The best and worst choices for those who need to go while traveling.

A standard size aircraft lavatory with UV lighitng to clean itself after use.
Photo: Boeing

Using the restroom on an airplane can be stressful, and most people try to hold it until landing to use more spacious facilities at the airport. A survey by UponArriving revealed that 74% of those who responded actively avoid using the lavatory at all costs. But sometimes, you need to go. The same organization went through the lineup of US airlines to find which are the most bathroom-friendly and which might leave you waiting till arrival. Let’s break down all they had to say in the report.

Ranking seats to lavatories by carrier

Rank Airline Economy seats per lavatory
1 JetBlue 51.28
2 Alaska 55.82
3 Allegiant 58.28
4 United 58.98
5 Delta 59.55
6 American 64.08
7 Spirit Airlines 64.85
8 Frontier 64.99
9 Southwest 65.62

The most impactful factor was whether there were two or three bathrooms in economy class. JetBlue has a massive advantage here since their all-economy Airbus A321Neo and A321 Classic have four lavatories, and even their multi-class narrowbody aircraft still have three. Alaska Airlines also fit three washrooms into their Boeing 737-800s and -900s. Other Boeing 737s, like the -700, have the option with just one bathroom in the forward section and one in the aft, which is how Southwest designed their cabins.

Airbus A220 cabin, with a clear view of the lavatory onboard.

Image: Airbus

Ranking seats to lavatories by aircraft

Best Aircraft

Aircraft Airline Economy seats per lavatory
Airbus A321-200 American 36
A220-300 JetBlue 47
Airbus A321 Classic w/Mint JetBlue 48
Airbus A220-100 Delta 49
Boeing 737-800 Alaska 49

Worst Aircraft

Aircraft Airline Economy seats per lavatory
Airbus A321-200 Frontier 77
Boeing 737 MAX 8 American 78
Boeing 737-800 American 78
Airbus A321neo Frontier 80
Boeing 737-900ER Delta 83

Interestingly, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines found themselves on these two lists, going to show that the aircraft matters just as much. However, the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321-200 also made it on both lists, so if this is something you care about, perhaps a bit of research before booking is in order.

Another factor that may play a part in the experience is whether or not economy class passengers are allowed to use the premium cabin lavatories. In the US, some airlines allow travelers on domestic flights to cross into another cabin to use the restroom, notably if a service cart currently blocks the aft or there’s an emergency. Out of all major US carriers, JetBlue was the only one to confirm that there are no class-designated lavatories, further enhancing their seat-per-bathroom ratio.

It’s important to note that this study used data for the contiguous 48 US states, so it does not include long-haul domestic flights to Alaska or Hawaii. Additionally, some longer popular domestic routes within the US mainland are serviced by widebody aircraft, such as United Airlines from Newark to San Francisco on a Boeing 777-200.

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A standard aircraft lavatory.

A few lavatory tips for your next flight

If you’re in the majority and try to avoid using the restroom during a flight, the most straightforward action is to allow yourself some time before departure for a bathroom run. If you suddenly need to go while walking on the jet bridge, there’s time before the main doors are closed to use the lavatory, though you will need to be aware of other passengers boarding. Lastly, try limiting the intake of coffee and alcohol before and during the flight, as these can increase the urge to use the bathroom.

Do you have a personal policy for using the lavatory onboard an aircraft? Have you ever used a premium cabin bathroom like on a Lufthansa or Emirates A380? Let us know in the comments.

Source: UponArriving


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