Tips on How To Avoid Exposure to Scents During Flights

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Have you ever been surrounded by passengers wearing strong fragrances, or smelling like detergents and fabric softners, which made you dizzy, nauseated or pant while on board aircrafts?

Once the door closes after boarding, aircrafts virtually become sealed flying vehicles, and you are bound to inhale whatever available air there is inside, no matter what the quality. 

Secondhand smoking used to be allowed on board aircrafts, which seems like a joke today.

However, wearing strong perfumes and using long-lasting scented products such as deodrants, handcreams, shampoo, hair conditioners, detergents and fabric softners can be spectacularly similar to smoking on board. 

Tips On What To Do to Mitigate Exposure To Scents and Fragrances And Achieve Peace Of Mind During Flights

Here are some tips on what to do and how to mitigate exposure to scents and fragrances during flights, achieve peace of mind and spend quality time.

Select a seat of your preference upon purchasing your flight ticket

Tips On How To Mitigate Exposure to Scents And Fragrances During Flights

Try to purchase your flight tickets directly from airlines' websites. That way, you can select or purchase your seat of your preference when you buy the ticket.

You can check how crowded or how sparse your flight is at that point. Also, you can get a sense of the distribution of passengers.

As to how crowded the flight would be remains to be seen until the very day of the flight. How crowded it would be depends on various factors such as the time of the flight, port of origin and destination, class, type of aircraft, whether it is a code-shared flight or not, etc. 

Nevertheless, it is wise to select a seat while there are still ample vacant seats to choose from.

If the flight is uncrowded when you buy your ticket, a window seat by a door may be a good option.

A doorside seat has a lot of space in front of you, and therefore a lot of leg room. Moreover, since it is sort of like an open space before you, air tends to flow and be well ventilated. 

You can also choose an aisle seat by the door. But then, passengers as well as cabin attendants would be passing by frequently by your side, so the risk of getting exposed to scents at close range increases.

However, you may want to keep in mind some downsides when it comes to long haul, international flights; those who are walking around the cabin to get some exercise may pull over and start stretching. Or they tend to start chatting at doorsides. Flight attendants' jump seats are by the doors, too. And they tend to smell of perfumes or scented products as well.

Tips On How To Mitigate Exposure To Scents And Fragrances During Flights

If the flight of your choice is fairly crowded, I would suggest you select an aisle seat from the central section of the air craft. 

The reason is simple; you have the freedom to stand up and walk around whenever you wish when the seatbelt sign is turned off, and if necessary, to move to a different seat.   

And the reason why an aisle seat of the central section of the aircraft is recommended from my experience is, once again, you have freedom to stand up and move around. Plus, you have a lesser chance of being asked to stand up for by a passenger seated in the middle seat to pass by. This is because the passenger has the option to pass by through your side or the other. And unless the flight is full house, middle seats of the center section tend to be vacant, hence, lower risk of being near scents and fragrances.

Revisit the Website and Check Seat Distribution the Day Before Your Flight


You can check how full the flight is by going to your reservation information and looking at the Change Seat option. There, you can check your current seat as well as which seats are taken or available.

If there are still ample seats left, and the seats next to you or behind you are empty, you may as well not have to worry about changing your seats.

On the other hand, if your neighboring seats are taken, and look a bit crowded, you may want to look for less-crowded areas. If there is, changing your seat to a quieter section makes sense.

But again, you never know how it is until the very day of your flight. Sometimes, it is better to keep your original seat. The best thing you can do is to trust your gut feeling, your intuition, as always.

If the flight is full or close to full, you may just want to keep your seat and take necesssary and feasible action post-boarding as below. 


On the Day of Departure


Board the Aircraft As Soon As Boarding Begins  

How To Mitigate Exposure to Scents And Fragrances During Flights

Some people want to wait until the very last minute to board. However, I suggest that you board as soon as the gate is open. This is to secure your luggage space, check the surroundings of your seat, and inform a nearby cabin attendant of your condition and the possible need for a seating rearrangement.  

Inform Flight Attendant Of Your Condition And The Potential Need For Seating Rearrangement

Once you board and put away your luggage either in the overhead storage bin or underneath the seat before you, you want to contact one of the cabin attendants as soon as possible to let them know you have a condition and that the possibility of the need to move to a different seat. Cabin attendants are not so busy immediately after boarding begins, so they would duly take note of your request. 

Monitor Surroundings To Determine Whether Changing Seats Is Necessary; If So, Do Not Hesitate To Request For It, and Change When Possible!

Once you have spoken to a flight attendant, you then want to check to see what your nearby passengers are like; whether there is a passenger next to you, presence or absence of fragrances and scents from your neighbors. When you spot even one neighobring passenger who is wreaking a lot of scents, you want to contact the same flight attendant at the point, that you need to move to a different seat upon availability.

How To Mitigate Exposure To Scents And Fragrances During Flights

You, then wait until all the passengers have boarded and the attendant comes back to you to let you know of any available seats. Go to those seats and check the surroundings, to sniff to see (smell) whether the smell is present or not. If you find the seat to be fragrance-free or more tolerable than your original seat, change before the aircraft starts moving!

If you fail to move at this point in time, the chances are, you would have to tolerate being exposed to intolerable scents and fragrances until the aircraft reaches the cruising altitude and the seat belt sign has been turned off, which would make your life a lot harsher. 

Taking those steps and actions, though cumbersome and annoying, would make your inflight experience a way lot better!


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