A passenger’s B.O. can make a flight unbearable, so imagine how bad it must be to have two tons of the world’s smelliest fruit stink up an aircraft cabin. On Monday, a Sriwijaya Air flight from Bengkulu to Jakarta was grounded when passengers refused to stay in the airplane due to an overwhelmingly bad stench. The famously stinky durian, a fruit whose smell is best described by food writer Richard Sterling as “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock,” was enough to cause a massive passenger boycott, until the airline relented and unloaded the offending cargo. The flight departed about an hour after its scheduled takeoff time.
“It’s not illegal to carry durian in a flight,” said a Sriwijaya Air spokesperson in a statement, “so long as it’s wrapped properly in accordance with flight regulations — carried inside the hold,” but the airline did promise to investigate other ways of transporting the fruit in the future.
Not everyone is repulsed by the scent, however. Anthony Bourdain once said the fruit was “indescribable, something you will either love or despise.” He did, however, add that “your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother” after eating it.
Some countries have actually taken steps to ban the transport of durians. In Singapore, it’s not allowed to be taken on the subway, and in Thailand, Japan, and Hong Kong, “no durian allowed” signs are common outside of buildings such as hotels.