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

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Protests, rallies ensue during immigration situation

    Protests, rallies ensue during immigration situation

    Saturday, June 23 2018 9:25 PM EDT2018-06-24 01:25:22 GMT
    MGN ImageMGN Image

    McALLEN (AP) - The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump's order allowing them to remain with their parents.

    More >>

    McALLEN (AP) - The Latest on the separation of immigrant children from their parents following President Donald Trump's order allowing them to remain with their parents.

    More >>
  • Estimated 230,000 gallons of oil spilled in Iowa train derailment

    Estimated 230,000 gallons of oil spilled in Iowa train derailment

    Saturday, June 23 2018 6:23 PM EDT2018-06-23 22:23:02 GMT
    Courtesy: Sioux County Sheriff - FacebookCourtesy: Sioux County Sheriff - Facebook

    DOON, Iowa (AP) - A railroad official says 14 of 32 derailed oil tanker cars in the northwest corner of Iowa dumped an estimated 230,000 gallons (870,619 liters) of crude oil into floodwaters, with some making its way to nearby rivers. BNSF spokesman Andy Williams confirmed the details Saturday. 

    More >>

    DOON, Iowa (AP) - A railroad official says 14 of 32 derailed oil tanker cars in the northwest corner of Iowa dumped an estimated 230,000 gallons (870,619 liters) of crude oil into floodwaters, with some making its way to nearby rivers. BNSF spokesman Andy Williams confirmed the details Saturday. 

    More >>
  • Police: Meridian officer shoots, kills man who pulled out handgun

    Police: Meridian officer shoots, kills man who pulled out handgun

    Saturday, June 23 2018 6:14 PM EDT2018-06-23 22:14:26 GMT

    MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) - Authorities in southwestern Idaho say a Meridian police officer shot and killed a man who said he wasn't going back to jail and pulled a handgun from his waistband. Meridian police say officers at about 12:20 p.m. Saturday responded to a report of a domestic disturbance involving a knife.

    More >>

    MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) - Authorities in southwestern Idaho say a Meridian police officer shot and killed a man who said he wasn't going back to jail and pulled a handgun from his waistband. Meridian police say officers at about 12:20 p.m. Saturday responded to a report of a domestic disturbance involving a knife.

    More >>