The etiquette and pitfalls of airport and aeroplane toilets

I’ll get straight to the point, the only people who should poo on an aeroplane are children under 10, the elderly and the infirm, and I maintain it should be a criminal offence (or at least grounds for an ASBO), for a normal, healthy human being to do one.

I also believe that no healthy human being wants to use an aeroplane toilet ever, at all, for anything, and you have to be pretty ill or sick in the head to actually take a crap in one, for doing so has to be the most selfish, most anti-social action anyone can ever knowingly undertake.

I feel self conscious just getting up to use the aeroplane loo because I know it’s clear to everyone where I am going.  If you’re not a member of staff and you’re walking down towards the back of the plane you’re going to the toilet.  Fact.  So don’t try and pretend you’re just stretching your legs, no-one buys that ‘well being’ nonsense any more.

And to make things worse, as if to bring even more attention to myself, I epically fail, time and time again, to walk in a straight line as I crash from aisle seat to aisle seat, zigzagging my way like a drunk towards the rear of the economy cabin.

I want to shout “It’s OK, I’m only going for a wee!“. I like to get in there, do my thing, and get back out, always remembering to wash my hands of course, and I set myself an internal target to do it all in under 150 seconds, that way people can be sure I only went in for a wee.  Any shorter and they think you didn’t practice full hygiene, any longer and they think you’ve done the unmentionable and actually done the dirty deed.

The worst thing is when a queue forms.  You feel self conscious for standing by someone’s seat, your crotch ominously close to their face as they try to ignore you and watch their tiny TV, and you try your damnedest not to sway and thrust your genitals even closer than they already are, due to that damned turbulence again.   And as the queue moves forward, you start to work out which toilet will become yours and, most importantly of all, who you will have to follow in there.

Now this might appear a little sexist but if I ever have to follow someone into the loo, I prefer it to be a female. Generally speaking, if the worst does happen, they are, on average, more fragrant than your average male.  Sorry lads but its true and if you’re honest you know it as well. The worst thing, the Dante’s Inferno scenario of airport toilet attendance, is when you arrive at the cluster of WCs only to find them all occupied, and then from nowhere a queue forms behind you.

Now you are trapped.  You are now committed to enter the first toilet that becomes available. On occasion the nightmare scenario actually happens and out walks a very large, hairy, meat eating, beer drinking bloke, all 110kg of him, looking rather shame faced as he opens the door gingerly and begins his walk of shame back to his seat.  You’re not even in there yet and the smell hits the back of your throat.  You look at the person in the queue behind you and try to express, nay, plead, a sentiment in your eyes that says ‘Please be aware I didn’t create that smell, please pass word down the line that it is not I that did this’.

But it’s too late, you are obliged to enter and close the door behind you, and as you slide the lock on the door, the light comes on and illuminates the disgracefully soiled pan.  The dirty b.astard. You feel like leaving and calling him back but he was big, very big.  And as you lift the seat (for you only want a wee) the seat feels warm to the touch. You recoil in horror as you realise from whence that warmth comes, and you feel sick and light-headed with anxiety.  You want to wee, wash and get out in under the critical 150 seconds, but if you do that. the next person in will think YOU are the filthy beast that created this cesspit.  But if you take too long and exceed the 150 second limit, the red lights will flash and the “He is taking a crap!!” klaxon will start to sound.  And when you leave they will DEFINITELY think it’s you!!

Of course the only sensible course of action is to do your stuff, wash thoroughly and get the hell out. And upon exiting the toilet you really want to shout at the top of your voice:

“It’s not me!, I didn’t make that smell! I didn’t make that mess! It was that burly bloke in seat 33F!”

But you can’t, and inevitably your eyes make contact with the poor sod who has to now follow you in, and you guiltily make your own walk of shame back down the aisle, looking angrily across at Caveman Kev in seat 33F as you bounce by.

Of course to avoid all this, the chivalrous thing to do is to go BEFORE you board the plane. That’s what I try to do. It’s much more civilised and far more sociable for everyone. But this isn’t without its pitfalls either, as you may not be alone in having this thought, especially so if you wait until you reach your departure gate, because rest assured the loo nearest the point of departure will be busy with like minded passengers also wishing to have one final ‘evacuation’ before boarding.  Before boarding YOUR plane, for these people aren’t strangers any more, they are your fellow passengers.  So my advice is always try to go in the main lounge WC where you have a much lower risk of meeting your plane buddies.

Queuing for a trap in a Gents toilet is more than slightly awkward. I know women often have horrendous problems with queues at public conveniences because they have no choice but to use the cubicle, whereas us men, we have a choice.  99% of us use the urinals for a quick wee and we’re out, simple as that. Simple that is, until you need a poo.

Whereas a woman in a loo queue can look her fellow queuers in the eye and suggest she is only going in for a wee, us blokes queuing for a trap are there for one thing and one thing only – to do a poo.  And it is awkward, and it is embarrassing – the bloke in front of you needs a poo, the bloke behind you needs a poo and the bloke leaving the trap has just done a poo.  It’s awful.

I was once in such a situation, caught in the line of shame, at the airport prior to flying and I had made the fatal mistake of leaving it until I reached the departure gate toilets where it was very busy.  And to make things worse, the design of the Gents was such that the queue that formed for the traps, blocked access to the urinals from the entrance (see attached schematic), so as us ‘offloaders’ queued, a man entered and only wanted a wee.  He chirpily tried to make his way to the urinals only to find his way blocked, and as I was the nearest person to him, he turned to me and cheerily said:

“Sorry mate, are you wanting to use that?” (pointing to the empty urinal), to which I replied, and this phrase is etched in my memory:

“No it’s OK, I’m waiting to do a poo”.

You could have a heard a pin drop.  FFS why oh why oh why did I say that?

All I had to say was “No, go ahead“.  Three. Simple. Words.


But no, not content with standing in the line of shame, I had to then tell this stranger, this happy-go-lucky, ever so chipper fellow who only wanted a quick wee, I had to tell him that I, a total stranger, was “waiting to do a poo“.

Had I been 4 yrs old I might have got away with it, but I was 47.

I stared at my shoes.  Other people in line stared at their shoes.  I contemplated leaving. Leaving the queue, leaving the airport, driving to the seaside, leaving my clothes on the beach and drowning myself in shame.

No it’s OK, I’m waiting to do a poo“.  You idiot.

And of course, inevitably, that man did board my plane.  He sat in seat 33F.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s