When to Use the Airplane Bathroom, Plus Other Etiquette to Follow

Any frequent flyer has, at least once in their lifetime, come across that paranoid passenger whose life seems to depend on the washroom. This person seems desperate enough to run to the loo in the middle of a takeoff, and they don’t seem to mind waking up a sleeping passenger and stepping on people’s feet to get to their goal.

While rudeness and paranoia are in some people’s nature, most others are simply a victim of their circumstances. You might behave inappropriately and inconvenience others just because you didn’t know the unspoken rules about using the airplane lavatory. This is why you must know the right time to use the in-flight loo, along with some additional tips.

When to Go?

The obvious answer to this question is when nature calls. But, it’s a little trickier than that in a loo up in the sky. You have to wait for the right time.

Let’s find out when the right time is and when it isn’t.

  • Ideally, you should take care of your business at the airport. Once your bladder is empty, you can easily get through a short flight without needing to go again.
  • Hold the urge during takeoff or landing. Wait until the plane is in the air, or has landed on the ground.
  • Wait for the seatbelt light to turn off. Don’t try to get up from your seat while the light is on.
  • During the flight, stay on the lookout for when there is minimal to no waiting. Avoid the loo if you see a lot of people gather for their turn.

Etiquettes to Follow

Picking the right time to go is only half the battle. The other half is to be decided by what you do after you get up from your seat. How you reach the washroom and what you do in there is just as important. This is where your behavior and etiquette comes in.

Take the following suggestions into consideration for a more refined approach to using the in-flight lavatory:

  • If your neighbor has dozed off, always wake them up politely and ask them to make space for you to pass. If you try to climb over them, you might step on their feet or slip and fall on top of them. That would be a far worse way to disturb their sleep.
  • If you already know that you are going to be using the bathroom a lot due to a medical condition, or simply because of drinking too much water, take an aisle seat near the washrooms. You can trade with someone or pay extra for it. Also, be sure to purchase travel medical insurance before your trip in case any new medical issues pop up.
  • If you have taken off your shoes while sitting, don’t forget to put them back on before you visit the loo. Never go in there barefoot.
  • Unless it is an absolute emergency, wait for your turn patiently. Don’t cut off other people in the line. Knocking on the door too many times is also very rude.
  • If there is an elderly person, a pregnant lady, or a sick individual in line after you, let them go first if they need it. If someone requests this of you, chances are, they need it more urgently.
  • Always clean up after yourself. Don’t leave a mess for the next person to see.
  • Don’t take more time than needed. If you are going to occupy the restroom for longer than five minutes, notify the next person in line before you go in.
  • Never try to smoke in there. Most airlines have a strict anti-smoking policy. If your airline doesn’t allow smoking, you can be fined and even arrested for smoking onboard.
  • If someone is taking longer than 10 minutes without prior notification, it is okay to knock once or twice. But, don’t keep knocking if you fail to get a response. Inform the flight attendant instead.

Sanitary Precautions

A major part of airplane bathroom etiquette is maintaining personal hygiene for the sake of yourself and the community. Without proper sanitary precautions, you might go in there and bring a lot of germs on your way out. These pathogens will not only affect you, but all of your co-passengers as well. To avoid the possibility of any such outbreak, follow these precautionary tips:

  • Avoid unnecessarily touching any surfaces within the lavatory. Don’t touch the seat headrest on your way back either.
  • Make sure to wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds or more.
  • Use sanitizer after getting back to your seat, even if you washed your hands before.

Flush Your Worries Away

Remember that it is absolutely fine if you need to use the restroom multiple times. It can happen due to several reasons that you don’t need to explain. Don’t try to hold it in out of the fear of embarrassment or inconvenience. It is one of the most natural and inevitable things everyone has to do. Having discussed all the etiquettes and know-hows of in-flight toilets, you are now well-prepared for your next bathroom break on a flight.

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