Up In The Air

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There is an increase in stories in the news about people who wear perfume in the same way people talk or play music too loud; as if the world wants to share in their magnificent taste. The latest story comes from a poll on the travel site Expedia. In their annual Airplane and Hotel Etiquette Survey here were the top five annoying travel behaviors:

The Seat Kicker- 51%

The Aromatic Passenger- 43%

The Inattentive Parent- 39%

Personal Space Violators- 34%

Audio Insensitive- 29%

I winced when I saw the number two response.

Image via Quora.com

One of the reasons I was dismayed is because it is exactly this kind of insensitivity to others by perfume wearers which allows for office-space bans. In any enclosed space if you’re going to wear perfume you should be considering the same thing you do when you fire up your music player or take a phone call in a shared space.

I love perfume, but I do not wear it while traveling because I don’t know if the person sitting next to me will be as enthralled with the effervescent citrus woody perfume I am wearing. What I do is choose something from my group of smaller travel sizes or samples of perfumes I own. Put them in a zip-lock bag. Keep them in my carry-on. When I hit the restroom at my final destination then I give a single spray to the base of my throat. I have never found the occasion where wearing perfume onboard a plane is a necessity. I’ve actually found when flying overnight flights my single spray can be a bit of a tonic after the long flight.

I think this is not done in a conscious way by many whom this critique is named for. I think they apply what they normally apply without thinking they are going to be in a plane for a few hours with others. This dovetails with the correlation between strong sillage equals quality to a lot of fragrance consumers.

I’m asking all of us who wear perfume to think about whether wearing it while traveling is a necessity. So many flights are only a few hours it isn’t that much of a sacrifice. I am hoping that the 43% number can be reduced over time because I know I don’t want to be an “Aromatic Passenger” up in the air.

Mark Behnke

2 thoughts on “Up In The Air

  1. It’s funny, whenever I have seen this sort of survey my immediate thought is that people are complaining about “bad” smells such as body odor not specifically perfume. Maybe it comes from living overseas for so long, especially in a very hot and sweaty climate, but I know that I certainly have sat next to some very aromatic people who could have used some perfume (or really a shower and deodorant) prior to getting on the flight! And, in the Middle East, airplanes as well as pretty much any other public space, are fair game for wearing any strong scent and nobody is going to complain. Personally, I try to chose something inoffensive when flying but, I can’t say I will give up perfume all together when the Duty Free shops here have such an amazing selection of things not even out at the regular shops yet. I might find something I just have to try on before boarding! Interesting topic though….

    • You took the words out of my mouth — er, keyboard. I suspect that some of this response is in fact about people who smell bad. That is truly excruciating for fellow passengers. Not always the smelly one's fault — who hasn't felt less than fresh after hours on a plane, lugging carry-ons up and down, maybe a flight transfer or two? And it's not always easy to freshen up in those tiny bathrooms (I carry facial cleansing wipes for this purpose). I do agree that we perfume-lovers should be thoughtful about when and what to apply. I find a nice scent on a plane trip to be comforting and soothing; sometimes I carry a small roll-on of an essential oil blend. Alas! I am also susceptible to the allure of the testers in Duty-Free! I try to test the more gentle ones before a flight, though, and not to excess.

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