The No-Bathroom Flight

I learned something interesting yesterday — a functioning bathroom apparently is not an essential requirement for a domestic airline flight.

IMG_6237It happened on my flight from Columbus to New York, on one of those regional jets that has only one rear bathroom.  In the boarding area, the gate agent advised us via a loudspeaker announcement that the only bathroom on the plane was “inoperative” — and sure enough, when we boarded there was a sign on the lavatory door to that effect.

(“Inoperative” seems like a vaguely Nixonian way of saying that the crapper isn’t working, doesn’t it?  Makes you wonder what happened, and whether a miscreant tampered with the smoke detector despite those pre-flight warnings.)

Here’s another interesting bit of information.  When you announce on the public address system at an airport gate that the only bathroom on a plane isn’t working and that people might want to consider that fact, you’re likely to cause a stampede to the nearest comfort facilities.  Obviously, no one wants to be caught in extremis on a bathroomless flight, but there is also the power of suggestion at work.  You might not feel like you need to go at this instant but . . . now that you mention it, and when you know that you’re going to have no options for at least two hours, you’re sure as heck going to try.  In fact, I think some people in the neighboring gate areas trotted off to the restrooms — just in case.

Fortunately, the flight passed without incident, and the passengers made it through without any apparent problem.  I thought of the no-bathroom flight that night, however, when bad weather at LaGuardia caused my flight out to sit on the tarmac for two hours, turning a short flight into a drawn-out exercise that would have been a kidney-busting disaster without a bathroom.  Thank goodness the lavatory on that flight was “operative”!

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The Mile-High Club App

I don’t have many apps on my iPhone, and I don’t keep up on what’s available, but I saw this story about development of an app that is intended to help people find willing, anonymous partners for sex among their fellow air travelers.

The app will be called Wingman. On planes that have wifi, the app would allow people to enter their airline and flight number, find out if there are other Wingman participants on their flight, and then enter their seat number and destination so they can set up a sordid tryst in the airplane bathroom, under the scratchy blue blanket, or in a no-tell motel when they arrive.

It’s another reason to bemoan the race-to-the-bottom morality of our era, and to wonder about how much of our technological creativity is focused on finding new ways to get lonely men to spend money on testosterone boosters, hair implants, singles clubs, and other things that supposedly will allow them to increase their chances of having sex. They say that a huge portion of internet capacity is devoted to porn. How much of the app world focuses on trying to hook people up?

Wingman also should remind us all of the need to avoid use of airplane bathrooms to the maximum extent permitted by kidney and intestinal function. Now we don’t have to worry only about the sketchy characters with questionable personal hygiene who are sprinting back to the bathroom with urgent looks on their faces, or the unsteady octogenarians who’ve been in the can for half the flight. Now we also have to be concerned that lonely, desperate people might be swapping bodily fluids back there, too. If you’re planning on using the bathroom on your next flight, you might as well board in a hazmat suit.