Airplane Bathrooms Are Nasty By The End Of The Flight. Whose Responsibility Is That, Anyway?

If you’ve ever used one of the teeny tiny lavatories on a plane, especially towards the end of the flight, you know it’s not a very pleasant experience. I’m talking just 1 or 2 steps better than a port-a-potty. You’ve got no room to move, there’s mysterious liquid on the floor, not-so-mysterious pale yellow liquid on the toilet seat, the garbage is overflowing and the sink and little 6″ x 12″ counter usually look like someone sprayed them with a firehose. At least there’s still enough toilet paper and soap, but that’s really the room’s only saving grace.

What’s up with that? Isn’t there someone scheduled to make sure it’s cleaned up during the flight?

Well actually, no.

When a plane has landed, there’s a cleanup crew that freshens up the lavatory; maybe does a quick wiping down, replenishes the toilet paper and empties the trash container. But during the flight? No one is scheduled to clean it.

And before you ask, the flight attendants (FA) have lots of things they’re required to do during a flight – the most important one is to ensure our safety –  but after talking to a few friends of mine who are FAs at some major U.S. airlines, their response was the same: cleaning the bathroom mid-flight is not part of their job.

It appears that some FAs are expected to do the most basic upkeep, like make sure paper products and soap are available and remove general debris from the floor, but even the specifics of that varies from airline to airline. The requirements are also different for long haul flights. One FA friend I spoke to even said that if a lavatory becomes that soiled, they’ll just lock that lav for the rest of the flight and the cleaning crew can take care of it properly after they’ve landed.

But meanwhile, remember who are the ones who make the mess.

We are.

Personally, I clean up after myself. I wipe the sink and counter after I’m done washing my hands, and I push my paper towel into the trash container so it doesn’t overflow as quickly. And, of course, I remember the old saying:

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If we could all do that, the lav would probably look and smell a whole lot nicer for all of us for the entire flight.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

4 thoughts on “Airplane Bathrooms Are Nasty By The End Of The Flight. Whose Responsibility Is That, Anyway?”

  1. Therein lies the difference between American carriers vs. Singapore, Cathay, EVA, Japan etc. On long haul flights, crew from the latter airlines will periodically check up on and freshen up the lavatories. On my last flight with EVA, the lavatories were clean right before landing. And there’s usually always a bottle of aroma mist for passenger use to keep the lavatory smelling fresh.

  2. I would say passengers to some extent but definitely the cabin crew. If you fly J/F on a respectable Asian carrier, the bathrooms are always cleaned routinely. Sometimes after ever user.

  3. I always leave the lavatory a bit cleaner than it was when I came in. I am not the cleanup crew but I at least dry the counter.

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