Aircraft lavatories decades old poor design and location

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  • cwoodward
    Participant

    Is it not past time for a radical rethink re lavatory design and location on larger long-haul passenger aircraft?

    Currently what is offered is at the best adequate and often barely that. This when both home and hotel bathrooms have past way beyond the merely functional towards becoming destinations.

    In the 60 years that I have been flying there has been little design change or improvement
    beyond the innovation of using air rather than water for the flush plus some premium class improvement in size. These minor improvements have however been more than offset by many economy lavatories becoming even smaller and on some airlines less numerous.

    Their positioning in the main passenger cabin is of course the main constraint as valuable saleable seating space is taken up. Hence the designers perceived need to continue to minimise both their size and number – particularly in economy cabins.

    Is there a workable solution that would allow both the size and possible number to be increased along with improved design lighting and finish and possibly a shower or two ?

    Is the concept of much more commodious onboard facilities a saleable concept will probably be the deciding question ?
    Would such change increase revenue or at least be revenue natural and would these improvements attract and/or retain customers is of course the airlines and makers main consideration.

    The only path to saleable improvement on larger aircraft is to move the facilities’ out of the main cabin downstairs to the cargo deck.
    This change is not at all radical in fact and has already been done some 18 years ago by Airbus on the Lufthansa A340-600 where the 5 main cabin (economy) lavatories are located down a short flight of wide stairs.
    The design execution is not great or in any way radical and of course they do take up a smallish amount of cargo space.
    However many large airlines never have a use for all of the cargo deck area and those that do would need to decide if the improvement in passenger comfort and increased revenue would offset the lose of some cargo space.

    Judging from the lack of new development and competition in the almost duopoly that is the industries manufacturing base neither have found such improvement necessary nor it seems have to date the major airline players for who it would be a question of weighing the pros and cons.
    Such changes and improvements I feel are now necessary more than just desirable and some change may be forced on the industry….

    A DOT regulation issued late last year now requires all new single aisle aircraft to have larger lavatories that can accommodate both a carer and an impaired passenger and allow free movement.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    esselle
    Participant

    It’s a really interesting question and my guess is that design/ size / location is really driven by economics rather than technology.

    EK/EY have made their F toilets a selling point where they become part of a very premium proposition. Surprisingly the toilets in EKs 773 F cabins are pretty standard fare. BA, on the other hand, reduced the number of toilets for F pax on their 787 to one, only accessible by squeezing past the crew in the galley.


    tomyam42
    Participant

    It is sad that the general pursuit of cost cutting has resulted in toilets getting smaller while people get bigger. I try to avoid the toilets jest behind the cockpit because I usually find I am banging my head in there. When I used to take many long haul flight with CX my favourite seat was 12K due in part to the adjacent large toilet. Nowadays when I am fortunate enough to find myself on a long haul configured a/c on a regional flight I chose a seat near the rear of the front cabin, again partially to be closer to a reasonable sized toilet.

    I think that access via stairs would be drawback because of passengers with mobility problems.

    Since I am willing to pay more to fly on an A350 (I have never enjoyed a flight on a 787, always feeling as if I am a pencil in a pencil box) with comfortable, spacious seating and direct aisle access I live in hope that premium airlines understand that to remain premium they should have comfort rather than minimum cost seating and toilets crammed into last generation or single aisle birds.


    Rferguson2
    Participant

    This one is simple to answer. Like galley space, airlines seldom compete with each other based on who has the best bogs. Few passengers will refuse to fly on an airline because of the size or facilities in the loos or the galleys. Unlike direct aisle access, fully flat beds, superior air quality etc. So, there is just little incentive for the designers. On the one hand, there is minimal customer demand to improve them and on the other, there is commercial demand from the airlines to make more space for seats.

    If anything, I think we will see lavs continue to get smaller and in more obscure locations. On longhaul aircraft it is mandated that at least one lavatory is suitable for a passenger with mobility issues and as long as airlines continue ticking this regulatory box I don’t think we will see much more of a revolution.

    As Esselle pointed out, Emirates does market their F bathrooms as something special. This is very much driven by the A380 design – every operating airline of the A380 has a vast amount of space at the front of the upper deck. EK has used theirs for shower suites, QF and others use the area for a lounge, BA uses it for…well just very large J class loos!

    Many airlines have toyed with moving things that would normally be in the main passenger cabin to below deck – LH with the loos as you mention. Other airlines had that design too, definitely one of the UK charter airlines on their A330’s. The problem with this design is taking up valuable cargo space aside (which is a HUGE profit generator for airlines) the european regulator insisted that a crew member have the sole responsibility of monitoring those out of sight loos due to the potential fire risk which again is an additional resource.

    Lufthansa also has crew rest compartments on some aircraft that are below deck however these are cleverly designed to be able to be fitted and removed to the aircraft easily. Horizontal crew rest is only a requirement on flights over a certain length, so LH has the unit fitted on the flights requiring it and then removed and used for cargo on flights that don’t (say germany to non west coast US, middle east, India).

    Back in the day of the L1011/DC10 several airlines also chose to have their galleys located below deck making space for more seats above. However, this raised exactly the same issues of the loos. A crew member had to be dedicated to remaining in that galley and it took up valuable cargo space.

    5 users thanked author for this post.

    NedBartrolley
    Participant

    You’re so right about the BA First loo on the 787. I always book a seat in First on the right hand aisle and then walk back the short distance to the pair of Club loos on that side of the aircraft.


    esselle
    Participant

    Off topic, but why has the Post BA’s long slippery slope been closed? Thanks


    cwoodward
    Participant

    I believe that it was unfortunate but in the circumstances sensible to do so ‘esselle’ as a poster who had been nuisance ‘reporting’ all of my posts re content had started to do so again.
    Not an easy job regulating a forum….. BTW and it is just my guess as to why my topic was removed.

    3 users thanked author for this post.

    justloveflying
    Participant

    Very strange thing to do, to report a valid comment. I guess I now know who hasbeen doing the same to me.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    justloveflying
    Participant

    @cwoodward you make a very good and valid point about washrooms on aircrafts. When even those of slim builkd have difficulty using an aircraft toilet with ease, then it is obvious that those of generously proportioned stature will find it a nightmare.

    MyTravel used to have washrooms downstairs on their A330 fleet and Thomas Cook continued this tradition when they took over the Airline.

    Generally speaking , S=space in onboard washrooms on longhaul Airbus aircraft has to be the worst. Unusually I find shorthaul Airbus washrooms decent.

    Boeing have traditonally always had spacious washrooms.

    Great Post and sorry you are being trolled by someone who should know better. If I was in charge of the forum select individuals would be long gone.


    @cwoodward
    I always enjoy reading your posts – you really make good and vlaid points, you show utmost respect to everyone and you are a pleasure to deal with. I would so want to be friends withs someone like you. Have an amazing weekend !


    cwoodward
    Participant

    Thank you JLF. I dont know where is your home country but here it is Chinese New year and a (for HK) a longish holiday with much happening.

    To everyone on this forum – Kung Hei Fat Choi “wish you getting a lot of money”.
    This is a universal blessing to people in the Chinese New Year when people meet each other in Southern China. Used much like our “Happy New Year”

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    “This is a universal blessing to people in the Chinese New Year when people meet each other in Southern China. Used much like our “Happy New Year”

    Even when coming out of a decades old toilet ? 🙂

    Kung Hai Fat Choi and may it be filled with money, good health and peace.

    Hell of a thread drift though….


    cwoodward
    Participant

    Martin – I plead festive indulgence….

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    LuganoPirate
    Participant

    This has always been one of my major bug bears, second only to packing in passengers like sardines. Both I think inhumane and for premium passengers almost an insult. Though in fairness everyone has the same needs so all bathrooms should be bigger.

    I flew the Swiss 777 for the first time recently, and discovered the front port bathroom is larger than the starboard one. It was quite comfortable to use. Also the Lufthansa 748 one is a decent size, but alas these are only for F pax.

    The only way for it to change is by government regulation, and I don’t see that happening.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    esselle
    Participant

    {content}
    I actually smiled when I read your heading. Very clever!


    Inquisitive
    Participant

    I posted a similar comment in another thread. I believe regulators need to step in to mandate minimum toilet number per passengers and size of economy class seats for acceptable passenger comfort.

    The toilet issue can be resolved somewhat if only a couple of urinals are installed. In that way toilets availability will increase among ladies passengers and for other uses.

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