When flying long distances in large airliners like the B777 or the A380, there always seem to be long queues in front of the lavatories, generating longer waiting times than in the past. Kinda looks as if there are fewer and fewer toilets per passenger on board.

Are modern aircraft designed with fewer lavatories per passenger on board? Which is the airliner (CFR 14 Part 25) still flying with the most passengers per toilet?

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    $\begingroup$ Most small planes have no toilets, so the ratio is infinity. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Dec 13, 2017 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ Here's an astonishingly long discussion about this very topic, including actual airplane examples: blog.thetravelinsider.info/2012/11/… $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2017 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Greg Hewgill - +1 - great info $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Dec 13, 2017 at 5:46

1 Answer 1


This is not necessarily an attempt to answer your question directly. But I do have some interesting information.

I use to be the night shift supervisor for Continental Airlines in Anchorage Alaska from 1998 to 2005. We primarily serviced B757 and B737 flights from Newark NJ or Houston TX via Portland or Seattle each day (4 winter, 6 summer flights). About half the flights had lavatory problems.

The MEL (minimum equipment list) only required the lavatory closest to the cockpit to be operational for a flight. We averaged about 190 pax (max was 230-290). Imagine a B757 with 200 passengers with only one lavatory for a 5hr flight between NJ and WA (WA to AK was 3hrs) - how inhumane! And I did rarely see flights with only two toilets that worked (never one).

This was an eye opener to me that the FAA (govt) is not looking after the best interest of the public. I could tell you other bone chilling experiences but this is not the proper place or time :(

So with due respect, I am warning that there is a difference between the number of toilets in an airplane, and the number of toilets that actually work!

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    $\begingroup$ I know my explanation falls short, but if it doesn't pose a safety risk they won't regulate. I wonder if people standing in an airplane for a long part of a flight does pose an increased risk to their health though. Imagine clear air turbulence hitting it, they're much closer to the ceiling than when they're sitting in their seats. $\endgroup$
    – user7241
    Dec 13, 2017 at 6:14
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    $\begingroup$ @jjack The fact they are closer to the ceiling is not important, if not in fact advantageous. The fact that they are not held by their seatbelts is a problem. $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2017 at 6:59
  • $\begingroup$ @VladimirF There are usually overhead storage compartments in airliners above the seats. So the local ceiling is in fact closer. In clear air turbulence, there is no warning to fasten seat belts, because it currently can't be detected. I went with the assumption of unfastened seat belts. The frequency of occurrence of turbulence in the atmosphere is already increasing or thought to increase due to climate change. I don't know anything about how the intensity will behave though. Getting thrown around while standing could also be more dangerous than when one is sitting in a seat. $\endgroup$
    – user7241
    Dec 13, 2017 at 7:23
  • $\begingroup$ @jjack - +1 - Your health concerns are well founded for this and other problems - for example blood clotting. see: clotconnect.org/about-clot-connect/news/… $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Dec 13, 2017 at 7:30
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    $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt You think that developing a blood clot poses a higher risk to anyone's health than clear air turbulence? It possibly does. Have compression pants or stockings been found to be effective? One could just put on those and remain seated :-) $\endgroup$
    – user7241
    Dec 13, 2017 at 8:00

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