Bathrooms on commercial flights are a great thing, albeit a little small. Without them, a couple of hundred people would be trapped in a flying air prison and whining about their need to pee. (The “flying air prison” part is unavoidable.) But, yes, the one place of freedom we all have on flights is getting even smaller.
The Los Angeles Times reports that, as you might have noticed, American Airlines has some new Boeing 737 Max planes. They can fit about a dozen more seats than the older 737s and, according to Forbes, cost less to operate. There’s the real kicker: more seats, less money spent by the company providing them. They really weren’t kidding about that Max (Revenue) part.
But room for those seats had to come from somewhere, and some of it got shaved off of our precious restrooms—the one place we can go to escape the existential trap that is the seat we purchased.
The small bathrooms are so bad that flight attendants are complaining about lack of walking space and being splashed by sinks that sound like they belong in one of those miniature cooking videos. From the LA Times:
The lavatories at the back of the plane are located between the passenger seats and the galley where the flight attendants prepare drinks and snacks for the fliers. When both doors to the lavatories are open, the flight attendants are sealed off in the galley, blocking them from getting to the passengers, the flight attendants complained.
They also said the sinks in the bathrooms are so tiny that the water from the faucet splashes onto anyone attempting to wash their hands.
Joshua Freed, a spokesman for the carrier, said American Airlines has fixed the problem with the sinks by installing aerators on the faucet to cut the strength of the water flow. The carrier is still looking for a fix to the door problem.
Ah, fixing the problem by cutting the strength of the water flow. That doesn’t hit on one of the greater annoyances of modern plumbing in any way. Nope.
So, yeah, our collective escape from the realities of being on an airplane—the person next to us who can’t learn the concept of each person getting just one armrest instead of both, that dreaded middle seat we got after forgetting to sign in immediately after online check in opened, the feeling of being nothing more than another filled and paid-for seat on yet another commercial trip—just got even less comfortable. The small room that gave us a purpose—the purpose of getting up and escaping, just for a moment, that rock-hard plane seat for a well-deserved trip to the bathroom—just got even smaller.
According to the LA Times, American Airlines currently has three of the new 737 Max (Revenue) planes on its rotation right now flying between Miami and New York. It plans to add 20 per year to its fleet for at least the next four years.