Open Letter to Fellow Passenger Goes Viral Thanks to Feet That Smelled Like ‘Anus of Satan’

Via the UK’s Independent, a woman on an Air Asia flight from Singapore to Sydney wrote a letter to the passenger in 15A.

What I had initially thought to be a routine flight turned out to be a once in a lifetime experience – and it was all because of you.

…Despite my common economy seat, you offered me a full back massage by repeatedly kicking the back of chair. To date, I have yet to regain full mobility of the lower half of my body. But since I am single, I suppose I don’t have much use for it anyway.

I did not pay for the in-flight entertainment package and I was worried that I might get bored. But my concerns were unnecessary. You were talking so loudly, as if your friend was seated in the cargo hold rather than right next to you.

…At this point, I thought, “It can’t get any better than this.” But what I had meant as a rhetorical question, you took as a challenge.

…For immediately, my nose was assaulted by a putrid smell of death and decay.

The stench was so strong that I turned to check if the old lady seated next to me was still breathing.

It was so nice of you to take off your shoes and put your feet between my seat and the plane window. It must have taken considerable effort – it was a small space but you stuck it as close to my face as you possibly could.

…The sun is rising above the horizon; the sky is bleeding crimson and gold. But I cannot turn to gaze at this everyday miracle because every time I do, I smell the anus of Satan.

I had half the mind to pull down the oxygen mask above me. But then I remembered that I was flying on a budget airline, so I’d probably have to pay extra for that.

…This experience has been so memorable that I am writing this from my therapist’s office. I have also signed up for ten more sessions to talk about it.

There’s much more. Flying is a uniquely small-D democratic experience, bringing together people of all sorts, cultures, practices, and backgrounds. It puts them in close proximity to each other. And it places limits on their options, especially exit options, for the length of the flight.

And thus we get conflict. Yet the number of inflight incidents is on the decline.

Venting to an online journal is probably a great outlet to reduce conflict. It’s certainly better than confronting fellow passengers who come from different backgrounds and expectations and may be on the defensive already thanks to the conditions they face. I thank goodness I have a blog.

Get your feelings out, people — but don’t do it in a confrontational way during the flight! That will help keep the tenor of the passenger cabin cool, prevent flight diversions, and arrests.

And for the sake of your fellow passengers, if you’re going to take off your shoes, ask others around you if your feet smell like the ‘anus of Satan’. And if they do, put the shoes back on (and bathe more often).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I wrote a letter to a seatmate once. It was such a long flight (in actuality it was less than an hour), I had the whole thing composed and memorized all in my head by the time I landed. I sat down and pecked it out on my phone right after landing.


    Do you ever write letters to your seatmate in your head? It’s only creepy if I actually send them, right?

    Dear 23C,

    I am fat, you are skinny. 90% of you covers 100% of the area south of the armrest along with 100% of the armrest. 10% of you is north of the armrest. 100% of me is 100% north of the armrest. That’s a math problem I don’t think I’ll be able to solve.

    As I ponder the issue, I wonder if you think you’re sprawled out on your couch at home, snuggling with your girlfriend. Perhaps next time, before takeoff, you could stow those thoughts in the overhead locker or underneath the seat in front of you, along with your other personal items. I am actually not your girlfriend and do not really want to snuggle.

    In any case, I bet your girlfriend doesn’t consider you attaching your elbow to her ribcage as snuggling. In fact, if you must plant your elbow in my ribcage for the duration of the flight, could you at least do me one favor? Please stop playing imaginary drums along with the music you’re listening to. It tickles.

    I do appreciate you eventually stopping the drumming, but I have bad news for you. Falling asleep and jerking in your sleep tickles me just as much, if not more. After all, surprising, unexpected tickling is more ticklish than rhythmic tickling.

    I have a confession to make. When the flight attendant held my cup of ice water over your lap, I was tempted to knock it into your lap while grabbing it. I could have made it look like an accident. I could have followed you through the terminal telling people to be nice to you, it’s a medical condition, and you didn’t try it. But I didn’t. There is that.

    Despite my pondering, it really does remain mysterious to me how the skinniest people can manage to take up the most space. I’ve had 450 lb seatmates that take less of my space than you.

    Well, I hope you have a better trip than I did. And I hope for the sake of your next seatmate, that your final destination is Denver.

    Ticklish in 23D

  2. On an overnight flight from Lagos to LHR I just bluntly told the armrest encroacher next to me to move his arm and not to touch me any more. I pulled down my eyeshades and slept the rest of the way. I had been trying the gentle nudge method where most reasonable people realize they have moved over too far. This guy had no compunction about resting his arm against mine and I did not have my arm on the armrest. He was average size, so no excuses. I’m pretty crabby when I am tired. Needless to say we did not chit-chat.

  3. “…anus of satan…”?
    That is simply fantastic and I shall borrow said term for any and all olfactory violations.

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