Mile High Miracle Bathroom

November 30, 2012

The New York Times published today an article on flying in the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It was a light piece, generally positive. It even mentioned that the toilets on the plane were an improvement. It would not take much to improve those nightmarish closets. I posted the following response in the comments.


I will need exact dimensions of the new wunder-kahzi (trans: miracle bathroom) if I am expected to be impressed. In the past two decades Americans have increased their average girth dramatically. This seemed to entirely escape the notice of aircraft designers around the world who continue to insist that we can comfortably sit in a chair designed for wasp-waisted lithe dance commandos for many hours and when we need to ablute can squeeze into toilets designed for the same diminutive figures. It is an amusing if slightly macabre pastime of mine on flights to watch how my larger flying companions manage to get into an out of both their seat and the bathroom. I myself am five foot eight. I weigh 180 lbs. I have a 36” waist and a 42” chest. Yet, even for a brief visit to the standard mile high closet I often feel that I am in just that; a closet; a tiny narrow, mobile home closet. Oh, I am sure designers can give me all the numbers about passenger capacity versus bathroom dimensions versus fuel consumption versus aircraft efficiency and chief executives’ bonus plans (never in contention, I’ll warrant) but I don’t care to listen.


Some years ago, in a weak moment, I watched a documentary about the design, test flight and introduction of the Boeing 767. A Boeing executive, a Mr. McNally (now with Ford Motor Co.?) was shown teary eyed as the jetliner took off on its maiden voyage. I was impressed that he was so moved, but later, after riding in one of the aircraft, realized that his tears were tears of laughter and relief knowing that he was paid well enough that he would never have to use the wretched bathroom in the wretched plane he had just managed to foist on the public via his accomplices the Airlines.


After all the other humiliations we are forced to endure when traveling by air having a comfortable bathroom should be something we could look forward to. And don’t get me going on why Airlines think a dinky toy Boeing 737 is an adequate plane for cross country flying.