Sometimes you find yourself in a situation that you didn't expect, and you're not sure how to handle it. Imagine flying for who knows how long, and you're sitting next to a person that takes their socks off, and their bare feet smell gag-worthy. How would you respond?
Here's one woman's plea for sound advice on how to fix the problem.
You Can Be Polite
With a courteous demeanor, you could lean over and say, “Excuse me, I noticed a footrest available. Would you like me to help you adjust it for more comfort?” It's an indirect approach that subtly addresses the situation, but you're not guaranteed that they'll pick up on what you're getting at.
On the other hand, you could be more direct while trying to remain respectful. Something to the gist of, “Pardon me, I hope I'm not overstepping, but I couldn't help but notice an unusual odor. Is there something I can assist with to make the flight more pleasant for both of us?”
Injecting humor into the situation, you might playfully comment on the “unique in-flight aroma” or jokingly ask if they're auditioning for a foot modeling gig. This lighthearted approach aims to diffuse tension and bring a smile without causing offense.
Or, you might make a comment such as, “Wow, you're really embracing the ‘barefoot and carefree' vibe!” They might become self-conscious, which may be your ticket out of such an uncomfortable flight.
Rude Is Always an Option, Too
Taking a less considerate route, you might curtly remark, “Could you please put your feet away? The smell is repulsive.” This kind of response might express your feelings, but it risks creating discomfort and tension during the flight. I know you can be upset by the occurrence, but ouch! This one will sting.
Or Get Aggressive
Taking a more assertive stance, you might lean in and say, “This smell is unbearable. Please do something about it immediately, or I'll do something myself!” While this response cuts to the chase, it might create a confrontational atmosphere that doesn't lead to a positive resolution.
You Can Be Apologetic
With a sincere tone, you could softly say, “I'm sorry to bring this up, but there's an unpleasant smell in the air. I wanted to let you know in case there's anything you could please do about it.” You're showing empathy while acknowledging the issue; fingers crossed that they appreciate your apologetic demeanor and take heed.
You Can Also Discreetly Notify Crew
Discreetly catching a crew member's attention, you could gesture discreetly and say, “Excuse me, could I speak to a crew member? There's a situation I'd like to inform them about.” This method ensures that the issue is handled professionally while maintaining privacy.
Offer Your Neighbor Fresheners
In a friendly tone, you might say, “Hey, I have some scented wipes and a mini air freshener. Would you like to use them? They might help improve the smell around here.” A response like this shows thoughtfulness and offers a practical solution. However, be mindful that they may not get the picture and could use the fresheners somewhere besides their feet.
Or, Strike up a Conversation
Initiating a chat, you could say, “Traveling can sometimes be a bit awkward, right? By the way, I'm a huge fan of scented candles. Do you have any travel tips to make the journey more enjoyable? It can get so cramped and smelly sometimes.” The approach shifts the focus away from the discomfort while attempting a connection.
Share a Personal Story
Opening up, you could share, “During my last trip, I accidentally forgot to shower before my flight, and I smelled pretty awful. I can't imagine how others around me felt. There's sort of a weird smell in the air now; what do you think we could do to handle this situation better?” Perhaps this conversation can invite collaborative problem-solving.
Ignore and Endure
While absolutely selfless and also agonizing, you could try to ignore the awful smell and endure without saying anything. Non-verbally, you signal that you're opting to tolerate the situation without addressing it directly, focusing on making the best of the flight. This strategy will be pretty rough, depending on how bad the smell is and if it worsens.
Relocate if Possible
Politely, you could say, “Excuse me, I was wondering if you'd be open to switching seats. I believe there's an empty spot a few rows ahead.” Proposing the switch offers a solution without explicitly mentioning the odor, allowing both of you to enjoy the flight more comfortably. However, they'll probably find the request strange and want to know why you're asking them to switch seats. Be prepared!
In a gentle tone, you might say, “I hope you don't mind me mentioning this, but there seems to be an unpleasant smell since you took your socks off. Are you feeling okay? I'm just a bit concerned.” This approach shows empathy and genuine worry for the other person's well-being, making it more about their comfort than the odor itself. Keep in mind that they might still get offended!
With kindness, mention, “I couldn't help but notice the situation. If you'd like, I have some scented lotion that might help mask the odor a bit. Would you be interested?” You'd be offering assistance while being as considerate as possible of the person's feelings.
It's totally risky, but you could always join in and expose your feet as well! It'll either make the other person self-conscious about their feet being out, uncomfortable about your feet, causing them to put their socks/shoes back on, or at the very least, you can balance out the smells in the air. You could also just hold your nose the whole time, and that may make the atmosphere awkward enough so they get the hint.
Creshonda Smith is a creative writer that thrives on learning something new everyday and sharing that knowledge in a way that captivates others. She has 15 years of experience as a freelance writer for various companies, but she was previously a Clinical Social Worker, having obtained her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from The Ohio State University. After nearly 10 years in the field, she decided it was time to return to one of her childhood passions—writing that inspires. Creshonda will tackle any topic, but she prefers lifestyle articles centered around Health & Wellness, Parenting & Family Advice, Food + Drinks, Personal Growth, and Traveling. She has four beautiful children and has been married for a decade. Her favorite hobbies include traveling to anywhere there's a beach, reading, writing, and playing UNO! Creshonda has been a contributing writer for Wealth of Geeks since June 2023.