I love the smell of a new car. Even though my current ride is 10+ years old, whenever I take it to the car wash, I always ask for the “new car” fragrance. After relaxing in Chopin Airport’s Preludium Executive Lounge for about 90 minutes, I proceeded to Gate 41 to board LO Flight 3088 to Krakow, Poland unaware of the surprise that was in store.
Boarding began at 13:18. Having no status with LOT or Star Alliance, I was one of the last to board. As soon as I stepped on board it was apparent that this was a brand new airplane. Not only did it look new, more importantly it even had a “new car” smell.
I’ve been on several “first flights” including the first commercial flights of Delta Airlines A350-900, American Airlines 787-9, and a Thai Airways A350-900 from Bangkok to Phuket the first week it was in service. Those planes looked brand new, but none of them smelled new.
As with new cars, the scent of a new plane comes from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released from plastics, leather, adhesives, synthetic fabrics, carpets, etc. The large majority of VOCs are odorless. Studies have reached conflicting results as to whether a new car smell might be toxic. Even if the VOCs on a new plane have some level of toxicity, there is little if no risk for airline passengers because exposure time is so short.
Of course like taste, smell is subjective. Some react negatively to the smell of a new car. Perhaps the airlines on my other first flights withheld new planes from commercial service until the smell dissipated.
I later learned that in December 2018, about one month prior to my flight, LOT took delivery of four Embraer 190 – 200s. LOT acquired the GE CF34-10E powered 190 – 200s specifically to permit flights to London City Airport (LCY) which has strict noise abatement standards, a single runway that is just under 5,000′ long, and requires a steep approach for landing.
These aircraft seat 106 passengers in an all-economy, 2-2 configuration. Standard seat pitch for this aircraft is 31 or 32 inches. I was sitting in 13D, an exit row seat with tons of leg room.
These are photos after arriving at Krakow.
Embraer 190s have nearly vertical cabin walls, large windows (bigger than ones on a 787 allegedly) and unobstructed space under the seat. I requested an exit row seat at the gate, and was assigned to 13D at no charge. There was no one else in the row.
Other than the new plane, the flight itself was unnoteworthy. It took barely more than 30 minutes of flying time to reach Krakow. The only service was candy and coffee, tea or water.
In sum though, flying on a brand new airplane with a “new plane” smell was a pleasant surprise for me. Have you been on a plane that smelled new? What was your reaction? Do you like the smell of a new car?