Travel: The Unfortunate Perfume

2022, May 29    

Completing my 10th travel story is a tale of a flight to Europe many years ago, back when I worked in technical sales rather than services, and where an unfortunate use of perfume can have a significant impact.

I had been travelling for a few weeks in a stint of '3 countries in 5 days', performing technical demonstrations of one of the cloud products I was working with. It was understandably tiring but provided a great way to meet different people from different countries (even if somewhat rushed).

Starting what would be week number three of this endeavour put me once again in Heathrow airport, through the usual security/departures before finally boarding the aircraft. The flight itself was no more than a few hours in duration, so nothing specific to worry about (or so I thought).

For this flight I was unable to sit next to my colleague, instead sitting next to a middle-aged woman who was flying home to her family. It was a few minutes after take-off when she took out a small bottle of perfume from her handbag. I spotted this in the corner of my eye and began politely stating that you really shouldn't use perfume on a plane (at least at your seat).

Unfortunately for me she attempted to spray the perfume towards her neck, only to have the nozzle pointed in the wrong direction and instead spray it in my face. The perfume managed to hit the back of my throat, to which within minutes my throat started to swell. Many bottles of water later and sadly it was still quite swollen.

After landing it was straight to the client site ready to present for a few hours (or at least try to), with my colleague and me doing a double-team session. Despite many more bottles of water I lasted all of 25 minutes before my throat was finally so swollen that breathing became difficult.

Thankfully it wasn't a trip to hospital, but it took the better part of the rest of the week to actually get my throat back (and be rid of the pain). The rest of my week became nothing more than fingers on a keyboard attempting to demonstrate software without choking on my own throat.

To those who travel with perfume, please avoid spraying it into the face of others during your flight.