On domestic US flights I hear announcements all the time asking passengers to use the lavatories in their “ticketed cabin” only. And while you don’t want to disregard flight attendant instructions — you could find yourself in Guantanamo — I also rarely see this enforced.
While in general I think there should be a preference to use the lavatory in your ticketed cabin, rather than just “whichever is closest to you” (so someone in the bulkhead of coach should still walk to the back of the plane to use the lav) I also think there are clear exceptions to this.
- During drink service in the economy cabin, when the drink cart is blocking the aisle especially on a narrow body aircraft. If you can’t get to the lavatory in your cabin, you can use the lavatory you can get to.
- When the line to use the lavatory is long and you cannot wait. Exigent circumstances should entitle you to use the lavatory that’s available. You don’t want this to happen.
I also think this is a very U.S. approach you have to ascertain the norms of the airline you’re flying. A coach passenger on airberlin was arrested for using the business class lavatory.
Apparently my rule that ‘if the drink cart is blocking the aisle it’s ok to use the forward lav’ doesn’t apply on Air Canada. This is awful: (HT: Ken A.)
An Alberta woman says a return flight from Nova Scotia to Calgary last month went wrong after her granddaughter was prevented from using the closest washroom, leading the toddler to wet herself and sit in her own urine for about three hours.
Copyright: ronniechua / 123RF Stock Photo
A flight attendant told the woman and the 3 year old, “I can’t have you coming up here anymore.”
The woman and young girl had used the business class lavatory earlier in the flight. Maybe they shouldn’t have if the aisle wasn’t blocked. But in this case she certainly should have been able to because “midway through the 5½-hour flight.. Ruby needed to go but a service cart blocked her access to the washroom at the rear of the plane.”
The woman hadn’t brought a change of clothes for the girl. Air Canada has offered:
- a 25% discount on her next flight
- a $200 voucher
- toys for the young girl
But what the grandmother wants is an apology “from the flight attendant directly.”
One Member of Congress believes use of the lavatory is a right and introduced legislation to prohibit airlines from charging for it although no airline has actually ever tried to do this.
One other thing to know is that it’s usually ok to use the lavatory when the seat belt sign is on what’s more important is what it smells like when you’re done. (Here’s how to fix a stinky lav.)