Flight Attendant Puts Coffee Grounds Above Passenger’s Head to Mask the Smell of Chick-fil-A

Three years ago I shared a trick to dealing with a stinky lavatory. You wouldn’t think this would be a major problem in the grand scheme of things, but it is — both from a passenger experience perspective but also for airline operations. British Airways once had to turn around a Dubai flight because the lavatory smelled so bad.

The secret is this: used coffee grounds.

However it’s much more effective if you open up the package and let the coffee grounds do their work. That’s what a flight attendant did on a Dallas – Seattle segment last year.

Reader Arthur remembered this trick and experienced it in a totally new way this week. He was flying home on Thursday afternoon — the consultant special — and brought a bag of Chick-fil-A on board with him (“12 grilled nuggets w/ buffalo sauce, 2 grilled chicken deluxe sandwiches no bun”).

He admitted that it smelled quite a bit in the small first class cabin of an American Airlines Bombardier CRJ-700 regional jet operated by SkyWest.

Arthur finished eating, a flight attendant picked up his trash, and “moments later without making eye contact crushed up a bag of coffee grounds, opened the overhead bin, and placed the bag directly over my head in seat 2C.”

It is suspended in the air! I estimate the bag is a good 16″ away from my head just in front of me.

It has masked the Chick-fil-A smell and alas I am enjoying a nice coffee aroma. However I have to admit I do feel a bit like Hester Prynne in the eyes of my fellow seat opponents here with this ridiculous coffee bag sitting right above my head. It sort of mocks me…

Fortunately the flight attendant remembered to remove the coffee grounds prior to landing — things could have gotten messy if a passenger had opened that bin.

And our fearless reader Arthur deserves commendation for his dedication. The airport he was flying out of doesn’t have a Chick-fil-A,

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Arthur, and other selfish a-holes like him, make flying worse than need be. Eat your stinky ass food at the gate.

  2. Another undeniable example to support republican’s narrative that christian, white, privileged males is the group persecuted the most.

  3. Several years ago, back when I was still willing to fly international coach, I was seated near some passengers who had clearly not bathed in some days. I don’t blame them. It was AF and they had been traveling from Africa. That was when I learned the flight attendant trick that coffee grounds (like holding a pack under your nose) covers those odors. Good thing to know.

  4. Chick-fil-a is the “Emperor’s New Clothes” of fast food. Everyone raves about it while it’s just a lame chicken sandwich. Good for that flight attendant.

  5. @Ralph Angry much? Given American meals in F on regional flights I think his choice, bunless of course, was more than appropriate.

  6. @Matt Clancy is there any demographic you feel more comfortable attacking? Your clumsy effort at political hackery disproved your point. And are you only attacking the priveleged ones? Are the christian white males that are poor and living in a shoddy trailer still on your radar, or are they privileged too? They might disagree. I’m really sick of you liberals and your identity politics. When I’m allowed to say the same thing you do about female black muslims? Let me know, until then, you are a hypocrite.

  7. Scentsy reps may need to start bringing Chick-fil-A trays to their partys to demonstrate effectiveness.

  8. As a flight attendant, I do this all the time, especially when pax complain of other stinky pax. I’ll give the complainer a coffee bag to stick in their seat back pocket (unused of course). We also have deodorant packets we can put near the offenders seat that are quite small and unnoticeable.

  9. Eating stinking food on board a flight is so, so unacceptable. Admitttedly AA inflight food is awful but bringing hot, smelly food aboard a plane ruins the flight for everyone around you – use 10 mins to eat it at the airport. Airlines shouldn’t allow this, period, and frankly if the flight attendant has to put coffee grounds over your head to allow other passengers to be comfortable you should, def, feel shame.

  10. This is enough food to feed a family. Why does one person need to eat all that?! This is why America is obese.

  11. Please don’t bring your disgusting American airport food onto planes. It’s disgusting. The FA should have poured the coffee onto your food while you were eating it.

  12. @WR2 – it would be funny if it wasn’t sad.

    You just reinforced Matt’s argument about a complete lack of self-awareness or hypocrisy. Since you don’t come across as a 1 percenter, I would bet on the former.

    Not only you can say whatever you want about anyone (including black female muslims, and don’t forget Mexicans), your kind frequently do so and even have the support to do so from your “President” and the Republican party.

    How is it again that you are persecuted and cannot express your views???

  13. Now I know why airplane coffee is so horrible. They must’ve used the bag to make coffee on the next flight

  14. The flesh of animals has a smell quite repellent to many. These foods should be banned from the cabin and deleted from menus.

  15. Dear Gary, I like your travel blog. Really. I like the fact that you let me make my comments, as opposed to say OMAAT, who sometimes edits my comments when I point out things he doesn’t like.

    That said, you HAVE to keep politics out of your webblog. What do you think you are accomplishing by letting life’s bitter losers like Mark Clancy drag politics into this? Do you think it is best to let these trolls expose their own racism? No, believe me, Mark’s racist stuff drives down clicks.

  16. @Joseph N – honestly over the weekend I was spending way more time with my 5 month old baby than reading the comments here though personally i found that comment above to be just odd, sort of a non-sequitur, and fortunately no one took the bait.

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