JetBlue Operates Four Hour Flight Without A Restroom: Wet Pants And Desperate Faces

There were wet pants and faces of desperation on JetBlue flight 1830 from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic to Boston Saturday as the 3 hour 50 minute flight operated without a working lavatory.

The airline did inform customers before the already 2.5 hours delayed flight that they wouldn’t be able to go once on board. One passenger reports they were “about to urinate in the airport corridor after the plane landed.”

[M]any could not bear the desperation, reflected in the faces of elderly passengers, children and women, and wet their pants.

Update: JetBlue is saying that news reports of this flight are inaccurate and passengers had use of the lavs.

We’ve checked with our maintenance team, flight and inflight teams and have determined all lavatories were operable on flight 1830 with service from Santo Domingo to Boston Saturday. We are not sure where this report or misunderstanding started, but crew confirm that customers were using the lavatories throughout the flight.

JetBlue is hardly the first airline to operate a flight without a working lavatory. For instance here’s American Airlines on a New York – Chicago flight. Airlines are faced with a tough choice: do they cancel the flight, and inconvenience everyone, or fly without basic services but not compromising safety?

It seems the right choice here, if a maintenance delay alone won’t fix things, would be to offer customers a choice between flying without a lavatory (and compensating them, because they didn’t receive the product they purchased.. which includes access to a lav) or rebook, treating it as an involuntary denied boarding for compensation purposes.

A little tougher is when the lavatories stop working inflight on an overwater flight. Here’s an American Airlines Phoenix – Kona flight were the one working lavatory got stopped up. Customers were told to ‘go in a bottle’.

On the other hand this American Airlines flight to London diverted when four of the plane’s 12 lavatories stopped working. The consensus seemed to be that the flight attendants preferred not to work the flight.

The next day’s JetBlue flight from Santo Domingo to Boston was delayed over four hours, but apparently featured working lavatories.

Would you take a 4 hour flight with no working lavatory? How long is too long?

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. Gary they got the product that was purchased. All you buy is travel from point A to point B. There is nothing in the contract about bathrooms. Agree this was a tough situation but people could have elected to get off and rebook (I’m sure Jet Blue would have worked with them under the circumstances)

  2. @AC lavatories at a minimum are a brand standard (indeed for every commercial airline, rrgulations aside). Access to on board lavatories are part of the bundle of services you buy when you buy a tickrt, the CoC’s silence on the matter notwithstanding.

  3. Surprisingly, working bathrooms don’t seem to be a requirement to operate an aircraft. Had a friend earlier this year on a non-stop JFK-TLV flight when the bathrooms stopped working due to no water an hour out of JFK. It’s another ten to TLV. They kept going all the way to TLV after surveying the passengers. (I think it was a Wednesday flight, so not continuing would mean a delay of at least three days for the Orthodox passengers.) Apparently they could keep them from overflowing by occasionally using bottled water, but it was really, really unpleasant. No word yet on if there was any compensation on the part of Delta. Never saw any news items about it.

  4. Pinged JetBlue corporate communications about this story this morning, and here’s what they said, for what it’s worth:
    “We’ve checked with our maintenance team, flight and inflight teams and have determined all lavatories were operable on flight 1830 with service from Santo Domingo to Boston Saturday. We are not sure where this report or misunderstanding started, but crew confirm that customers were using the lavatories throughout the flight.”

  5. See @airlineflyer. This seems to be a false report. Either that or the B6 official response is incorrect.

  6. @ Gary LOL a story about B6 but you have such an agenda towards AA you had to add a 3 year old story to it …. YOURE EXAUSTING !!!

  7. I usually go before a domestic flight. Then I usually don’t have to go until arrival. But over 4 hours is a no! Passengers should be warned before departure that a flight lacks operating lavatories. Period! Jetblue is such a crappy airline, literally!

  8. Save the first class passengers urine and serve it as champagne to the cattle class.
    Salty wine is better than no wine!

  9. Perhaps JET BLUE is getting a little too close to Spirit Airlines?
    Always thought it was a GREAT airline, but now I wonder?

  10. The link to the story in Spanish says the Boston to Santa Domingo on Saturday night, right? That plane would go back to Boston on SUN. The response from JetBlue was regarding the Sat flight from SDQ-BOS, which is really the flight from Boston on Friday night and turned back very early Sat morning, and thus a completely different aircraft.

  11. Denis you rock!
    But is this story true?
    It has happened before on other airlines and things do malfunction.
    We will have to wait for soft or hard evidence to emerge…..

  12. Do airlines need to be regulated by governments so as to mandate that they provide enough functional restrooms for passengers on each flight?

  13. Pro Tip: When the JetBlue pilot and first officer have wet pants, consider choosing a different flight.

  14. Leave it to negative Gary to pull AA in to an entirely different airlines negative press.

  15. I have never used the restroom on a flight under 6.5 hours. It has never even been challenging. Go before, go after. Easy peasy.

    I’d be angry if my flight got cancelled because of something stupid like a broken restroom. They told you beforehand, so if you can’t hold it, don’t get on the plane. If you do knowingly get on the plane, then shut up. Simple.

  16. This dude is like a jilted ex. All he does is bitch and moan about AA, even when the story has nothing to do with them. So tell us, where did American touch you that made you feel so violated?

  17. What happens when a passenger has a case of the trots? Does the airline buy them a new pair of trousers?

  18. This sounds fishier than a fish market. Working in aviation, I know first hand an aircraft can be dispatched if one of the lavs (usually 3 on a 737 NG or A320 series aircraft) is non operational. Sometimes there is an issue where none of the labs will work on the ground but once in flight they will due to how they operate. But in my experience, if all of the labs are inoperative, the plane goes out of service until the issue is fixed.

  19. Well as a retired airline employee who worked for AA,DELTA,& TWA & Flown alot we do our best to have working bathrooms on every flt.but things happen, So We try to warn people but What can I say..,Our number one concern is safety,so We as humans try but sometimes some ,systems fail, You can’ throwo it overboard like a boat. So Sorry for the inconvence and drink less of our free drinks…Good luck. Bill

  20. The bathrooms worked guys. This story isn’t a story. He had the wrong info. Bathrooms worked. People used them. No story here. Also, as an airline pilot, I can confirm that we don’t take aircraft over 2 hours without at least 1 working lav. Don’t listen to the made up fake stories people.

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