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Family Claims They Were Kicked Off Flight After Passengers Complained About Their Body Odor

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airplane and people holding their nose around smelly person

Telling someone that they smell less than ideal is one of the most uncomfortable conversations you can have. Imagine being on the receiving end of complaints about your body odor — mortifying.

That's exactly what one family experienced when they were kicked off a flight after other passengers raised concerns about their scent.

Back in 2019, A man named Yossi Adler, his wife, Jennie, and their toddler were headed home from Miami to Detroit when they were reportedly removed from the plane before takeoff. At the gate, airline employees explained that there were some people on the flight who had complained about their body odor.

Adler insisted there was no undesirable scent coming from him and his family.

“There's no body odor that we have. There's nothing wrong with us,” he demanded in footage obtained by ABC 7 NY, unable to believe that something so offensive and embarrassing had happened.

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In an effort to assuage the understandably disgruntled Adler family, American Airlines provided them with a hotel room and meal vouchers for the inconvenience and then booked them a new flight for the following day. Unfortunately, the airline neglected to collect their luggage from the departing flight, and they had to wait until they eventually arrived in Detroit for a change of clothes.

The couple asked people in the airport to smell them to see if they passed the "sniff test."

“It's embarrassing but we asked them, "Do you think we smell? Because we just got kicked off a plane for smelling," Jennie recalled.

Though he didn’t elaborate on what he believed was the underlying cause of his family’s removal from the flight, Jossi believed that terrible body odor was not the real reason.

He demanded that the truth be shared with him and his family because he thought there was no way they were giving off a strong enough stench to get kicked off the flight.

It's a difficult argument for Adler to make, however. Science has proved that smelling your own body odor isn't always possible. Basically, our scent receptors start filtering out smells that they recognize all the time — it's kind of like wearing perfume or cologne for an entire day and not being able to smell it after the first few minutes.

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Can an airline really remove you from the flight if you stink?

The short answer is yes.

"Most airlines have rules in their ‘contracts of carriage’ that allow an airline to remove a passenger if the stench is so bad that other travelers could potentially become sickened by the odor," David Reischer, attorney and CEO for LegalAdvice.com, told InsideHook. He added that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also has rules that let airlines remove stinky passengers if the health and safety of others is at risk.

But it’s a tough subject to bring up on both ends. There is no absolute obligation from an airline to take you to your destination, and that means they can take you off a flight for any reason they consider valid. American Airlines in particular states in its Conditions of Carriage that it's a passenger's responsibility to “Be respectful that your odor isn't offensive (unless it's caused by a disability or illness).” With “several” passengers complaining, it’s likely that there was some type of unpleasant scent they felt warranted the family's removal.

If you happen to be put off by someone’s odor, remember that telling them must be handled with kindness and sensitivity. 

According to the etiquette site EmilyPost, you should talk to them privately and not make it a group discussion. Be direct by not beating around the bush, but also show compassion. Telling the person why you decided to bring up such a personal matter will foster an understanding that you come from a place of concern, not humiliation. Lastly, have some solutions on hand in case they need help solving the body odor issue.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington. She covers lifestyle, relationships, and human-interest stories that readers can relate to and that bring social issues to the forefront for discussion.