A Mysterious Odor Forced a Plane to Land and Nobody Knows What the Hell Caused It

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An Alaska Airlines flight traveling from San Francisco to New Orleans was diverted because of a strange and mysterious smell. The stench was unavoidable, trapping 136 passengers in a haze of putridness, so the flight was diverted to Los Angeles so the cause could be ferreted out on Sunday.

Except, as Fox News reports, no one could pinpoint where the elusive stench was coming from. It's root cause was a mystery perplexing as the case of the "dirty socks smell" that prematurely grounded a Spirit Airlines flight in July.

Adding to the phantom quality of it all, an Alaska Airlines spokesperson confirmed that a "strong odor" did turn stomachs and cause the plane's diversion, but only offered elusive answers when asked about the smell's provenance. Rather, the stench emanated from a passenger, or perhaps an entity foreign to human to the species if we're going to speculate.

"After a maintenance inspection of [the plane], it was determined the odor was not caused by the aircraft," a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines told local reporters. "The cause of the odor is believed to have emanated from someone or something in the cabin. The aircraft is back in service."

The statement does not instill confidence for anyone fearful of overflowing toilets and flying in general.

The airline says technicians are inspecting the plane in an effort to "to pinpoint the cause," which in all unlikelihood left the aircraft attached to a gross passenger's body.

Passengers were given flight alternatives at LAX, and presumably made their way to New Orleans or other destinations with the usual olfactory blend typical of airplanes.

While they surely had a rough go of it, the episode doesn't really outstrip the undeniable terror of flying with a crazed maniac smearing poop on the walls of an otherwise normal economy section. In fact, nothing does.

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Esquire. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.