Home Travel He Complained About Her “Too Much Perfume” On Plane. Here’s How THAT Ended

He Complained About Her “Too Much Perfume” On Plane. Here’s How THAT Ended

by SharonKurheg

I’ve been singing in local choirs, on and off, for about 2 decades. One of the #1 (well, #1 & #2) rules about singing in a choir – any choir – is “DO wear deodorant and DON’T wear perfume or cologne.” After all, there are dozens to hundreds of us on that stage, squished like sardines. That’s NOT the time to have to worry about anyone’s body odor. And if you have allergies or asthma, perfume or cologne on the person next to you for the length of that tech/dress rehearsal or show is just awful. That particular “Do/Don’t” also tends to be the rule when you work in a hospital, some office buildings, etc.

The same can be said for anywhere you’re going to be squashed with a bunch of other people. Say, on a plane. Now…hold that thought.

Reddit is an American social news aggregator, web content rating, and discussion website. It was established in 2005. It’s a huge community, with over 430 million monthly active members. Registered members can submit content to the site, including links, text posts, and images, which other members then vote up or down.

Reddit has over 100,000 active communities, one of which is called AITA. The initials represent the term, “Am I The A-Hole.” The community is defined as, “A catharsis for the frustrated moral philosopher in all of us, and a place to finally find out if you were wrong in an argument that’s been bothering you. Tell us about any non-violent conflict you have experienced; give us both sides of the story, and find out if you’re right, or you’re the a-hole.” It’s kind of like a “jury of your peers” sort of thing.

We’ve mentioned other situations from AITA in the past:

This time a guy on a plane called out the woman sitting next to him because he said she was wearing too much perfume. He wanted to know from his fellow Redditors if he was in the right or the wrong for doing so. You can click here to read it all (heads up here may be adult language).

AITA for telling the girl next to me on the plane that her fragrance was too strong?

20th hour of travel for me. After a 3 hour delay on my final 1 hour flight, a pretty, preppy young lady sits in the middle seat, me (mid-age WM) in the window. She already reeked of perfume, but she pulls out a heavily odorific hand sanitizer and slathers herself. I am literally sick to my stomach, but hold my tongue, thinking it would wane soon. It didn’t. Minutes later, as I peek out from under my mask to adjust the air vent and she asks if I’ll open the blind for her to see. Yes, I say… but grumpy me lets out “your fragrance is very strong”. Sorry, she replies sheepishly. I pull down my sleep mask to match my COVID mask and bear my stomach sickness in exhausted silence for the rest of the flight. When we land, she turns to me and claims she has no sense of smell, that I made her flight very uncomfortable, and I should be more sensitive to what other people are going through. Also, she says, her husband said the sanitizer smelled nice. I keep my cool, but tell her she should not use fragrances next time she flies. Honestly, the moment I left the plane, I smelt a felt better. Question: Am I the a-hole for speaking up? Was there a better way to handle that situation? I wasn’t trying to upset her, just to breathe and suggest she back off the perfumes. If it were just her sanitizer, she could have (as she suggested) washed her hands. She didn’t. I’m not sure if she learned a lesson, or what I could have done differently, other than try to switch seats with someone, which might have hurt her more. What do y’all think?

Overall, the original poster (OP) was deemed to not have been an A-hole, but the “YTA” (You’re Yhe A-hole) and “NTA” (Not The A-hole) votes were VERY close. Here’s what a bunch of people said (posts only edited for clarity, brevity and adult language):

  • NTA it takes a very special kind of a-hole to douse themselves with perfume before a flight. What the actual f**k is wrong with people. Also, if she, “claims she has no sense of smell,” then what the f**k is she doing going heavy on the perfume when she’s (I presume) traveling alone anyway? This situation is confusing and I feel like I can smell her from here and it’s giving me a headache. NTA. – Dszquphsbnt
  • Tbh NTA. If you weren’t rude about it, there’s nothing wrong with letting someone know, especially if you’re sitting next to them that it’s very strong and (literally) making you feel ill to your stomach.
    Yes, she’s not wrong to say that you should be more sensitive to other peoples situations, but it literally works both ways lol. Some people don’t like fragrances , some smells make people sick. I get migraines or headaches from smelling potpourri /overly fruity smelling perfumes. I move away from the person if I can, but if I can’t, I will let them know lol – Snommies
  • NTA, her lack of smell dosen’t mean she has the right to spray strong fragrance in a small enclosed space. That’s rude, and possibly very irritating to those in board with perfume allergies and sensitive noses. If anything you should have let her know that her discomfort was caused by her own lack of manners, not you pointing them out to her. She made yours and many other folks flight uncomfortable so she can deal with a bit of grumpiness. – Geekfreak2000
  • NTA I’m asthmatic so rhay flight would have been a nightmare for me I woupd have had to say something also – Churchie-Baby
  • After reading some comments- NTA either way but if you have no sense of smell and you think you stink.. wear DEODORANT not perfume, trying to cover up with perfume is like trying to febreze dog crap you’ll just smell like BO and whatever cheap fragrance you’re using to hide it – sourdough_s8n
  • NTA. If she has no sense of smell, she shouldn’t be applying perfume herself and needs to be told that it’s too much. It’s too bad she didn’t at least attempt to wash some of it off, but it’s possible that it had permeated her clothes and you wouldn’t have noticed a difference. – C_Majuscula
  • Nta she has some nerve to say you made her uncomfortable. – imankitty
  • (In response to the above comment) Right? Not a perfect comparison, but this reminds me when a very large person in boots stepped on my foot and when I shouted in pain, they were upset that the noise startled them. Lol what. The person causing the problems should be focused on the harm they caused, not how the harmed react. – paul_rudd_drag_race
  • NAH. But your life will be more enjoyable if you adjust your expectations. What did you expect this woman to do with the info you gave her in a grumpy tone? You live in a society and not everyone is going to live to your standards, get over it. – regallll
  • NTA. I have a favorite perfume (Portrait of Lady by Frederic Malle), and it’s my ultimate go-to, my signature scent, if you wish. I recognize that’s the scent is pretty strong, even if it’s in the smallest amount. I never, ever put this perfume — or any other, for that matter — before a flight. It’s just basic common sense. Especially considering that some people can be heavily allergic to specific components used in the perfume. – yellowdaffodils1

However there were some people who thought he was the A-hole:

  • eh, very soft YTA. You telling her that her fragrance is too strong wasn’t going to change anything, and i’m not sure some random person on a plane telling her that is going to have the impact you were looking for.
    I have been in this exact situation. I’m extremely sensitive to smells, super migraine trigger for me which is usually accompanied with vomiting. Anyways. I was sat next to a woman who smelled like she poured the whole perfume bottle on herself. Almost as soon as I sat down I felt sick. I just got up and walked to a flight attendant asking if there was any chance I could be seated further away from this woman due to the circumstances and fortunately someone at the back of the plane was happy to switch spots as they didn’t like flying in the back. – StrangerOnReddit
  • This is a definite YTA situation, unfortunately. I empathize with your discomfort, probably compounded with the fact that you were cranky from a long day of flying and flight delays. It feels like you took out that frustration on your seat mate and purposely embarrassed her when she didn’t have any bad intentions.
    The flight was only 1 hour long — at the very least you could have mentioned it politely at the end of the flight.
    You propose the idea that moving seats might have hurt her more — trust me, what you did was more hurtful. Please talk to the flight attendant and switch seats next time. – evergreenvelvet
  • YTA. You were on a plane, I understand you can’t control how the smell affects you but honestly… what could she have done about it at that point? She apologized the moment you told her. She approached and apologized again later on. You made that woman feel awkward and badly for the whole flight and maybe the day for something she could do nothing to fix. – Darth_Hufflepuff
  • (In response to the above comment) She could have gone to the galley bathroom, washed away her hand sanitizer with soap and water (thereby achieving her clean-hands objective), and wiped off some of her perfume with a wet towel. – AZSKP
  • I gotta say I disagree with the comments, they’re going too easy on you. I think YTA here because of how you phrased it; grumpy me lets out “your fragrance is very strong.” To me, that makes it sound like you just grumbled the complaint. You didn’t bring it up politely in the slightest, just griped at her. You’re not an a-hole for bringing it up, but because of how you did so.
    If you had politely said, “hey, your perfume is a little strong for an enclosed space, you might wanna use a bit less next time since it’s kinda hard for people to get away from if it’s overwhelming them,” then no, you wouldn’t be the a-hole. But you didn’t, you just grumbled it at her, presumable rudely or you’d have written it differently.
    People without smell, as others have mentioned, do not have a way of knowing if what they’re spraying too much. Many of them, including a former friend of mine, constantly worry about smelling bad, and some accidentally overcompensate. And here’s the thing; if it were the opposite, and she did smell of BO, then you would have gotten upset about that, too. There’s really very little way for her to win here.
    But yeah, you were definitely kinda an asshole right there. Not a major one, but you could have been a hell of a lot nicer. I get being rude back if someone is already being a d**k, but she wasn’t; she literally just existed in a way that happened to inconvenience you. – antimockingjay
  • YTA. Look, I feel you. I have a hard time breathing when perfume or cigarette smoke is too strong. I feel like I’m suffocating. But I wouldn’t try to tell someone else what to do with their stuff, especially if I didn’t know them. She didn’t intentionally do something to harass you. If it was intentional- for sure, speak up, but it wasn’t. You should have just asked to be moved.
    ETA: could your sense of smell been heightened because you weren’t feeling well after having been stuck for a while? It’s possible her scent wasn’t quite as bad as you think, you were just overly sensitive to it at the moment… – Save_the_Manatees_44
  • YTA and don’t move to the Middle East, you’ll die lol. Btw I often sit next to people on planes that haven’t had a shower for a while and have strong body odour. This makes me really uncomfortable so going by your logic, would it be okay for me to tell them they smell? What are they supposed to do with this piece of information? – Economy-Vanilla-967
  • I lost my sense of smell last year due to COVID. I’m still learning to navigate the world without being able to tell what smells, what doesn’t, and what might be overwhelming for others. I try, but I’m not always certain.
    Soft YTA. Maybe next time ask or comment gently. – MerelyWhelmed1

There were also a few people who suggested ESH (“Everybody Sucks Here”):

  • ESH
    Switching seats would have been easier for both of you.
    I doubt it would have ‘hurt her more’ than awkwardly sitting next to someone who was clearly upset by her scent (that couldn’t be immediately or easily remedied), but then how would you have given her that grumpy ‘life lesson’? – thejexorcist
  • I’m gonna go with ESH, because while she shouldn’t have doused herself in perfume on a flight, what was that comment going to do other than embarrass her. She can’t take the perfume off, she can’t change her clothes, she can just be mortified – mercury-retrobabe
  • Ehhh ESH, dousing yourself in perfume is inconsiderate of others and her having no sense of smell doesnt change that, but if you think a handcream is too strong smelling that sounds like you have a sensitive nose and that’s no one elses responsibility to cater to, which makes me wonder if she actually was doused in perfume or not. – slaylentless

Our take on it

I don’t think I would have personally said anything – I’m generally non-confrontational and the flight was only an hour. I would have sat and bore it.

I think I’m more in the camp of ESH – she shouldn’t have worn perfume because she was going to be on a plane and he shouldn’t have said anything. But because he did, she should have done something to at least wipe some of it off in the lavatory.

Of course, with a properly fitted face mask on (the event was only posted a few days ago so I’m assuming it happened recent), specifically a KN95 or N95, that alone would have decreased how much scent the OP smelled. 😉

What do you think about wearing perfume/cologne in small places with lots of people in them?

Feature Photo: Brian Fitzgerald / flickr / CC by 2.0

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2 comments

derek August 1, 2022 - 8:25 pm

I wouldn’t say anything because you might get stabbed with a butter knife. I once asked an African American woman (not Black African) to open the window shade at least half way for safety minutes before landing. She was very militant and refused. I could see her arm muscles tense up like she was ready to punch me.

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Liz August 2, 2022 - 9:12 am

I have a friend who has no trouble telling strangers if they’ve got food in their teeth or if they have bad breath, zipper is down, etc. He says that if it’s something that someone can fix in 15 minutes or less he’ll tell them. If it’s something they don’t have any control over or can’t fix, he doesn’t because then they’ll just be embarrassed. Rinsing perfume off in the airplane bathroom isn’t really possible, especially if she had it on her clothes or parts of her body besides her wrists. So, I think my friend’s rule applies here 🙂

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