As noted by @BrianSumers, you’ll soon have more freedom to relieve yourself on United Airlines flights…
Everyone can now use United first class lavatories
As of November 1, 2020, United Airlines customers will be allowed to use lavatories anywhere on the plane, including in a different cabin. In other words, economy passengers can use first class lavatories, and vice versa.
This policy is intended to reduce lavatory lines and prevent crowding in the aisle, and United says it’s due to feedback from flight attendants and passengers, and it was reviewed by the Cleveland Clinic. Previously United required passengers to use lavatories only in their ticketed cabins.
The United inflight announcement about lavatory usage will be adjusted as a result, and flight attendants are now instructed to say “please use the restroom located in your cabin when possible.”
Some might think that the airline is sending mixed messaging here when it comes to coronavirus risk with this policy change:
- Airlines claim that the risk of catching coronavirus on a plane is virtually non-existent, because everyone is wearing masks and there’s good air filtration
- That being said, if you can avoid people hovering over others in tight spaces (rather than everyone facing in the same direction next to one another), that seems like a reasonable precaution
What’s the right lavatory policy?
Historically airlines have had differing policies on this. For example:
- American Airlines has long had no restrictions on which lavatories passengers can use, with the exception of international flights to the US, where passengers need to use the lavatory in their ticketed cabin
- Delta Air Lines has long required passengers to use the lavatory in their ticketed cabin
Here’s my personal take on lavatory usage:
- I have no issues with economy passengers using the first class lavatory if the process is well managed
- The logistical challenge is that as a first class passenger you typically can’t congregate in the galley or by the cockpit, so it’s often best to stay seated until the lavatory opens up
- At the same time, a line of economy passengers often forms for the first class lavatory by the bulkhead, making it difficult for first class passengers to add themselves into the lavatory queue, so to speak
Whenever this topic is brought up I can’t help but think of the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where Larry is flying first class and tries to use an economy lavatory, only to get told by a passenger that the lavatory is reserved for economy passengers.
United Airlines is now allowing passengers to use lavatories in any cabin, so you’re no longer restricted to using lavatories in your ticketed cabin. This is intended to minimize crowding and waiting for the lavatories. I think the policy in general makes sense, if the process is well managed.
What’s your preferred airline lavatory policy?