What Idiot Designed This Airplane Lavatory, Anyway?

by SharonKurheg

With airlines making their planes’ lavatories smaller and smaller in an attempt to squash in a couple more seats, we’ve all had to get used to barely being able to move when nature calls at 35,000 feet. However, I never realized the various smaller designs would lead to some really stupid decision-making. Like this…

We were on a Delta A321 from Orlando to JFK and I had to “go.” I got inside the lavatory and discovered that the floor was wet (yuck), although I don’t blame the airline or the designer for that…people are pigs, is all. And the toilet paper was so thin that your fingers could go through it. But again, I knew that was their attempt to save on weight, and that paper probably dissolved better/faster. I could deal with that, too.

It was a teeny tiny lavatory, as expected – I could barely turn around, and I noticed that the sink was more like a finger bowl than somewhere I could adequately wash my hands.

But that wasn’t the thing I thought was stupid. This was:

Screen Shot 2019-12-22 at 10.22.24 PM

Guess where I was sitting (well, hovering) when I took this picture?

OK, what idiot thought it would be a good idea to put a mirror where you can see yourself while you’re doing your business in an airplane lavatory? I mean, it wasn’t like there wasn’t any other mirror in the (teeny tiny) room…

Screen Shot 2019-12-22 at 10.22.41 PM

So why put one in front of where a passenger would be sitting/squatting? Was it to make the room feel bigger? I’ll tell ya – it didn’t help. All it did was make me feel awkward. I mean, no one wants to see themselves on the bowl, am I right?

(Note from Joe: The designer must have gone to the same school as the person who designed this hotel room I wrote about.)


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Brian Cohen December 23, 2019 - 3:39 pm

That expression on your face is classic, Sharon…

…and you were aboard an airplane which was operated by Delta Air Lines.

PB December 23, 2019 - 4:24 pm

Given the wide toilet space and the open space under the sink, I’m guessing it is likely due to an accessibility reason for people with disabilities.

SharonKurheg December 23, 2019 - 4:30 pm

I was an occupational therapist for 23 years – there is *no* accessibility in that lavatory. Someone using a wheelchair could never get their chair into the room far enough to transfer onto the commode (doorway is entirely too narrow), never mind close the door, etc. That’s an ongoing problem with airplane lavatories.

PB December 23, 2019 - 10:07 pm

Yeah, you couldn’t get a wheel chair in there. No argument here. I was thinking more of a range of abilities, not necessarily related to a wheelchair. My bad anyway, I didn’t realize the hero image for this post was of a completely different bathroom than the one in the rest of this post.

Kenneth Bush May 15, 2022 - 8:03 pm

I’ve never seen a wheelchair in the cabin of an aircraft, so a wheelchair likely would never even make it to a lavatory of any size.

derek December 23, 2019 - 6:49 pm

The finger bowl makes it difficult to brush teeth. On transatlantic flights, I brush teeth. SFO-ORD, often I don’t

S.C. December 23, 2019 - 10:59 pm

My guess is that restroom is designed that way to discourage lingering. I think it would be successful at that!

Jon Ben December 23, 2019 - 11:44 pm

SO wait is that thing an ash tray by the no smoking sign?

SharonKurheg December 24, 2019 - 12:05 pm Reply
Ed Beltran May 11, 2022 - 10:16 am

The message is clear: do not smoke while changing the pampers of your child

Lina February 16, 2022 - 11:38 am

My guess on the mirror is, because it’s such a tiny space, the mirror gives you an opportunity to make sure you don’t have any tissue or whatever hanging off your clothes or shoes. There mirror that allow you to see all angles.

John Ham May 7, 2022 - 9:01 pm

Good for those that need to do their makeup

Mark Johnson May 8, 2022 - 9:52 am

The mirror is on the (outward opening?) door so it can be used by crew to check their appearance without having to step on that wet floor!

Ed Beltran May 11, 2022 - 10:15 am

Some years ago, in an EVA flight from Taipei to Phnom Penh (a 747), I needed to use the toiled because, you know, they give you water all the time, so what do you expect? The loo’s floor was all wet (yeah, those pesky passengers with no sense of direction or social responsibility. When I opened the top, I noticed two foot imprints on the seat. I do not think you can do that any more.. because there is no space. In a similar route some years later, I got a bad diarrhea. Unfortunately, air turbulence mild turbulence started while no the seat. The flight attendant knocked the door and wanted me to return to my seat. I had to cry out load “I have diarrhea” to calm the attendant; she was ready to open the door by force, and take me to my seat. The UN should enact a bill of rights/duties for passengers using the airplane toilets.

daseckinger May 11, 2022 - 12:14 pm

I know of a pregnant flight attendant that got stuck in the bathroom, it was so small. She could not move around to adjust her pantyhose and had to be helped out by another attendant.

Dwondermeant May 11, 2022 - 3:40 pm

It’s a tragedy as it’s ruined the mile high club 🙁


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