Okay, full disclosure – If it wasn’t already obvious, American Airlines isn’t actually going to fit a toilet to an emergency exit door (although maybe they’ve given the idea some consideration). The photo was shared by an American Airlines flight attendant while an Airbus A321 was undergoing some maintenance – drawing a rather tongue in cheek parallel to efforts by the airline to cram more seats on its aircraft.
One of the most contentious parts of this ‘densification’ programme has been American’s decision to fit smaller lavatories to its Boeing 737 and Airbus A321 single-aisle aircraft. When the first plane with the compact lavatories started flying, some passengers found them so small they struggled to even get inside.
Other complaints arose from tiny wash basins – not only because many people can only fit one hand into the basin at a time but because in trying to wash your hand’s water splashes everywhere as well. Although American’s chief executive, Doug Parker has said that despite protests from flight attendants and journalists there really haven’t been that many complaints about the smaller lavatories.
American has around 100 brand new Airbus A321neo aircraft on order – by reducing legroom and fitting smaller toilets, the airline will manage to squeeze 196 seats into the compact cabin (interestingly, American could have added another row of seats but that would mean an additional crew member was required). In the main cabin, there will be two toilets just before the rear galley and one toilet just ahead of door three left.
Older A321’s will also be retrofitted to get a similar layout.
Obviously, a new open plan toilet would certainly avoid all the problems with passengers trying to squeeze in and out but it might be a little too much too stomach.
At least American hasn’t gone down the route of installing Airbus’ so-called Spaceflex galley where the two rear toilets are wedged into one side of the back galley. That set up not only creates a very awkward working environment for flight attendants but part of the design results in a crew seat being attached to the toilet door.