Indonesian Passengers Demand Removal of Yummy Cargo Before They’ll Fly

If you’ve spent much time in Southeast Asia you’ve come across Durian, sometimes referred to as “stinky fruit.”

I find it to be delicious, but it does have an odor, some people think it smells like sewage. And the odor can last which is why you sometimes come across signs that say “No Durian.” You simply aren’t allowed to enter if you have any Durian, whether it’s a bus or a hotel.

There wasn’t a ‘no durian’ sign on Sriwajiya Air flight SJ91 from Bengkulu to Jakarta on Monday though. The Indonesian domestic flight was carrying about 4500 pounds of the stuff — and caused the smell inside the cabin to get so bad that passengers and crew almost fought prior to departure.

According to the airline “Durian is not classified as a hazardous material to be transported on a plane.” They promised that the smell would go away once the plane was in the air — but no one believed it and passengers demanded to get off. Eventually the durian had to be offloaded, and departure was delayed 1 hour and 29 minutes.

Personally I’d have been happy to travel on the one hour ten minute flight if they had offered to share the durian. Not everyone likes the flavor, of course, though I suspect it’s unfamiliar and can be intense. One simple way to try it that’s much more mellow is in the form of ice cream.

Cargo has caused problems with planes before, such as when flatulence from 2100 goats forced a Singapore Airlines plane to land. There though it wasn’t the smell but an alarm that triggered.

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. Durian straight up can be an acquired taste, but it definitely tastes delicious when cooked into other things like ice cream, sticky rice with coconut milk, or cakes. I always ask my family to get me a durian birthday cake whenever it’s my birthday, but usually end up getting tres leches instead, which is also delicious.

    I’m surprised Indonesians had a problem with it though. There are a lot of smells you encounter every day in Indonesia that are a lot worse.

  2. I thought the article will end with the suggestion to bring some Durian in every US flight to get an empty seat next to you, I had such high hopes about where this is going after reading the peanut allergy article, lol…

  3. @d – this would work if you’re white. If not, and sitting next to an angry white republican, it would get you kicked off the plane, after hearing lot of insults.

  4. That’s pretty hilarious! I like durian myself, but the odor is a little hard to handle. I can’t blame the passengers for wanting a stink-free flight. Still, I would have out up with it to get off the ground and onto my next destination!

  5. I once almost threw up just from being in the same car as a durian. Had to stop, put it in the trunk, and roll the windows down in the middle of a hot/humid Singapore summer.

    I have never encountered a more polarizing food.

  6. I would bet it’s all about being in that cabin. I’ve smelled Durian (outdoors) on the streets of Thailand and Indonesia, and while it’s not exactly pleasant, it doesn’t compare to the smell when it’s in an enclosed air conditioned room. I don’t know what about it that makes it so bad inside vs outside, but it is very unpleasant indoors, and the smell never really goes away, and you don’t really get used to it. Think of wearing a dirty diaper over your face as a breathing apparatus and you’ll have an idea of the smell.

  7. A good friend brewed a durian-based beer at his brewpub. Then only folks who liked it were the Indonesian students at the college. across the street.. Took a long time for the staff tasked with cutting it up to forgive him…

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