furthermore, most people consume a meal in 20 – 30 minutes. After the food has been eaten, the scent usually dissipates quickly and is much milder than before.
2. Sometimes the person does not have a choice. I have been in airports/concourses where the only available food choice at that exact time is fried, and I am still in transit. (Before you comment that this only happens at small airports, this happened to me at a layover at a major airport in Las Vegas, at 6 pm on a Sunday.) It wasn’t my first choice of food, but it was that or get sick from hunger.
3. Also, you should take into account that our choices in food is cultural. What you may consider homemade and appropriate may be foreign to me. I mean, if I were to bust out a homemade smoked herring sandwich, which is a common homemade sandwich where I used to live, it would be obnoxious to almost everyone in the plane, but it is comfort food to me. What is foreign to me? A chicken salad sandwich.
My point: If the scent of someone’s food is a serious problem, perhaps you should ask the flight attendant to change your seat; the same if you are allergic. Outside of that, while I acknowledge that I should not make the people in the airplane with me uncomfortable by my choice of food, it is not too much to ask that they should grant me some courtesy with respect to the food I consume during the flight.


NostalgicGal October 25, 2013 at 12:36 am

Having read some of the others… banana muffins might not get confiscated, but might be messy unless you make those popper/bitesized ones… to be safe buy something prepackaged and still sealed.

I lived downwind of a smoker, who had her nose burnt out and must have bathed in perfume. If she was outside you could not stand to be in our yard and we had to close our windows. Longest ten years of my life. She really couldn’t smell she had a bucket of perfume on after her 4 pack a day habit… and totally ruined my chance of either enjoying a nice day by airing my house or using my yard if she was outside. I sure hope to never get seated near someone like her, I’d have to ask the steward(ess) to switch seats if that happened, or get off and take a different flight!

I went across country this last summer and I had purposely mailed my luggage to my destination, then mailed my luggage back, I didn’t even have a carryon, just a laptop bag, with cellphone and my medkit. As a walkon that automatically gave me seating priority after first class even if I had a cheapo seat. This also made it easier for me to go through security.

I learned: If you have an hour layover or a 5 hour layover opportunity, especially for an afternoon flight in summer, take the 5 hour. 3 of 4 flights I had a fight from the moment I set foot in the airport, over flight delays. BE NICE TO THE BOARDING CLERK. He or she can be your ally or your worst enemy. A lot are working OT and it gets to be a long day. They do have the power to rebook you on the spot or fix ticketing issues. One fellow swore at one and got to sleep in the airport terminal, I was nice right after and got put up in a hotel and meal vouchers because the delays meant I missed my connector, the last one for the night.

Get there as early as you can, I am not kidding about 2.5 hours especially if weather may be causing issues between where you’re at and where you’re going. Check in ASAP, THEN go find food. If TSA won’t let you have the food you brought, then you can do a scarf on spot and toss-2 or 3 quick good bites and toss, etc … I had to do that a few times. Fig Newtons and other stuff can be found in smaller packs now, I never had those confiscated as long as they were in ‘original sealed packaging’. If you arrive early, most major airport concourses will have something open around 6-7 am and most everything by 8; grabbing something and consuming it before boarding is often what I did.

I do not hide that I find the barf bag and have it handy to pluck for takeoff and landing; that is when I have the issues. I would let my seatmate quietly know I might have a few issues; but I should be alright in about 5 minutes… I never had one be upset that I gave them a polite prewarning. I’ve tried pills, patches, biofeedback, essential oils, wrist bands, ear clip, and what worked was ginger. You get it in capsules and take one or two about 30 min before you expect to have the problem. They usually last a few hours once they ‘kick in’. The personal air vent/fan things, if you want a smell to stay away from you, direct it onto the top of your head, never at anyone else. If it is hitting your head just behind your forehead, it will not be directly in your face, and help keep the smells away.

Air travel used to be something special. I now treat it like ‘get from point A to point B’ and the only thing you’re really saving is not having driven or sat in a bus seat for that whole time.


Rebecca October 25, 2013 at 12:48 am

Sushi is worse? Sushi doesn’t smell at all, or shouldn’t; if it did, I’d have to think it was going bad. I brought sushi onto a plane (one that didn’t serve food) and I thought it was the perfect airline food.

Mind you, I don’ think food can ever be expected to be totally odorless. And what smells repulsive to some is totally fine for others. I’d not be too happy to smell McDonald’s (and, everything there DOES have a distinctive McDonald’s smell; they must standardize that smell across their menu).


Maggie October 25, 2013 at 12:56 am

I live in Asia and have to put up with all kinds of odours on planes, from bodily ones (deodorant is virtually unknown in some places) to food such as curries and kimchi. You kind of get used to breathing through your mouth, although makes it dry. But the one that takes the biscuit is the smell of a used nappy (diaper) when the parent/s decide the seat tray is the most convenient place to change it. On a flight earlier this year, the parent decided to ‘dispose’ of the nappy by walking it – UNBAGGED – along an aisle to the galley, thus wafting the smell around a third of the plane. Thankfully they were told to use the changing table in the toilet but did so with a lot of fuss.


Jenn50 October 25, 2013 at 1:11 am

Bibianne, I’m deathly allergic to bananas and if you sat next to me eating a banana muffin, I’d be scrambling for Benadryl, my epipen, and a seating change. But that’s my problem, not yours. You can’t be expected to anticipate every possible allergen. As long as you’re not smearing it on me, you’re not doing anything wrong, and the flight attendants have always been awesome about getting someone to switch with me.


Marbles October 25, 2013 at 1:37 am

McD’s wouldn’t be any worse than the four hour flight I took once where the meal served was our choice of beef or bean burritos.


Kate October 25, 2013 at 3:24 am

I’m one of those people who gets motion sickness wherever possible – train, tram, bus, plane, car etc. However, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s responsibility to change their behaviour to accommodate my weak stomach. I’d be asking the flight attendant politely (and quietly, so as not to offend my seat-mate) if I could switch seats.
For me, the smell of beer makes me feel sick – if I ended up on a plane next to someone who was knocking back the cans, I’d be sitting on the floor rather than next to them. But I wouldn’t say anything to them.


Lex October 25, 2013 at 3:41 am

Airline meals are revolting and overpriced (£40 surcharge for 2 meals? I could order a takeaway for less!!!) and I’m sorry to say that really, you have no right to expect fellow passengers to take your airsickness into consideration when choosing their lunch. Personally I think a Maccys is the LEAST of your troubles. I regularly take food onto a flight with me as I need to eat regularly or I become ill and have been known to have migraines. Usually it is a sandwich but in many airports the range available is pretty poor (I can’t eat raw tomato for example and most sandwiches have that in) leaving me with little option but the known and ‘safe’ McDonalds menu. Look at it from another perspective – how nice is it to be sat next to someone that is vomiting – the smell of vomit is worse than any type of food (with the possible exception of strong garlic) so from someone else’s perspective, your vomit is a bigger ‘olfactory crime’ than the Maccys. I’d rather be sat next to a Maccys eater than a vomiter quite frankly.

If you know you will be unwell, it is your responsibility to mitigate that rather than expect others to pander to you so rather than select a window seat in the middle of the cabin (for example), why not pay the modest surcharge for an ‘extra legroom’ seat – these are usually by emergency exits or at the front of rows giving you plenty of reasonable access to the lavatory facilities? Most flight operators and stewards will understand severe travel sickness and if you are polite about it (rather than demanding) you’ll be amazed at how well they can accommodate you and they have the power in-flight to move you to a more appropriate location.


AnnaMontana October 25, 2013 at 5:44 am

The last time I traveled on a flight, I luckily was going on honeymoon. I was already so super happy, I wasn’t going to let ANYTHING spoil my mood.
For those traveling to go on holiday, you should be focusing on your lovely holiday, not the horrid, cramped conditions you get from being packed into a tin can with few facilities.
Personally, I have a severe problem with take-off and therefore cling tightly to my other half’s hand (crying) whilst I am in take-off. My husband makes a joke about it with whomsoever is sitting by us and they all seem content with it. In fact they usually continue to crack jokes and ask me questions which stops me feeling so bad!
As for food, the cost is astronomical on-board and when they come to deliver snacks round, they usually stink way more than a maccy’s! In fact, I’d prefer it if someone was to eat a burger and fries, than the stinky tuna melts offered on most airlines!
I’m highly allergic to certain types of fish. The only fish I can tolerate is Salmon and Cod. When the airplane fills up with the smell of sushi and tuna (plus the little bits in the air as they’re unwrapped) I get wheezy and my throat can sometimes close up. However, I can’t order a plane to change what they serve just for me! So I simply visit the toilet, breathe through my mouth and take my medication.
I don’t have an issue with people feeding themselves on a plane, and I would never dream of telling somone their perfume/whatever was too strong. If you were going to be sick, OP, then tell him. Otherwise, it’s your issue, you deal with it.


merry October 25, 2013 at 5:45 am

TSA is pretty inconsistent from air port to air port. My large home town air port doesn’t have a Mcdonalds what it has is a Mexican restaurant. I think part of the issue is the concourses weren’t planned with the new restrictions and lack of meals and lots of super short lay overs in mind.

5 minutes to make a few sandwiched before you leave home is reasonable. Taking a hour out of your vacation to take a cab to a grocery store , shop , return to your hotel and then make sandwiches with the left overs to be thrown away is a great deal less reasonable to avoid fellow passengers smelling french fries. The only food more expensive then airport food is hotel food telling a business traveler to buy a packed meal from a hotel which may not be reimbursed isn’t reasonable either, very few business travelers are given first class budgets anymore.

That still doesn’t address food safety many cold cuts are meant to be refrigerated after 2 hours


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