Stinky Fruit Forces Air Canada to Make Emergency Landing

If you’ve spent much time in Southeast Asia you’ve come across Durian, sometimes referred to as “stinky fruit.” You’ll see hotels and buses with “No Durian” signs because while delicious, some people think it smells like sewage, and the odor lasts.

There wasn’t a ‘no durian’ sign September 17th on Air Canada Rouge flight 1566 from Montreal – Vancouver that was forced to make an emergency landing due to the smell of durian.

After takeoff, as the aircraft climbed to 7,000ft the crew detected a “strong odour,” according to Canada’s Transport Safety Board.

Flight crew requested to level off at 25,000ft to investigate and troubleshoot the odour, which pervaded the entire cabin, but to no avail.

They then made a PAN-PAN call, donned oxygen masks, and turned the aircraft around to return to Montreal.

It was determined that the source of the odor was durian in the forward cargo area of the aircraft.

A year ago passengers revolted prior to departure of Sriwajiya Air flight SJ91 from Bengkulu to Jakarta, because the plane was carrying 4500 pounds of durian. Customers refused to take the 1 hour 29 minute trip unless the durian was first removed.

Personally I’d have been happy to travel on a domestic flight with durian 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. MH370 had a load of durian: there was speculation that an “explosive episode “ might have occurred ( to go with the other theories: lithium ion batteries, Diego Garcia, aliens, the Russians, the Chinese, rogue pilot, etc)
    I find the smell to be vaguely unpleasant ( unwashed gym socks/wet dog) but nothing bad enough to induce gagging.

  2. My wife and I love the taste of durian and like the smell. That these passengers and crew couldn’t keep going to Vancouver is strange.

  3. A good friend’s brewpub made a beer using durian. Stunk up the brewhouse for days. I tried a taste and didn’t feel the need to repeat it. But the Indonesian students at Emory Univ across the street were thrilled, at least those who drank alcohol.

  4. An Asian friend showed me a very unique way to enjoy Durian fruit without having to put up with the smell. Freeze it. Just before it is completely thawed serve it . You do not have the smell, yet you have the wonderful caramelly, custardy taste (hey, I am not a foodie writer so my descriptions are not great) and can truly enjoy the fruit. Have not had anyone not like it when served that way. Will never serve it at room temp again.

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