Boeing Introduces Self-Cleaning Toilets

What’s grosser than gross?” I used to ask my little brother and he’d always fall for it when we were kids.

There are truly disgusting things in the world. Last year a family was ‘forced’ to sit in vomit on a flight to DC. A couple flying to Hawaii found a full barf bag in their seat back pocket.

Of course there’s the whole bare feet thing. Worse yet, in the lavatory. And a man was hospitalized last year in a freak airport toilet accident.

American Airlines Boeing 787 Lavatory

There was Three Mile Island. There was Chernobyl. And there’s that Qantas A380 flying Sydney Dallas packed full oftentimes in economy, the American Airlines Dallas – Hong Kong flight, and Delta Atlanta – Johannesburg. The lavatories at the end of those flights… (At least the Hong Kong departures back to the U.S. don’t let passengers carry on any water…)

Sign at Boarding Gate for US Departing Flight, Hong Kong

Several Asian and Middle Eastern carriers, at least in premium cabins, clean lavatories several times during the flight (and in some cases, even between each use).

For those airlines that do not — Boeing has a solution.

Boeing Co. is readying a solution: a self-cleaning toilet. The U.S. planemaker says it’s found a way to use ultraviolet light to kill 99.99 percent of germs in jetliner lavatories, disinfect all surfaces after every use in three seconds and keep the restroom from becoming a petri dish.

…Boeing’s lavatory prototype uses a type of ultraviolet light, different from the rays in tanning beds, that doesn’t harm humans. Activated only when the airliner toilet isn’t in use, the lights flood touch surfaces such as the toilet seat, sink and counter top.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class Lavatory

The technology can’t come soon enough. At least airline blankets wrapped in plastic really are clean

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I once reached into a seatback pocket on a Southwest flight only to discover a dirty diaper stuffed in there. Haven’t used a seatback pocket since!

  2. There’s a difference between clean and sterile. You can sterilize a thin smear of poo on a surface but it’ll still have poo on it. Still, this is an improvement as long as it’s not used as an excuse to reduce the cleaning frequency of the lav.

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