Airlines Could Save $100 Million a Year If Everyone Went to the Bathroom Before Boarding

American Airlines Chairman Doug Parker hates inflight entertainment, I once heard him say he wishes it was never invented. Seat back video is expensive, and the systems are heavy so they contribute to fuel burn.

Airlines that hand out tablets to premium cabin customers save money. Giving pilots tablets instead of their carrying maps and charts supposedly saves major airlines $1.2 million a year each in fuel.

American isn’t installing seat back video in their new Boeing 737 MAX planes (or their legacy US Airways ‘basket of deplorables’ fleet).

They say customers bring their own devices, so they’ll eventually provide seat power. Parker’s US Airways, of course, was the airline that removed inflight power ports to save fuel.

Three years ago Luke Jensen and Brian Yutko calculated that “if every passenger remembered to go to the bathroom before boarding, shedding an average of 0.2 liters of urine, the airline would save $2.66 in fuel” per flight. With about 40 million commercial flights a year that’s roughly a $100 million issue of course this was before $45 oil, so the potential savings are currently somewhat mitigated by lower fuel prices.


American Boeing 787-9 Lavatory

Already incentives are aligned in many ways that save on fuel.

  • Checked bag fees and indeed carry on bag fees encourage passengers to bring less on board. That saves fuel.

  • The TSA’s War on Water discourages passengers from carrying on as much water (they have to replenish inside security, where it’s more expensive to buy bottled water and most people don’t bring refillable bottles).

  • Spirit’s (and US Airways’ before it) water for a fee means less total water onboard and consumed.

Of course charging to use the lavatory would encourage passengers to go before they go.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. I understand the logic of weight savings behind not putting seat back entertainment into AAs new Boeings; however, I actually enjoy having it. I go out of my way to avoid connecting out of CLT, PHL and PHX because the plane’s are often older and never have seat back entertainment.

  2. BYO device streaming for entertainment is just an excuse to provide an inferior product, except on Southwest, who’s otherwise far superior product more than compensates for the inconvenience of either holding/propping up one’s own device or taking up the entire tray table with a laptop makes streaming far less desirable than seatback monitors are, which are hands free and allow one to either keep the tray table in its upright and locked position, or available to use for other things, like placing their drinks (soft or adult) or snacks (brought or bought on board) in an accessible spot, instead of trying to fit everything together in one crowded space.

    Of course, the CEO’s of Misery Airlines and Misery Airways are alternative facting their way through this issue, the same way they freely spew alternative facts about how making Misery Class even more miserable than it already is, is some sort of “passenger pleasing improvement”.

    The fact is, these two airlines, and ones like them would like nothing more than to make flying as miserable as possible to achieve either one of two things: 1.) further “segment” (aka a caste or class system) the products in a never ending quest to charge more money for things most people consider as being appropriate to be included with the coach airfare like seatback monitors, or in my case, live tv like Jetblue has or the only thing United had left that gave me reason to otherwise put up with that horrible airline.

    Of course, now, Direct TV on United seems to be disappearing quickly from its fleet of 737s.

    Going the other way, or 2.) if the Miserable 3 remaining legacy airlines (American, United and Delta) can’t rape passengers by making Misery Class so unpleasant as to force them to want to spend money on “extras’ to make their flights less miserable, then of course, why not just simply strip bare everything else out and then blame the poor “cheapskates” for bringing the misery on themselves while still charging the same but offering even less than before — while pocketing the savings for their already bloated salaries and obscenely large bonuses!!!

    So is it any surprise Doug Parker whines about the cost of seatback monitors and is eyeing the gradual phasing out of this “amenity” when the new 30″ pitch flying abominations…I mean 737 Maxes arrive later this year?

    Well at least Boeing got the name for its latest 737 family correct: MAX.

    As in MAXiMUM DISCOMFORT AND MISERY…yep, that’s what a 30″ pitch 737 with no seatback IFE will be.

    Of course, Douggie, Oscar and their pals need not be concerned with this unpleasantness, and that’s why they’re all perfectly fine with it…

  3. BYO device streaming for entertainment is just an excuse to provide an inferior product, except on Southwest, who’s otherwise far superior product more than compensates for the inconvenience of either holding/propping up one’s own device or taking up the entire tray table with a laptop makes streaming far less desirable than seatback monitors are, which are hands free and allow one to either keep the tray table in its upright and locked position, or available to use for other things, like placing their drinks (soft or adult) or snacks (brought or bought on board) in an accessible spot, instead of trying to fit everything together in one crowded space.

    Of course, the CEO’s of Misery Airlines and Misery Airways are alternative facting their way through this issue, the same way they freely spew alternative facts about how making Misery Class even more miserable than it already is, is some sort of “passenger pleasing improvement”.

    The fact is, these two airlines, and ones like them would like nothing more than to make flying as miserable as possible to achieve either one of two things: 1.) further “segment” (aka a caste or class system) the products in a never ending quest to charge more money for things most people consider as being appropriate to be included with the coach airfare like seatback monitors, or in my case, live tv like Jetblue has or the only thing United had left that gave me reason to otherwise put up with that horrible airline.

    Of course, now, Direct TV on United seems to be disappearing quickly from its fleet of 737s.

    Going the other way, or 2.) if the Miserable 3 remaining legacy airlines (American, United and Delta) can’t rape passengers by making Misery Class so unpleasant as to force them to want to spend money on “extras’ to make their flights less miserable, then of course, why not just simply strip bare everything else out and then blame the poor “cheapskates” for bringing the misery on themselves while still charging the same but offering even less than before yet calling it a “lowe fare” — while pocketing the savings for their already bloated salaries and obscenely large bonuses!!!

    So is it any surprise Doug Parker whines about the cost of seatback monitors and is eyeing the gradual phasing out of this “amenity” when the new 30″ pitch flying abominations…I mean 737 Maxes arrive later this year?

    Well at least Boeing got the name for its latest 737 family correct: MAX.

    As in MAXiMUM DISCOMFORT AND MISERY…yep, that’s what a 30″ pitch 737 with no seatback IFE will be.

    Of course, Douggie, Oscar and their pals need not be concerned with this unpleasantness, and that’s why they’re all perfectly fine with it…

  4. Any savvy traveler uses the restroom before boarding…who wants to wait for drink carts or lines just to enter something more nasty than a campsite port-o-john? And please notice that I fly coach most often, it’s worse in the back

  5. Just think of all the weight they could save if they could figure out a way to get passengers to avoid boarding the planes at all–which seems to be the direction in which some are headed.

  6. Doug Parker makes me root for something I thought I’d never want:

    Come on, bullet train!

  7. I’m with others on seat back entertainment. I have a medium-sized, older laptop and with the reduced seat pitch/smaller tray tables it isn’t easy getting that thing out and in front of me to stream entertainment. It also isn’t preferable to stare at a small screen on a phone. The idea that you can remove a feature and then sell it as a passenger enhancement is a joke. Call it what it is, a shareholder enhancement.

  8. If the DHS eventually does push through the electronics ban they’ve been lobbying for, the airlines that have removed their seatback inflight entertainment systems will rue that decision.

  9. Douggie needs to start flying in seat 30 F that is the last row that is a NR (Non recliner) the one next to the bathroom where everyone stands waiting to take a dump. Let him see how well that seat is compared to 1 A. There is never enough free drinks or IFE to keep me in that seat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *