a bathroom with a toilet and sink

It’s not all doom and gloom in the world of airlines, despite what you may read. It’s true, it’s never been cheaper to fly just about anywhere, and with better entertainment and connectivity there are even more ways to distract yourself too. But there’s still those damn bathrooms, which can make even the most slender of supermodels claustrophobic.

Help *may* finally be on the way.

The idea is this: when you walk on the plane, everything will look just like the sub-standard lavatories we see now. But once off the ground, a magical transformation will occur. With aisle restrictions left back on the ground, lavatory walls could expand into the galley area, bringing an extra 13” of space that yields an overall 40% increase.

This is all down to the safety requirement to keep galleys clear during taxi, take off and landing, but once in the air, things can be placed into the space. Think of it as a “now you see it, now you don’t” trick, there when you need it, but gone when it’s not. Aviation analyst Will Horton provided fantastic coverage for Runway Girl of this innovative design from seat maker Acumen.

If Acumen sounds like a familiar seat maker, it’s because they designed the world’s best business class suite with ANA’s “The Room” in 2019; and Etihad’s “The Residence” before that.

The lavatory designs are aimed at the Airbus A320 family aircraft as well as those in the Boeing 737 fleet which make up most of the “short haul” flying done around the world and would bring welcome accessibility to the skies, in addition to reasonable space for all.

Lavatory space can be less of a concern in wide-body aircraft, but it’s hard to think that this sort of thinking wouldn’t be useful there too.

So will it actually fly? Acumen partnered with ST Engineering to pull off one crucial feat – the extra space doesn’t add any weight. Airlines are incredibly touchy about weight and how it effects fuel burn, and staying net neutral on weight is an important step. That just leaves airline unions.

A 14” reduction in space won’t be popular with cabin crew, but for a better overall experience – and hey, everyone eventually needs to “go” on the plane – maybe there’s a deal to be made. Will Horton notes that two US airlines are currently in talks to introduce this new lavatory, which debuted this past week at the Singapore Air Show. Let’s hope…

Tip of the hat to View From The Wing.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Yet the likely of BA are heading on the opposite direction, reducing the number of bathrooms whilst simultaneously packing in more customers… and shrinking the bathrooms to a farcical size on the neo’s…

  2. Stupid idea. Let airlines just install proper bathrooms with space. It is ridiculous though that this is advertised for the disabled. Regular passengers need more space. People who aren’t fit to fly shouldn’t fly. If you are disabled you should live with your limitations and stay home instead of making a plane ride more difficult for everyone with the embarkation, disembarkation and chair that needs to be dragged through the cabin to use the restroom in flight. Short flights aren’t a problem like NY to Miami but anything beyond that is not appropriate.

  3. 2johnson Adams. What an utterly horrible thing to say. People with disability are as much part of the human race. They have every right to do what you do, including air travel. I would hate to think of you attitude if you are injured in an accident and after that just had to stay at home or travel by ship should you want to overseas, so that you wouldn’t burden the rest of the air travelling people. A bit of empathy would go a long way.

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