When’s the best time to use a plane lavatory?


I don’t fly often, maybe every couple of months for either work or personal trips. But it’s a sufficient amount that I’ve picked up a few tricks that make flights much nicer, or at least more tolerable. So when I saw a blog network I otherwise ignore for ethical reasons posit a question regarding the timing of optimal aircraft washroom patronage, I felt the need to comment.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777, photo by Adrian Pingstone

There are three times, one of which is related to another flight trick:

  • Before you fly. That’s obvious.

  • You should always order a special dietary meal, even if you’re not vegetarian or kosher, for example. The food is nicer, and you get it before anyone else. This means you can also use the bathroom after you eat, while the rest of the cabin is distracted with choosing their food.

  • Within 45 minutes of landing, ideally just before they put the seatbelt lights on for arrival. The bathrooms at airport gates are packed as soon as planes land, so good luck trying to get a bathroom.

Here are some other pointers:

  • Ignore the advise that you shouldn’t sit near a bathroom, because the noise is distracting. On long haul flights, like Sydney to San Francisco, you’ll be unreasonably relieved you chose that isle seat right next to one.

  • Take a little washer with you in your carry on, if you’re not in the care of a civilised company like Singapore Airlines that provide them. A quick trip to the bathroom to wash your face feels indescribably wonderful.

The photo above of a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 was taken by Adrian Pingstone. That plane, presumably, has some of those aforementioned lavatorial facilities.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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