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Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 5:38 am
by Njyashar
Hi,
I have a severe fear of using the lavatories while flying because I am both claustrophobic and very afraid of accidentally getting stuck/trapped in one. I am afraid of the lock jamming or something along that line. Is this likely or is my fear 100% irrational? Interestingly enough I’m not scared when there is a window inside. Also is it true that there is a help button inside the lavatories?
Thank you!

P.S. I understand how absolutely rediculous this might seem and I apologize for that.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 6:00 am
by hic787
I totally understand! But rest assured, you honestly have nothing to worry about.

The doors are designed in such a way where the lock just won't get stuck. In the *extremely* unlikely scenario where the lock does get jammed, the cabin crew have the ability to open the door from the outside using a hidden latch kinda thing. I'm not too sure if they all have cabin crew alert buttons inside, but I seem to recall seeing this on some aircraft.

But yeah, I agree they are VERY claustrophobic, especially for me being 6"4! Newer airplanes like the MAX ain't helping our case either!

You could try listening to music or try to go when there are people around, just incase you feel anxious.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 6:03 am
by Njyashar
Thank you so much! I appreciate it

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 7:10 am
by unimproved
It's not a normal lock, it's just a single pin you move into the frame with the knob.

Doors can easily be openend from the outside, some can even be removed completely while the door is still locked.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 7:15 am
by Starlionblue
The lock mechanism is just a mechanical hasp. About as simple as you can make the thing, so there's not much that can malfunction.

I can't recall ever seeing a lav without a call button, but I suppose there could be some around. Either way, the doors are pretty flimsy. Not that you could necessarily force one, but certainly attracting attention is not that hard with some judicious thumping.

As hic787 says, the doors can be unlocked and opened from the outside. People sometimes do get stuck inside when they forget how they locked the door. (Don't ask me how they manage it...) The other reason is that people lock themselves in and have a little smoke, which sets off the smoke detector. And now the cabin crew really want to unlock the door to ensure there is no actual fire...

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 10:11 am
by battlegroup62
Starlionblue wrote:
The lock mechanism is just a mechanical hasp. About as simple as you can make the thing, so there's not much that can malfunction.


The worst I've seen is lack of lubriction causing the latch to be stiff.

Starlionblue wrote:
The doors are pretty flimsy. Not that you could necessarily force one, but certainly attracting attention is not that hard with some judicious thumping.


Based on the construction of doors I've seen, the latch is the strongest part of the door. If you were to become trapped and the Flight attendants couldn't unlock the door from outside a couple swift kicks and it would be open, most likely with the hinges breaking or the door splitting down the middle.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 2:32 pm
by Njyashar
Thank you!

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 2:44 pm
by N353SK

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed May 29, 2019 2:47 pm
by longhauler
I have heard of this fear mentioned before, so you are not alone.

But I can tell you, in over 35 years flying jet transport aircraft, I have never had a passenger get trapped in a lavatory. As accurately noted, the doors are easily opened up from the outside and also, every one I have ever seen has a Flight Attendant call button. That call has higher priority than a passenger at a seat, so it will get answered quickly.

(Make sure your gitch is up though, as it is considered an "urgent" call, they may not knock ... and just open the door from the outside.) ;)

If you are feeling anxious though, open the air vent and run a tap. The distraction should relax you.

Enjoy your flight.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 11:38 am
by atomicstar
I’m not sure how powerful the toilet actually is, but the size of the hole is not large enough for a person to be sucked in. If that happens, the toilet will break.

In case the door gets jammed, there’s a help call button and hopefully a FA can help you get out of the lavatory. If no one comes, yell. But it is very uncommon for the door lock to be jammed.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 8:06 pm
by Lukas757
atomicstar wrote:
I’m not sure how powerful the toilet actually is, but the size of the hole is not large enough for a person to be sucked in. If that happens, the toilet will break.

I doubt that the OPˋs fear was to get actually stuck in the toilet seat, rather than get stuck in the toilet-cabin. I‘m sure no toilet system would get a certification if it had the power to suck in a human body. There will be a pressure relieve valve somewhere in the system.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 8:23 pm
by atomicstar
Lukas757 wrote:
atomicstar wrote:
I’m not sure how powerful the toilet actually is, but the size of the hole is not large enough for a person to be sucked in. If that happens, the toilet will break.

I doubt that the OPˋs fear was to get actually stuck in the toilet seat, rather than get stuck in the toilet-cabin. I‘m sure no toilet system would get a certification if it had the power to suck in a human body. There will be a pressure relieve valve somewhere in the system.


At least in that case, I have never had they feeling of being sucked onto the toilet bowl while sitting.

Also, this also reminds me of the touchless flush sensor on the 787 which I kinda hate, if you accidentally put your arm over it, it will try to push the toilet seat and the suction is very powerful. But I think the point of automatically closing the lid is so that people won’t be so scared of it flushing if they flush it while not sitting on the toilet.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:42 am
by trent768
I hate the toilet on the 1st generation A330. It is not the fear of getting sucked, but just the really loud noise that somehow freaks me out. Does the newer built A330 has a better sounding toilet?

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:45 am
by Canuck600
A thought on the running water comment by Longhauler, running water is well known to cause a urge to urinate.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:18 pm
by Starlionblue
trent768 wrote:
I hate the toilet on the 1st generation A330. It is not the fear of getting sucked, but just the really loud noise that somehow freaks me out. Does the newer built A330 has a better sounding toilet?


A vacuum toilet makes a sucking sound. I don't think designers design with flushing sounds in mind...

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 11:56 pm
by TSS
Starlionblue wrote:
trent768 wrote:
I hate the toilet on the 1st generation A330. It is not the fear of getting sucked, but just the really loud noise that somehow freaks me out. Does the newer built A330 has a better sounding toilet?


A vacuum toilet makes a sucking sound. I don't think designers design with flushing sounds in mind...


Not even with land-based toilets. Because designers have had to substitute water velocity for water volume, some of the new "low-flow" toilets sound like a rocket taking off when they flush. Combine these loud toilets with a malfunctioning or over-sensitive "auto-flush" sensor and the entire restaurant will be staring at you when you return to your table.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:08 am
by KentB27
I have a phobia of lavatories for an entirely different reason. I'm somewhat of a germaphobe. The smallness of lavatories makes that even worse. Because if someone just got done pinching off a huge bowel movement in there right before me then I'm even closer to the fecal matter than I would be in normal bathroom. I'm pretty grossed out by public restrooms in general though. On shorter flights I will refrain from drinking any fluids prior to the flight and urinate as close to my flight's boarding time as possible in order to avoid using the lavatory on the plane. If I have to do a #2 I will hold it unless it's an absolute emergency. I've actually never crapped on a plane before. I'm also really grossed out by how many people presumably don't wash their hands after using aircraft lavatories or public restrooms. So if I can hold it, I will wait. Public restrooms aren't great but they still are better than airplane lavatories.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:31 am
by Starlionblue
KentB27 wrote:
I have a phobia of lavatories for an entirely different reason. I'm somewhat of a germaphobe. The smallness of lavatories makes that even worse. Because if someone just got done pinching off a huge bowel movement in there right before me then I'm even closer to the fecal matter than I would be in normal bathroom. I'm pretty grossed out by public restrooms in general though. On shorter flights I will refrain from drinking any fluids prior to the flight and urinate as close to my flight's boarding time as possible in order to avoid using the lavatory on the plane. If I have to do a #2 I will hold it unless it's an absolute emergency. I've actually never crapped on a plane before. I'm also really grossed out by how many people presumably don't wash their hands after using aircraft lavatories or public restrooms. So if I can hold it, I will wait. Public restrooms aren't great but they still are better than airplane lavatories.


As with any environment with a high density of people, there will be germs around. How people react to this varies.

I've observed the whole range among pilots, from pretty strong germophobia to not caring very much. There are some who wipe down their entire side of the cockpit with disinfecting wipes as soon as they sit down. Others are more like me. I wash my hands frequently, but I'm not too fussed otherwise, with the exception that I wipe down dusty surfaces because of mild allergies.

Same with passengers. Some will wipe everything down. Most don't seem too fussed about the state of their tray table or whatnot.

I'd be fascinated to read up on rates of passengers and crew becoming sick after air travel. Many crew, myself included, often develop a short-lived and mild nasal congestion after long flights, but that's due to dry air, not germs. Anecdotally I haven't observed any difference between those who obsess about cleaning and those who do not, but anecdote is not science.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:40 am
by stratclub
Well, truth be known, we are a variable botanical garden of germs, microbes and bacteria without which we wouldn't even survive. I have heard that it is possible that kids that develop illnesses like asthma had germophobic mothers that contributed to the illnesses by raises their kids in too sterile of an environment which didn't allow their kids immune systems to develop fully.

Re: Fear of aircraft lavatories

Posted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 12:04 pm
by Redbellyguppy
I’ve had passengers become stuck in the lav on several aircraft I’ve flown. In all cases it was on a folding door and the center hinge pin slid down and caught on the metal floor plate. I talked through the fa getting the pax out by pushing the door in slightly, sliding a safety briefing card under, then opening the door so that the defective pin couldn’t snag on the floor plate.