Trapped on a Plane With Stinky Perfume

I am settled in and ready for my cross-country flight.

I have:

  • Headphones
  • Caffeine
  • Earbuds to watch a couple of movies
  • Snacks

Check, check, check, and check.

The flight is even going to leave on time. This should be a great flight, and I will have time to watch a couple of movies I have been meaning to see.

Stinky perfume on the plane: An asthma trigger

One of the latecomers to the plane just boarded and took the seat directly behind me. Phew! What is that smell? She is wearing VERY stinky perfume. And it is wafting right toward my seat.

I am hoping that the smell will dissipate once they turn the air on. One thing that is protecting my lungs is my mask. I am one of the millions of unlucky Americans with long COVID-19. My lungs are cranky little jerks. In fact, I still use overnight oxygen.

It has been a year since I was first infected, and my lungs have not gone back to normal, no matter how many times my asthma doc adjusts my inhalers. Ugh.

So, I wear an N-95 mask when I fly. I do NOT want to get sick again.

Luckily, my mask is blocking out most of the perfume. You know it is a strong perfume if you can smell it through an N-95 mask...

Being proactive

I am not going to "wait and see" how my lungs react. So I just searched through my carry-on bag and found my rescue/reliever inhaler. I am taking a puff now rather than waiting for my lungs to get worse. (PLEASE remember to keep your inhaler in your carry-on bag, not your checked luggage!)

Does your doctor tell you that you can "pre-medicate" if you are exposed to a trigger? Take your albuterol before symptoms start? My doctor does. She tells me to take a puff of Albuterol if I am going to be in a situation that might cause an asthma attack.

If I am going to someone's house that has a dog, I will pre-medicate. If they are smokers, I will pre-medicate. If I know I am going to be around any of my asthma triggers, I will take a puff of Albuterol rather than just hoping I do not have a nasty asthma attack. You know the kind – your eyes water and you are coughing so hard you are trying to NOT throw up.

This is one of those times I need to pre-medicate. I cannot get away from this person, and I am going to be stuck inhaling her perfume for the next 4 hours. Rather than waiting for an asthma attack to start, I am taking a puff now.

Protecting myself from my triggers

Do people realize how strong their perfume is? I mean, if you can taste their perfume, they put on too much.

At my last job, we had a new admin assistant who wore a very strong perfume. It was so strong that I could smell it out in the hall before I entered the office. I had a very uncomfortable conversation about how I coordinate an asthma program, have severe asthma, and that perfume is a known asthma trigger. Her perfume would cause me to have an asthma attack, and I asked her to not wear that perfume to work.

She did not say much after our chat and was very unfriendly toward me after that. She grudgingly stopped wearing her strong perfume.

But I have to protect myself.

Are people that clueless? How do they not realize how strong their perfume is? I know some people who get migraines from strong perfume. Please have a little consideration!

As I sit here trapped on row 27, seat F, wish me luck. I can already feel my lungs tightening and the mucus production starting...

Have you ever had to pre-medicate because of an exposure to one of your asthma triggers? Have you had to manage strong stinky perfume on a plane, train, or at work? Share your story with the community by clicking on the button below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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