Are we getting too PC

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  • AFlyingDutchman

    Reading the Nut Allergy posts here on the Forum, it brought me back to Political Correctness, not that I am comparing a serious allergic reaction to what I am about to say, however, but at what point would you choose not to fly or make a comment, or would you simply accept something distasteful as that is the PC thing to do.

    Examples I can use are many years ago being sat next to a man whose body odor was so incredibly strong, I almost couldnt breathe. I insisted on being moved or him being moved. Had there not been a seat available I would have gotten off the aircraft.

    On another occassion I was sat next to two very religious gentlemen who were constantly praying which included a lot of bowing back and forth, shaking my seat continually. Again I insisted on being moved. I got plenty of looks for daring to ask, but 8 hours is a long time to be forced to endure that.

    As a final example, I was in the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin recently, and in the lift was a young lady who had just bought a Shwarma from the Zaddy’s across the street and started eating it in the lift. The entire lift stank of her food, which I definitely commented on to her, to no avail, but felt I was in my rights to do so.

    At what point would you speak up, when is enough enough?

    In our PC culture today, it seems we have to accept almost anything these days for fears of offending someone, even when your own rights (or senses) are impinged upon.

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    It’s so hard to know where to draw the line. For me, the seat rocking would be clear cut, but the personal hygiene case is tougher, partly because the guy may not even know he has a problem and partly because smell is unquantifiable. What about the increasing problem of people wearing aftershave, who appear to have poured the whole bottle over themselves, or smokers who have spent the whole time waiting for their flight dosing themselves up on nicotine in the smokers’ area?

    A bit like the noise issue (wear noise cancelling headphones to duck the problem of uncontrolled kids), I am tempted to anticipate the smell issue by carrying a face mask, perhaps with some air freshener.

    Though I recall once in VS Upper Class a women (who had spent the entire pre-take off in HK telling her friends and rellies over the phone about how she was in business class) liberally spraying herself (and everyone else in the cabin ) before landing with something which I can only assume had come from a barrow in Romford market.

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    Further to the posts from AFlyingDutchman and TupeloKid, I remember one gentleman on a CX flight (from NY to HK, I think – certainly a very long-haul flight) who appeared to have bathed in the most incredibly pungent aftershave, and quite possibly washed his clothes in it as well. Although I am not normally that sensitive to odours, within 10 minutes (and before we took off) I got the most tremendous headache and realised I was rapidly heading towards a full-blown migraine, so after quietly checking with one of the cabin crew that I wasn’t mistaken as to where this came from (my senses were so overwhelmed that it was hard to tell) I approached him and very, VERY politely, and apologetically, said that I was having a bad reaction to his “cologne”, explained that this was entirely my problem and not his, but that I would be very grateful if he would remove it. Fortunately he took it very well. It was very apparent that other pax (and the crew) had been struggling with this odour avalanche because the moment I finished speaking to him the cabin attendant arrived with an entire tray full of hot towels to help him wash it off, there were general sighs of relief, and my neighbour (I was in the middle seat) quietly thanked me.

    It is true that sometimes people are completely unaware of their own odour, be it artificial or natural, and how offensive it may be to other people. Everyone also reacts to odours very differently (and wears them differently – a perfume/aftershave/cologne/whatever that smells wonderful on one person may smell rank on someone else because they react differently with each person’s skin, which is why you should always test these on yourself and not using one of those ridiculous paper strips). Fortunately I haven’t often had to deal with people with severe “natural” odour problems. Generally, I find (although the example above was an exception) that your brain eventually shuts down on the offensive odours, just as it can eventually filter out background white noise, however intrusive it might be at first. This isn’t always the case, though.

    I am a big fan of aromatherapy, btw, and we employ it quite a bit. I have learned, however, that I cannot tolerate Dill Oil, which makes me feel extremely unwell (headaches and nausea) even in minuscule amounts. Conversely, I don’t find the odour of garlic (even on someone’s breath) even remotely objectionable. Everyone is different, and vive la difference!

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