Passengers booked on a Sriwijaya Air flight from Bengkulu province in Sumatra to Jakarta on Monday complained to staff after smelling the fruit and refused to get on the plane, repulsed by the pungent payload and concerned about the extra weight on board.
Boyke Ledy Watra, a journalist from Indonesia's news agency Antara, happened to be on the flight and reported that several passengers were arguing with the flight attendants that nearly led to a fight.
Crew members told passengers that the smell would disappear once the plane was in the air, but passengers demanded to remove the stinky fruit, with some threatening physical violence. In April, 600 people were evacuated from the library of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology - and crews were dispatched to check for gas leaks - after a rotting durian was left inside a cupboard.
Eventually, all the passengers were asked to leave the plane as workers unloaded the reeking cargo.
A number of online commenters lauded the passengers' refusal to fly with such a large amount of durian on board, pointing to safety concerns in the wake of last week's Lion Air crash that killed 189 passengers and cabin crew.
Food writer Richard Sterling has described its odor as "turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock".
"Durian is not classified as a hazardous material to be transported on a plane", Sriwijaya Air official Abdul Rahim told national television station Kompas TV late Tuesday.
"I yelled at the other passengers 'Who on this plane wants to fly?'". His Facebook post about the incident has been shard more than 20,000 times as of Wednesday afternoon.
"It's normal for every airline to carry durian during a flight as long as it is packaged properly and put inside the cargo hold in accordance with the standards and procedures", Kyodo News quoted Maya as saying in a statement.
Eventually, they all disembarked the plane while the durian was unloaded.