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Indonesia

Indonesian flight grounded after passengers revolt over sacks of stinky durian in cargo hold

  • Airline staff were forced to unload the offending fruit, whose smell has been likened to rotten onions, turpentine and dirty gym socks
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2018, 7:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2018, 7:51pm

An Indonesian flight was grounded for an hour on Monday after passengers kicked up a stink about what was in the hold - dozens of sacks of durian, arguably the world’s smelliest fruit.

Footage of the incident, uploaded to Facebook by a passenger named Amir Zidane, shows travellers milling around on the tarmac as aircrew unload the offending cargo, whose smell has been likened to rotten onions, turpentine and dirty gym socks.

In the series of videos, which have since gone viral, a handful of passengers can be seen arguing with airline staff, with one demanding to know why the pungent produce had not been shipped to its destination instead.

Passengers disembarked the Sriwijaya Air flight, bound for Jakarta from Bengkulu on Sumatra Island, after complaining that the odour in the cabin would make flying unbearable.

At one point, things got so heated that a brawl almost ensued, according to Boyke Ledy Watra, a journalist with Indonesian news agency Antara who was among those on board.

The flight, which was scheduled to take off at 10.40am was subsequently delayed by an hour while the fruit was removed.

Claims made in the videos that the plane was carrying three tonnes of durian were dismissed on Tuesday by Retri Maya, senior corporate communications manager at Sriwijaya Air.

“The three tonnes [mentioned in the video] is the total weight of baggages and other cargo, and this includes the durian,” Maya said in a statement. “That number is still far from the maximum capacity [of cargo] to facilitate take off and landing.”

The company went on to say that it was normal practice for Indonesian airlines to carry durian in the hold, “as long as [the durian] is packed well and enclosed in the cargo according to standard operating procedure”.

A number of online commenters lauded the passengers’ refusal to fly with such a large amount of durian on board, pointing to safety concerns in the wake of last week’s Lion Air crash that killed 189 passengers and cabin crew.