Airline lavatories are usually pretty simple. To be sure some passengers fail to use them, sometimes they’re inoperative and sometimes other passengers stink them up, but for the most part they work the same way.
To be sure I’ve flown Virgin Australia where they had a ‘women only’ lavatory in business class, with the second lav for men or women. And of course some lavatories are nicer than others.
Qatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class Lavatory
Some lavatories are really small.
American 737 MAX Lavatory
As the name (sort of) indicates, this innovation would replace one standard lavatory with two urinals. Because in an age where flying is more misery than miracle, anything that can make the experience better—like shortening bathrooms lines—is worth a shot.
“The innovation will benefit female passengers too, at least indirectly: when the men have their own urinal facility, the queue for the rest of the cabin will be reduced,” the press release announcing the award finalists read. “Things may be a little cleaner too.”
Credit: Zodiac Aerospace
I’m skeptical that this will solve queues in a domestic narrowbody. I find that much of the time in the bathroom on a plane isn’t spent lifting up the toilet seat and putting it back down, but getting in the small lav using foldable doors and washing hands — getting the water to stay on long enough, getting just the right number of paper towels out — and using the paper towel to open the door on the way out and tossing it into the trash without touching anything.
The other lavatory may be cleaner at the end of the flight, but how much deep cleaning will the urinal get throughout the day?
Mostly though I’d be concerned about passengers figuring out how the setup works, since they’re used to lavatories pretty much all operating the same way. Given the behavior and intellect of some of your fellow passengers, airlines would probably need to hang a sign inside that says “don’t eat the big white mint.”
(HT: Ryan Boyd)