Worst Perfumes for Airplanes

I haven’t noticed any scent someone is wearing on a plane in a long time.  When I fly, I tend to use almost no perfume or just a dab because it’s just too close for much if any fragrance.  As I got on the plane today, walking down the jetway, I got hit somewhere near the entrance to the plane with a crater-causing Opium perfume hit.

I’m not an Opium hater, though the EDT is a little blowsy, and I prefer the pure parfum because it stays closer, but yikes! Who woke up that morning and thought, yeah, I’m on a plane today, I’l just spray this Opium wildly on me so I can force it into other passengers’ personal nose space.  Then I get irritated because this is why perfume gets banned from the workplace and other public places.

Then I think about what the worst possible perfumes could be on planes.  Well, that and I was gone the last few days and have had no time to write a proper post.  Here’s my top 5 Worst Perfumes on airplanes:

  1. Yves St. Laurent Opium  – yeah, obviously. I’m not sure I would have I have picked it easily before today, but it’s at the top of the list now.
  2.  Chanel Coco – this winds up in the same vein, the EDT is really blowsy and would be miserable in a confined space if it wasn’t your choice of thing to smell.
  3. Chanel No. 5 or any heavily aldehydic perfume. I love 5 on other people and sometimes on me, but if applied with a heavy hand, it would be oppressive in close spaces
  4. Comptoir Sud Pacific anything with vanilla – yikes, vanilla bomb. I”m not sure they are as bad as they used to be, but they are my first example any time I want to show someone how throat-closing a heavy vanilla fragrance can be.
  5. Heavy patchouli perfume.  Yeah, how could I forget?  My seatmate was wearing pretty much some straight-up patchouli thing.  So wafts of Opium next to too much patchouli.

Okay, I’m a grouch, I admit it. What’s your top 5 or even top 1 or 10 or 10 perfumes you  don’t want to smell on a plane or in any closed space?

  • shuvanidev says:

    Anything that is a heavy musk would not be good for me….. and Youth Dew, ugh……. but I was shopping the other day and I passed a couple and the woman was wearing the most heavy and bossy fragrance stench I’ve ever smelled – I wondered how her husband could sit in the car with her…… I wanted to ask her in the worst way what she was wearing, but I didn’t…… I didn’t recognize it though. And this was on an 85 degree day – it’s assertiveness was most impressive 🙂

  • Darryl says:

    LOLing at your description of Opium EdT as “a little blowsy”. Yes, and cyanide is a little toxic.

    Anything sweet, heavy, or plain ol’ strong on an airplane: No good, for myself or anyone else around me. When I travel I tend to wear light, go-anywhere scents with minimal sillage, and generally dry or citrusy. My mainstay is Mugler Cologne, but I also love a spritz of Eau Sauvage to put me in a retro, jet-set, swingin’-’60s mood. (I’m 29. Let me have my imagination!)

    I would prefer sitting next to a cloud of Gucci Rush to any others mentioned here so far, but only just. I actually have travelled near someone wearing Angel, but she was wearing just enough that it didn’t gas me out, and I enjoyed the wafts of sillage. Dangerous game, though.

  • Mariekel says:

    Hard to separate my hated perfumes (Angel, White Diamonds, Missoni 1, Clean) from those I might otherwise like but which would be deathly in a confined space. From the latter camp, I don’t think I could handle Schiaparelli Shocking (esp original) or the skankalicious Jubilation 25 up close and personal, esp. if liberally spritzed. And Dior Leather Oud would probably kill me.

  • I had awful experiences with Organza and Rush in closed spaces (plane and car on long drive) and summer. I am thankful to the inventor of air conditioning, otherwise I was dead.
    I had used myself before Organza and Rush, but after those horrid migraines I got, both fragrances got out from my wardrobe for years. I felt my head and stomach turning only when feeling a waft of them.
    Well, this is a very funny way the destiny is hitting back for our faults.
    About 12 years ago I used Rush with a heavy hand before getting on the train. A man from the other side of the wagon came to me to complain (with a rude tone) about the horrible cloud of Rush – he recognized the fragrance and was hating it…. 🙂
    Rush hitting back!

  • Monoatomic says:

    I travel internationally a lot for business, and my killer plane odor is McDonald’s (breakfast is the worst). Can’t stand the smell in an enclosed space. Guess I’ve also been lucky enough to not encounter Opium though. My perfume of choice is Le Labo Vanille 44, I find it very soothing – I just spray a little on my scarf so hopefully it’s not too much for the neighbors!

  • Beth says:

    White Diamonds and Beautiful by Estee Lauder would be enough for me to consider getting off the plane midair!! LOL

  • Tiara says:

    Anything with a smokey / tobacco vibe (including the real things) get me. That’s an asthma trigger and just the faintest whiff makes me anxious. However, like Kandice, anyone smelling heavily of anything is torture. Although, I once was on the same flight with 2 teams of cheerleaders headed to a national competition and all I could smell was baby powder. That worked!

  • Kandice says:

    I don’t have a particular fragrance, but anything that’s heavy on the powdery end of the spectrum gives me a raging migraine. I get very fidgety quickly on planes and having to sit next to anyone who smells heavily of anything would make me want to jump right out the window!

  • Jennifer Smith says:

    Anything that smells of wintergreen — if you are the culprit ,hand over your $5000 handbag okay? I need it for just a minute ….Blearrgh.. Okay you can have it back with my most recent meal.

  • Millicent says:

    Reading this thread anxiously, hoping not to see my flight go-to, Timbuktu, on anyone’s list! Several years ago I had to fly cross country with a migraine, and a little Timbuktu got me through the trip. Now it really evokes “Travel!” to me, and I wear it often on planes. Though I’m pretty sure I’m only wearing a small, non-invasive amount, I’ll be even more careful now — yikes.

  • Portia says:

    Heya Patty,
    I recently was flying and had a shower in the lounge at half way. One of the downsides of living on the other side of the world from everyone else is flying time. Forgot to put on my glasses and was confronted by 5 sample decants from Surrender To Chance, figured I would not have put anything crazy in my onboard luggage and
    5 big squirts and I was a beacon.
    At the end of the flight I went to chat to my mate and he said that he could smell me coming STILL after 12 hours.

    I felt pretty bad, but for the first time really enjoyed one of the A’Men group.
    Portia xx

  • Martha says:

    Angel, Coco, Coco Noir, Fracas, or any other heavily applied white floral.

  • Jackie b says:

    This question makes me nervous about flying!! The horror of sitting next to a BWF while trying to eat off my foil tray…sleeping with my head lolling in only one direction for 10 hours.
    Having said that, my latest travel memory was of my neighbour farting for the entire long haul flight! Perhaps we should carry air freshener?

  • elizablue says:

    I work on planes (“vomit comet–I love that!) and I would have to say that if I can identify your fragrance from the aisle or from several rows away, you are wearing too much. The latest culprits this month have been Happy, Beautiful, Pleasures, and Michael Kors (there go those white flowers again)—but to play devil’s advocate for just a second I’d rather smell too much perfume than some other smell possibilities, of which cigarette smell would be the very least of my worries…

  • wefadetogray says:

    Escape by Calvin Klein. I can’t stand it. I had the misfortune of sitting on a plane close to someone that bathed on Escape and, now, the thought of it actually nauseates me.

  • minette says:

    i would welcome a hit of opium these days!!! i smell so many dull, innocuous, insipid, banal and boring scents – when i smell any at all – that a real perfume like opium would be wonderful to smell. that said, all of the current crop of dull, innocuous, insipid and boring scents that i smell these days would be what i would NOT want to smell on board a plane. if i want to smell dryer sheets, i will sniff dryer sheets.


  • Keith says:

    I think Gucci Rush would be absolutely horrific on an airplane…it has a habit of getting more and more expansive as the minutes tick by.

  • einsof says:

    perhaps as an optimist, i think being FORCED to deal with a frag is what FORCES you to find something about it. there is of course, the small matter of oxygen.

    i speak very harshly of Joop! and other angelic ones… but the truth is i haven’t been forced to smell them in a long time. and sometimes, thankfully, there’s a nice memory association to focus on?

    oh, and Axe is the the pesticide of the people.

  • Lauren says:

    Ugh, feeling stomach churning just reading this. I would n’t want to smell Chanel coco Mademoiselle, anything with tea rose, most men’s cheap colognes or body sprays (lookin’ at you, Axe), Shalimar, or Fracas.

  • Liz K says:

    Glad someone(s) said it before I did…Angel, ick. I will have to add Shalimar and Light Blue as well as many men’s frags. I once was trapped on a church trip van for a week with a guy who had just purchased his first bottle of Davidoff Cool Water. I am still scarred. Also, anyone who smokes and adds perfume to the mix. I know they can’t smell but I still can.

  • Suzy Q says:

    ANGEL was the first thing I thought of and what many of you are saying, too! I don’t do well with big white flowers in small spaces. This is a fun post!

  • maggiecat says:

    Even scents I find lovely on others – and on myself – would be a bit much on a plane, especially if oversprayed. Many masculine scents are not only strong, but “catching” so that innocent parties walk off a plane smelling of strangers. “Angel on a Plane” would be a great horror movie title (much better than that “snakes” thing). Any of the tuberose scents would kill me, I think (would someone wear Fracas or Amarige on a plane? I hope not!) And cigarette smoke…ugh, let’s not even go there… Consideration for others is key to avoiding the growing-ever-more-popular ban on scents in public places!

  • NeenaJ says:

    Aldehyde = migraine for me so, Chanel Nos. 5 & 22 and D&G The One (woman) are right out. Beyond that, white flowers in confined spaces make me a queasy. A whiff of jasmine in the terminal? Delightful! On board for three hours? Cue the vomit comet! I advocate a dab of a close-wearing perfume or oil on a handkerchief that can be tucked in a pocket or purse. That way, it’s close to the body and you have something pleasant to smell, in case your seatmate grabbed a bite at Chipotle before getting on board.

  • Elena says:

    Poison! And Hypnotic Poison. They are aptly named. Shudder.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I view it as any perfume can be horrid when over applied and going is small places. If I am traveling, I’ll have the smallest squirt available of no. 22 since I don’t have the extract form yet.

  • malsnano86 says:

    I got choked out on Opium in the late 70s/early 80s in a MOVIE THEATRE (come on, who does that? rude people) in exactly the same way – and used to get smothered in Youth Dew in the pews at church, too. Hate both of those with a vengeance, probably because the overapplication made an impression on my little-girl brain. (Hate Tabu, Obsession, and Coco as well. Bleargh.)

    Angel on a plane would be a nightmare. Aromatics Elixir smells like pee in a rose hedge to me, and at a distance when it’s applied discreetly I’d be fine… sitting next to it, maybe not.

    And I lurve me some BWFs, even close up, but I tend to think they’d be pretty rude in a confined space. The heavily sweet ones like CSPs and Flowerbomb and Prada Candy (I love Candy, actually), might be difficult for people whose stomachs are easily upset, too, so I’d stay away from those.

    Strongly scented lotions don’t bother me much because they dissipate quickly, but when I fly I like to go with a very small application of something fairly quiet… I’ve flown in No. 19 EdP, Petite Cherie, Jardin sur le Nil, and Smell Bent One.

  • Kathryn says:

    Let’s not forget the male side of the aisle which often reeks, too: A*Men, L’Eau d’Issey pour Homme, the innumerable, ubiquitous, and often over appled citrus-synthetic woods-white musk scents. And, omg, Axe.

  • Connie says:

    For me it’s not the identity of the perfume, just how much someone puts on…

  • thegoddessrena says:

    I never thought about this topic because I tend to think “yay! I’m on vacation and I can wear anything I want” but people who are such heavy smokers that everything they own reeks of smoke annoys me in close spaces/proximity

  • Madvito says:

    I’ld have to take a seat on the wing if someone had on Red Door!

  • Kate says:

    I’d love to give a list of the usual suspects for annoyance value – Angel, the more suffocating Middle Eastern attars, Amarige on any of the vast majority of people it doesn’t suit – but I’d have to give the honours to the fragrances known to give me asthma attacks. So that would be most of the Calvin Klein range; Polo; most of the Gorilla Perfumes with special mention to Breath of God; at least one type of Axe; and Monocle Hinoki. I once had to leave a theatre in the middle of the play because I was sitting next to someone doused in something Calvin; what am I supposed to do on a plane? “Excuse me – I’ll just be out on the wing if that’s okay.”

  • Sherri says:

    Opium, Patty? It has been ages since I’ve smelled that on anyone, and if I did it would probably take me to a sweet sentimental place in my life. I would take any of the above in lieu of the many, chemical fruity floral perfumes, body sprays (liberally applied, of course) and lotions, which really are the worst from teen stores, BBW and Victoria’s Secret. They are really toxic and chemical! Also, too much Axe is lethal!

    • Sherri says:

      In all fairness, I should add actual perfumes I would not wear on a plan:

      1. Versace Blonde or any tuberose diva
      2. Absolue Pour le Soir (gorgeous in small doses; horrifying oversprayed)
      3. Chanel Allure
      4. A,mouage Honour, Roja Dove Scandal (both gorgeous that go cloying quickly when oversprayed)
      5. Creed Love in White (very screechy when oversprayed)

  • Opium, yep. Aromatic Elixir and anything with strong incense. Once I was nearly choked to death by Hypnotic Poison on the airplane…

  • White Linen and Shalimar. And any perfume that has grown too old in the bottle. Men especially seem to use cologne that has gone stale and gained a very insistent quality.

  • I go crazy spraying in the duty free store before I get on a plane and have about 5 – 8 perfumes on. Today I’m going to do the same but I’m going away with a girlfriend and she’ll probably do the same. Hope nobody is sitting next to us!

  • Ashley Anstaett says:

    Ohh, I’m with a lot of people here. Anything heavy on white flowers. I’m a Fracas girl, but on an early morning flight, it may not be something I’d be into smelling on my neighbor. Although I hope nobody in their right mind would wear Fracas on a plane! Tammy, Au The Verte would be a great plane fragrance I think! Anything too sickly sweet or with a tremendous sillage I think is a bit rude for a plane ride. Early morning ones for me, in particular.

  • Spiker says:

    I love a good Serge Lutens and enjoy both tuberose Criminelle and Musc de Koublai Khan (apologies for the spelling), but I can’t imagine subjecting an unexpecting plane load of people to them in an enclosed environment.

  • reneeg09 says:

    Angel is the worst !

  • Dina C. says:

    Without having read anyone else’s responses, my “Not on an Airplane” scents would be: Angel, Youth Dew, Aromatics Elixir, Flowerbomb or any wannabe that smells like it, or Pink Sugar and all the cotton candy body sprays of that ilk. So, it’s kinda the heavy orientals, the sugary sweet ones, and Angel which manages to hit both bases at the same time. 😉 And here’s an Oh-by-the-way, some hand and body lotions are highly fragranced, so I don’t want to hear, “but it’s just my hand lotion.” If it’s enough to gag a goat, don’t wear it on an airplane. Great post, Patty!

  • Musette says:

    Ha! Is it possible to wear too much No5? I admit to loving the snocks off the vintage edt and parfum but I hope I’m judicious with the app. Hope..

    Opium …yikes! I can smell that down deep in my little lizard-brain…and it skeeers me. Skeeers me bad.

  • Jan Last says:

    Do any of you remember coming out of an elevator smelling like the Georgio of the long past rider? GAhhhh! On a plane, Anything big white flower is too heavy. Good, Hermes Elixir des Merveilles. Bad, Hermes Ambre Narguile. I would wear a little Slumberhouse Pear & Olive, too.

  • Amy K says:

    In no particular order, my bottom five to smell on a plane: Angel, No. 5, Youth Dew, Aromatics Elixir, Mitsouko.

  • Gina Thompson says:

    Not flying, but the last time I was an unintentional offender was at an impromptu meeting in a tiny office with the heat turned up. My Chanel 31 Rue Cambon almost killed me and I’m sure everyone else, though no one said anything. It is officially on the No Fly List now.

  • tammy says:

    I cede to no one my role as Number One Fangirl of Joy, but I’d hate to come across her in the confines of an airplane.

    Most of my favorites would be appalling, frankly; Party in Manhattan, Jub25, Femme, Mitsy, and yes, Opium! And probably Yatigan, though it is a cuddly, foresty scent on me, not scary at all.

    And since I can’t stand tuberose or orange blossom, I’d probably cut a bitc…..er, anything that is heavy on either of those might send me right over the edge.

    I generally stick to Bvlgari Au The Verte when I fly, unless it’s been awhile and my fear of flying rears it’s ugly head, in which case I wear AG Rose Absolue, which is my ultimate comfort scent.

  • Caroline says:

    Was on a plane last week and someone put on a pineapple-y something a couple of times…assume it was lotion, because the scent dissipated quickly. Synthetic, but not unbearable. My nightmare would be to be seated near anyone who’d overapplied Tresor, Youth Dew or Aromatics Elixir.