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SmokinL1011
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Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 5:11 pm

Why is it that in the past airliner cabins had such a strong, unique smell to them, but today that has all but disappeared?

I vividly remember that distinctive Odeur de Cabine until about the mid 1980s. It was a smell truly like no other, entirely unique to an airliner cabin and was so strong it would hit you in the gateway many steps before getting to the door of the aircraft. Even as a kid as soon as I got into that smell I would think, "Yes, I'm flying!".

Today there really is nothing unique or distinctive to notice scent wise......
 
2H4
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 5:25 pm



Quoting SmokinL1011 (Thread starter):
Why is it that in the past airliner cabins had such a strong, unique smell to them, but today that has all but disappeared?

Well, one variable that has certainly changed since then is the presence of cigarettes.

2H4
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TSS
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 5:34 pm



Quoting 2H4 (Reply 1):
Well, one variable that has certainly changed since then is the presence of cigarettes.

Maybe the "Odeur de Cabine" (love that term!) was a particular air freshener used to cover up the smell of cigarettes?
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HAWK21M
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 6:35 pm



Quoting 2H4 (Reply 1):
Well, one variable that has certainly changed since then is the presence of cigarettes.

A Good move....saving of Weight in terns of Ashtraysxfleetxhr of flying for an airline  Smile

And the drawback..No Nicotine stains to help trace a leak.

regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
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tb727
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:58 pm

I don't know, I don't fly on the airlines much anymore, but I flew on a NW DC-9 last year and the smell took me back to when I was a kid in the mid-80's/90's flying on the 727's and DC-9's. I didn't think anyone else took notice of that smell and thought the same thing I did! I also noticed there was a slightly different smell on the DC-10's whenever we would get a widebody. I always figured it was the catering and the coffee brewing.

There is a definite smell I get nowadays at work on my planes but it's different from the airliners. Freight and Jet-A.
Too lazy to work, too scared to steal!
 
2H4
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 9:39 pm

I've noticed that old Cessnas and Volkswagen Beetles have smells of their own, as well.

2H4
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atlturbine
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:18 pm

I think some of it has to do with the fact that most domestic flights (in the U.S. @ Least) no longer cook/heat meals. I always thought a lot of that "distinctive Odeur de Cabine" had a tinge of chicken & other foods in it! If you ever opened an oven in the galley on an old airliner and took a big wiff you could always smell chicken.
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hotelmode
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sat Sep 20, 2008 11:58 pm

Theres still a definate Odeur Boeing. You can smell it on the jetway and my uniform shirts definitaly smell of something after a flight..

My suspicion is old cooked food, sweat and more sweat
 
SmokinL1011
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sun Sep 21, 2008 1:28 am



Quoting 2H4 (Reply 1):
the presence of cigarettes



Quoting Atlturbine (Reply 6):
a tinge of chicken & other foods in it!



Quoting Hotelmode (Reply 7):
My suspicion is old cooked food, sweat and more sweat

By smell, or "odeur" I didn't mean something negative or smelly like galley smells or old, stale cigarette stink. In fact if it could be recreated and bottled I'd buy it! It was a strong, distinctive smell akin to that new car smell you get when you car is, well, new. Wasn't the exact same smell of course, just that same type of artificial environment, non-organic smell, and it was entirely 100% unique to an airliner cabin.

Quoting Tb727 (Reply 4):
I flew on a NW DC-9 last year and the smell took me back to when I was a kid in the mid-80's/90's flying on the 727's and DC-9's. I didn't think anyone else took notice of that smell

I was on a couple NW D9S and D95 flights in the past year also and they do have a trace of that old time smell more than newer generation aircraft, but barely.


Quoting TSS (Reply 2):
Maybe the "Odeur de Cabine" (love that term!) was a particular air freshener used to cover up the smell of cigarettes?

I hadn't thought of that, and it certainly may have been a contributing factor.

I'm assuming it derived from numerous factors, such as things that give you that new car smell - plastics, foam, upholstery, carpeting - combined with the smell of fuel, APU exhaust etc. etc. And it wasn't just in new aircraft or those outfitted with new cabins, it was every plane I was ever in until the mid to late 1980s.

But what is it in the past 20 years or so that has almost entirely eliminated it? And is there a chemist on board that can whip it up for me so I can use it as air freshner?  Big grin
 
andz
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sun Sep 21, 2008 3:54 am



Quoting SmokinL1011 (Thread starter):
strong, unique smell

Interesting combination of topic and user name  Smile
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KELPkid
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:59 am

I've heard conflicting stories on this,

but there are rumors that several Asian airlines (by orders of their respective governments) spray insecticides through the ventilation systems of the aircraft after landing in their home country. I wonder if this could contribute to the eau d' cabin  Wink

Also, for the record, a brand-new CO 757-300 (which I was lucky enough to be on the first revenue flight of one once) smells just like a new car on the inside  Smile
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Starlionblue
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:09 am



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 10):
but there are rumors that several Asian airlines (by orders of their respective governments) spray insecticides through the ventilation systems of the aircraft after landing in their home country. I wonder if this could contribute to the eau d' cabin

In Australia (yes I know it is not in Asia) this is mandatory (at least I think it still is).
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sun Sep 21, 2008 7:24 am



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 10):
ut there are rumors that several Asian airlines (by orders of their respective governments) spray insecticides through the ventilation systems of the aircraft after landing in their home country

How would they do that where would the source be......Or you mean spraying insect repellants through the cabin from serosol cans.

regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
AA737-823
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:34 pm

I know the EXACT smell you refer to. I remember smelling it as a kid, flying non-rev with my dad when he worked for AA.
The smell was strongest on 727s. It could also be smelled on DC-10s. The MD-80s smelled less, but they were newish at the time.
I think it's a combination of several things, some of which can still be found on the aircraft.
1. Blue juice- has been greatly reduced with the advent of vacuum lavatories.
2. Old coffee- still around, and this is actually a BIG factor in the total smell
3. Chemicals previously used in airliner cabin fittings, which are now disallowed due to fire retardant requirements
4. Burned jet fuel- 10 and more years ago, the APU was run at the gate. The 727 APU was low-tech, and it wouldn't surprise me if some fumes were making it into the bleed air to the packs.
5. Early plastics, which smell different from newer plastics of different formulation.
6. Electronics. Before they went solid-state, remember how electric devices let off a smell? Not just ozone, either...
7. Galley smells, like chicken, rice, beef, and the residuals thereof.


Whoever above said that you can smell food in an old airplane galley oven is right- I stick my head in our aircraft's ovens every day (in the hopes of finding a leftover meal! Worked once, and it was a crew meal of roast beef and potatoes! Just last week!) and you can smell foods that haven't been served for ages.

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 5):
I've noticed that old Cessnas and Volkswagen Beetles have smells of their own, as well.

Indeed they do!
 
EMBQA
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Sun Sep 21, 2008 12:37 pm



Quoting SmokinL1011 (Thread starter):

Materials used in construction.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
CRJ900
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:54 pm

Perhaps that smell you remember was a clean cabin. Didn't most airlines clean the cabin after almost every flight, vacuuming the carpet, clean toilets etc? Now, aircraft fly all day and are only cleaned at night, so I have heard.

I often find crumbs on the floor and seat, and coffee stains on the tray table when flying, except when the flight is the first of the day for that aircraft.
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SXDFC
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 12:48 am

When I flew on N277WN in August of 2007 it had the "Brand New Car" smell to it. Heck when I flew on her, she wasn't even on airliners.net yet  Wink
 
WPIAeroGuy
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:00 am

I can definetly remember that smell too. I think a lot has to do with Jet-A because every once in a while a truck will go by and I'll be reminded of that scent.

Speaking of smells, Comair's CRJ-100/200's have their own unique smell, different than any other plane I've been one. I wonder why?
-WPIAeroGuy
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:11 am

Seat Material,Coffee & Cleaning fluid are the main Aroma contributers  Smile

regds
MEL
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NKP S2
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:50 pm

Coalescer bags for water separation on the air conditioning packs, instead of the more common condenser/reheater in systems of today is another reason. The dirtier the coalescers got the more noticeable the odor in the cabin.
 
jetblueguy22
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:30 pm



Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 3):
No Nicotine stains to help trace a leak.

Maybe airlines should release Nicotine so people want to fly them more. Big grin

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 10):
but there are rumors that several Asian airlines (by orders of their respective governments) spray insecticides through the ventilation systems of the aircraft after landing in their home country.

I know for a fact that they did this during the SARS outbreak but I don't think they do this anymore.
Blue
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JAGflyer
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 3:58 pm

When I went into the CRJ900 sim @ FlightSafety Toronto it had an airplane smell, like all the other planes I've been on. Maybe it was the sheepswool seat covers?
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YYZYYT
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 4:28 pm



Quoting SmokinL1011 (Reply 8):
By smell, or "odeur" I didn't mean something negative or smelly like galley smells or old, stale cigarette stink. In fact if it could be recreated and bottled I'd buy it! It was a strong, distinctive smell akin to that new car smell you get when you car is, well, new. Wasn't the exact same smell of course, just that same type of artificial environment, non-organic smell, and it was entirely 100% unique to an airliner cabin.

I know that smell too - it is impossible to describe but if you know it it is unmistakeable.
I always thought it was due to the mateirals and esp. plastics used, and assumed that the smell disappeared as they moved to newer mateirals (more lightweight and more fire resistant).

Now if only they would recreate that smell and turn it into a car air freshener...
 
2H4
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:39 pm



Quoting SmokinL1011 (Thread starter):
until about the mid 1980s.



Quoting SmokinL1011 (Thread starter):
Even as a kid as soon as I got into that smell I would think, "Yes, I'm flying!".



Quoting SmokinL1011 (Thread starter):
Today there really is nothing unique or distinctive to notice scent wise......

Upon further reflection, I firmly believe that long-lost smell is the smell of dignity.

As we all know, the lack of cabin amenities have joined forces with smaller seats, TSA restrictions, and passengers clad in sleeveless T-shirts and cut-off sweatpants to eradicate any last shred of dignity that once existed.

2H4
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HAWK21M
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:57 pm



Quoting Jetblueguy22 (Reply 20):
Maybe airlines should release Nicotine so people want to fly them more.

I guess the percentage of non smokers deters such ideas  Smile
regds
MEL
I may not win often, but I damn well never lose!!! ;)
 
jetblueguy22
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:24 pm



Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 24):
I guess the percentage of non smokers deters such ideas  

Odor free nicotine!
Blue
Look at sweatpants guy. This is a 90 million dollar aircraft, not a Tallahassee strip club
 
Fly2HMO
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:20 pm



Quoting TSS (Reply 2):
Maybe the "Odeur de Cabine" (love that term!) was a particular air freshener used to cover up the smell of cigarettes?

I'm pretty sure that's the case. I know very well what smell the OP is talking about. And about the time they prohibited smoking in planes is when I seem to recall a decline in that smell.

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 5):
Volkswagen Beetles

Ahh yes. Caused by the two large vynil floor mats in the car. Even my 2002 type 1 smelled the same as a 1960s model. Not even the smell had changed in 65 years of production.

Ooo the memories. I miss my bug.  cry 
 
KELPkid
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:22 pm



Quoting FLY2HMO (Reply 26):
Ahh yes. Caused by the two large vynil floor mats in the car. Even my 2002 type 1 smelled the same as a 1960s model. Not even the smell had changed in 65 years of production.

Ooo the memories. I miss my bug.

What happened to your Boche?  Wink Upgraded to a bigger type? Thought you said that thing was a chick magnet Big grin
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soon7x7
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:44 pm

I've noticed that as well although I do smell similar on old gulfstreams, especially in the cockpit. Usually it came from PRC window wealant compounds. that with coffe odor, nicotene and other older type bulding materials added to an "aroma" unique to only transport aircraft.
 
access-air
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:07 pm

Well I remember disctictly that the first time I flew on Air Wisconsin BAe146-300, N611AW the air cycling machine had this acrid smell of puke.....It was horrible....That flight took place in February 1991....In October 1993 I flew on the same tail number and the smell was still there!!!!

I also remember a distict smell on NW AIrlink/Express I Jestream 31s and SAAB 340s that I used to fly on up to MSP from RFD. Simmons Shorts 360s had their own smell too...I guess each plane had its own smell in one way or another. I oftne remember after coming back from a trip on a plane someplace, my clothing would smell of the inside of the plane for a few hours or even by the time I got home.....It was always a good smell tho....except that Puke smell on ole N611AW....The smells seemed to be a little intesified in the winter or colder months...

Cheers, Access-Air
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Fly2HMO
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:02 am

double post - disregard

[Edited 2008-09-24 21:05:23]
 
Fly2HMO
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RE: Unique Cabin Smell In Days Past

Thu Sep 25, 2008 4:03 am



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 27):
What happened to your Boche?

Close but no cigar.  Wink

It's Bocho, or sometimes Vocho.

Anyways...

Had to sell her (name was Lucy BTW  cheeky  ) since I moved out to Houston for an internship last semester. As much as I loved her, it wasn't the most practical thing to do, due to size, poor range, and many other things.

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 27):
Upgraded to a bigger type?

Yeah, waaaay bigger. A Dodge Neon. Big grin

Quoting KELPkid (Reply 27):
Thought you said that thing was a chick magnet

It was, but I guess it was just because of the "cute car" factor, while it drew a lot of attention from the ladies, I didn't get much "action" while driving Lucy ( She'd get jealous and start PMSing oil on me  Wink ). Ironically the only time I actually took a chick home in my own car was when I got my boring larvae-eyed Neon. Go figure.

Or maybe it was because both cars are red... Hmmm  scratchchin 

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