Delta Airlines May Be Shrinking Their Bathrooms To Add More Seat - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Delta Airlines May Be Shrinking Their Bathrooms To Add More Seats

Posted: Updated:

NBCNEWS.COM - We've heard of going to the little girls' (or little boys') room but this is ridiculous. In the near future, fliers who need to use the facilities may find themselves squeezing into spaces that make today's airline lavatories look downright large.

Case in point: Delta Air Lines, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, will unveil new onboard bathrooms on the 737-900s it expects to begin flying later this year. The new loos not only pack the same "amenities" into a smaller space but will also allow the carrier to squeeze four more seats into coach.

Known as a modular lavatory system (MLS), the new facilities are made by Wellington, Fla.-based B/E Aerospace. Neither the company nor Delta responded to inquiries as to how the dimensions would compare to a typical 3 x 3-foot coach lavatory.

Will passengers feel the squeeze in what already constitutes tight quarters for all but the smallest passengers? No, said Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant via e-mail, as the design utilizes previously unused space behind the sink and a sculpted exterior wall.

Yet, with planes flying fuller than ever, passengers are increasingly caught in a squeeze play from the moment they step on board. Last year, the U.S. airline industry posted its highest load factor since 1945 — 82.8 percent, according to the Department of Transportation — while fees for checked bags have made finding space in the overhead bins a lesson in frustration.

The result is a public predisposed to noticing even a small infringement in their personal space, says Tiffany Hawk, former flight attendant and author of "Love Me Anyway," a novel about airline culture.

"It's already so uncomfortable in your seat and then you get to the lavatory and it's cramped and you're in a bad mood…" she told NBC News. "Passengers are going to say they notice the difference and I guarantee they'll complain about it."

Likewise, any squeeze in available space will make it even harder to avoid touching the surfaces that make airline lavatories among the germiest restrooms the public is exposed to, says Charles Gerba, a microbiology professor at the University of Arizona.

According to Gerba, the average mainline jet has one lavatory for every 50 passengers — one for every 75 on Southwest — and their heavy use makes their surfaces prime vectors for the germs that cause colds, flus and diarrhea.

"It's already tough to maneuver in there," he told NBC News. "If it's any smaller at all, you're going to come into contact with more surfaces."

Even so, onboard bathroom technology marches on. Although currently grounded due to the ongoing battery issue, ANA's 787 Dreamliners feature high-tech toilets in which a touch of a button automatically closes the lid and initiates the flush.

The idea is "to reduce anxiety" and provide "a cleaner space where you're not as worried as much about germs," Kent Craver, a Boeing Commercial Airplane director of passenger satisfaction, told the Journal.

Alas, neither new designs nor better technology is likely to rectify what Hawk considers one of the most common and potentially most eww-inducing realities inherent in those exceedingly tight, heavily used and germ-laden discomfort stations: Turbulence and its effect on male passengers.

"You're standing there and moving at 500 m.p.h.," she said. "That's not water on the floor."

By Rob Lovitt, NBC News Contributor

  • National NewsMore>>

  • Teen Suspended For Asking Miss America To Prom

    Teen Suspended For Asking Miss America To Prom

    Friday, April 18 2014 11:34 PM EDT2014-04-19 03:34:48 GMT
    YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania high school student is in hot water for asking Miss America to prom during a question and answer session at school. Eighteen-year-old Patrick Farves said he received three days of in-school suspension Thursday because he asked Nina Davuluri to prom.
    More >>
    YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania high school student is in hot water for asking Miss America to prom during a question and answer session at school. Eighteen-year-old Patrick Farves said he received three days of in-school suspension Thursday because he asked Nina Davuluri to prom.

    More >>
  • South Korean Ferry Captain Arrested As Hundreds Are Missing And Feared Dead

    South Korean Ferry Captain Arrested As Hundreds Are Missing And Feared Dead

    Friday, April 18 2014 4:38 PM EDT2014-04-18 20:38:53 GMT
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested. Yonhap says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok was detained early Saturday. The ship, the Sewol, sank Wednesday, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.More >>
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested. Yonhap says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok was detained early Saturday. The ship, the Sewol, sank Wednesday, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.
    More >>
  • WATCH: Cell Phone Video Of Sinking Ferry Released As 270 Are Still Missing

    WATCH: Cell Phone Video Of Sinking Ferry Released As 270 Are Still Missing

    Friday, April 18 2014 4:21 PM EDT2014-04-18 20:21:35 GMT
    MOKPO, South Korea (AP) - Searchers have now put markers on the surface of the water where the South Korean ferry went down. Part of the ship had remained above the surface until today, but now the entire vessel is submerged. They're continuing the effort to find some 270 people who are missing and feared dead.More >>
    MOKPO, South Korea (AP) - Searchers have now put markers on the surface of the water where the South Korean ferry went down. Part of the ship had remained above the surface until today, but now the entire vessel is submerged. They're continuing the effort to find some 270 people who are missing and feared dead.
    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KHQ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.