The Toilet In Flight

Difficult to navigate waters rest in the toilet aboard the plane, for here be there monsters.

The lines for the toilet are usually long, especially after a meal or after a movie. You can try and get the kids to the toilet just ahead of the meal, but often times the aisle is blocked by the food serving cart. The best thing to do is to ask early on in the flight about when the meal service will begin and get the child to the toilet just before.

We've found that the cabin attendants do not think of time as say “8:30 AM” but rather how long into the flight it is. You'll earn brownie points by asking “how long until the meal?” instead of “what time will the meal be?”

As for the movie, as soon as the credits roll, go get in line. Don't worry, you kids can live without knowing who played waiter #2 in that Adam Sandler movie.

Whenever you get motivated for the toilet, go with the kid and help her get in line and advance as allowed (I've seen some grownups aboard who forgot how to share nice and elbow a kid out of her turn). Inside the toilet, the light only comes on when you successfully lock the door; there is no separate switch. Your child might not know how to do this door thing, or might be too short to reach the handle. Help.

The room is tiny and things are clearly not like home. Help your child find the toilet paper, hand towels, soap, etc. The hot water can be very hot, so you might test it yourself first. The hot and cold tap handles are usually separate and it can be tricky to get the right water temperature if your child is used to a single water tap at home.

Our kids were scared when they were younger that the toilet flushing by compressed air would suck them in. Demonstrate the toilet and point out the loud noise it will make (aside: in Japanese the word for “loud” can also mean “big”. I have always thought of the airplane toilet sound as more big than loud.)

Teach your child to not throw the paper towels down the toilet lest the thing clog up and 500 passengers have to make do with one less usable seat.

Most long-distance aircraft have at least one, if not several, toilets with fold-down diaper changing tables. If the toilet nearest you does not have a changing table, ask the cabin attendant in case another restroom does have one available.

We have more to say about toilets here if you'd like to read ahead a bit.

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