U.S. airlines are increasingly putting smaller bathrooms on planes because of economic reasons. Because of this, people can assume that tiny lavatories are here to stay.
As the prices of labor and fuel go up, airlines are taking advantage of the high travel demand to fit as many passengers as possible.
Some of the well-known strategies of airlines are small leg rooms and elbow-crunching seat. Now, airlines are foregoing their old aircraft for new ones with small bathrooms that would allow space for more seats.
According to airlines, the new lavatories are just smaller than the old ones by a few inches. It is important to note that the old lavatories are not big enough, to begin with, and the tighter fit is also getting complaints from pilots, flight attendants, and travelers.
According to Consultant Samuel Engel who took his 4-year-old son to an aircraft restroom, it was like a yoga exercise.
Engel added that although they are not large, he had to straddle his child to be able to fit the space together. He also thinks that the sink is too tiny. The size of the sink forced them to wash their hands in turn, which splashed water all over the place. Engel leads the aviation group at consulting firm ICF.
Airlines With Small Lavatories
The experience of Engel is familiar to many passengers. American Airlines Group Inc. is now using a smaller bathroom on its new A321neos and remodeled older A321s, manufactured by Airbus SE. The said airline also has small bathrooms in over 300 Boeing Co. 737 aircraft, made by Rockwell Collins Inc.
Additionally, United Continental Holdings Inc. also has the same Rockwell lavatories on about 10 percent of its 737 fleet, which is almost 35 aircraft, and will use the same ones on at least 155 more Max jets, Boeing's new model on the single-aisle aircraft.
JetBlue Airways Corp. is also changing its old lavatories with new ones manufactured by Safran SA's Zodiac Aerospace. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines Inc. had been using the same lavatories since 2014.
Tronos Aviation Consulting Inc. Managing Director Gary Weissel said that American Airlines could earn around $400,000 for each seat that it adds on its fleet, based on the average cost of fares and aircraft usage.
Last fall, American also told investors that adding more seats to its Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321 jets would generate $500 million annually. JetBlue's additional seats would also bring in about $100 million.
The size of Rockwell's Advanced Spacewall restroom is only at shoulder height. The space savings comes in the sink level, where the wall curves in to allow a row of three seats to be placed under it.
The smaller lavatories on American's 100 new 737 Max aircraft have also prompted the crew to call it the Mini. Jimmy Walton, a captain for the airline told company President Robert Isom in an employee meeting that the economy cabin of the Max 8 is a miserable experience. He added that he can't turn around in it.
Cabin crews, who are at the frontline for traveler dissatisfaction has also criticized the small lavatories.
Spokesperson Shane Staples for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants at American said that the bathrooms play a big role in the decline of the in-flight experience of the customers. She added that it has a potential to lead to increased accidents on air rage.