More than anything inflight you hope your seatmate actually uses the lavatory when needed. You use the lavatory even when the seat belt sign is on. Just be sure to only use the lavatory in your own cabin. And if you leave it stinky ask the flight attendant for a used pack of coffee grounds.
Chris McGinnis surveyed people about whether it’s best to leave the toilet seat up or down in an airplane lavatory.
Overwhelmingly people people you should leave the seat down.
I know and abide by the rules around terrestrial toilets used by both sexes: leave the seat and lid down when done. It’s the right and polite thing to do.
But are rules in the air different? I’ve often thought so but when I posed this “up or down” question in conversations or on social media, the answer was a resounding “down” (many in ALL CAPS with several exclamation points) from women.
From men, the response was mostly “down,” but mixed.
American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Premium Economy Lavatory
Like most things, what people believe (‘conventional wisdom’) is wrong.
My quick take, which I left on Chris’ Facebook query and which he quoted, was: “Men and women should leave the toilet as-is, there’s a chance the next person will be of the same gender. This limits the number of times that the toilet must be touched.”
However as with most things there’s academic literature on the subject, with math.
- Having each person leave the toilet seat down means the male incurs all the seat movement cost, and the female none.
- The combined incremental effort moving the toilet seat is greater with an ‘always down’ strategy than simply leaving the seat as-is.
A fair and efficient approach would see to:
(1) Minimize the joint total cost
(2) Equalize the respective total costs
(3) Equalize the respective incremental costs
Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Suites Lavatory
In fact, the mathematically correct answer to these criteria is to have the male split their approach, such as leaving the seat up in the first half of the flight and putting the seat down in the second half (or vice versa, but a stable rule is necessary “to avoid the notorious ‘middle of the night surprise'”).
I still believe the unique nature of an airplane lavatory with its confined spaces, public use, and turbulence suggests the only correct rule is one that minimizes touching anything in the lavatory as a public health imperative.
So… airplane lavatory toilet seat, up or down?