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This morning I read a post on View From the Wing about whether coach customers should be able to use the first class lavatory on the plane. My thought is that most of the time you should use the restroom in your ticketed cabin as you are usually instructed to do during the announcements, but like with almost anything, there should be some exceptions to the rule. Here’s what I think to be a good exception, when kids need “to go” and there will be a delay in being able to access the lav in their cabin. Here’s a recent example of when this happened and how it was (in my view poorly) handled….
My four year old daughter and I were flying back from Paris recently and she needed to use the restroom (naturally during meal service). We managed to get the trays and drinks out of our way enough to climb out of our seats when we realized that the aisles were blocked to the business class restrooms that were behind us with the flight attendants and ice cream carts that they were prepping. We waited maybe 15 seconds to see if they would be cleared soon, and it quickly became evident that this wasn’t going to be a quick move. Fifteen seconds may not sound long, but when your young child is doing the “potty dance” and saying “I need to gooooooo, Mommy!” each second feels more dangerous than the one before. I view kids that need to go to the restroom as live explosives that may detonate at any moment.
I then made the executive decision to turn around and head to the first class lav. I think there was only one person in the entire first class cabin, so I highly doubted that lav was going to be hard to access. Normally I am mostly a rule follower and pretty respectful of not disturbing other cabins, but I didn’t think it to be wise to tell my four year old to hold it for an undetermined period of time, and the flight attendants didn’t seem interested in stopping their process for us to pass to the business class lavs.
We quietly walked through the first class cabin to the lav and the flight attendant working that cabin stopped us and quite firmly said we weren’t allowed to use that restroom. I quietly and politely explained it was for my daughter who has to go now and the business class lavs were blocked with carts. He firmly said it didn’t matter and that we couldn’t use that lav as it was only for first class customer(s). I gotta admit as a mom I was not impressed with this answer at all (or how it was delivered, but that’s a matter of personal taste). My daughter thankfully hasn’t had an accident in a long time, but young kids can have accidents if they can’t access the restroom in time, and was that really something the flight attendant wanted to risk for the sake of guarding that lav from business class invaders? I guess so. This was a time when I think a reasonable exception should have been made, but it wasn’t.
The first class flight attendant then pointed out the cart had moved some in business and we could probably squeeze by. Great. Thanks. Let me use my Go-Go-Gadget suck-it-in-manuever and take my daughter who is now really emphatic about “needing to go” back through business class, past the partially moved cart, and to the lav that hopefully isn’t occupied. That didn’t seem to me to be less intrusive and less bothersome to folks than just quickly using the lav we are already standing right next to, but again I wasn’t making the rules on this one.
Since there wasn’t another choice, we did what he said, and I had a very hard time squeezing past the cart (especially since my knee is still crummy and doesn’t maneuver like it used to pre-ACL injury). The flight attendants in business didn’t seem thrilled to have their meal preparation process interrupted by us, but we did make it to the lav in time. Woohoo!
The whole process was way more stressful than it needed to be in my view. If there is a barrier to using the lav in your ticketed cabin, and you are traveling with (or are) someone who is elderly or young, has mobility issues, or otherwise can’t easily wait a reasonable amount of time to use the restroom, then I think flight attendants should have the common sense to make an exception to the “lav in your cabin rule”. I sometimes travel in a premium cabin thanks to miles or upgrades, and I would be mortified if I saw a flight attendant turn away a young kid who walked up from coach to use the lav in the first class cabin. Fortunately, I can’t think of a situation where I have knowingly watched that happen, as it usually seems to work without incident. However, I have certainly lived through it not working, so I know that it does happen.
I’m really curious on your thoughts about only using the lavatory in your cabin when it’s blocked and it’s your young kid that needs to go?