SmartMoney Blogs

Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Could Airline Bathrooms Go the Way of Free Peanuts?

The FAA does not regulate airline bathrooms, which are “a passenger convenience item and not a safety issue.”

Accidents are relatively uncommon on commercial flights, but that could change if Ryanair’s plan to remove two-thirds of its bathrooms catches on.

With each bathroom creating room for three seats, the European discount carrier, which is known for proposing bizarre cost-cutting measures, says it could save passengers $6 on a $120 ticket. “It would fundamentally lower air fares by about 5% for all passengers,” CEO Michael O’Leary told The Independent.  “We’re trying to push Boeing to re-certify the aircraft for six more seats, particularly for short-haul flights — we very rarely use all three toilets on board our aircraft anyway.”

Oddly, the otherwise heavily regulated industry has no restrictions on the number of bathrooms on flights, FAA spokesman Les Dorr says, declaring bathrooms “a passenger convenience item and not a safety issue.” Though removing bathrooms is unlikely on longer, transatlantic flights, air travel experts say it’s something the U.S. carriers could pursue for shorter hops.

“People love to complain about all the indignities of air travel, but give them a good fare and they’re right on it,” said George Hobica, president of But are passengers really willing to hold it in just to hold onto a few more dollars?

“Passengers will do anything to save a few bucks,” Hobica says. “Unfortunately there isn’t a rule about bathrooms – there should be, but there isn’t. It’s one thing on a puddle jumper – many of which already have no bathrooms – but as far as I’m concerned the lines for the bathrooms are already too long on many flights as it is.”


We welcome thoughtful comments from readers. Please comply with our guidelines. Our blogs do not require the use of your real name.

Comments (0)

    • Be the first to leave a comment on this blog.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.