Delta Airlines May Be Shrinking Their Bathrooms To Add More Seat - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • FIRST ON KHQ.COM: hikers find body in Spokane Valley; homicide investigation begins

    FIRST ON KHQ.COM: hikers find body in Spokane Valley; homicide investigation begins

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:33 AM EDT2014-08-01 09:33:29 GMT
    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.- On Thursday night major crimes detectives with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office began investigating the discovery of a body in Spokane Valley.The body was found earlier in the evening by a couple walking in a wooded area near Parkside At Mirabeau Apartments.>>
    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.- On Thursday night major crimes detectives with the Spokane County Sheriff's Office began investigating the discovery of a body in Spokane Valley.The body was found earlier in the evening by a couple walking in a wooded area near Parkside At Mirabeau Apartments.>>
  • Candlelight vigil held for both husband and wife in murder-suicide

    Candlelight vigil held for both husband and wife in murder-suicide

    Friday, August 1 2014 2:22 AM EDT2014-08-01 06:22:44 GMT
    Chris and Sheena HendersonChris and Sheena Henderson
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Thursday night there was a candlelight vigil held for Chris and Sheena Henderson in Franklin Park. The vigil was overseen by a Spokane Police Chaplain. He said that today's vigil was about hope, help, healing, and ultimately, forgiveness.On July 8th, Spokane police say 37-year-old Chris Henderson went to the Deaconess Medical Center complex where his wife, 30-year-old Sheena Henderson, worked and shot her multiple times. He then fatally shot himself. No one else was hurt.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Thursday night there was a candlelight vigil held for Chris and Sheena Henderson in Franklin Park. The vigil was overseen by a Spokane Police Chaplain. He said that today's vigil was about hope, help, healing, and ultimately, forgiveness. >>INSIDE: Raw interview with Sheena Henderson's father
    >>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:36 AM EDT2014-07-27 14:36:04 GMT
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
  • Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:55 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:55:02 GMT
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
  • 3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:19 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:19:11 GMT
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>